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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Keegan

Tom Keegan: KU defense did its part in loss to WVU

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier (7) fumbles the ball against Kansas during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Morgantown, W. Va., Saturday Oct. 6, 2018. (Craig Hudson/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP)

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier (7) fumbles the ball against Kansas during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Morgantown, W. Va., Saturday Oct. 6, 2018. (Craig Hudson/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP)

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Morgantown, W.Va. — The Kansas defense played with anger, born of an insult, one delivered by the opposing coach no less.

The Jayhawks played as if they were tired of being the butt of jokes, fed up with not getting credit for the improvements they have made, ready to fight back and fight hard.

The defense did its part Saturday in a 38-22 loss to West Virginia at Milan Puskar Stadium, where 57,419 watched a more competitive game than they imagined, but little else went right for the Jayhawks (2-4 overall, 0-3 in the Big 12).

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier entered as a strong Heisman Trophy candidate who had never thrown an interception in the red zone. He came out of it as a shaky Heisman hopeful and threw three interceptions in the red zone.

It didn’t keep the Mountaineers from remaining undefeated because KU’s best offense was its Defense, first name Hasan, a cornerback turned safety who returned his two interceptions for a combined 88 yards.

Daniel Wise lived in West Virginia’s backfield all day, and the Mountaineers resorted to holding him repeatedly, not always drawing the flag and never dousing his fire. What got into a defense that the previous week allowed 48 points, four touchdown passes and an average reception yardage of 20.8 at home against Oklahoma State?

Old-fashioned bulletin board material, that’s what.

During his weekly press conference, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen was reminded that eight different Kansas players had picked off a pass. His answer cracked up the room.

“How many of those came from Rutgers?” Holgorsen asked. “I’m just curious.”

KU’s players clearly considered that talk cheap and answered it in the best way possible.

“We just heard something about some Rutgers effect and our minds just blanked out and we knew it was time to go,” Defense said. “They said something about us only catching picks against Rutgers, so we just knew we had to show them what we’re about. You have to have a different opinion on us now, I feel. We did our job, we executed. We didn’t get the Dub, but we held our own for the most part.”

Whatever it takes to motivate athletes in a game as emotional as football is welcome.

Holgorsen’s staff spends a lot of energy recruiting in the state of New Jersey, so the shot at Rutgers might benefit the Mountaineers on signing day, but it hurt them Saturday.

“We knew we couldn’t let it be a fluke,” Defense said of KU intercepting four passes at Central Michigan, three the next week vs. Rutgers, surpassing its 2017 total of four picks. “We knew we had to make big-time plays in a big game. You can make big plays in small games, but at the end of the day, no one really remembers them or they try to joke about it, so you have to make them on the big stage, too.”

Defense became the ninth Kansas player to pick off a pass, Devon Ferguson the 10th. Defense’s second pick gave KU 11 interceptions on the season.

Defense made his first pick at the goal line and returned it 28 yards. His second pick also came at the goal line and was returned 60 yards down the left sideline until Grier himself caught him from behind.

Run out of gas?

“I don’t want to say, ‘yeah,’ but yeah,” Defense said. “I was using all my energy trying to get to him and I couldn’t get past him. I was too tired. That air is definitely something different.”

Interesting. Although mountains are visible from the stadium, the elevation of Morgantown (960 feet) ranks fifth in the Big 12, behind Lubbock (3,202), Norman (1,171), Manhattan (1,020) and Stillwater (984).

An abundance of allergens, perhaps?

At any rate, Defense, a junior from Jacksonville, Fla., who came to Kansas after one year in junior college, had a terrific game one week after a particularly rough one.

He has the perfect mentality for a defensive back. Like closers in baseball, D-backs have to forget the bad ones and go right back to believing supremely in their ability.

Defense attributed the big-play day from the secondary to two factors: First, relentless pressure from the men up front. KU had five sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Second, Defense said he felt Grier underrated the defensive backs’ abilities.

“I feel like he definitely slept on us. I feel like we have a lot more talent than we get noted for just because the score isn’t always the way it seemed,” Defense said. “Like today, the score kind of got away at the end, but that wasn’t the game at all. I feel like he didn’t have much respect for us, putting the ball in places he knows he shouldn’t put it, and we had to make up for it.”

Ricky Thomas has been sidelined for a few weeks and Mike Lee missed the game with an undetermined injury, so Defense and Jeremiah McCullough started at safety.

“Without Mike Lee it’s a big loss,” Defense said. “He’s a big-time playmaker all over the field. Without him we knew we had to cover a lot of ground because he’s our ground-coverer. Play gets out, he’s always going to get there first. I don’t know how, but he always gets there first.”

