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Both Arkansas and Kansas arrived in Memphis before Wednesday’s AutoZone Liberty Bowl matchup at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.
In preparation for the game, HawgBeat decided to go behind enemy lines to get information about Kansas from JayhawkSlant.com’s Jon Kirby.
Here’s what Kirby had to say about Kansas and its matchup against the Hogs, which kicks off at 4:30 PM CT on ESPN:
What is Kansas’ offensive game plan, what are they trying to do game-wise, and who are the key players to watch?
KU’s game plan on offense when they click is to use multiple formations and ways to move the ball. The offense was at its peak earlier in the year when Jalon Daniels was healthy and they were using the entire playbook.
They entered the option over the summer and guessed defenses in the first half of the year. Daniels was running on an option and they were using QB-designed rushing plays. They were running the ball well which opened up the passing lanes.
Then Daniels got hurt and the offense adjusted less than part of the playbook.
Daniels returned and appeared to be healthy in the final game of the season against Kansas State. You’ve started to see some come back and they’re hoping to open the playbook against Arkansas.
What is the defensive lineup and who are the key players on that side of the ball?
KU runs a 4-3 defense and that’s what they installed when Brian Borland took over as defensive coordinator last season.
They fought against the race.
Lonnie Phelps was a second-team All Big 12 selection and is their top pass rusher. Many defensive linemen rotate.
Craig Young is their most active linebacker who transferred from Ohio State.
Kenny Logan was a staple in the secondary. Cobee Bryant was a first team selection in the corner.
Who are some players Kansas will miss?
When it comes to player health and availability, the Jayhawks are in good shape. They lost Eriq Gilyard to the transfer portal and he was giving them good snaps at backup linebacker.
Daniels appears to be in good health and running back Devin Neal recovered after playing through season-ending bumps and bruises. It appears that Daniel Hishaw could lose running back time based on the latest information from Leipold.
They didn’t lose anyone in the portal that wasn’t meant to leave Gilyard.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Jayhawks?
The defense struggled against the run. They ranked 114th against rushing and gave up big yards in the final half of the season.
The special teams have been inconsistent most of the year. They replaced Jacob Borcila at kicker. The Jayhawks are last in the league in field goal and punting percentage.
One strength was moving the ball even when Daniels wasn’t playing. Offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki was creative, and he was the main reason for the early success and early 5-0 run.
How do you see the match unfolding and what is your prediction?
I’m concerned about the defense trying to match Arkansas. The Razorbacks can run the ball with Rocket Sanders and KJ Jefferson presents a challenge about what he can do with his legs. Jefferson was efficient throwing the ball with only four picks.
The Jayhawks defense has come up with big, well-timed turnovers, but Arkansas is going to be a tough matchup on paper.
With key players out on the Arkansas defense, I think Kansas can move the ball. I think the only way Kansas can win this game is by outscoring the Razorbacks. I’m looking for some points to climb in the standings.
The players are excited for this game since Kansas hasn’t been in a bowl since 2008. I wouldn’t bet any money on this, but I will go with KU in a game that could go down to a last possession.
Kansas 38, Arkansas 35
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