Advertisement

KU's defense shows signs of improvement on 3rd down in OSU loss

Advertisement

Oklahoma State wide receiver Dillon Stoner (17) carries against Kansas in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma State wide receiver Dillon Stoner (17) carries against Kansas in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) by Associated Press

Just a few weeks ago, KU’s defense had an alarming issue. The Jayhawks couldn’t get a stop on third down.

Entering the final bye week of the season, Kansas ranked 129th out of 130 FBS teams in third-down defense. Opponents were converting 53% of the time against KU, which only led UTEP at the time.

At least for one game, though, the Jayhawks (3-7, 1-6 Big 12) showed signs of improvement in a 31-13 loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The Cowboys only converted on four of their 12 chances on third down last weekend.

It is something that KU head coach Les Miles was pleased to see, and hopes it is a sign of things to come down the stretch against Iowa State and Baylor to close out the season.

"I know statistically we are not necessarily where we need to be on defense,” Miles said. “We stopped them eight of 12 times, got turnovers in key situations. And so defensively, things like that, if that continues, that's just what we would like to have happen.”

The four successful conversions by OSU ended up being the lowest mark allowed by KU since Coastal Carolina went 1-for-9 on third down in Week 2. Since then, opposing teams have converted at least six times against Kansas until Oklahoma State failed to do so.

Kansas now ranks 125th in the country in third-down defense. The Jayhawks have given up a 50.68% conversion rate, allowing 74 first downs on 146 such chances. Akron, San Jose State, Massachusetts, Connecticut and UTEP are the only teams that rank lower than KU in that category entering this weekend.

It remains to be seen if it was a one-time fluke or if KU’s defense has figured something out coming off that bye week. But let’s take a look at the five third-down stops by the Jayhawks in the first half to see what they did right last weekend:

Situation: 3rd-and-7 from OSU’s 8-yard line in 1Q

On the second drive of the game, Kansas got a much-needed three-and-out.

After a pair of short runs by the Cowboys, redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders attempted a pass in a tight window along the sideline. His pass was too high against man-to-man coverage by KU’s defense, but it demonstrated the benefit in forcing the opposition into an obvious passing situation.

The Jayhawks ended up getting the ball on the Cowboys’ 25-yard line on the ensuing possession, but were unable to get any points out of the favorable field position.

via GIPHY

Situation: 3rd-and-11 from KU’s 25-yard line in 2Q

Another obvious passing situation resulted in a failed conversion by the Cowboys. But this stop was a credit to KU’s containment.

Entering the final bye week of the season, Kansas ranked 129th out of 130 FBS teams in third-down defense. Opponents were converting 53% of the time against KU, which only led UTEP at the time.

Sanders was unable to bounce his run to the outside, as Kyle Mayberry made the play for a 3-yard loss. Four different KU players were in the area to make the stop as well.

via GIPHY

Situation: 3rd-and-1 from OSU’s 32-yard line in 2Q

Needing just 1 yard, Oklahoma State turned to the nation’s leading rusher.

Oklahoma State handed the ball off to OSU running back Chuba Hubbard in a two-back set out of shotgun. It was a misdirection, as the two backs crossed in front of Sanders. Hubbard was ultimately stuffed just shy of the first-down marker by Gavin Potter and Jay Dineen.

via GIPHY

Situation: 3rd-and-3 from OSU’s 40-yard line in 2Q

After converting on fourth down, OSU faced another third-and-short on that same possession.

Sanders had four receivers out to the left for a screen pass. Dineen immediately ran toward the intended receiver, so Sanders elected to run up the middle. Potter and Azur Kamara were there to make the play at the line of scrimmage.

via GIPHY

Situation: 3rd-and-4 from KU’s 26-yard line in 2Q

The Cowboys had no chance on their final try on third down in the first half.

Kamara came hard off the edge at the same time Sanders handed it off to LD Brown, who was then tripped up by his own blocker. Many KU players filled their respective gap, which prevented any sort of cutback.

Potter was ultimately credited with the tackle, though OSU took a 24-0 advantage on a 44-yard field goal on the very next play.

via GIPHY

KU opponent third downs this season

• Indiana State: 5-for-14 — 24-17 KU W

• Coastal Carolina: 1-for-9 — 12-7 KU L

• at Boston College: 10-for-19 — 48-24 KU W

• West Virginia: 9-for-18 — 29-24 KU L

• at TCU: 14-for-19 — 51-14 KU L

• Oklahoma: 6-for-9 — 45-20 KU L

• at Texas: 9-for-14 — 50-48 KU L

• Texas Tech: 6-for-15 — 37-34 KU W

• Kansas State: 11-for-17 — 38-10 KU L

• Oklahoma State: 4-for-12 — 31-13 KU L

Comments

Dirk Medema 2 weeks ago

About 39% is the average. Unfortunately there are only a few games where we’ve even been average.

Dane Pratt 1 week, 6 days ago

Our defense is easy to exploit and we don't have the depth to cover injuries, which we've had. The most we can hope for is slow the offense down and surrender FG's in lieu of TD's. All a moot point if we can't generate any offense.

Sign in to comment