Memphis defeats Kansas, 55-23

  • 6 p.m., Sept. 12, 2015
  • David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mauled: Tigers handle Jayhawks at Memorial Stadium

Kansas offensive lineman Jordan Shelley-Smith (79) sits on the sidelines during the Jayhawks' 55-23 loss to Memphis on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas offensive lineman Jordan Shelley-Smith (79) sits on the sidelines during the Jayhawks' 55-23 loss to Memphis on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.


It seemed inevitable that it would come to this.

The Kansas University football team's shift to an up-tempo, Air Raid offense, though more exciting for the Memorial Stadium crowd of 37,798 to watch, became the Jayhawks' biggest problem during Saturday's 55-23 loss to Memphis, as the Tigers took advantage of several short KU drives and wore down the out-manned and overmatched Kansas defense.

“I feel like we've been preparing for that based off the way we've practiced,” said junior defensive end Damani Mosby, who sniffed out a reverse for a 14-yard loss and also recovered a fumble in Saturday's loss. “Regardless if (our offense goes) out there and gets a three-and-out or goes out there and scores in three plays, we're trained for that type of stuff. We just need to clean up the little things. And there were a lot of little things (tonight) that's why it made a big difference as you could see in the score. It's execution, man.”

Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, who had the attention of KU coach David Beaty well before the teams took the field on Saturday, orchestrated a perfect attack throughout the night, hitting open receivers for key third-down conversions, connecting on 10 passes of 14 yards or longer — including six between 20 and 42 yards — and leaning heavily on the Tigers' running game, which finished with 281 yards and a 5.4 yards-per-carry average.

“After that first drive, I don't think he got his jersey dirty,” said Beaty of Lynch, who finished 22-of-25 for 354 yards and two touchdowns. “We've got to get more pressure on guys like that. He can't sit back there and have all day like that because he's a talented guy.”

While Lynch hurt the Jayhawks through the air, the Tigers' running backs ran around, through and over the Kansas defense from start to finish, with four different backs finishing between 49 and 77 yards rushing.

The worst part about the Memphis ground attack, from a KU perspective at least, was that it only seemed to get stronger as the game progressed.

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Postgame: David Beaty addresses 55-23 loss to Memphis

After his Kansas football team fell to 0-2 on the season, first-year Jayhawks coach David Beaty speaks with media members regarding the struggles of a 55-23 home loss to Memphis.

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“They came out and made some adjustments and had a lot of misdirection and counter plays and stuff like that,” KU safety Fish Smithson said.

Added Memphis coach Justin Fuente: “I felt like, as the game went on, Kansas got a little tired defensively and I think that showed a little bit toward the end.”

The 6-foot-7, 245-pound Lynch, whom the Jayhawks seemed more concerned about as a runner heading into the game, did not need to use his feet to do his damage on Saturday night. Most of it came through the air against soft coverages showed by Kansas' defensive backs.

Seven different Memphis players caught at least two passes to help make up Lynch's gaudy stat line.

“We definitely were telling everybody that he was a runner and he could make somebody miss in space,” Mosby said of Lynch.

Throughout preseason camp, and before and after last week's season-opening loss to South Dakota State, Beaty emphasized striving to win or at least play “clean” in three key areas of each game — penalties, turnovers and special teams.

But Saturday's game, against an opponent that entered the season ranked in the middle of the pack of the 128 Division I football programs by most preseason publications, provided the plain and painful truth that even doing that might not be enough for this Kansas team.

The Jayhawks won the turnover battle 3-0, committed the same number of penalties as Memphis (7) and neither were hurt nor helped themselves much by anything that happened on special teams.

But KU's inability to turn those three turnovers into more than three points proved costly.

“That'll kill ya,” Beaty said. “You've gotta be able to convert.”

Saturday's loss was not all bad. The Jayhawks responded to the slow start that doomed them during last week's loss with a much better effort early and even jumped out to a 10-0 lead six minutes into the game.

