Standing 0-2 on the season, the possibility of the Kansas Jayhawks posting a winless is real. On the other side of the equation, the Oklahoma State Cowboys have not fielded the high-flying offense many were expecting. Instead, shifting toward a game management style of play, the program has found a recipe for success by leaning on an experienced defense. Regardless, the offense must score points in order to claim victory. Here are three names — err two and one group — to be aware of heading into the weekend.
Offensive Line As A Whole
In the opening week of play, offensive linemen Hunter Anthony and Cole Birmingham suffered injuries. Following suit, the duo underwent surgery after discovering the extent of the injuries. It leaves a depleted group thinner than before for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately for O-State, the lack of depth is showing up on the stat sheet in sacks and tackles for loss.
Through two games, OSU has surrendered seven sacks to opposing defenses. The number ranks eighth amongst the league and the 20 tackles for loss allowed sits at No. 9 the Big XII Conference. It’s clearly a concern as the competition begins to ramp up through the month of October and into November.
Playing clean and efficient, I think most fans want to see this group take a step forward against Kansas.
Shane Illingworth | Quarterback
After taking over the reigns at quarterback, Shane Illingworth proved to the fanbase that he possesses an accurate arm. Attempting 21 passes over the previous weekend, the freshman connected with a target 15 different times. The effort marks a 71.4% completion percentage. However, the signal caller also accounted for an interception during the outing. Having yet to throw a touchdown, the Cowboys will likely count Illingworth once again against the Jayhawks.
It’s my opinion that OSU should not play Spencer Sanders unless it’s absolutely necessary. Leaning on the youngster heavily, Illingworth must continue to be accurate in the first road game of his career. Keeping the defense honest throughout the day will provide opportunities for the running backs to go to work. Currently, KU ranks No. 2 in conference against the pass but only No. 9 against the run.
Don’t expect all world numbers from Illingworth on Saturday but do expect his play to have an impact on whether or not Oklahoma State covers the spread.
LD Brown | Running Back
As a bit of a pleasant surprise in the backfield, LD Brown is currently averaging 8.30 yards per carry. Through two games this season, the running back has only carried the ball twenty times. But the senior has made the most of every opportunity as evidenced by the numbers above. While defenses continue to focus in on the likes of Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace, Brown has run free.
Knowing the Jayhawks struggles against the run, it could easily be a career outing for Brown assuming the Cowboys feed him the ball. Expect the backs to carry the team once again especially if Illingworth is the start at quarterback — like I believe he will be.