Blowouts happen, but when they feature so many of the same issues that have eaten at the football team getting blown out all year, it’s especially disturbing. You have to wonder why things keep getting worse.
For example, all season the play of the offensive tackles and centers has cheated talented running backs of necessary breathing room to bust big runs and has made quarterback Jake Heaps understand what it’s like to be a fugitive, forever on the run.
But it’s never been as bad as it was in Kansas University’s 54-16 loss to Texas Tech in a Big 12 opener Saturday at Memorial Stadium, all but empty by late in the third quarter.
In what has to be some sort of record for ineptitude, inattentiveness, incredibly undisciplined football, Kansas was flagged for six false-start penalties. Six! Left tackle Aslam Sterling was flagged multiple times, and center Dylan Admire and right tackle Zach Fondal also were penalized for the unforced infraction.
It’s one thing to get shoved up the field, but to cost your team five yards before it ever has a chance to make a play? Six times? In the fourth game, not the first?
Both centers, Admire and Pat Lewandowski, also struggled snapping the ball. Mike Smithburg was shifted from center to guard after the spring game because he couldn’t get the snap down. Who’s next, Gavin Howard? Head coach Charlie Weis said he and offensive line coach Tim Grunhard “were kind of discussing possibilities in the fourth quarter.”
By then, the game had long since been lost, the chances of an upset fading away with a seven-possession stretch that started with a 10-0 lead midway through the first quarter and ended early in the third quarter, by which time the Red Raiders held a 37-10 lead.
During that stretch, Kansas ran 22 plays, picked up one first down and totaled 20 yards. On the eight first-down plays, Heaps completed one of five passes for nine yards, was intercepted once and sacked once. James Sims ran the ball once, gaining two yards, and Michael Cummings lost three yards on a run.
Kansas didn’t score again until Andrew Turzilli removed the moth balls from his helmet and made a great catch near the right boundary of the end zone on a 28-yard throw from Cummings.
“Here was that play,” Weis said, “I called the protection. I called the play. I said, ‘Michael, throw it to him.’ How do you like that for a play? And that’s one of the few ones that worked in the game. Maybe I should do that more often.”
He was joking, but at this point might jokes represent an upgrade? Is it time to make things more simple for the players?
“You’ll see a lot of formations out there, but there are not a lot of plays out there,” Weis said. “We’re already dumbing it down.”
Now it’s time for the offensive coaches and players to get smarter.