A fumble recovery by junior linebacker Marcquis Roberts (nine tackles) on one of the few mistakes made by Lynch during this one, set up KU with a first-and-goal at the Memphis 10. And although the three plays that followed foreshadowed KU's offensive night — two incompletions by Montell Cozart and a run for minus-two yards by Ke'aun Kinner — Kansas jumped out to a 3-0 lead — its first of the season — when Nick Bartolotta drilled a 30-yard field goal attempt early in the first quarter.

A Memphis three-and-out and Ben Goodman sack later, Kinner (113 yards on 16 carries) scored the Jayhawks' first touchdown on a nifty run around the right side that showed off both his good vision to stretch the play and his balance to keep his feet. Out of nowhere, Kansas (0-2) led 10-0 and appeared to have Memphis (2-0) reeling.

But KU's early lead was short-lived. Memphis tied the game at 10 seven minutes after KU built its lead and the Tigers outscored the Jayhawks 24-3 to close the first half.

“We started quick,” Beaty said. “And that was something we needed to get corrected from last week and it was good to see.”

For a while, the quick-strike ability that served KU well in the opener kept the Jayhawks in this one. After falling behind 31-13 on the opening drive of the second half when Memphis' Mose Frazier sprinted 60 yards to the end zone, KU quarterback Cozart guided a 10-play, 75-yard drive to pull the Jayhawks back within two scores. Cozart, who finished 13-of-28 passing for 118 yards and with 18 yards on 11 carries, capped the drive with a seven-yard TD run on a called QB draw with 11:20 to play in the third quarter.

“From there, I never felt like we really got it back going again on either side of the ball,” Beaty said.

That touchdown was the final highlight of Cozart's night. Junior-college transfer Deondre Ford relieved the KU starter midway through the fourth quarter and KU limped to yet another lopsided loss.

“If you look at the stat line, it tells the story,” Beaty said. “(Memphis was) seven-of-seven in the red zone and we've gotta stop 'em down there.... Just a lot of things that added up to that being the result.” 

See what people were saying about the game during our live blog.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Memphis


Stan Anderson 6 years, 9 months ago

After a 32 point lost where we threw no touchdowns in the new "Air Raid" offense. Does everyone still have the same feeling Cozart is the QB of the future. Cozart is not a Big 12 QB. He's really a receiver. We don't need a QB who's great in practice that can't implement the "Air Raid" offense on game day.

Time to start grooming one of the new freshman QBs. What are we afraid of? A loss. Oh yea... we have that covered. A win. Wow that would be a surprise and embarrassing. Not polite because we would offend K-state. Not the Kansas way.

JD Roth 6 years, 9 months ago

Why bring K-State into this? After K-State whipped UTSA yesterday they should be knocking on the door of a Top 25 ranking. William Shatner has spoken on the ridiculous Band controversy too, so let it go...

Bryce Landon 6 years, 9 months ago

Memphis plays dirty football. How in hell was that one guy not thrown out of the game for cheap-shotting our guy in the head? How in hell do you say, "he was aiming for the shoulders"? Memphis didn't win because of the refs, but these refs should be investigated for enabling dirty play by Memphis and endangering our players' safety.

W Keith Swinehart II 6 years, 9 months ago

Good game for the Hawks in many respects. A tough opponent with a legitimate pro-caliber quarterback put the game and challenges ahead clearly in perspective. It brought out weaknesses to work on, both offensively and defensively. It showed our depth issues, let lots of players get on the field. We get two weeks to work on the system, tweak plays, technique and execution before meeting Rutgers. And, hopefully, we suffered no serious injuries to players other than ego. Rutgers should be a good measuring stick.

It's gonna be a long, learning season as it should be. Our success over the next couple of seasons depends on how the players and coaches handle the problems and respond to the opportunities. I liked the body language (other than tiredness) and effort throughout the game. We just need to realize the tough ordeal ahead, appreciate improvement when we see it, be patient and, by all means, support the team.

