Pick your poison.
That’s what Kansas football coach Charlie Weis said when talking about how to contain Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch.
Lynch, the Huskies’ first-year starter, was named Mid-American Conference West Division Offensive Player of the Week on Monday after throwing for 342 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday’s 41-40 win over Army. Just like he’s done so far this season, Lynch continued his success running the ball Saturday, finishing with 125 yards and a touchdown.
The Black Knights decided to gear up to stop the run, leaving NIU’s receivers to work against man coverage.
Weis’ Jayhawks head to DeKalb to take on the Huskies at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and Kansas’ first-year coach said Lynch’s versatility makes him a tough guy to go up against.
“The problem with him is that he’s running the ball so effectively in the read-option, everyone’s trying to load up the box against him, which opens up opportunities for big chunks in the passing game,” Weis said during Monday’s Big 12 teleconference. “So I think that you really have to pick your poison here. If you bring in an extra guy down there to try to contain the run, and risk chunks in the passing game, I think that’s a fine line you have to tread when you’re looking at him.”
In Week 1 against Iowa, Lynch ran the ball well, finishing with 119 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown run, although he was just 6 for 16 through the air. A Week 2 victory over Tennessee-Martin showed some improvement, and Lynch had the best performance of his career Saturday.
NIU coach Dave Doeren said he’s seen his quarterback improve every week.
“He’s just continued to each game get better at little things,” Doeren said during Monday’s MAC teleconference. “I’m excited about the progress he’s made in three weeks.”
Saturday, the Huskies will face a team that’s struggled so far this season, with Weis looking to clean up the mess former coach Turner Gill left behind. The Jayhawks are 1-2 with their only win coming against South Dakota State.
Kansas ranks 91st in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense (433.67 yards per game). Against the run, the Jayhawks rank 78th (174.33 ypg), while Kansas is 60th in passing efficiency defense (124.05 opponents’ rating).
The Jayhawks defense does rank first in turnovers. Kansas has forced 12 so far this year, which puts it in a tie with No. 1 Alabama and No. 23 Mississippi State.
In Saturday’s loss to TCU, Kansas forced four fumbles.
“We’ve been giving up a lot of yards, but what we’ve done is we’ve done a great job of forcing turnovers. ... I think that now what happens, it starts to come a little bit infectious,” Weis said. “Now they’re counting on knocking the ball out, and I think that, in our case especially, winning the turnover margin is critical to us having a chance of winning.”