Kansas Game Prep Part 1

The Bears go on the road for the second time this year. It will also be their second trip to the state of Kansas as they take on the Jayhawks who are still looking for the first Big 12 win.

The Baylor Bears hit the road with Kansas on their mind. It seems that is the only place they take us anymore. Oh wait, it is! For the second time in two weeks, the Bears are going north, this time to take on the Jayhawks of Kansas. Charlie Weis is in his second year helming the often ignored Jayhawk football program. He has just 3 wins in his first 15 games in Lawrence, a continuation of the downward trend the program has encountered since their high water mark in 2007 with their Orange Bowl victory.

That honestly feels like a life time ago, and is now considered a blip of relevance in an otherwise mediocre at best last few decades. Of course Bear fans are all too familiar with a struggling football team, and while sympathy is extended out to the Jayhawk faithful, it will only go so far until basketball season starts and the general fan base in Lawrence just doesn't care anymore and probably rightfully so. But for now, the Bears are coming into town on their own high-water mark, and hoping to extend it a few games longer than what Kansas could do.

MEDIA INFORMATION
Date Sat., Oct. 26 | 6:00 p.m. CT
Location Lawrence, Kan. | Memorial Stadium (50,071)
TV ESPNU
Radio ESPN Central Texas | Sirius 119 | XM 191
Online Audio Listen Online
Live Stats Gametracker
Gameday Info Gameday Central
Ticket Info Purchase Tickets
Game Notes
Baylor Notes | Kansas Notes
Twitter @BUFootball

Analytical Breakdown

FEI Rank

8

99

F/+ Rank

5

91

S&P+ Rank

2

108

GE Rank

1

97

Sagarin

4

101

Massey

5

99

RealTime RPI

6

97

Average

4.43

98.86

The Bears ranking keeps getting better and better each week. Last week against Iowa State, they had a cumulative ranking of 6.7, so the Bears moved up just over 2 spots. Of course, Baylor saw a rise in the AP and Coaches Poll that was greater than that, but the analytical rankings are favoring the Bears right now. They are not so favorable to the rebuilding Jayhawks who are just 2-4 on the year and are 0-3 in Big 12 play. While they are not the worst team rankings wise currently that the Bears have seen, they are definitely closer to the bottom of the list than the top.

Last week, the Cyclones had a ranking of 68.14, which is roughly 30 spots higher than the Jayhawks. Iowa State received the benefit of the doubt from a lot of the advanced rankings due to their close losses. Kansas is getting no such benefit as they have lost by an average of 18 points and only one of their games has been within 10 points, a September 14th loss to Rice in Houston.


Offense

ADVANTAGE


Defense

Play Efficiency

1

85
Rushing S&P+

15

107
Passing S&P+

1

37
Drive Efficiency

2

55
FEI

5

77
First Down Rate

1

46
Available Yards

1

49
Average

4.28

74.86

Really, the Bears chart should look like this against almost every team. If you had to pick one strength for the Jayhawks, it would be there defense as it has been average for most of the year. For such a lowly ranked team, average is pretty good. They give up a bit more yards than the average defense (425.2 yards per game, ranked 76th against FBS teams), but are even better on a per play basis (5.2 yards per play, ranked 39th). They are also middle of the road when it comes to points per play (0.361 points per play which ranks 55th).

All of that is pretty average. What they are good at though is forcing turnovers, which they do 2.6 times per game (12th most in the country). They are 19th in interceptions per game (1.4) and 13th in fumbles recovered per game (1.2). The Jayhawks also force an interception or a sack on 8.88% of all passing plays (5.31% sack rate, 3.57% interception rate). That would rank 56th overall.

The Kansas defense is significantly better against the pass. They allow just 6.2 yards per pass attempt (19th best in the country) and 10.6 yards per completion (14th best in the country). This is a defense that does not let the big pass play beat them. They have only allowed 24 passes of 15 yards or more and 9 passes of 25 yards or more. Mind you, the Bears offense has a ridiculous 54 passes of 15 yards or more and 30 of 25 yards or more. The Jayhawks don't let you get behind them very often. They allow the 4th fewest 20+ yard passing plays in the country with 13.


