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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Keegan

Tom Keegan: One great play is better than none for Kansas football

Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise (96) grabs a fumble by Oklahoma during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct.29, 2016.

Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise (96) grabs a fumble by Oklahoma during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct.29, 2016.

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— Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook flew around the right end and had his eyes trained on another big play when freshman safety Mike Lee closed on him aggressively, hit him hard and popped the football loose with his helmet, a big play at the time in a game Kansas went on to lose, 56-3, Saturday night at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

KU defensive tackle Daniel Wise caught the ball, juked a defender and was brought to the turf after the four-yard fumble recovery. Adrenaline in overdrive, Wise then sprinted toward the sideline, leaped in the air and bumped shoulders with a teammate in celebration of a job well done.

Normally, this is a safe thing to do for a defensive player responsible for a turnover. With the offense on the field, there is plenty of time for the big playmaker to catch his breath in plenty of time to return to the field.

Wrong.

On the next play, Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart threw into a crowd and the pass was intercepted by Jordan Thomas at the OU 2.

The recurring story line — KU offense fails to reward the defense for another job well done — made its predictable appearance again.

The momentum lasted about as long as it takes to type the word momentum. The scoreboard, late in the first quarter, read Oklahoma 7, Kansas 3, but the interception had a feel of finality to it.

Wise’s play was an exciting flash that set the sideline on fire, even if it extinguished quickly.

“Just doing what coach teaches us to do, pursue to the ball and when the ball got tipped, I was right there in position to catch it and the first thing on my mind was to score,” Wise said.

His juke was quite impressive for a man his size.

Wise said he was a running back, “once upon a time, a couple of pounds ago. I just tried to get in the end zone and give the offense good field position.”

That’s about what it would take to give the KU offense good field position, all right.

Still breathing heavily, there was no way Wise was ready to return to the field. He took a few plays off.

“I had to get a breather,” Wise said. “Little gassed.”

It was the highlight of a night in which Kansas was outscored 49-0 in the middle two quarters.

“When you see a lineman running like that, it kind of brings you back to playing football when you were 10 years old, just out there having fun when you see stuff like that,” cornerback Brandon Stewart said.

The feeling didn’t last and Kansas head coach/offensive coordinator David Beaty was in a lousy mood afterward, at least until hearing that KU’s volleyball team had defeated Texas earlier in the night for the first time in the past 25 matches between the schools.

“Did they? Man, that’s awesome,” Beaty said. “Congratulations to Ray (Bechard) and those guys. I mean, how cool is that, because at one point they were kind of where we are. We draw a lot from Ray Bechard and his staff because of what he did and how he took that program from where it was to where it is today. For them to beat them today, that’s a monumental win for that program. I’m really, really happy for those guys.”

Beaty’s players echoed his sentiments and welcomed the distraction that allowed them to take a momentary detour from rehashing an inevitable beating at the hands of a bigger, faster, more experienced opponent..

At the beginning, the Kansas defense didn’t look at all overmatched against an Oklahoma offense that the previous week had amassed 854 total yards in a game of pinball football game it won vs. Texas Tech, 66-59.

The Sooners didn’t score on the Kansas defense until a few minutes into the second quarter.

As the blowout mounted, the Sooners, whose first touchdown came on Westbrook’s 71-yard punt return, seemed to be scoring at will. That’s nothing new. The Sooners do that to many opponents.

Oklahoma’s defense, torched for 854 yards against Texas Tech, limited KU to 170 total yards, even though on one play the Sooners had just 10 defensive players on the field.

“Last week, we couldn’t have stopped them if we had 12 players out there,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “Tonight we stopped them with 10.”

Ouch!

Comments

Brett McCabe 9 months, 3 weeks ago

When Beaty's pendulum hire was announced, part of the hoopla included Beaty's professed commitment to having KU play faster, and to use a more modern offensive strategy. One of the big reasons, Beaty said, was because that's the type of offense that they run in Texas high schools.

