Two times, Tech got inside the five yard line, but came away empty. The first thing to work on is short yardage situations. Tech was not able to line up and pound the ball straight into the Kansas defense. The Jayhawks stuffed the run on first down numerous times, setting up second and long situations. It was never more obvious in the red zone, where Patrick Jackson took a pitch and was met instantly.
Louisiana Tech has not had a lot of success running the ball so far this year. Some of that can be attributed to the defensive lines of both Kansas and Mississippi State. Tech needs to be able to run behind the right side of their line. Big Jared Miles and Cudahy Harmon are 650 pounds of what should be a strength of the team.
Speaking of the offensive line, the big guys up front are young, real young. While Miles and Lon Roberts are both returning starters, they are sophomores. Harmon and fellow tackle Rob McGill are sophomores too, and they started just a handful of games last year. Ben Harris is a junior, and he has limited experience going into this season. Going into last weekend, the line looked experienced enough and big enough to be a force. They still can be a force, but they have to play better. Not only are they struggling to open holes in the run game, they are having a hard time keeping Taylor Bennett of the ground. Bennett has not been sacked, but a big reason for that is his ability to get rid of the football under pressure.
Tech will not see a defensive line as good as Kansas or Mississippi State again this year. They also have an off week and a game against a FBS team to work things out. The experience of the last two weeks will only help them get better.
Bennet will also welcome the next two weeks to get in tune with his receivers. Bennett is completing around 35% of his passes and needs to improve his accuracy to keep the opposing defense honest.
On a positive note, Tech had a 22 play drive in the first half that went for 82 yards and took up over nine minutes of clock. Bennett converted numerous third downs to put Tech in scoring position. In the second half, Phillip Livas took the ball 78 yards to the two yard line. Tech failed to score both times and both times it killed Tech's momentum.
Tech could have gone up 7-3 in the first half and might have only been down 13-7 at the half. Instead, the Bulldogs went in the locker room with a 13-0 defecit. Halfway through the 3rd quarter, Kansas went up 20-0. When Livas took the ball all the way down the field, Tech had a chance to punch the ball in and get back into the game. Instead, they settled for a missed field goal and never seemed to be able to get things going after that point.
Todd Reesing only missed on 6 passes and threw for over 400 yards. For the second straight week, Tech lost players in coverage and allowed them to get wide open. Unlike Mississippi State, Kansas did not make enough mistakes for Tech to stop them.
While the pass defense struggled, the run defense stepped up again. It was not more evident than on the second Kansas possession. THey Jayhawks marched down to Tech's 12 yard line and went for it on 4th and inches. The Bulldog defense stuffed them and got the ball back for Bennett. Trailing only 3-0, Bennett took his team down the field on the 22 play drive and everything looked like Tech was going to give Kansas a game. It was not to be and Kansas scored on five of their next six possessions to put it away.
So, the positives to take away from the game are run defense and the long drive. Things to work on are protecting Bennett, asserting the run game, pass coverage, and quarterback accuracy. Southeastern Louisiana should be a good tuneup game coming out of the bye week and look for Tech to come out strong. The Dawgs then have two games with 10 days to prepare for each against Hawaii and then Boise. The schedule sets up nicely for Tech to make a big run. The Bulldogs will take what they learned against Kansas and use it to their advantage.