2. 6.4 yards per carry
I wanted to piggyback off the previous slide of 48 points. Kansas put up a big number in week one, and a lot of that point production had to do with the ability to run the football.
The Jayhawks proved they don’t just have one running back carrying the rock. They unleashed numerous ball carries who destroyed the Bears’ run defense.
Against Missouri State, Kansas had 38 carries for 245 yards and four touchdowns. That comes to 6.4 yards per carry average, which is an insane number.
The lead running back for the Jayhawks was Devin Neal. The talented ball carrier was coming off a 1,000-yard season and picked up where he left off. He accounted for 94 yards on 13 carries. Sevion Morrison and Dylan McDuffie each had 41 and 40 yards, respectively. Daniel Hishaw Jr. rushed for 29 yards. Even quarterback Jason Bean got in the action with 41 yards on the ground.
All five players mentioned above rushed for at least a 5.1 yards per carry average against Missouri State. That is how Kansas got to 6.4 yards per carry average as a team.
If Illinois wants to win on Friday night, that yards-per-carry average needs to be much lower. I think it needs to be somewhere in the 4.0-4.5 yards per carry range.
This could be asking a lot, though. Illinois gave up 4.4 yards per carry to Toledo. This included the Rockets’ starting running back going for 6.8 yards per carry. The Illini are going up against another good running team, and that makes me nervous.
Illinois has the talent up front to stop the run, but it didn’t happen in week one. Another test will be this Friday against Kansas. Let’s see if Jer’Zhan Newton and Co. can step up and play to their potential.