Get out healthy! If you’re Oklahoma then that is the primary objective Saturday for their road trip to Lawrence, Kansas. If the Sooners are pushed more against the Jayhawks than they have been by Houston, UCLA, or Texas Tech then it’s time to seriously re-evaluate the potential of this season. The Sooners should roll to a big win just based off of the rosters, which naturally means that the best thing that could happen is that they hit the buses afterwards completely healthy.
Here are three questions about the severely undermanned Jayhawks.
1. How big of a void did Khalil Herbert leave?
Last season, in Norman, Pooka Williams had a monster game against the Sooners (252 yards and two touchdowns) sparking hope that the Jayhawks had a young and talented running back that would help revitalize their struggling program. Williams teamed up with Khalil Herbert to become the focal point of Les Miles’ offense and things seemed to go swimmingly until last week.
Boosted by a season-high 329 yards against Boston College, Kansas cracked the century mark in each of their first four games of the season. Then Herbert decided to take advantage of the four-game redshirt rule and leave the team to pursue graduate transfer options. That resulted in a season-low 75 rushing yards last Saturday at TCU with Pooka Williams going for just 12 yards on 8 carries.
2. Where can the Kansas defense challenge Oklahoma?
The Jayhawks are currently ranked 70th nationally in scoring defense at an average of 26.6 points allowed per game. They are nearly balanced in how opponents attack them on offense, allowing 213 yards per game through the air and 211 on the ground. So, where will they try to limit an Oklahoma offense that is averaging a nation’s best 669 yards per game?
My thought is that they’ll try to keep the Sooners balanced. That has been the pattern this season for Kansas, which tells me they are just trying to avoid giving up the big plays. That can prove to be a dangerous proposition considering Oklahoma’s playmakers. What it means is that they’ll more than likely focus on keeping the ball in front of them, taking little risk in actually attacking.
3. Can the Jayhawks get the ball in Andrew Parchment’s hands?
Outside of Herbert, Andrew Parchment has been the other bright spot on offense for Kansas. The 6-2/180 junior is averaging 13.5 yards per reception on the season and has collected 28 receptions for 377 yards, and 4 touchdowns, through the first five games.
Much like Oklahoma, I would expect the Jayhawks to pass to try and set up the run. Getting the ball to Parchment is the key to success for that.
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