From the Other Side: Kansas

From the Other Side: Kansas

Each week, BearsIllustrated.com will dig deeper into the opponent by interviewing a media member from the opponent. This week, Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star helps us learn more about Kansas.

As the Baylor Bears get set to take on the Kansas Jayhawks, we caught up with Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star to help us learn more about the Bears' opponent.

What is the psyche of the Jayhawks at this point in the season?

Most of Kansas' team leaders would say it's better than last year at this time, when the Jayhawks were 1-5. But this is still a team that's lost 24 straight Big 12 games, and that streak -- and all the other losses -- definitely can be a burden. The next three weeks will be tough. After Baylor, KU will travel to Texas and Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks.


Question 2: It all starts at the QB position in the Big 12 - can you tell us about the current state of the QB position at Kansas? Do you expect both Jake Heaps and Montell Cozart to get snaps?

Charlie Weis has said that both quarterbacks will play. Cozart, a true freshman, made his debut last week against Oklahoma. He's more mobile than Heaps, but Weis didn't really give him a chance to throw the ball in limited snaps against Oklahoma. Weis says that will change this week. But I expect Heaps to still play a handful of snaps. His numbers have been mediocre, but he's really been hurt by drops and a shaky offensive line.


Question 3: The Kansas defense is very strong statistically - who are the standouts on defense that are making this phase of the game work?

It starts with junior middle linebacker Ben Heeney... and a pretty capable secondary. Heeney was out last week with a knee injury, and we won't know his status until game day. Cornerbacks JaCorey Shepherd and Dexter McDonald have really upgraded the pass defense, but teams have been able to run the ball against KU.


Question 4: In the last 2 games, Kansas has either been tied or within a touchdown at half (to TCU and OU). What has Kansas done right in the 1st halves of those games? And what has gone wrong in the 2nd?

I think it's probably been a mix of good game plans from Kansas, and the other team not quite taking Kansas all that seriously. The Jayhawks also had a 10-0 lead on Texas Tech in the first quarter. The offense, though, hasn't been able to sustain the early success. And the defense has been worn down by the fourth quarter.


Question 5: James Sims is certainly the key player offensively for Kansas, who is the next player that could impact the game offensively for Kansas?

Sims, a 1,000-yard rusher last year, is certainly a workhorse. But I'd actually argue that junior Tony Pierson is the Jayhawks' best offensive player. He's a former tailback who has been converted into a hybrid receiver/running back role. He's only played four games, but still leads the team in receptions and receiving yards. And really, he's the only player on the roster capable of scoring on any play. The problem: He's been out the past two weeks while recovering from a concussion. The passing game has suffered. And KU really needs him back. He'll also be a game-time decision.


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