Thursday, November 9, 2017

Kings of just almost’: Numerous issues compromising KU football offense

The Baylor defense drags down Kansas running back Khalil Herbert (10) during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

The Baylor defense drags down Kansas running back Khalil Herbert (10) during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.


In a season where offensive success has proven scarce, few Saturdays have gone as poorly in that category for the Kansas football team as its game against Baylor did.

With only 289 total yards and 163 passing yards to show for a 38-9 home loss to the previously winless Bears, the Jayhawks only produced fewer total and passing yards this fall in shutout road blowouts at Iowa State and TCU.

Upon reviewing the latest unsatisfactory performance, KU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham wished there was only a single issue to address. Instead, he observed plays breaking down because of a specific player one snap and an entirely different offender the next.

“Just seems like we’re playing with 10 sometimes. You know, it’s not really one area all the time. It’s just one guy isn’t exactly where you want him occasionally. So there’s that,” Meacham began, with a chuckle that belied his true feeling on the matter.

“It doesn’t take much for something to not go right,” he said, with another sardonic laugh. “It’s kind of like where it’s a leaky dam and you stick your whole finger in one hole and then there’s another leak. It’s a little bit of that. But they’re playing really hard. They practice hard. And then we get out there and it just kind of culminates as you go through the game where it’s one thing or another, from kind of every area. Not necessarily just one area.”

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From a quarterbacking standpoint, Carter Stanley completed only 17 of 33 throws for 155 yards with an interception versus the Bears (1-8 overall, 1-5 Big 12). Almost 60 percent of that yardage came on KU’s four chunk passing plays of 15 or more yards. Stanley hit Chase Harrell for 24 yards and Ryan Schadler for 17 in the first quarter. The QB connected with Evan Fairs for 36 yards in the second quarter and Steven Sims Jr. for 15 early in the third. Stanley’s other 29 pass attempts combined accounted for 63 yards.

KU head coach David Beaty thought Stanley, in his second start this season, “was a little bit off.”

“There were a couple incompletions that I know he wishes he had back. Had he been able to put those balls on those guys, it would have helped us move the chains,” Beaty said, after being asked what kept Stanley from providing KU (1-8, 0-6) with a spark. “The other thing is we had a drop on that first drive that Ben (Johnson, senior tight end) just looked away from it. It's a fundamental issue. If he doesn't look away, we've got a first down right there and we're inside their 15. But those are the things that cause drives to stall. They also limit a quarterback from getting on a roll, right? So it's never just one guy. It's all of us together, playing collectively. We've got to be better collectively.”

Although Beaty said earlier this week Stanley is questionable for the game at Texas (5 p.m. Longhorn Network and Jayhawk Television Network), Meacham said Thursday the first-string QB has at least been able to take reps at practices — though he declined to say whether Stanley looks healthy enough to start.

“Hopefully a little spark will ignite and we’ll get some rhythm going,” the coordinator added of the offense. “We’ve had some flashes of that. We’ve had some games or drives or quarters where you can see what we can actually do. We just would like to put together a whole game.”

The way Meacham explains it, enough varying mistakes are occurring on a micro level to undermine the offense as a whole.

“And we’re kind of the kings of just almost on a lot of things. Just got to find a way to break through and string some things together and get some things rolling,” Meacham said a few days after 10 of KU’s 13 drives against Baylor traveled 28 or fewer yards.

“You can’t actually identify what you need to be doing, because sometimes when you’re just struggling and second-and-10 all day, you start looking at that call sheet, and all the sudden it looks like, ‘What the? What do you do here?’ When you can have some type of success in certain play types or areas,” Meacham continued, “that definitely helps everything. It helps the (assistants) up in the box identify stuff, it helps me try and figure it out and gives your guys confidence in the stuff you’re calling. It all works together, you know? All of it. Every bit of it. The emotion part of it, the X and O part of it, the physical part of it. It’s got to all be there.”


Baylor Bears cornerback Verkedric Vaughns (27) bats away an end zone pass to Kansas wide receiver Ryan Schadler (33) during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Too many vacancies in one aspect or another have obstructed the KU offense most of the season. The Jayhawks enter Saturday’s game at Texas (4-5, 3-3) ranked last in Big 12 play in scoring (13.7 points), total offense (305 yards per game) and pass efficiency (93.3) and ninth in passing offense (187.3 yards).

KU ranks seventh in rushing offense (117.7 yards on average), but more than half of that — 367 of its 706 rushing yards in conference games — came on one day, against West Virginia. In its other five Big 12 games, KU is averaging 67.8 rushing yards.

After 137- and 291-yard rushing games at Ohio and versus WVU, Kansas sophomore running back Khalil Herbert injured his hamstring against Texas Tech on Oct. 7. More than four weeks later, Herbert still isn’t back to full strength.