My immediate response was to wonder - why do we want to take an undermanned football program and create more possessions for our opponents, who have better athletes and more of them? And why do we want to adopt the same type of offense that Big 12 defenses see, with some minor variations, virtually every week of the conference season? And, shouldn't we want to shorten games - like Bill Snyder does - rather than make them longer? And, if our new high speed offense isn't effective, isn't our defense going to get worn out?

And this is not Monday-morning quarterbacking. I stated it at the time.

Remember when Weis had to fire himself as offensive coordinator? Well, soon it will be Deja Vu all over again as the KU football bus heads directly to Yogi World. And we'll be on our way to some form of our third offense in three years, our third O.C. in three years and fans will complain at other fans because they aren't patient with the process. Isn't it ironic? Don't you think?

Picking the wrong offensive strategy was part of the hiring process - it had to be. Zenger endorsed it fully - because that's how you swing a pendulum - from the top. Impatient with their own ineptitude, they broke the cardinal rule of football taught to me my sophomore year of high school - if you make one mistake, don't make two.

Unfortunately, we're way down the line from even the second mistake: Hiring Weis, empowering him to gut the program, not hiring Bowen, hiring Beaty, picking a bad offense, firing the O.C., replacing the O.C. with an inexperience O.C., etc., etc.

So, the question that I believe we all implicitly agreed to ask ourselves when this whole thing started is this: are we better in year two than we are in year one? Ummm, is that a serious question?

The good news, is that Beaty is building the roster properly, and we might be creating a solid foundation for the future. For that, a tip of the cap.

Going forward, Beaty's future will first be at risk after the Ohio game next season. Because we are focusing all of our recruiting efforts in the upper midwest, the KU football schedule wisely includes games against CMU and at Ohio, plus a game against SEMO. If we aren't 3-0 after that stretch, Zenger's new boss will put Clint Bowen in charge again and, hopefully, will have the sense to hire him as our next H.C. going forward.

One question to be answered before the season starts, though, is what will be our third offense in thee years? Perhaps we could decide by fan vote? I vote Wishbone!

Mike Barnhart 9 months, 3 weeks ago

We have to be patient this time. From what I've seen so far, here's my prediction for David Beaty in year four (2018): 5-7, competitive at home but blown out by OU, WV and K-State on the road. Not great but I'll take it, how about you?

Michael Lorraine 9 months, 3 weeks ago

You answered your own question. We are better in year two than in year one. Talent level is improved but there is still a substantial discrepancy. OU is simply bigger, faster and stronger. I don’t think they’re 53 points better than us but this is college football and that kind of 5hit happens and not just to us.

Brett McCabe 9 months, 3 weeks ago

You are what your record and stats say you are. We are probably worse offensively. Prove me wrong.

Michael Lorraine 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Statistically we are better. Average yardage on passes and rushes, completion rate, efficiency rating and total offense compared to D1 programs are all better. Not by leaps and bounds but there is measurable improvement. Our closest win last year was a 3 point loss to South Dakota State and our closest win outside of Rhode Island this season was a 1 point lost to TCU.

Tom Keegan 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Legitimate point about running a version of spread when everyone else was doing it. It's a point Zenger weighed and decided to go with Beaty because he thought his connections in Texas would be the best path for Kansas to take. One reason AD's must conduct searches in secret is in order to not daymage a candidate's relationship with his current employer. I heard recently that Air Force's Troy Calhoun finished second to Beaty for the job. Calhoun seldom passes and wins more than he loses at a tough place to win. Another point: Running somewhat similar offenses to rest of conference means recruiting similar type athletes and picking ninth or 10th. It didn't happen, but that option was one Zenger considered. My only question about your post: "Because we are focusing all of our recruiting efforts in the upper midwest ...." Huh? Or did you mean general student recruiting and not football?

Brett McCabe 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Bad sarcasm. It sounded really funny in my head!

The Calhoun info. almost makes me want to cry. The Service Academies could have each been a great blueprint for us.

