Kansas special teams coach Joe DeForest has experience to bank on to break slump
For the first time since the season-opening victory against Southeast Missouri State, Kansas played well offensively and defensively in the same game Saturday, yet was undermined by special teams and lost at home to Kansas State, 30-20.
Kansas surrendered a return touchdown for a third consecutive week, a rarity in college football.
Iowa State’s Trever Ryen scored on a 68-yard punt return, TCU’s KaVontae Turpin on a 90-yard punt return and Kansas State’s D.J. Reed on a 99-yard kickoff return.
The good news is head coach David Beaty doesn’t have to tap all of his contacts to find another coach who has been through such a rare streak so that he can ask him how to break out of it. All Beaty need do is walk down the hall.
Kansas special teams coach Joe DeForest had that role with West Virginia in 2014 when the Mountaineers allowed returns for touchdowns in the third, fourth and fifth games of the season and went five weeks without giving up another until Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett returned a punt 43 yards for a touchdown.
Maryland’s William Likely returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown, Oklahoma’s Alex Ross took a kickoff 100 yards for six points and KU’s Nick Harrell scored on a 76-yard punt return against the Mountaineers.
DeForest, who also works as a defensive assistant, is in his second season in the Kansas program. He received an $80,000 raise to $300,000 after last season, a year in which KU ranked 94th in punt-return coverage (9.64 yards per return), last in punt returns (-0.8 yards average), 65th in kickoff coverage (20.57) and 106th in kickoff returns (18.87).
Things have grown sloppier this season. Kansas is one of just three schools (Colorado State and Virginia) to allow two punt-return touchdowns and ranks last in the nation with 20.35 yards per punt return.
KU is the only school so far to allow three special-teams returns for touchdowns.
The Jayhawks rank 93rd in the nation with an average kick return of 19.62 yards, 105th in 23.48 yards allowed per kick return and tied for 15th in punt returns with a 4.5-yard average.