Ball control the key to victory

The Fox Sports Net broadcasting duo of Bill Land and Dave Lapham - together with Emily Jones on the sidelines - will be in the booth at Memorial Stadium tomorrow, as the Kansas Jayhawks take on the Red Raiders of Texas Tech. Friday, Phog.net got a few minutes with Land and Lapham, breaking down the Kansas keys to victory.

In 2010, the Fox Sports Net broadcasting duo of Bill Land and Dave Laphamp were on hand in Lawrence, Kan. for the high point of the season for the Kansas Jayhawks - a 28-25 upset of then-No. 15 Georgia Tech in Week Two.

Though the wheels would fall off the bus just three weeks later in a loss to Baylor - a loss that kick-started a four-game conference losing streak and sent the Jayhawks' season into a tailspin - it did offer a tantalizing glimpse of what Kansas might be capable of under Head Coach Turner Gill.

Thus far, 2011 has been something of a mixed-bag for Gill's squad in Year Two. While the offense is dramatically improved, the defense is struggling to find an identity and stop opponents from reaching the end zone with astonishing frequency.

Saturday, Land and Lapham return to Lawrence - along with Emily Jones on the sidelines - as the Jayhawks open conference play against the high-powered offense of Texas Tech.

There are a number of factors that make the outcome difficult to predict, Land explained. The youth of both the Kansas offense and Tech defense can throw a wrench into the works, and using non-conference results to try and divine the result of a conference opener is frequently a lesson in futility.

One mark in the Jayhawks' corner is the presence of offensive coordinator Chuck Long, Land added, whose offense is currently putting up almost 450 yards per game.

"I think one of the things I admire about him is the ability to take whatever talent he's got and adapt it to get the most out of it," the veteran broadcast said. "I'm not quite sure what we'll see tomorrow, but I'm guessing we things different since (KU is coming off a bye week)."

Indeed, the extra week of rest and preparation came at a fortuitous time for Kansas, who used it to get healthy and focus on the puzzle that is the Red Raiders. Offensive virtuoso Mike Leach may no longer reside in Lubbock, Texas, but second-year head coach Tommy Tuberville has his team putting up the same impressive numbers.

Through three games, the Tech offense is averaging more than 500 yards of total offense and 48 points per game. Quarterback Seth Doege is completing an almost unbelievable 77.4-percent of his passes and is already closing in on the 1,000-yard mark, with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Lapham expects Tuberville to mix formations and personnel groups against the inexperienced Kansas defense, finding mismatches wherever possible - which makes winning the time of possession battle a key for the Jayhawks.

"Both teams are converting at a very high rate on third down," Lapham said. "Kansas has been fairly proficient, but you almost feel like you have to score on every possession against Texas Tech because their offense is so explosive."

It's a goal Kansas is capable of achieving, though the margin for error is slim. On the strength of ball security (just one turnover on the season) and a revamped rushing attack, the Jayhawks have been much improved offensively through three games.

In order for them to come home with the win, Lapham said, they'll need to win the turnover battle - preferably by a plus-two margin - and control field position; both age-old ingredients to a successful football team.

But the ground game will be of perhaps the greatest import. Out-rush Texas Tech, keep the offense on the field and find a way to keep the Red Raiders from getting their own rushing attack going, and victory is within reach.

"I think Kansas has to feel like they can out-rush them," Lapham noted. "Win the game on the ground, win the time of possession, and they give themselves a chance."

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net.


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