Yesterday I posted my prediction for the Jayhawk offense during the 2013 season and today I’ll go over my thoughts on how well the Jayhawks will do in stopping their opponents offense. In the wide open Big XII, this isn’t always easy and the Jayhawks haven’t been very good at it in the past few seasons. First, let’s look at how they’ve done in the past nine seasons.
|Season||Yards Against||Points Against|
As you can see from this table, the numbers have been pretty awful the last three seasons which isn’t a surprise given the record of the team. For those looking for a positive, the number of yards surrendered dropped by 35 yards when Charlie Weis and Dave Campo took over. There is also a drop of more than a touchdown per game in points against.
The breakdown of yardage in 2012 was 285.1 through the air and 196 on the ground. Reasons for the porous defense are partly because of the fast-break offenses in the Big XII wearing out the limited number of quality players fielded by the Jayhawks. It also doesn’t help when the offense doesn’t sustain long drives forcing the defense to spend more time on the field.
With a year of experience against the wild offenses of the Big XII, Dave Campo should be able to better gameplan to at least slow them down. There was also an influx of junior college players, many of whom are found on either the first or second team defense. Not only will the Jayhawks put a superior defensive team on the field, they’ll also have capable backups to step in when the starters get tired or injured. And based on yesterday’s prediction, I expect the offense to sustain more long drives.
If we look at the three major pieces of the defense, there is improvement in all three areas. One of the biggest holes in the defense last year was on the front line. Returning players have improved and the new players are pushing hard for minutes. I feel this will put a little more pressure on the quarterbacks and stop the runners a little sooner.
Linebackers are also bigger, faster, more improved and with depth. They will be able to track down the runners and better run with the receivers. Lastly is the defensive backfield that was in a tough position last season. No pressure up front left the backs giving a huge cushion on the line of scrimmage. There was also a talent deficit that left the backs unable to stop the pass. With a new scheme and a strong two deep rotation, this area will likely see the most improvement.
I think the passing game will go from the 285.1 yards a game last season to 260. On the ground, the 196 yards a game will drop to 180. That leads to more than 40 yards less a game. While I do expect a greatly improved defense, it is nearly impossible to true stop the Big XII offenses. Even this slight improvement should make a big difference.
Less yardage should also mean fewer points and I again think there will be a touchdown improvement on average. That means 29 points per game. Of course Jayhawk fans hope the defense will be even better.
What do you think the defense will do this season? Post your predictions or comments on mine!