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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Grounded: Mountaineers spoil Herbert’s big day, KU’s comeback bid

Kansas running back Khalil Herbert (10) tries to break away from the West Virginia defense during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Khalil Herbert (10) tries to break away from the West Virginia defense during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

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Despite one of the best outings in school history by sophomore running back Khalil Herbert on Saturday, the Kansas football team couldn’t keep up with West Virginia in a 56-34 loss at Memorial Stadium in its Big 12 opener.

The Mountaineers pulled away with 21 points in the fourth quarter, which including a pair of three-yard touchdown runs by junior quarterback Will Grier, which turned a one-score game into a blowout.

Herbert rushed for 291 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries, the third-most yards in a single game by a KU player in program history. It was behind only Tony Sands (396 yards vs. Missouri in 1991) and Nolan Cromwell (294 vs. Oregon State in 1975).

It just wasn’t enough when the Mountaineers (3-1) produced more than 600 yards of offense. Grier, a transfer from Florida, threw for 347 yards and two touchdowns, along with one interception. WVU running back Justin Crawford, the league’s leading rusher heading into Saturday, had 125 rushing yards and a score on 18 attempts.

The Jayhawks (1-3) pulled within eight points at the end of the third quarter after a one-yard touchdown run by junior running back Taylor Martin, and again midway through the fourth quarter on a seven-yard TD pass to junior receiver Steven Sims Jr.

But each time the Jayhawks tried to make the most of their momentum, West Virginia’s offense found a way into the end zone.

KU junior quarterback Peyton Bender completed 17 of his 32 passes for 197 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Sims had six catches for 96 yards.

Defensively, KU linebacker Joe Dineen led the Jayhawks with 14 tackles (11 solo) and the team’s only sack Saturday.

Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:

The game turned when: The Jayhawks stiffened up on defense throughout the second half. After allowing 28 points in the first two quarters (West Virginia added a score on a pick-six interception), KU’s defense held the Mountaineers without any points on their first four drives out of halftime.

In those four scoreless drives, WVU only had 73 yards over 17 plays, which included an interception by sophomore cornerback Hasan Defense and three punts. Thanks to the defense (and Defense), the Jayhawks scored 17 unanswered points.

Offensive highlight: After busting up the middle on a 67-yard touchdown run, Herbert opened the third quarter with another big play. On KU’s first drive of the second half, Herbert sprinted through a hole created by center Mesa Ribordy and left guard Andru Tovi, breaking an arm tackle around the line of scrimmage.

Herbert nearly stumbled as he broke into the open field, but he caught his footing and cut to his left, stiff arming a WVU defender in the process on his way to a 60-yard run. On the next play, Herbert added a five-yard touchdown run.

An honorable mention of the offensive highlight goes to Bender’s best throw of the day, a 64-yard connection with Sims on a pass along KU’s sideline. Sims had to extend his reach on the play, but still caught the ball in stride to the three-yard line.

Defensive highlight: The Kansas defense hasn’t recorded many turnovers during the first three weeks of the season, but cornerback Defense stepped up near the start of the third quarter for one of the best plays of his short KU career.

Defense wrestled the ball away from WVU receiver Ka’Raun White for an interception, helping the Jayhawks sustain some momentum in the second half. It was the second interception of the season for KU.

Key stat: Yards per carry. The Jayhawks had a historic day on the ground behind Herbert, who averaged 8.1 yards on each attempt. Taylor Martin added 5.4 yards per carry, helping KU average a blistering 7.3 yards.

West Virginia was just as strong on the ground, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. Backup running back Kennedy McKoy averaged 8.8 yards on 12 attempts.

Up next: Kansas will head into its bye week. In two weeks, on Oct. 7, the Jayhawks will play host to Texas Tech in their second Big 12 game, which will serve as the school’s homecoming game.

HOW THEY SCORED

FIRST QUARTER

8:52 — Gabriel Rui 28 field goal. Fourteen-play drive for 64 yards, in 6:08. (KU 3, WVU 0.)

3:37 — Kennedy McKoy 7 run. Mike Molina kick. Eight-play drive for 80 yards, in 2:17. (WVU 7, KU 3.)

SECOND QUARTER

13:14 — Justin Crawford 11 run. Molina kick. Seven-play drive for 80 yards, in 1:43. (WVU 14, KU 3.)

8:56 — McKoy 23 run. Molina kick. Ten-play drive for 86 yards, in 3:22. (WVU 21, KU 3.)

5:17 — David Sills V 49 pass from Will Grier. Molina kick. Seven-play drive for 85 yards, in 2:10. (WVU 28, KU 3.)

4:11 — Khalil Herbert 67 run. Rui kick. Three-play drive for 75 yards, in 1:06. (WVU 28, KU 10.)

0:36 — Mike Daniels 25 interception. Molina kick. (WVU 35, KU 10.)

0:00 — Rui 41 field goal. Five-play drive for 49 yards, in 0:30. (WVU 35, KU 13.)

