OSU vs. Kansas: Defensive Pressure Point

Kansas has tried three quarterbacks this season, and who knows who Jayhawks head coach David Beaty will start Saturday against Oklahoma State. But whoever quarterbacks the Jayhawks will have some talented receivers, and the Cowboys secondary could be tested by KU.

Okay, let's just simply look at the numbers here. The Kansas offense is the side of the ball where the Jayhawks have struggled the most. They are averaging a very paltry 94.8 rushing yards a game. That makes Oklahoma State's rushing issues from the last two seasons and heading into this campaign look robust.

On the passing side, Kansas may have used three different quarterbacks with primarily Montell Cozart and Ryan Willis as the starters, but last week in the blow-out loss at Baylor, Carter Stanley got much of the second half and played pretty well. Expect to see Willis or Cozart, and my guess is Willis.

Kansas is averaging 255 passing yards a game, the heavy load of its offensive output and the Jayhawks are rich in receivers. Texas A&M transfer Lequvionte Gonzalez leads the way with 36 receptions for 378 yards and a touchdown. He has had lots of big plays but come up short on the end zone. Steven Sims is making up for it with 28 catches for 453 yards and five touchdowns. Then you can count on Shakiem Barbel, Bobby Hartzog, and tight end Ben Johnson to contribute as well.

The Oklahoma State secondary will find a challenge in Lawrence. Expect the pass rush to get after Kansas as the Jayhawks have been sacked 17 times, but the corners and safeties had best be on their game.

"Me, personally, I'm motivated whoever we play," strong safety Tre Flowers said. "They have a lot of playmakers on that offensive side of the ball now. I'm not sure about the defense, but they are getting close and we don't want to be that one team. We have to come out and play hard."

Another good thing is on his Tuesday night radio call-in show head coach Mike Gundy said that free safety Jordan Sterns (hip pointer) is moving well and ready after the bye week. Cornerback Ramon Richards, also banged up some, is back close to full speed, so the secondary should have all hands on deck for the Homecoming game for the Jayhawks.

On Homecoming, the home team is not supposed to be especially generous but Kansas has been most of the season with a Big 12 high 22 giveaways (12 interceptions and 10 fumbles) and they are last in the Big 12 in turnover margin. The Cowboys are third.

"Every week you talk about those opportunities," defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said of turnovers. "When they happen you have to make the most of it. They have had issues with that, and I'm always on the side of they're getting that corrected. They're stressing that and seeing why they can't do that. They're trying to get those things corrected.

"Our challenge is to go for that ball. If they give you that opportunity, you strip it. It's no different than what we've ever done. I just see it as an individual week. Life goes on and it has nothing to do with what happened in the past or what's going to happen in the future. We have to take advantage of those opportunities to get the ball back."

The secondary needs to take advantage because that is where KU will attack the most and that is our defensive pressure point for Saturday. 

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