Along with our Q&A session with the Kansas blog, Rock Chalk Talk, another blog, Kansas Jayhawks...It's Business Time, asked us to sit down with them as well. The more love for The Ralphie Report, the better. Here is the questions we asked KJIBT and his associated responses. Check out how we answered KJIBT's questions. Enjoy
The Ralphie Report (TRR): First things first, what is the mood like right now in Lawrence and around the Jayhawk Nation? Is this team better than they were last year or is there is still questions surrounding the 2008 Jayhawks? What is the biggest difference between this team and last year's team?
Kansas Jayhawks...It's Business Time (KJIBT): I think there are two different moods. The casual fans (of which there are many) are still swinging on the pendulum. When things are good, 13-1 and national championship is attainable; when they're bad, they may not win again. For the rest of us, we're still in wait-and-see mode. There is a ton of promise on this team, but so far we really haven't seen them put it all together for an entire game yet, which is something they did a lot of last year. Which brings me to the biggest difference; the lack of a running game. Todd is great, but there's nothing like a good running game to halt the skids when things aren't going right or to move the clock when they are. This was a strength last year; this year it's non-existent.
TRR: What happened against Iowa State in the first half? I know the Jayhawks aren't as bad as they showed in the first half but are they as good as they showed in the second half?
I'll answer the latter first. They are definitely as good as they showed in the second half. But like I said in #1, they don't have that consistency yet, because they don't have the proper balance from a legitimate running game. I don't have a good explanation for what happened, other than that they weren't ready to play. The first four drives (2 O, 2 D) were as bad as I've seen in years and that was all it took to fall behind 14-0. From there, the defense turned it on, but it took the offense until halftime to reorganize. Outside of possibly the KSU game, they don't have any more games where they could feasibly get away with doing that again.
TRR: Right now Kansas ranks 96th in the nation in rushing offense. What is the main reason for the struggles and are you concerned when Kansas starts going up against some of the big boys in the conference.
Concerned is a very nice way to put how I feel about the running game. I don't even want to think about what's going to happen in Norman next week. In fact, if they didn't get Tech and UT at home, I'd be scared to death for the remainder of the season. As boring as it sounds, the problem is the offensive line. We started last year knowing the tackles would be great and wondering about the inside. This year, that was reversed and we all just assumed (hoped) they would rise to the occasion or be carried by their seniors on the inside and that just hasn't happened. I'm sure things would be at least moderately better with McAnderson back there, but these backs are plenty capable of producing if they get some lanes.
TRR: Looking at the remaining Kansas schedule, I am seeing 3 wins and 4 losses. Can this team beat one of the big four remaining on its schedule or will this be a 4 - 4 Big 12 team (Texas Tech, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma).
I remain optimistic (if not a little naive) that they can win two of those, especially the two at home. Unfortunately, it's become pretty apparent that they aren't going to stop (or even contain) any of those offenses. If they're to beat any of them, it's going to be in a shootout, so hopefully the offense is up to the task.
TRR: Who is the best DL, LB and DB on the defensive side of the ball? What aspect of the defense do you think has the biggest advantage against the Buffs (speed, talent, size, strength, scheme)?
DB - Darrell Stuckey: Chris Harris is the best cover guy, but for an overall package Stuckey is the choice.
LB - Joe Mortensen: James Holt has been the most consistent this year and Mike Rivera has the most talent, but as long as he isn't covering too many passing routes, Mortensen is the best of the bunch.
DL - Richard Johnson, Jr.: This was the hardest to answer, because they're all either really young or really average. Laptad has emerged as the only one who can consistently get pressure, but Johnson has been decent against the run and in pushing the pocket, so I'll give him the nod.
The linebackers are our best collective unit. As long as the d-line is occupying blockers, I don't think anyone can run that well against them and both outside guys are usually pretty decent in coverage. Expect a minimum of one (and often more) to blitz any time CU faces a third and long.
TRR: Who is the best WR, RB and OL on this Kansas team? Where does Kansas have the edge in the upcoming game on offense other than Todd Reesing?
WR - Kerry Meier: Dezmon Briscoe has the most natural talent, but Meier is the easy choice here. He has 44 catches and is averaging over 100 yards/game. As a converted QB he always seems to know where the opening is and he never drops a ball. As valuable as Reesing is, Meier has been right there with him this year.
RB - Jake Sharp: To be honest, we have no idea. Crawford seems like he should be the best, but we've yet to see anything from him. Quigley will likely get the start and has been the most consistent (but hasn't done all that much). Meanwhile, Jake was great in a complimentary role last year, had done nothing through four games and then broke out in a big way against ISU last week. If for no other reason than he's had the single best game, I give the nod to Sharp.
OL - Ryan Cantrell: And it's really not close. The coaches think Spikes will be better than Anthony Collins but he's nowhere near that level yet.KU's biggest advantage on offense is their dearth of wide receivers. Five different guys have had 100+ yard receiving games. 6 have caught a touchdown. 12 have caught multiple passes. And all of this was done with legitimate star power at the top (Meier with 3 straight 100 yard games and Briscoe with 5 TDs).
TRR: Where do you slot Todd Reesing in the Big 12 hierarchy of quarterbacks? His performance against South Florida was unbelievable and I was an instant fan of Reesing after that game. Is this team bowl team without him?
To be honest, I have no idea. I think he does more with less than anyone else in the conference. Will Daniel, Bradford and McCoy have "better" years than him? Probably. But could any of them put up the same numbers he does in Kansas' offense, with Kansas' line? I don't think so. Personally, I don't think you can go wrong with any of them (except Chase), but I wouldn't trade Todd for anyone. I like to think they're still a bowl team without him, but I think it's a fair question to ask what will happen to Kansas football once he graduates.
TRR: Are you worried about the Colorado Buffaloes? What is your impression of the team from Boulder?
If for no other reason than last week's first half, I'm worried. As for your Buffs, I think injuries have really taken their toll. I was pretty high on CU coming into the year, but quickly changed my mind once I watched the WVU game (especially looking back on Eastern Washington). I think they're dangerous and capable of playing with most teams, but ultimately they just don't have enough pieces. I'd put their ceiling at 8 wins.
TRR: Prediction Time! How bad does Kansas beat the Buffs this weekend?
Off the cuff, my first thought is 34-14, but I may be giving my Hawks a little too much credit.