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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Offense supplies sign of progress for KU football

Kansas running back Taylor Martin (24) pushes off of West Virginia cornerback Mike Daniels Jr. (4) on a run during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Taylor Martin (24) pushes off of West Virginia cornerback Mike Daniels Jr. (4) on a run during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

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Now that new University of Kansas chancellor Douglas Girod made it clear he stands behind athletic director Sheahon Zenger and football coach David Beaty and no changes will be made there any time soon, the challenge to Saturday’s home football game became seeking a sign, any sign, of progress from a football program running on a hamster wheel for going on eight years.

The sign appeared Saturday: The Kansas offense is getting better, which is a good thing because the defense is not.

Kansas lost to West Virginia, 56-34, but at least sophomore tailback Khalil Herbert supplied plenty of entertaining moments, replays of which will be worth watching synced to classical music.

His sharp cuts, low-to-the-ground running style and great balance made for an afternoon of he’s-down-wait-no-he’s-not long runs behind an improving offensive line.

Herbert had at least one run of longer than 10 yards in each quarter. He popped loose for gains of 18, 21 and 12 yards in the first quarter, a 67-yard touchdown run in the second, had a 60-yard ballet on artificial turf in the third and 15-yard gain in the fourth on his way to a 291-yard, two-touchdown day.

No running back does all that without the help of physical blockers. Herbert, Beaty and quarterback Peyton Bender were quick to give them credit.

Herbert rushed for 137 yards in a 42-30 loss at Ohio and KU amassed 375 yards on the ground vs. West Virginia. Clearly, moving Andru Tovi in place of Jayson Rhodes at left guard and Zach Hannon in place of Antione Frazier at right tackle has had a positive impact.

“I think a lot of it's development to be honest with you,” Beaty said. “We have just a few new guys in there, but (redshirt freshman) Chris Hughes (at right guard) is a developing guy. He developed over last year. He didn't play at all, but we knew he was going to be a pretty good player. He's got a lineage. His brothers both played at Texas. Both of them were massive and really good players. We knew he had a chance to be really good, and I thought Zach (Yenser, offensive line coach) did a great job bringing him along.”

Not that the line is a finished product. Starting guards Tovi and Hughes were flagged for two false-start penalties apiece, three coming in the first quarter.

Center Mesa Ribordy and left tackle Hakeem Adeniji bring smarts and maturity to the O-line and both have two years of eligibility after this season, so those on a mission to find hope, might want to start there.

“I think development has been kind of a key for us up front, and we knew that coming into this project, this turnaround project, that it was going to be hardest up front,” Beaty said. “But I am proud of Zach Yenser and what his vision was for what we were trying to get done up front. I think it's starting to pay dividends.”

KU has the personnel to make the run game a big part of the Air Raid offense coordinated by Doug Meacham, who was happy to have Taylor Martin (11 rushes for 59 yards and a touchdown) back among the healthy.

A sign of progress: In Beaty's first 23 games vs. FBS opponents, KU never scored more than 24 points in a game. The Jayhawks have averaged 32 points the past two weeks, reaching the 30-point barrier in back-to-back games for the first time since interim head coach Clint Bowen's offenses, coordinated by Eric Kiesau, put up 34 points in a victory vs. Iowa State and 30 in a loss to TCU in 2014.

Kansas resumes its schedule after a bye week, trying to reach the 30-point milestone for a third consecutive time in a home game vs. Texas Tech, a streak that would be the longest since Mark Mangino was coach in 2009.

Two weeks of more watchable offense does not a sea change make, but it's a start.

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


More news and notes from Kansas vs. West Virginia

Comments

Doug Cramer 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Beaty and Meacham have got this offense crankin, and will continue making it better.

Beaty knows what he has to do with the defense, and it starts with the D.C.

Start looking for an up and coming defensive coach in the SEC to take over next season.

Larry Jackson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Perhaps you are correct. But what is the offensive philosophy or approach, Air Raid or conventional run?

Benny Armstrong 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I think in the dream scenario, we get an offense like what we saw from WV on Saturday. They spread out the secondary and pull linebackers away from the middle to create open space for delayed draws to their backs. This turns average gains into big runs because it takes so long for the defense to get off assignments and tackle the runner. Then if we start cheating with more guys in the box, they take advantage at the edge with quick passes or slants behind the linebackers.