Michael Lorraine 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I wonder if Craig Bohl was ever on our list. He just beat Boise State and won his 6th game of the year. Won 3 national titles at North Dakota State and was 7-3 against D1 teams before he took over the reins at Wyoming. Has as many Big 12 wins as Gill, Weis, Bowen and Beatty combined. God I wish we had hired him instead of Charlie.

Andy Godwin 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I will give Beaty credit for trying to change the culture of the struggling football program and rewarding those who follow his lead, both players and coaches. I will never attack a player for the effort they provide while representing our alma mater. But it is clear Willis is deep in Beaty's dog house and their is no way that Beaty can sugarcoat the entire offensive performance starting at the horrible play calling and his overall scheme. Nothing that has not been said, but the QB position needs to be fixed, the OL upgraded (which requires continuity), as well as the defensive front (the db's can only be expected to cover for so long), and as indicated above and for most of the season, Beaty and the AD need to upgrade the coaching staff and hire creative and competent (in the HC's mind) assistant coaches. The head coach needs to oversee the program, not micromanage his staff. Fire the OC, evaluate holes in the staff, and hire the right people and let them do their respective jobs.

Gary Amble 9 months, 3 weeks ago

It was simply a bad time to catch the Sooners. Fresh off a dismal defensive showing against TTech & OU's Homecoming to boot. I was very impressed by our efforts the first 15 minutes but the team that started the season at #3 just sent too much talent on the field with an abundance of incentive to pitch a defensive gem. WVa coming off a poor showing at OSU and a geeked up fan base will likely have the same mind set to run a younger and less talented team out of their stadium with a lopsided win.

I used to think slowing the game down would be good strategy but because we're building for the future it's important to take this very young squad and teach them the fundamentals and skills needed to compete when they are a little bigger, stronger and faster. It may be a year or two from now but I still have hope that once this offense clicks we can put up some serious points. I'll give up a few blowouts now to actually win a few games in the future.

2018 we'll have a nearly full roster with at least a few talented upper class-men. One more win this season would be awesome albeit a bit of a reach. 3 or 4 next year is achievable and a shot at bowling in '18 would put this program on schedule to be a competitive team for years to come.

Brett McCabe 9 months, 3 weeks ago

170 yards in four quarters. I don't it was because of OU vs. TTU.

Gary Amble 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Stoops withstood a :30 minute grilling session from his local media on how awful his defense played against Tech. They ROASTED him. Yes, I think the Sooners took that to heart.

Jim Stauffer 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Good post, Gary. Always good to take breath before posting out of frustration.

Coach-Matt Koelling 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Can someone tell me the reason why Cozart is our starting QB?

Dirk Medema 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Because he's the best option available.

It would be nice to think there is someone else that could do better, but that's just not the case. Blaming Beaty for not starting Willis to begin with doesn't account for the performance, and I'm guessing that some of what we saw recently is what kept him from being named the starter in the first place.

Dirk Medema 9 months, 3 weeks ago

It seemed to me that we're a few crucial plays away from being competitive, which I realize sounds crazy given how lopsided the score is. It seemed like we would string positive plays together on both O & D, but never quite enough to get off the field or into the end zone.

Or maybe that's the cool-aid talking again.

Steve Corder 9 months, 3 weeks ago

May be the kool aid, but if Gonzales had made the catch/play near the goal line early in the OU game things would have looked a little better. Or how about the previous week's intercept off the helmet of the receiver....I think you're not too far off about string some plays.

You gotta love the "almost/what if" that fans always chew on.

Michael Lorraine 9 months, 3 weeks ago

That’s what I’ve been telling myself. Just one player doing one little thing on a single play could result in a couple extra yards that would result in a first down.

Cheers.

Randy Bombardier 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Great post, Brett. Your second paragraph nailed it. In time doing the spread, air raid system may work but as you mentioned a ball-control system might be the best bet. When everyone's buying, its time to sell. I thought we CW might just do that. I was hoping Gill might do that. Neither had the time. Snyder s system requires a built solid program with long term staffing and attention to detail. I think.Bowen would go in that direction. I always thought that Masons offense would have its way in this conference right now.

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