If not for my diplomatic skills, Sully probably would have been run out of half the watering holes in town. It’s not that he drinks too much. It’s just that he talks too loud. Way too loud, even before his first pour.
And he talks a lot, so much that he eventually comes up with a good column idea. Then again, it’s been pointed out by many that if a monkey typed randomly for an infinity it eventually would write the great American novel.
Anyway, Sully shares my frustration that the ball didn’t get into the hands of the Kansas University football team’s playmakers often enough in the first two games. He asked for a column on the minimum number of touches for them in this morning’s game against Louisiana Tech, which kicks off at 11, testing the degree of support of the student fan base, which was strong in the opener two weeks ago against South Dakota. Good idea, Sully, but could you please keep it down and save the volume for the games, where it’s appropriate to use your outdoor voice?
As always, let’s start with James Sims, the team’s most steady, most valuable performer. With 35 carries and four receptions, Sims leads the team with an average of 19.5 touches. Still, it’s not enough. We’ll set his minimum touches at 25, even if he doesn’t catch a pass. Nobody on the roster can wear out a defense the way Sims can.
Next up, Tony Pierson, the fastest, most explosive, most exciting player on the team. He has averaged six touches a game — half coming on rushes, half on receptions. That’s not enough, even with all the attention defenses have paid to him. He needs at least a dozen touches, even if that means pitching him the ball eight times. The way Pierson blew past Conference USA preseason defensive player of the year Phillip Gaines of Rice en route to a 77-yard touchdown reception indicated defenses can zero in on him all they want, but he’ll eventually burn them with a big play.
Darrian Miller played well in the opener but was not a big part of the game plan against Rice, getting only three touches, bringing his season average down to 8.5. We’ll set a minimum of 10 touches for Miller.
Brandon Bourbon, who vowed to become a more physical football player, looked the part in limited action in the first two weeks, averaging three touches a game. He needs to have the ball in his hands at least six times today.
Head coach Charlie Weis proved last year he is not above scrapping his preference for balance in favor of a run-heavy attack. Don’t be surprised if he does the same as early as today. He already paved the way for a better running attack by replacing right tackle Zach Fondal, a better pass-blocker than run-blocker at this point in his career, with Riley Spencer. Trent Smiley has moved ahead of Jimmay Mundine on the depth chart at tight end, a move inspired by Mundine’s drops. But also don’t overlook that Smiley is a better blocker than receiver, another reason to believe this week’s game plan calls for “shoving it down their throats,” as Weis put it when talking about the Jayhawks’ approach in their only good half of the season, the final two quarters against South Dakota.
It also won’t come as a surprise if Weis has Bourbon, Pierson and either Sims or Miller on the field at the same time, another means of getting the ball into the hands of the playmakers more often.
If Sims, Pierson, Miller and Bourbon combine for a minimum of 53 touches, that should add up to a score somewhere in the neighborhood of Kansas 35, Louisiana Tech 14.