THIRD QUARTER

9:02 — Herbert 5 run. Rui kick. Nine-play drive for 89 yards, in 3:34. (WVU 35, KU 20.)

3:22 — Taylor Martin 1 run. Rui kick. Four-play, 67-yard drive, in 1:25. (WVU 35, KU 27.)

FOURTH QUARTER

11:02 — Sills 7 pass from Grier. Molina kick. Eleven-play, 86-yard drive, in 2:55. (WVU 42, KU 27.)

7:35 — Steven Sims Jr. 7 pass from Peyton Bender. Rui kick. Twelve-play drive for 75 yards, in 3:27. (WVU 42, KU 34.)

5:16 — Grier 3 run. Molina kick. Six-play drive for 72 yards, in 2:12. (WVU 49, KU 34.)

4:42 — Grier 3 run. Molina kick. Two-play drive for 31 yards, in 0:27. (WVU 56, KU 34.)

— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live coverage.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. West Virginia

Comments

Jack Brooks 2 months, 3 weeks ago

So far, Clint Bowen's defenses have given up the following:

Opponent Passing Rushing Total AVG. POINTS AVG SEMO 170 83 253 16 CMU 467 123 590 421.50 45 30.5 Ohio 343 108 451 431.33 42 34.33 WVU 347 288 635 482.25 56 39.75

Yes, Mr. Finest Defensive Mind in College Football is chairing a defense that is giving up an AVERAGE of 482.25 yards and 39.75 points PER GAME. It's actually worse when only counting FBS competition: 558.67 yards and 47.67 points.

The results don't lie. Mr. Bowen, please take a position as Associate AD for Alumni relations or something; ANYTHING other than coaching KU football.

Brian Wilson 2 months, 3 weeks ago

That's pretty spot on. I watched the defense closely. It appears to me that some of players don't know their playbook. They were playing scared and especially in the backfield they were not confident in playing up close to the receiver. To make matters worse, players were calling into the side trying to figure out what to do in the first half. Not good. West Virginia threw underneath to the inside receiver to begin with and then went over the middle as the game progressed. At times, I could even call out the WR before the ball being thrown. Too bad our defense doesn't know their own play book well enough to concentrate on what is happening in the game and do the same.

This is Bowen's fault partly. KU has had to patch this team with too many transfers and not enough freshmen. When you need to learn 100 plus plays and know all it's variations and formations from LG to RG to DE and then coverages against 3WR, 4WR, 2WR and 2TE you can't rely on players that have only been in the system for one or two years. However, it's Bowen's job to make sure the players are so solid in their knowledge that all they have to do is go out and play. IMO, this was not the case.

Our first full recruiting class are just now Sophomores and IMO wWe can't blame Beatty for another two years from a personnel standpoint. Our OC has the Offense is playing respectable they just make too many turnovers.

Defense looks awful. And Bowen is not really Beatty's choice. Bowen was already here. So the heat really should fall on Bowen. Even if you get beat athletically you should expect the players to know what to do and how to cover your man and you shouldn't be afraid to play up in the face of your opponent.

But please don't think of getting rid of Beatty at this stage in the program's development. That would be disasterous!!. But maybe it's time for Bowen to step down to a different role.

Randy Bombardier 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Maybe Bowen is not the guy, but i think that is an end of year discussion.

I was frustrated with the running game working so well then we get away from that. Made no sense.

Doug Cramer 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Same ol Clint Bowen defense. Nothing ever changes. The days of defending him are over, because you can't defend this resume anymore. If we want change in this program, Beaty knows what he has to do. Hell we've been talking about this since Mangino was coach. Clint Bowen's Resume as a DC Below:

  1. 2017: ranked 106 (against SEMO, and 2 MAC teams)
  2. 2016: ranked 113
  3. 2015: ranked 128
  4. 2014: ranked 106
  5. 2011: ranked 94 (North Texas U)
  6. 2010: ranked 99 (Western Kentucky)
  7. 2009: ranked 85 (Kansas)
  8. 2008: ranked 87 (Kansas) <--Major liability to a returning Orange Bowl Team.

Chris DeWeese 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Agreed. The 08 and 09 teams had several Orange Bowl players on them, and Bowen still couldn't figure out how to use them effectively. He's consistently had NFL caliber talent at his disposal, and he's never been able to come up with a good scheme. You can make excuses all day for the guy, but I'm convinced it's time for a fresh perspective. It's time to let him go (at the end of the season or now, I don't really care).

Brett McCabe 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I get the feeling that Bowen stole your girlfriend. North Texas? W. Kentucky? He was the major problem in '08? The year everything went to heck.

Get over it. If they can't win 3 games this year, everyone needs to go. No excuses by you.

Doug Cramer 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Brett - you're upset because you realize crowning Bowen "Head Coach" 3 years ago would have been a big mistake, which you lobbied for harder than anyone I know.