Defense

ADVANTAGE


Offense

Play Efficiency

32

114
Rushing S&P+

50

94
Passing S&P+

48

115
Drive Efficiency

10

112
FEI

24

114
First Down Rate

19

123
Available Yards

27

123
Average

30

113.57

Without hesitation, this is the worst overall offense the Bears have seen in the 2013 season. Louisiana-Monroe held that distinction, but the Jayhawks are behind the Warhawks in pretty much every single one of the analytical measures. They are worse in First Down rates (123 to 115), worse in Average Yards (110 to 123), worse in efficiency rates (122 to 118). This is a bad KU offense right now, having to be carried by a solid running attack that is just not getting any help.

Their running backs are averaging a solid 5.06 yards per carry, but they are only getting the chance to run 30 times per game. Star running back James Sims is averaging 4.72 yards per carry, but in their 3 conference games, he has seen his average go down to 4.35 yards per carry. They have missed the services of their big-play guy out of the back-field the past two games in Tony Pierson as well who averaged 6.50 yards per carry last year and was bettering that in 2013 with a 6.67 yards per carry average.

The passing attack is what really hurts the Kansas offense, as they just struggle to complete enough passes. They complete just 52.35% of their passes (105th in the country). But the worst part is, they don't even have the excuse of long passes hurting their completion percentage to fall back on. They average just 10.7 yards per completion (102nd in the country). An inefficient short-passing game is like missing a bunch of 5 foot jump shots in basketball; it just kills your offense.

Players to Watch

The bell-cow for the Jayhawks offensively is James Sims, who is one of those players that seems to have been in college for roughly 7 years. He is a four year starter for the Jayhawks, and has been their best player for that time-span. He is a solid running back who gets tough yardage and runs in between the tackles and around the end very well. In the past, his partner in crime was Tony Pierson, who is much more of a big-play threat and a guy that can hurt you from the backfield as well. However, Pierson has missed the last two games for the Jayhawks and taken away a mighty big piece from their arsenal. The junior running back has been battling a concussion from a few weeks ago and is currently day to day. He has not been cleared for the Baylor game yet, but has not been ruled out yet either.

Getting them the ball is junior quarterback Jake Heaps, a transfer from BYU. Heaps is not a running threat at all from the quarterback position and has never been known for his accuracy either as his career completion percentage is just 56%. He is completing under 52% of his passes this year and has already thrown 6 interceptions compared to just 6 touchdowns. His yards per attempt have gone down every year of his career from 6.0 yards in 2010 with BYU to 5.5 yards this year with Kansas.

Another player that has been battling injuries is middle linebacker Ben Heeney. The Jayhawks leading tackler in 2012, the junior was an All-Big 12 second team member last year. Heeney has 43 tackles in 5 games and has added 7 tackles for loss. He also is tied for the team lead in interceptions with 2. Heeney is one of the better linebackers in the Big 12, and his absence hurt the Jayhawks against TCU where he missed most of the game, and Oklahoma. Heeney is also day to day, so he is another player to watch for as we get closer to Saturday.

The leading tackler for the Jayhawks is strong safety Isaiah Johnson, a first year player that transferred from Iowa Western Community College. Johnson is tied for the team lead along with Ben Heeney with two interceptions and paces the Jayhawks with 48 total tackles. Johnson was a three-star safety recruit in 2013.

What do the Jayhawks want to do?

Offensively, the Jayhawks are still trying to find out what they do. They run the ball pretty well, but just cannot pass well enough to hurt a defense and take away the extra defenders in the box. James Sims is a very good running back and Tony Pierson is as explosive as any player in the Big 12, but without any other weapons, the offense turns into a mess. They will run the ball heavily on first down (65.66% of first downs are a run) and almost as much on 2nd down (58.33%). Where they get into trouble is on third down where they actually have -22 yards on 36 rush attempts, and can only run it 40.91% of the time. Their yards per run decreases by down as well from 4.36 on first down, 3.96 on second down, and then -.61 on third down. That is a big reason why they only convert 27.27% of their third downs and keep the chains moving (7th worst in country).

Defensively, they are a team that tries to make you run the ball, and play off of the receivers to keep them in front and take away the big play. They trust their secondary players, especially Isaiah Johnson in the back end along with Cassius Sendish, two junior college transfers KU brought in to solidify its safety positions. They use a 3-man front with a "buck" linebacker who is more like a defensive end. They have good size on the defensive line at 287, 297 and 277 with their buck linebacker being 245. They utilize two traditional linebackers with a third acting more like a hybrid nickleback. With their size, they try and matchup against the run just with their front seven, keeping both of their safeties deeper to stop the long pass.


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