LJWorld.com weblogs Tale of the Tait
Monday Rewind: North Dakota State
Well, nobody expected that. At least, nobody around here.
But it happened and there’s nothing anybody can do about it but put it in the past and move on.
That’s the goal of this blog. For better or for worse, each Monday I’ll provide a quick look back at the game that was — its highs and lows, pluses and minuses — before moving on to a look at what’s ahead.
In this case, with nationally ranked Georgia Tech looming, I had assumed it would be better — more enjoyable, anyway — to spend as much time looking back as possible. And let’s face it, heading into last Saturday it sure seemed as if there would be plenty to be proud about throughout the rest of the weekend.
Essentially none of what we were expecting actually happened, though, so this one figures to be the shortest of them all.
First, I’ll start with the positives. And please understand, I, like so many of you, realize that there weren’t very many positives in this one.
However, the No. 1 thing that I liked from Saturday’s game was that the KU coaching staff at least appears to have successfully identified who its top offensive players are. Their names are Daymond Patterson and D.J. Beshears, they both play wide receiver and return kicks and they both should get the ball as often as humanly possible every Saturday, Thursday, Friday or any other day. The two combined for 147 of KU’s 293 yards of total offense and, together, they provided a little spark in the kick-return game as well. The offense may not have clicked the way people were hoping it would — or at all, really — but at least these two guys were the ones who seemed to be getting the most chances. That can only bode well for the Jayhawks in the future.
The only other thing that you can even remotely consider positive from Saturday’s embarrassment was the defense. KU coach Turner Gill said the defense played outstanding. I won’t go quite that far. I think they played well. What’s more, I think they did what they were supposed to do — limit NDSU to under 200 yards, hold the Bison to six points and, it must be pointed out, that the D did get the ball back for the offense twice in the final five minutes. It’s a good start. I’m not throwing a parade, but here’s guessing that the unit walked away with at least a little confidence after that showing.
OK, now on to the negatives. And I won’t spend a lot of time harping on these, as many of you already have done that in the comments sections and message boards in the moments that followed Saturday’s debacle.
I could sit here and write for days about how the Jayhawks looked unprepared, played tight, made too many mental mistakes and had absolutely no swagger whatsoever. I could also wonder aloud about some of the play-calling — though I hesitate to do too much of that since I’m not a coach and have never been one.
What I do know, though, is that Kale Pick got a raw deal. He may not have been an all-conference QB clone in the first three quarters Saturday, but was he really that bad? Was he really bad enough to justify putting him on the bench with a victory still within reach and his team out there left to fend for itself? I don’t think so. And I think he should’ve gotten a few more chances.
The coaches named Pick their starting QB for a reason. The decision may have been based only on what they saw in practices, but if they take him out of a game before the final gun, how are they going to truly evaluate what he’s capable of doing? His numbers were OK — 13-for-22 for 138 yards — and, considering the fact that the offensive line and the running game gave him no help, I thought he carried himself well, too.
This isn’t a vote against Jordan Webb. I like both guys. I think both guys can play. But the KU staff chose Pick as its starter and then yanked him before giving him a full chance to prove whether he deserved it or not. If Pick had stayed in, maybe things would have clicked in the fourth. Maybe the coaches would then have seen that they have a quarterback who’s capable of responding to the challenge of trailing late in the game. But he didn’t. So now they don’t know.
I wasn’t even that opposed to them going to Webb in search of a spark. What confused me more was how, after naming Pick the starter 15 days before the opening game, they spent the week leading up to the game talking about how much Webb would or would not play. To me, that seemed like a recipe for disaster from the get-go and, clearly, it did not help.
KU coach Turner Gill said Sunday night and again Monday morning that he and his staff were evaluating the quarterback position and searching for the right guy. Here’s hoping they stick with whichever QB they pick this time, for better or for worse.
Switching back and forth and having uncertainty at the game’s most visible position won’t do anything to help bring the offensive rhythm that this team is searching for.
As for my final thought, I'm not sure whether this one falls into the positive or negative category so I'll just tack it on here at the end.
I know it's nuts to think that this loss could be good for the Jayhawks. But the way things unfolded Saturday night, would a 10-6 victory really have been that much better? It still would've been a slight embarrassment and we still would have plenty of questions for the coaches and players to answer.
I know the victory would've made the fans a little happier, but how much would it — if it had come via a furious two-minute rally in the fourth quarter — have really helped the team?
There's an old saying in sports that teams often get more out of losses than they do from wins. Could this be one of those times? Is it possible that the anger, embarrassment and frustration that the Jayhawks felt Saturday — and surely still feel today — will be the kick in the butt they need to get things moving in the right direction?