If national awards were given weekly for most improved performers, Defense would be a candidate.

Yet, the Kansas offense — shuffling quarterbacks, too many pass plays, not enough runs, etc. — and a muffed punt kept it from being closer. But with Wise leading up front and Defense in the back, the defense did its job in a tough road environment against the No. 9 team in the nation.

Comments

David Kemp 2 months, 1 week ago

Agree defense did it’s part. In 4 years offensive scheme doesn’t fit the players. Totally useless, no adjustments or utilization of players properly

Micky Baker 2 months, 1 week ago

Need a tissue? You do realize other people watched the game right? You know what the adjustment was? Not using Carter Stanley, and the offense was better today.

Brett McCabe 2 months, 1 week ago

Need some readers? You do realize other people can read box scores, right? You know what the result was? We were dominated, and the offense was below average.

Micky Baker 2 months, 1 week ago

Yes I can read the box scores, and I also can watch the game where KU defenders made big plays to keep WVU from scoring 3x against one of the best QBs in the nation. They also sacked him 5 or 6 times. But where the interceptions were, that doesn't show up in the box score. Those were big-time clutch plays by an improving secondary with both starting safeties out this week.

Jerry Walker 2 months, 1 week ago

Beaty and Meacham led offense is fodder for a Laurel and Hardy movie remake.

Michael Maris 2 months, 1 week ago

I thought Wise, Holani and Holmes did their part in today's game. Dineen, Jr. seem to be caught out of position, or made bad reads. Hassan Defense really stepped up his game. C. Harris is getting more and more game time experience. Thankfully, someone was smart enough to offer Torneden a scholarship (and not let him end up in the Dakota's). Now, if the Offensive Coaches could just figure out that using M. Saunders is more beneficial to the team (than a sideline spectator). And, Charlot finally caught a TD pass (even if it was in mop-up duty).

Michael Maris 2 months, 1 week ago

And, I forgot to mention A. Kamara, he applied some much needed edge rushing pressure as well. So maybe, Kamara getting up to speed on what he needs to be (as far as replacing D. Armstrong).

Brett McCabe 2 months, 1 week ago

Tried to listen to this game on the radio but Hanni is the worst play-by-play broadcaster since play-by-play was invented. My wife and I were driving today, and we counted 13 straight plays where he didn't set the stage and announced what happened after it happened because he was too busy talking about trivia to actually say who was on the field, what the sets were, where the sticks were, etc., etc.. "Oh, Kansas gets a first down on a great pass by Bender." You don't get to be the play-by-play, assistant color and official archivist all at once. Listen to a Bob Davis tape. Less is definitely more.

Another Zenger failure. Please, please, please Jeff Long, clear the place out. There are so many Jayhawks who want to be a part of the solution but who don't want to support really, really bad decisions.

Bryce Landon 2 months, 1 week ago

Gary Dolphin, the play-by-play for U of I, is vastly superior to Brian Hanni.

Richie Wilson 2 months, 1 week ago

Almost posted something similar myself. I miss Bob Davis so much. My friends not from around thought it was someone faking as a broadcaster or a commercial or something when they came over and game was on in back ground.

Micky Baker 2 months, 1 week ago

The guys on both sides of the ball are getting better as the season goes, the defense more so than the offense. But even the offense is better than a year ago by a good margin. To those that said WVU was gonna put up 84 on us or score in the 50s, it would be nice if you would at least swallow a little pride and admit they're better. This is the biggest project in college football.

Andy Tweedy 2 months, 1 week ago

They're better, but the measuring stick of previous seasons is so weak, it's hard to get too excited!

Micky Baker 2 months, 1 week ago

Andy, that's a valid point. It is for some and I can understand the frustrations. My point of view is that I'm not a player or a coach so it cannot possibly be as hard on me as it is on those players who want so badly to win and have made the decision to go to KU to try to be a part of rebuilding it the program to respectability.

Eric Eakins 2 months, 1 week ago

Will some coach please insult our offense. Why does it take an insult anyway just to play up to your capabilities. Consider losing big each week an insult.

Ashwin Rao 2 months, 1 week ago

Defense was good, more because of Bowen's coaching abilities than anything that Beaty has done. I don't like Bowen as a coach, but he has consistently outperformed the offense in the last few years. I don't believe Beaty has done anything remarkable to suggest that he needs to be retained. Head coaches elsewhere have done a turnaround in much shorter time than what Beaty has done, with programs that were much worse, and in non-p5 conferences (P5 has it's alure).

