The Cowboys and Jayhawks are set to face with both teams coming off a bye. We took some time to catch up with Andy Mitts of Rock Chalk Talk to dig deeper into their Kansas team.
Micah Allen: What matchup are you most looking forward to seeing on Saturday?
Andy Mitts: I’m most looking forward to seeing what Carter Stanley and the receivers can do against the Oklahoma State secondary. We know that Pooka Williams can get his yards, but it hasn’t really seemed to be too flashy this year. Kansas’ offense gets exciting when the receivers are getting involved early and often. Plus, when Stanley is able to run around and make plays, I get flashbacks to Todd Reesing. That’s enough to get any Jayhawk fan excited.
Micah Allen: The Jayhawks have actually shown some bright spots this season, does the fanbase generally believe Les Miles has them on the right trajectory?
Andy Mitts: Yes. Miles has done much more than anyone could have reasonably expected in his first year. Recruiting is way up. The Jayhawks are legitimately competing for some of the best talent in the nation. The class is over-full, and seems to get better by the week. The schemes on the field aren’t always successful, but you can at least see that there was some semblance of a plan that has the potential to work. That’s a huge improvement. And finally, the fanbase is excited again. If you had told me before David Beaty was fired that Kansas would even get the stadium 3⁄4 of the way full for a single game this season, I would have called you insane.
There is still a LOT of work to do, but no one doubts that they are at least heading in the right direction now.
Micah Allen: Why is KU so bad at defending against the run?
Andy Mitts: To be frank, they just don’t have the physical talent that they need. They lost a LOT of talent from last year, all of it on the front 7. Dru Prox was the best of that bunch this year before he was lost to injury. Gavin Potter has filled in admirably, but he is still a slightly undersized true freshman. He’ll get there, but it will take some time. Azur Kamara has stepped up, but he is still just one guy on that defensive front.
Micah Allen:Who has been more vital to KU’s defense, freshman Gavin Potter (Broken Arrow kid that OSU went after) or Lawrence’s own Bryce Torneden?
Andy Mitts:Definitely has to be Bryce Torneden. But that’s not fair since he is a senior who was one of the highest rated returning safeties in the entire conference. The Kansas secondary has been phenomenal this year when they haven’t had to cheat too much to help with the run. I’m expecting big things from Potter in the coming years, but he is still a ways off.
Micah Allen: What had lead to KU’s ability to keep up with some of these Big 12 teams offensively? (looking at you Texas)
Andy Mitts:Simply put, it’s Brent Dearmon. His schemes are set up well to take advantage of the strengths of Carter Stanley and the big playmakers they have around the offense. It also helps that a lot of the teams they have broken out against have fairly bad defenses that are susceptible to the big play.
Micah Allen; What changes has new OC Brent Dearmon made to the offense? What do you think has worked? what hasn’t.
Andy Mitts: Dearmon’s offense is built on pre-snap reads on plays that have multiple options. The main idea is to run the ball, but the quarterback has the option to pull the ball back based on a pre-snap read and throw the ball to one of the receivers on the play. It’s built on a quick tempo and fast decisions, something that Carter Stanley is able to handle fairly well.
It’s run into problems when the defense has been successful at disguising their coverages AND can get enough early pressure to avoid Stanley from doing post-snap reads. Kansas State was able to do both, but most teams won’t be able to.
Micah Allen: Chuba will get 300 anyway, but could they let him get 600 just to bolster the Heisman campaign? (you don’t have to answer this one its just me picking lol)
Andy Mitts: I’ll make you a deal. We’ll let Chuba get 600 if you let Carter Stanley throw for 600 with 5 touchdowns. He needs to solidify his #2 spot on the Kansas quarterback leaderboards.
Micah Allen: Score prediction?
Andy Mitts: I’m going to stick with my prediction from the podcast episode we did. I see both teams getting going on offense, but relying on the running games will keep the explosive plays somewhat in check. Oklahoma State pulls it out late, but Kansas keeps it close after coming back from an early 2-score deficit. Give me Oklahoma State 38 - Kansas 31.