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Quick Look: Kansas Jayhawks

Can you have a trap game when you’re sub-.500?

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

No Pooka, no problem?

Uhh... not so fast, my friend.

Kansas Football is bad. Has been bad. And has little hope of being not bad any time soon.

If you want a silver lining, at least that loss to Coastal doesn’t look so bad!

Anyway, TCU has to travel to Lawrence this weekend to play the Jayhawks, a team the Frogs have lost to just once since joining the Big 12 but have played an oddly significant number of close games with. Even when the Horned Frogs were very good, they’ve nearly been tripped up by KU: the combined margin in 2014 and 2015’s victories was just 10 points.

When the Frogs have been “bad”, they’ve fared just fine, including last year’s 51-14 drubbing on TCU’s home field.

(Let’s just skip over 2018, mmkay?)

TCU Football is struggling, that we know. At 3-4 with two games on the schedule (and one more possible), it’s a battle to finish over .500, and to do so would almost certainly require a win Saturday. The Jayhawks have yet to put one in the win column, 0-7 with TCU, Texas Tech, and Texas left on deck. Pooka Lawrence opted out early on and KU has suffered for it — not like they had much going for them anyway.

Les Miles has recruited well but has had issues getting committed players to sign; if KU goes 0-10, he may decide that retirement sounds awfully good again. In the meantime, let’s take a look at what he’s got in the Sunflower State.

OFFENSE:

Kansas has the worst scoring offense in the conference, putting just 15 points per game on the board. The good news for KU fans (if they exist)? TCU is second to last, but eclipses their mark by nine points per.

Running back Velton Gardner is the AO for the Hawks; stepping into the role vacated by Pooka, Gardner, a sophomore out of Dallas Skyline, was a three star recruit and former Tech commit. He has 4.4 yards per carry and over 50 yards per game, scoring four touchdowns in the process. He lines up behind freshman quarterback Jalon Daniels most often, who took over the starting job in week two and has played in every game since, starting all but one. He has seen competition from Thomas MacVittie and Miles Kendrick — who moved the ball well against Oklahoma a week ago (albeit in a 62-9 loss).

Daniels is a dual threat: he has completed nearly 52% of his passes for 661 yards but has yet to throw a touchdown this season. He’s managed to get into the end zone on the ground, though, getting in the end zone three times using his legs. Because he has been sacked as much as anyone on a per snap basis — 34 times in 139 drop backs — it’s hard to get a true read on what he’s capable of, but his teammates and coaches rave about his growth and the vibe he brings to the position. He’s definitely a player you can build around, but KU just doesn’t have the pieces to enable him to be great.

The offensive line is a disaster, as we already noted; 38 total sacks in seven games is not ideal — TCU has only allowed 20, by comparison, and that has felt like A LOT. At receiver, it’s a whole lot of Kwamie Lassiter and Andrew Parchment; both seniors, the duo has combined 54 receptions and three scores this season, despite the inconsistent quarterback play. They may have an advantage over the banged-up TCU secondary, but only if Daniels has time to throw.

DEFENSE:

There is one, or so the rumors go.

Kansas has the worst scoring defense in the league (allowing 48.4 ppg) and the rushing defense in the conference (allowing 213 ypg and 5.5 per attempt). Their passing defense is actually pretty good — just 255 yards allowed per game — but, you have to consider that most opponents have put them away early enough and tend to run the ball more in the second half. The 468 total yards allowed per game is the bottom of the Big 12, no one has fewer sacks than the Jayhawks, and their three interceptions are the fewest in the conference.

Sophomore safety Kenny Logan leads the team with 50 tackles and has two of the team’s three sacks, linebacker Kyron Johnson is the sack leader with three, and defensive lineman Marcus Harris lives in the backfield with 6.5 tackles for loss. Karon Prunty is a handsy DB who has nine PBUs, but to say this secondary is vulnerable to the big play is an understatement. If Max Duggan and Quentin Johnston don’t feast Saturday, they might never do so.

PREDICTION:

This is one the Frogs have to win, obviously, and that most would like to see them win big — and make a statement. TCU has played relatively well against bad teams — and there are none worse than Kansas in 2020. Saturday is supposed to be perfect weather-wise, so there should be no excuses to not put a whooping on KU.

TCU 48, Kansas 13