While I didn't love it happening to us, it was an interesting chess match to watch unfold between the two sides.

Brett McCabe 2 months, 2 weeks ago

For the out-of-towners, there is a nice article today in the LJW on the Booth donation. It's going to be exciting to see how this renovation develops. http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2017/sep/23/donor-david-booth-explains-his-50m-gift-ku-footbal/?c=2627583

Layne Pierce 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I am not 100 percent on offense, because it does not protect the defense, which is atrocious. Fact is that if you score 34 points, you should win, or at least be close to winning in any game.

I wish it was as simple as fire Bowen, but I doubt it. Our secondary is terrible, but we get so little pressure on qbs, and the secondary are not good tacklers, so any play could go to the house.

Gerry Butler 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Agree. First I understand Armstrong is getting double teamed a lot , But your getting only 3 tackles for the entire game and still zero sacks? - -We are getting zero pressure from our defensive line. - -It doesn't matter how good your secondary is if you give the QB as much time as our opp's are getting they are going to shred you up

Brad Farha 2 months, 2 weeks ago

With the double teams on Armstrong, I don't get how someone else is not getting a clearer path to the QB.

Dyrk Dugan 2 months, 2 weeks ago

We'll struggle all year with defending the pass; but it will improve....we're so inexperienced. Would love to see Kyle Mayberry get a shot. The offensive improvement is great to see; but the slow starts are killing us. 28-3 yesterday, before anyone blinked; 28-17, and it could have been a different outcome. Same with CMU and Ohio; down 18 points in both games, before we scored a TD; starts of games must be better.

Bryce Landon 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Seems like we've been inexperienced forever...and that isn't changing anytime soon.

John Brazelton 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Posters who constantly scream about firing the coaches have no understanding of how you go about rebuilding a winning football program. You are idiots!

Chris DeWeese 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Bowen has had plenty of time to perfect his craft. Who's the idiot for allowing him to remain? His record speaks for itself. Have you not been paying attention to all the blow outs we've endured under his leadership? Have you forgotten all the NFL caliber players he's had at his disposal for years? When you add it up, it makes sense that more and more people are calling for his dismissal. Other power 5 schools would have fired him a long time ago. I think we need a fresh perspective.

Robert Brock 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The best thing to do with the Air Raid is to junk it and run.

Gerry Butler 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Ya? -then when the other teams start loading the box and we get absolutely zilch out of the run - -what ate you gonna say then? - -I know, we got to throw the ball more. Running the ball is fine, if you can get a balanced attack, run the ball enough to keep the defense honest respect the run then that's fine. But to just as you say Junk a portion of your offense - umm MAYBE NOT

Austin Lopez 2 months, 2 weeks ago

John Brazelton, From what I see on this blog most people are calling for the firing of defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, There are a few that want Beaty removed. Clint Bowen should of been fired a long time ago. Look at his numbers on defense, numbers don't lie! He has our secondary getting exposed every play, he has our defense in a scheme that doesn't fit the personnel we have, our defensive players miss more tackles than shaq misses free throws! Bowen is the one to blame, he is the defensive coordinator for a reason! Get him out of here coach! FIRE CLINT BOWEN!!!!!

Randy Bombardier 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The problem with the air raid is the pressure it puts on the defense. Look at the explosive power of Texas Tech and what its defense looks like. Last night OU scored fast enough to keep its defense from getting rest against a Baylor team that started to click. It was almost their undoing.

K-State is the only possession driven system un the conference that serves them well. A run first system will make it much more sustainable to have a 6 win season year in, year out. Of course we're not not talking about vanilla run games, yet execution at skill positions is not near as critical as in the air raid systems. If we want ti have more than 4 wins a year we better get serious about the run game and when you throw make it worth the risk/reward and throw that thing downfield. The run game sets up the LONG pass, not the bubble screen. And one last thing. If you can't stop your opponent and you happen to score why would you kick it to them. Kick it to yourself!

Dillon Davis 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Tony Hull is gonna get a nice big paycheck from someone this offseason...can already feel it. His recruiting prowess and what he's doing with Khalil. Gonna be a high priority for some SEC team next year.

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