Are you man enough to admit you were wrong ?

Beaty and Meacham are fine. They are getting that offense functioning as it should.

Your boyfriend Clint on the other hand...not so good.

Brett McCabe 2 months, 3 weeks ago

No. And miss those thrilling wins over URI and SEMO? Or that nail biting 0-12 season? Or the domination against CMU?

Had we hired an actual coach, like Troy Calhoun or Dave Doren or Craig Bohl or someone else who was actually qualified, then maybe I'd back-off my support of Bowen But the the thrills and chills of the last two seasons, plus the 1-3 start to open this season have left me in the same place: We disappointed thousands of Jayhawk faithful to hire a recruiting coordinator that no other FBS program in America would have hired. So, in spite of the large crowds at Memorial, the pull-the-name-out-of-a-hat QB decisions last year, the three O.C.'s in three years and the Air Raid offense which gained 291 yards on the ground today by forgetting about the Air Raid offense, I'm confident that we screwed the pooch with the hire.

You're like a weatherman who blames brown grass on a dull lawn mower blade. Clint Bowen didn't fire Mark Mangino or hire Turner Gill. He didn't fire Turner Gill and hire Charlie Weis. he didn't fire Charlie Weis and hire David Beaty. And then he didn't have the nerve to ask the fan base to be patient with the process. The process of ineptitude.

Brett McCabe 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Impressed by four things today:

  1. The perseverance of the players. Down 28-3, this looked like one of those days. Those kids never gave up. It's a real testament to their character.

  2. Herbert. Of course. If you had offered me 10-1 odds on a $1,000 bet that we'd have a guy go for 290, I wouldn't have taken the bet.

  3. The O-Line. Hats off for creating the gaps. Fantastic job.

  4. Meachem and Yenser. After the game, Adenjai noted that these two coaches came up with a brilliant game plan, which they did.

Going into the season, I felt that Beaty should be retained if he won three and was more competitive in general. He's won one, was competitive in two and a complete disappointment in one. Let's see what this staff can do with a bye week.

David Kemp 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Still on many plays if Bender could scramble there was potential for big gains but he is wheel less. Defense at least will be intact since NOONE is going to draft Armstrong or Wise. Those guys seem not to to be able to fight off blocks and Grier had allllll day back there.

Bville Hawk 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Along those lines I wish they would give Carter Stanley a good look in some game, assuming he is fully recovered from his presumed hand injury. He showed us last year he is super competitive and can make plays with both his arm and his feet.

Brett McCabe 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Part of the problem with the passing game is our pass blocking. Bender is consistently being flushed, and you are right about his lack of mobility.

Today, the coaches adjusted to give the line simpler assignments. This is why the Academies run the option; run-blocking is not as difficult as pass-blocking. We, of course, were way too late in adopting this strategy even though everyone knew we had a young, immature line.

If you can't effectively pass-block, you need one of two things in your passing game; a quick read and release, or mobility. Right now, we are struggling in both areas.

Ashwin Rao 2 months, 3 weeks ago

When we come back from the Bye week, I am hoping to see a new face as a DC... I can hope, can't I?

Max Ledom 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Bowen I just don’t think is suited as a D coordinator. I think he would be an excellent head coach somewhere, but it’s clear that his defensive schemes don’t work. He’s a guy who works better as a leader and organizer, head coach stuff.

Also, very encouraged by the second half swing. I think we do need a change at QB to spark our offense. If Carter Stanley can get 100% soon we need to start him soon.

Austin Lopez 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Since the start of the season I have been calling for Clint Bowen to be fired, or placed elsewhere. As I said plenty of times on this blog just because he is a good guy don't mean he is a good coach. Good coaches get the job done and Bowen obviously puts the worse defensive product on the field. It's time Bowen leaves or he is going to be the down fall for Beaty!

John Brazelton 2 months, 3 weeks ago

There are three defensive coaches besides Bowen, who coaches Safeties, and none are getting the job done so far. Bowen is the co-DC along with the DB coach. Our DBs are very inexperienced and there is no depth there to work with. Our main problem is our inability to tackle receivers, running backs and running QBs. Joe Dineen is a tackling machine, after that almost nobody. Our DBs can still be beat by fast receivers on almost any route. Hopefully, this defense can re-group during their bi-week. Our team last season wasn't competitive until the last 4 games of the season.

Austin Lopez 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Our defense last year also didn't look like a hunk of junk!!

Maria Ungaro 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I said this last season and I will say this again. Change the Defense to a 3-4.

Put Armstrong as your Will OLB so he can use his speed to get to the QB.

Put #17 at the Sam OLB to control the TE and Line of Scrimmage.

Move Wise to RDE and Bean to LDE

This 4-2 defense is not working too many missed tackles and guys not getting to QB.

Next game is Texas Tech. Use the bye week and make the changes.

I like how these Jayhawks don't quit , they play hard to the final play. Just can't jump off sides on the 3.

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