Look for MHS, Mac to enter win column this week

By Steve Sell
September 12, 2016

Monday morning quarterback...

• NO TIME TO PANIC — When the 2016 McPherson High football schedule was released, one of the immediate reactions I had was that an 0-2 start was a distinct possibility.

Although MHS was home for the first two games, opponents Buhler and Maize South were coming off seasons in which they were in contention for state titles in Class 4A and 5A, respectively.

Personally I was hoping the Bullpups would go no worse than 1-1 and held out mild hope they could start 2-0. While 0-2 is disappointing, it gives the MHS coaching staff a true measuring stick of its team and what it needs to do moving forward as it continues preparations for the important part of the schedule — the district games the final three weeks.

Maize South had opened its season with a 66-point salvo against Circle. The Maverick team I saw, though, obviously isn’t the offensive juggernaut that was suggested in the pummeling of the T-Birds.

The Mavs totaled only 205 yards against the quick MHS defense and needed a lengthy drive in the final 6 minutes just to get to the 200 mark.

What the first two games have shown me is the Bullpups are still a good team, but have to learn how to finish offensively.

I think we’ve been spoiled by the teams of the last 10 teams, which made us yawn when they scored 30 points. There were many games where MHS scored 40, 50 and even 60 points.

But this team doesn’t have that explosive home-run punch of most of the previous teams. Losing top running back Austen Hunt over the summer to a knee injury has been a huge blow as he projected to be a 1,000-yard rusher after some big games as a sophomore. Tyson Stites went for 100 last Friday and that could be a harbinger of things to come as the strength of schedule lessens in the next four weeks, though the Augusta game is one that could be similar to these first two. Imagine a backfield where Stites and Hunt would have shared carries, keeping both fresh.

Well, maybe next year. Both are juniors.

My message to MHS fans is to stay the course and this team will be fine. I look for a breakout offensive performance this week against Winfield.

• IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN — You heard it here first — McPherson College’s football team won’t go O-fer like it did last season.

The Bulldogs dropped to 0-2 on Saturday with a 27-13 road loss to now 2-0 Dordt College, which is averaging 600 yards a game and 36 points.

The Defenders put up big yards, but not big points against the Bulldog defense, which is receiving a big-time performance so far from McPherson High grad Travis Steenson, who has had 12 tackles in each of the first two games.

The Mac offense is averaging 21 points a game through two games. At this time last year it was averaging 7.

I haven’t seen the team play yet, but the eye test tells me new Bulldog quarterback Ed Crouch could be one of the better signal callers in the KCAC. He is a run-pass threat and is capable of the big play. The Mac passing attack features some tall-and-athletic receivers who can go up and get the ball. The running game has a dependable grinder in Tyrone Campbell, who can get the tough yards. The offensive line, the weak link of the team last year, is showing improvement.

I have a hunch the Bulldogs are going to get their first win since 2014 when they open KCAC play here Saturday against Southwestern.

• NO MORE KU WINS — At least the Jayhawks will always have Rhode Island.

But from what I've witnessed, KU’s 55-6 win over the Rams on Opening Day is going to be it as it's staring a 1-11 season in the face.

The Jayhawks’ 37-21 loss to Ohio on paper looks competitive. But KU could very well, before the year is over, have the worst defense in NCAA Division I.

Had it not been for tackle Daniel Wise, who was all over the field, Ohio probably could have scored 60. KU’s defensive backs are small and painfully light and I shudder to see what teams like Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas Tech will do to them. The way Oklahoma runs the ball, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Sooners don’t rush for 700 yards. There's no speed at linebacker, a position manned by undersized players.

The KU “Air Raid” offense is one of precision. But if it’s not producing first downs, as was the case in the first half Saturday, the defense barely has a chance to catch its breath and is exhausted by the start of the fourth quarter.

Iowa State is the only team the Jayhawks have a chance to be competitive with in the Big 12. While David Beaty tries to stay upbeat in the face of adversity, I have a feeling this team will be emotionally demolished by midseason.

• WHAT A COMEBACK! — I wasn’t going to watch the second half of the Kansas City Chiefs’ game Sunday with San Diego. I'm sure some of those in attendance thought the same thing and headed home, deciding not to waste anymore of their time.

The Chiefs played as though their minds were someplace else as they were down 21-3. Their defense was a sieve and Alex Smith’s body language was that of somebody already defeated.

But the Chiefs flipped the switch in the fourth quarter for the greatest comeback in their history.

Smith shook off his malaise and played like the leader the Chiefs need him to be. Spencer Ware made everybody forget that Jamaal Charles wasn’t unavailable. Travis Kelce proved again to be a clutch receiver.

The defense, though, was terrible — especially All-Pro and Rookie of the Year cornerback Marcus Peters. He was far more interested in mouthing off and pointing fingers at his teammates for his inability to cover a receiver. Peters is a highly emotional player who looks as though he’s taken a step back in the maturation process. It will be interesting to see if Houston goes at him next week because he couldn’t cover his own shadow against the Chargers and was allergic to making tackles.

This was the kind of game the Chiefs normally lose. Generally in the past it's been the opponents who mount a big comeback. Kansas City now knows it has what it takes to overcome a big deficit and that should carry over to the rest of the season.