Vince Lombardi once said that the strengths and weaknesses of a football team tend to remain the same over a long period of time, regardless of changes in personnel, coaching philosophy or management.
The Pope’s words have never rang truer, at least when considered in light of the Kansas Jayhawks.
KU has been so bad for so long on the gridiron that when the Jayhawks lost to little Nicholls State in 2018, a simple 1-line tweet seemed to encapsulate everything:
Nicholls avoids the upset
— Allen Kenney (@BlatantHomerism) September 2, 2018
Generations of players have come and gone, and Les Miles is a really great hire at head coach – maybe the best hire of KU’s modern era. But looky looky – it’s 2 games into the new coach’s era and here’s the Jayhawks still struggling to get by lower-tier opponents prior to taking on the Big 12. What could have been described as an encouraging start in which Kansas at least got out in front of Indians State and stayed there the entire game in Week 1 quickly turned into a punchline again as Miles’ squad lost an ugly 12-7 outcome to Coastal Carolina.
Guess the Chanticleers didn’t “need more dogs” last weekend.
This Friday, KU plays a nationally-broadcast scrum against Boston College at BC Alumni Stadium. It’s the type of game that means a lot to the recruiting prospects (excuse the pun) of the underdog – the Jayhawks could stop losing so many kids to superior Group-of-5 programs if they’re competitive on TV in 2019. Yet if the cornflower blue-clad charges lose 55-0 to the ACC on Friday, that would be another giant leap backward in an era full of them.
College odds-makers are expecting an easy win for BC – if not quite *that* easy. Gamblers are prepared to call it even more of a run-away win for the Eagles. Betting opened at more than a 2-TD spread and has expanded to a point spread of more than 3 scores for the meeting in Boston.
Who: Kansas Jayhawks at Boston College Eagles
When: Friday, September 13th, 7:30 PM EST
Where: BC Alumni Stadium, Boston, MA
Lines: KU (+21.5) at BC (-21.5) / O/U Total (54)
I thought last season was a drink-or-sink year for Boston College – a strong Class of 2019 gave the team its best chance to contend for an ACC Championship compared to the seasons that came before it, and those immediately after.
But there’s no tougher group to beat than Steve Adazzio’s Eagles, who can now boast of playing in an unsurpassed conference. There can be arguments made that the ACC isn’t superior to the SEC or the Big Ten in any meaningful way, that schools from all 3 conferences (or all Power-5 conferences) can beat each other in any given postseason. But there’s no longer an argument for the SEC being better, deeper, or in any way superior to the ACC.
Boston College has faced Richmond and Virginia Tech, but unlike a lot of schools, BC didn’t play the cupcake 1st and then follow-up vs the big dog. VT was beaten 35-28 by a lively batch of Eagles on August 31st, as a fresh Anthony Brown passed for 2 scores and led the hosts to a 28-point 1st half that laid waste to Under bets.
Meanwhile, the team’s defensive backfield has shined in the 2-0 start.
The thought of the Jayhawks’ offense against Boston College is cringe-worthy, and the game hasn’t even kicked off yet. Here’s a bleak take from a Kansas City editorialist:
Offense: F. Here were the issues: KU couldn’t throw, then coaches lost confidence in quarterback Carter Stanley, then the team continued to run the football into bad defensive looks while knowing Coastal Carolina was bringing unblocked defenders on blitzes.
The Jayhawks also had play-call communication issues for a second straight week, and too often, the offense has been inflexible, with Stanley not given the ability to check to a different call at the line when he sees a potential play isn’t going to work.
It’s a huge mess, and Les Miles’ insistence on running his old-school offense doesn’t appear to be doing KU any favors thus far. At this point, it’s probably too late for wholesale changes schematically, so the Jayhawks are in a rough spot with tougher opponents ahead.
I’m a believer that struggling teams should take free yards from the air when they’re there – if you think the QB will chuck-up interceptions, just put a different QB in. But I understand why Miles is running an NFL-style offense. The game is full of spread-option looks and 4 WRs. Develop something different in Lawrence…and developing means running it from the get-go and not having a catch-all system for 2 years while the new recruits grow up.
Finally it must be pointed out that Miles’ presence alone could help a lowly Power-5 team believe it can compete in a scenario like Friday evening.
The original point spread was correct at 18-ish; KU will be trying to grind-out 1st downs and make sure BC has a long field to drive. If the Jayhawks are at least on-guard against explosive plays, Brown will steadily move the chains and run clock, meaning that BC is likely to dominate but only lead by 10 points at halftime.
Kansas will fall prey to its own thin ranks in the 3rd and 4th quarter as usual. But that doesn’t mean BC has the firepower or even the desire to win 63-14 if Stanley has a reasonably good day.
31-13 sounds like a better forecast to me. Take KU to cover (+21.5).