Andy Mitts from Rock Chalk Talk joins us to talk about KU football. You can see my answers to Andy’s questions here.
ODB: I actually was at the KU game and agree that KU looked better than TCU. Do you think KU has made a big improvement or was this a team coming together?
RCT: I think the switch to Ryan Willis at QB gave the offense some consistency that it really needed. The interceptions were bad, but not entirely his fault. But the offense still has serious problems, especially the offensive line.
However, that defense is great, and getting better. Getting DT Daniel Wise back will help, but the depth of the defense is incredibly thin. In short, Kansas is getting better, but we still have to remember that this team is still well below the scholarship limit.
ODB: What are your hopes for the rest of the season to be successful? Do you think the Jayhawks need to win at least one Big 12 game to have positive momentum heading into the offseason?
RCT: Absolutely not. Winning a game would be nice, but especially given the injury situations they are dealing with, positive momentum just requires showing real strides in our games. Personally though, I see the Texas game and the Iowa State game as chances to get on the board in the conference. Get one of those and don't have any more games that we should have won if not for the coaching decisions and I'll be happy with the progress.
ODB: Baylor recently built a new football stadium and it seemed to help with recruiting. KU has discussed building a new stadium or having Memorial Stadium undergo a renovation, do you think that's actually important or often overhyped?
RCT: If my memory serves me correctly, Baylor need sustained success on the field before they were able to get that stadium built. And from everything I've read, the axial stadium itself is much less important than the practice facilities, which makes sense when you think about how often each of them gets used.
But Memorial Stadium did undergo some renovations recently, updating some things in the stadium itself in addition to removing the track around the field. Would it be nice to have a flashy stadium that looks amazing on TV? Sure. But the program has to turn around enough in other areas before that has a chance to make a difference in recruiting.
ODB: Do you think David Beaty will get it turned around at KU, or do you believe the turnaround may be too difficult right now?
RCT: I don't know that David Beaty gets to see the final result, but he has already started the turnaround. The first step to overhauling a program is to start getting talent back into the fold. He's done that very well, and given his reputation, I expect the talent to keep increasing. The strides he has made to get us back to a reasonable number of scholarships has been fantastic, and I'm excited to see what this next recruiting class we'll get to do.
But he has severe limitations in strategy and play-calling. This makes sense given that he went straight from receivers coach to head coach, but the thought was that he would overcome this deficiency by getting a great experienced staff and lean on them heavily while he developed some skills. Instead, we've seen multiple blunders, super-conservative play-calling, and multiple examples of Beatty biting off more than he can chew (at one point he was coaching receivers, coming up with the gameplan directly, weighing in heavily on punt and kickoff returns, and calling offensive plays). If Beaty can learn to delegate and trust his staff, he could develop into a phenomenal coach and stick around for the long haul.
ODB: Are KU fans underestimating the loss of Perry Ellis, or will Josh Jackson and Carlton Bragg help the Jayhawks to cut down the nets in San Antonio?
RCT: I don't think they have been underestimating it, but we've heard this story before. When Wayne Simien graduated, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun stepped up for the team. When those guys won a title with the rest of that stacked team, Cole Aldrich had his coming out party against Ben Hansborough and UNC.
When Aldrich left, we had a few promising players, but Marcus and Markieff Morris stepped up big and seized control. Thomas Robinson came next, becoming the dominant big man on the team. When he left, Jeff Withey became a beast down low. When he left, Tarik Black was supposed to fill the gap down low, but Joel Embiid stormed onto the scene, even surpassing the improving Ellis. Now that Ellis is gone, we have two more really promising guys down low in Carlton Bragg and Landen Lucas, with plenty of underclassmen to develop in preparation for their time to seize control.
Essentially, this Kansas coaching staff has shown the ability time after time to replace the production lost by their big stars leaving, mainly through player development. It's also why it's hard for even the super-talented freshman to crack the lineup immediately, because the development that the upperclassmen have gotten has been so spot on. Strength coach Andrea Hudy has a lot to do with that, and she has gotten great results from the team over the summer.
ODB: When will KU and Missouri ever play again in football or basketball?
No really, never.
I'm sure there might be a token game here or there, or they might get paired in the postseason at some point in the distant future, but I fully expect that there won't ever be a renewal of the rivalry on a year after year series in either sport.
Missouri can say what they want about Kansas refusing to play them, but Missouri made their own bed on this. They were consistently told that the games would end if they left the conference. It looked at the time that Missouri was going to be the final nail in the coffin of the conference, so the stakes were pretty high at that point. When Kansas made that stand and the Tigers left anyway, they had to stay true to their word.
Plus, the rivalry was extremely toxic, which isn't surprising given its roots in the Civil War. The games were intense, but I think a lot of that had to do with there being conference implications to the games as well. Add in the fact that playing Missouri in basketball does absolutely nothing for Kansas and that up until this year the same could be said for Missouri in football and playing each other just because a desperate attempt to recapture the magic of a rivalry that was forever destroyed when the Tigers bolted for more money in the SEC.
ODB: What is your favorite BBQ spot in Kansas City? If it's not Gate's or Oklahoma/KC Joe's, what are you talking about? And if it is, good on you!
RCT: I haven't lived in Kansas for nearly 4 years, so it's hard to say, especially since I never eat out enough to develop a huge favorite.
And let's be honest, KC just has great BBQ overall (unlike down here in Florida). And I'm just a sucker for good food, so I tried them all. Gate's and Joe's are definitely up there, but so is Arthur Bryant's and Jack Stack. The one thing I will say is that I have to get a Z-Man every time I go back to visit family.