Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Q and A with the Enemy - Kansas

This week I was approached by the fine folks at Kansas Football, It's Business Time to exchange a Q&A session about our respective programs. Here's the link to our exchange there. As a bonus, the link immediately after has a great shot of former Sooner Brian Bosworth sporting a 80s mullet that would make Billy Ray Cyrus proud. Below, are the Hiphopapotamus responses to my 10 questions about Kansas.

1. Kerry Meier is the best former quarterback at Kansas since Nolan Cromwell. Discuss.
People often ask me where this Kansas team would be without Todd Reesing. And much to their surprise, I think the bigger loss is Kerry Meier at receiver. Todd is the right man for the job, no question. But Kerry Meier could run this offense very well, especially with his running ability. The biggest obstacle he'd have to overcome is not being able to throw to himself. Right now he's on track for over 100 catches and 1200 yards and over 60% of his catches go for first downs. Right now, he's irreplaceable and this is without even practicing with the WRs (though he does have a semi-serious hamstring injury, so hopefully he'll be healthy this weekend and the rest of the way).

2. Did you break anything during the first half of the Iowa State game?
I did not (because I was at a family member's house), but I did start drinking heavily. I still have no explanation for that display. All at once, the entire offense just seemed to forget what they do well and how they do it. And defensively, they just forgot to show up for the first two drives, and given ISU's field position that was plenty to take a quick 14-0 lead. It was a truly awful 30 minutes of football and I'm grateful they were able to regroup at half.

3. Nebraska is not what the many thought they would be, and KU got a tough draw on the Big 12 South side of the schedule. With two games completed in the conference schedule, how do you feel about the Jayhawks chances for a Big 12 North title?
A lot better since Chase s*** the bed against the Pokes. And if they lose again this week in Austin, I'll really be giddy. In that scenario, Kansas would only need to go 3-3 the rest of the way as long as one of those wins came at Arrowhead on Nov. 29th. Unfortunately, 3-3 won't come easy. Obviously beating Methzou will be tough, but even outside of the South teams (OU, UT, Tech), KU may also need to win in Nebraska. Down as they may be, the Hawks haven't won there since the sixties so I won't be guaranteeing anything until that one is in the books.

4. Kerry Meier is having a great year, as is Todd Reesing. Tell me who else the Sooners will watch run unabated through the middle of the defensive backfield.
Well the other receiver that's very similar to Meier is Dexton Fields. In fact, that duo is incredibly similar to Shipley/Cosby. So obviously I'm hopeful KU's coaches will find a way to match them up on your linebackers, much the same as Texas did. On the outside is probably the most talented receiver in Dezmon Briscoe. I'll be interested to see how he performs, because he sometimes has a tendency to disappear for halves at a time. You'll also see Johnathan Wilson, but ever since exploding in the South Florida game he hasn't been able to get a ton going.

5. What's the scuttlebutt on Mangino? Do you think he'll stick around at Kansas? Or try to go somewhere with a more consistent tradition? I would think if he would start drinking SlimFast and the Jayhawks go 10-3 or so he could land a big raise at some place like Clemson or Washington.
We all think he'll stay. They just opened the new football complex this year and that's pretty much his offspring. Also, like you alluded to, I don't think any big time programs want to take a chance on him, because of the long-term risks of his health. Plus, he's making $2.3 mil a year and while that's not at the Stoops/Saban/Weis level it's a pretty solid chunk of change that will only go up with prolonged success.

6.My limited research says the LBs are the heart of the Jayhawk defense. Tell us about them.
The linebackers are the heart of the defense. Or at least they should be. To this point, the true heart has come from SS Darrell Stuckey. But as a unit, they're what makes this defense go. When they're flying around, shedding blocks and making hits it's infectious because they're all the senior leaders everyone looks up to. In the middle, Joe Mortensen is an all-league player that's not having an all-league year. He struggles in pass coverage, but is great against the run. On the outside is Mike Rivera and James Holt. Mike is the most talented of the three and is one of the last guys you want to get hit by when he's running downhill. And while he's the least known, Holt has actually had the best year of the bunch. He's very undersized, but he's fast and a very sure tackler. You'll also probably see Arist Wright some, and he too, has been playing very good, assignment sound defense lately.

7. Kansas has had some intermittent success in football, dating back to Gale Sayers, John Riggins and Nolan Cromwell back in the day, some good years under Glen Mason, and now a resurgence under Mangino. What's the campus environment like on gameday? Have the Jayhawk faithful embraced football yet? Or is this something to do until basketball gets underway?
Campus on gameday is gorgeous if not crazy. The Jayhawk faithful have absolutely embraced football (see the sellouts v. FIU and SHS – that didn't even happen last year), but I'm not sure that they entirely understand it just yet. With campus on two sides and neighborhood housing filling out the rest, it's always a beautiful scene with the potential for much more. Don't get me wrong, the tailgating has increased dramatically and is always a great time. I'm just not the sure the vast majority have figured out that a home football game is an all day event, regardless of kickoff time.

8. Kansas was one of the top teams in the country in kickoff returns last year, and are awful year to date. Do you expect that the Sooner matador kickoff return coverage unit will get Marcus Herford back on track?
I sure hope so. Herford was a preseason All-American after averaging 25+ each of the last two years and now they've done almost nothing. After last game, Mangino said he was going to be evaluating all special teams from both a personnel and schematic standpoint. Combine that with the Sooners' struggles here and I'm hoping he can find something to get this thing going.

9. For the uninitiated, what's the backstory to "it's business time"?
I wish I had a cool back story, but we're just a couple of dorks that really like Flight of the Conchords. "It's Business Time" happens to be one of their funnier songs and so we threw it in the title. In fact, now that you ask, there's probably nothing less correlated with Kansas football.

10. What's your prediction for the game Saturday?
I really like the range of your score (42-28), but I think both teams may be forced to kick a FG or more (whether they make them is a different story). I'll say 41-30, but I have a hunch I'm being a tad too optimistic.

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