One team has to win Saturday, and one team will inevitably lose. But hey, it’s almost basketball season! Here is our Q&A with MisterBrain of Rock Talk Chalk.
FOW: Is it basketball season yet?
MisterBrain: YES!! The first exhibition was Thursday night for the Jayhawks, so I think it is safe to say that the basketball season has officially started.
FOW: I’m sorry... before we talk about the game, can you help us? This has been the worst TCU Football season in... a while... and not to be cold here, but Kansas fans are kind of used to not being, well, good. How do you get through it annually?
MB: It’s definitely a lot harder since I don’t drink alcohol, but daily reminders that basketball season is starting soon seems to help. But really, it’s about finding things to celebrate in individual performances, and deluding yourself into thinking that it can’t get any worse next year.
FOW: TCU fans are very familiar with Doug Meacham, and his firing from Kansas reverberated in Fort Worth. What did Doug do for the Jayhawk program, why is he gone, and what’s different without him?
MB: I don’t know that he did a whole lot, but it’s not fair to put the blame for that on him. David Beaty has been pretty notorious in his time here for overextending himself and being too involved with his offense. It was part of the reason that his previous offensive coordinator was run off, and Doug Meacham was supposed to be the big name that came in and forced him to give up that control. But rumors have been swirling that there were constant disagreements between the two as to the direction the offense needed to take, and given last week’s performance, I’m comfortable in saying that Beaty never really gave up control like he was supposed to.
FOW: KU was off to such a strong start this season, and for a while, looked like they might win some Big 12 games. Now, oddly enough, this weekend might be their best shot to get one conference win. What happened?
MB: It’s easy to look at games against Central Michigan and Rutgers as signs of improvement, but that would ignore the debacle that was the season opening loss against Nichols State. This offense is constantly being dominated at the line of scrimmage, and only Rutgers and CMU were bad enough for them to overcome that. This defense has played really well, but it’s nearly impossible to be in top form when you are constantly on the field, and the Big 12 is especially capable of taking advantage of tired defenses.
FOW: Who are two players on both sides of the ball that opposing coaches need to game plan against/be aware of?
MB: The obvious answer on offense is Khalil Herbert and Pooka Williams. Both are running backs that have the power and talent to overwhelm their opponents, assuming they get just a bit of blocking in front of them. On defense, there are a huge number of guys to talk about. Joe Dineen and Daniel Wise are the obvious choices, so I’ll go with a few lesser known guys in Bryce Torneden and Keith Loneker. Both were less heralded guys who are showing up big this season, especially against the run. Unless TCU can get the deep passing game going early, they will be able to make running a hard thing for the Horned Frogs all game long.
FOW: The Frogs and Jayhawks have played a lot of weirdly close games over the years. Any insight as to why that is, and do expect more of the same Saturday?
MB: I’ve said that these games have the feel of a rivalry game without all the animosity between the fan bases. I’m not sure if it is just TCU not taking the team seriously, or Kansas getting up to play against the color purple, but I would expect this game to be fairly close all day long.
FOW: What’s your prediction for the game? What does KU need to do to win?
MB: Turnovers. If Kansas can force TCU to turn the ball over, they can ride some momentum to a dominant defensive performance. I think Pooka Williams breaks a couple long runs to get the offense going just enough to stay in the game, and a late pick 6 by Mike Lee gives KU the upset win. Kansas 21, TCU 17.
BONUS QUESTION: Kansas is predicted to win the Big 12 once again, but will have quite a few challengers (as per usual). What about this KU team makes you believe they can win their one thousandth consecutive Big 12 title? Which program is their biggest threat?
MB: Their depth is insane, even with the Adidas trial causing Silvio De Sousa to be sidelined while his eligibility is investigated. Add in the fact that they probably have the conference player of the year in Dedric Lawson (not sure how Dean Wade got the preseason nod), and Kansas should be able to win handily this year. The biggest threat is probably the Wildcats, but I could make an argument for West Virginia pretty easily too.