Jeff Coffman 2 months, 1 week ago

Bowen are we talking about? The guy that gave 3 straight touchdowns to OSU to start the game. Yesterday may have been decent and an improvement, but not nearly good enough. Bowen has been ranked in the bottom 120 of defenses sense his return 5 years ago. He is definitely winning the turnover battle this year, but that's about it (which if this was year 1, I'd be happy, but this is year 5, the second time around). He should have been out last year.

Brad Sherp 2 months, 1 week ago

Silver lining: At least we precisely know the formula for Beaty to win. 4 turnovers isn't enough. Beaty needs a defense to have 6 for him to win.

The KU Athletic department should create "6 turnovers or bust" t-shirts.

Jeff Coffman 2 months, 1 week ago

I like it, the three games (outside of FCS) Beaty needed 6 turnovers in each of them to win.

Titus Canby 2 months, 1 week ago

I wonder if the defense was also a little ticked off at the "28 points aren't enough" comment from our own offense?

Brad Sherp, I like your comment. One of our defensive players should be quoted saying "4 turnovers aren't enough."

Jeff Coffman 2 months, 1 week ago

Or 38 points is too much to give up...supposed improvement.

Micky Baker 2 months, 1 week ago

You were predicting 84 weren't you? But you can't admit it was much better than you thought it would be? Not even into the 50s... now the goal posts change again because you moved them while the ball was in flight, so they missed your expectations that aren't real.

Gerry Butler 2 months, 1 week ago

umm if you really want a dose of reality all you have to do is check out the scores, not only KU but these defense's are getting the hell beat out of them - not just us. Winners scores around the league from yester : Texas 48 pts - -- Baylor 37 pts - - -Iowa State 48 points . - - WV best KSU by 29 - -WV put up 42 pts on Tech - this is a very high scoring league. -- Hell Texas hung up 48 pts on OKLAHOMA for Peete's sakes - - -IOWA State hung up 48 points on Oklahoma State - it's not just KU defense. - -They have improved just like others have said. Then you got some that won't hand out ANY CREDIT none at all period no matter if it slapped them square in the mouth. - YA THOSE are the kind of fans our guys need -thanks for stopping by

Gerry Butler 2 months, 1 week ago

guess you didn't get to read or hear or care about the part where this so sad of defense that your so quick to jump on - guess you hadn't heard that before the game that when WV hit the red zone in like 25 possessions this year they had been stopped huh? - KU stopped them not once- -not twice- -but three times - -you didn't pick up on that part huh? - Guess you must of been grabbing a Hoagie when they were talking about how WV has had on 14 TFL's against them all year huh? - Yet KU gave them TEN yesterday - KU hit WV for TEN - - TEN TFL'S yesterday they practically had as many as WV had given up all year. - -Missed that huh?- - Guess the defense that if not leads the nation is in at least the top 5 in the nation guess you missed the THREE INT'S huh - -missed that did ya? - -or the fumble recovery - - fricken FOUR take aways yesterday - -must of been at the ol fridge during those parts huh - -gain thanks for stopping by

Dane Pratt 2 months, 1 week ago

If we ever get back to respectability and a 16 point loss to West Virginia in their place is pretty much what we can expect most seasons. By the end of the year I bet they will beat most teams by more than 16 points. As losses go, this is not so bad. I’m much more concerned about our inability to compete with the bottom half of the conference.

Allin Herring 2 months, 1 week ago

Great Job on another 4 take aways. The defense showed some great goal line stands. With that said no one is talking about how WV just walked and passed so easily on us. I have never seen so many broken tackles. If we could learn 5o tackle maybe we would not have to make so many goal line stands. Cornerback Taylor was beaten so many times I lost count. We really need to replace him. You can also tell Harris is a freshman because is is a liability right now as well. I do realize he will get better as he gets more experience. .

Edward Daub 2 months, 1 week ago

As an Eyewitness in Morgantown, I agree that Hasan Defense Never Rests!

We picked off 3 Red Zone Passes from a Heisman Trophy Candidate, Sacked Grier 5 Times, and Forced Will to Fumble. 4 Turnovers!

KU Won the Turnover Battle 4 to 3! (We threw 2 INT's and fumbled a Punt at a critical juncture). But, the 1st Qtr 4th and 1 Gamble was essentially KU Turnover #4.

KU had a Shot at an Upset Down only 21-14 in the 3rd QTR!

So, How did we Lose? Look at the Game Stats! TOP 34 Mins for WVU and 26 Mins for KU. Total Yards 500 for WVU and 300 for KU!

KU's Defense played hard, but we still gave up over 500 yards of WVU Offense!

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