Bee Bee 6 years, 9 months ago

"Good game for the Hawks in many respects." I m sorry, I was watching a different game than you were.

Greg Ledom 6 years, 9 months ago

If you read what WKSII says after that statement, I think it makes total sense. Granted, it's a glass half full view, but legit view of what took place and what we're up against. We all saw the same thing, he simply chose the positive view of things. I like it. Nicely done WKSII.

Garrett Pounds 6 years, 9 months ago

They were a better team tonight. On to the next game. Change won't happen over night takes some time. Got to stay positive. Improvements will come.

Charlie Gaughn 6 years, 9 months ago

Now that we're mired in potentially the worst season (record wise) in school history, it's time for some accountability:

Obviously, Lew Perkins can't be held accountable any more after putting the noose over the program by firing Mangino. He was well compensated and off he flew. In retrospect, Turner Gill was a bright spot. He couldn't coach a lick but as it turned out he did recruit a little bit of talent. He was well compensated as well when they pulled the hook on him. In came Charlie Weis and with the noose securely around the Jayhawks neck he pulled the lever to the trap door. Talk about compensation, this guy made out better than Jesse James.

Beaty can't be held responsible for any of this mess, yet. Bowen is somewhat of another story. He's getting the free pass with Beaty but he's now in his fourth year as DC and the mistakes on the field are the same as they were in his first game.

Then there's Zenger. Here's a guy that has no history or allegiance to KU. Quite the opposite. He's died in purple. He "negotiated" the rediculous contract with Weis with absolutely no incentive for success. He stood by while Weis opened his tenure by running 29 players from team to make room for his "Cavalry". Then watched him decimate the program completely with fifth year and junior college transfers. Zenger must feel that he saved his job by signing the final check to Weis and firing him.

As an alum, long time donor, and season ticket holder, I've had about enough of seeing big salaries paid out for zero success. Zenger needs to be let go and an AD brought in here that will once and for all focus on football. If it weren't for Bill Self, Zenger would most likely already be gone. Actually, we've had some of the most dismall B-Ball years in a long time since Zenger arrived, but since he's pretty invisible it's hard to blame that on him.

My support for the WEF and continued ticket purchase will most likely hinge on whether Zenger is still here next year.

Bville Hawk 6 years, 9 months ago

Zenger isn't the problem. Granted, the Charlie Weis hire was a big mistake. A good case could be made that a lack a continuity has hurt us as much as anything. We have a solid staff in place right now, we all just need to be patient and give them sufficient time (at least 5 years) to prove themselves.

If we let Zenger go we run the risk (like when Perkins replaced Al Bohl) of the new A.D. wanting "his own man" in the head football coaches position. And then the cycle repeats...

Bryce Landon 6 years, 9 months ago

Funny you mention basketball as having dismal years under Zenger's watch. I wouldn't call 25-10 or 27-9 dismal. Underachieving, perhaps, but not dismal. I am disappointed that Zenger hasn't held Self accountable for the basketball program losing ground on a national level to Kentucky, Duke and Connecticut, on a conference level to Iowa State, and on a state level to Wichita State; nor has he held him accountable for doing less with more - having two very talented teams and yet losing 19 games in two years, surrendering Big 12 Tournament supremacy to Iowa State, and getting his ass kicked in the Round of 32 in back-to-back years, especially to WSU.

Bob Bailey 6 years, 9 months ago

Some not afraid to speak up. Zenger has no grasp of coaching! And our primary problem is Defense.

The Defense has enough talent to execute a reasonable Defense. They concede way too much to their offense before starting to execute. Can't tackle; you start by watching the carriers belt buckle. You can't throw your body at him. You alternate your route keeping him in front of you. Then you MUST wrap-him-up, Hitting him a lot closer to the knees, and you link your hands, lock onto your wrists, or tie you fingers together so he can't move, then dump him on the ground! Can't cover, you must stop the ball before it gets to the receiver. And the Defensive Scheme just about doesn't exist!

Now except for those minor little problems, it' a great team!

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