“He’s nicked up,” Meacham said. “I think he’s better now, but he’s not 100 percent. He’s a tough kid. He’s a great kid. I’d like to see him kind of have some sort of an output like he had against West Virginia.”

Herbert, a 5-foot-9, 200-pound back from Coral Springs, Fla., feels better than he has in a while, though.

“I don’t think you can really feel 100 percent during the season but I’m right near it, so I’m feeling really good,” said Herbert, coming off a 10-carry, 71-yard day against Baylor.

It’s been a strange season for the explosive rusher, who was buried on the depth chart the first two weeks of the season before breaking out, and then injuring his hamstring.

“It’s been OK, I guess you could say. The running back room, we kind of rally around one another, so we never let any one of us get down, get too high, too low. We kind of just stay at a steady pace and I think that’s really helped me this year,” Herbert said.

What will it take for the offense to recreate the type of rushing attack it showed earlier this season?

“Just executing,” Herbert offered. “Doing the little things, you know. Just the want-to, competing.”

No update on Taylor and Lee

KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen had no definitive update Thursday on starting defensive backs Shakial Taylor and Mike Lee, both of whom suffered injuries during the home loss to Baylor.

“They’re both questionable,” Bowen said. “Probably just leave it at that. And kind of see a little bit more (Thursday and Friday) how they feel.”

Kansas sophomore cornerback Kyle Mayberry played more than three quarters in place of Taylor. Mayberry also started two games earlier this season when Hasan Defense was ill.

“It’s been good for him to just throughout the season get a little bit at a time,” Bowen said of Mayberry. “He got thrown into duty and I thought he went in there and did OK.”

When Mayberry entered for Taylor, BU targeted him immediately, and receiver Denzel Mims caught a 56-yard pass. Bowen said the defense had to soften its coverage to protect the corners on certain play calls with Taylor unavailable, so the change in personnel altered the game plan somewhat.

Sophomore Shaq Richmond replaced Lee at safety when he got hurt and would start at Texas if necessary.


John Brazelton 4 years, 6 months ago

If nothing else, a number of #2's are getting some-on-the-field playing time this season. It can only help the depth next season.

Brett McCabe 4 years, 6 months ago

We should never have run off Ryan Willis, simply because he wasn't rah-rah enough for Beaty. Willis was a better thrower than either Bender or Stanley, and he was just as mobile as Bender. Stanley's mobility just hasn't been a factor, and his inconsistency as a passer were clear to anyone who watched last year.

Beaty started to hang himself with his befuddling handling of QB's last year. Willis should have been named the starter on opening day and should have remained so through the year. This year, you'd have a QB going into his third season of the offense with the ability to actually make the throws.

So many things have been documented that have led to the demise of this regime, but probably two of the most important are Beaty's decision to take over the offense last year and the idiotic handling of QB's.

Chris Bailey 4 years, 6 months ago

Will be interesting to see what he does when he's eligible.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 6 months ago

And it was Beaty's fault that he threw 6 INT's in the 2 games he started, or that he hurt himself playing pick-up BB and missed Spring practice.

Bryson Stricker 4 years, 6 months ago

Ryan Willis was removed from Kansas Football, for your knowledge.

He was caught stealing things from HERE Kansas on multiple occasions and beat a kid to a pulp at a bar for talking to his girlfriend.

Ryan Willis was not a good kid and was not any better than what we have after he got sacked once or twice.

Tyler W. Lawrence 4 years, 6 months ago

I can assure you, with 100% certainty, he was not removed from Kansas football. Likewise, your other statements are patently false. You clearly have no knowledge of anything you speak of, Bryson Stricker II.

Bryson Stricker 4 years, 6 months ago

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL stfu. Everyone knows Ryan Willis was stealing stuff out of HERE Kansas and I watched him beat the s**t out of this kid's face. I bet you also think he broke his hand playing basketball LMFAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Just like Carter Stanley's hand injury, there is always a story behind everything.

My understanding after being told by multiple members of managing staff and advising was that Ryan was not going to be returning to the Football team hence his departure.

Tyler W. Lawrence 4 years, 6 months ago

Thank you for your excellent input. Here is my response:

1) "not returning to the football team" is not the same thing as being "removed from Kansas football".

2) I was physically present in the meeting with the head coach of the Kansas Football team, David Beaty, and Ryan Willis when Ryan requested permission to seek opportunities at other schools.

3) It is very apparent you feel you are an insider and that it is your duty to spread any story you hear about the athletes in the program. As a Kansas Football alumni and Orange Bowl Champion, I fully recognize that there are many, many stories about many players. With that being said, spreading further negativity about the program, and bashing current and former players online maybe isn't the best way to spend your time. Just food for thought. Rock Chalk.

Jeff Coffman 4 years, 6 months ago

"You can't actually identify what you need to be doing..." quote from ku coaching staff.

Edward Daub 4 years, 6 months ago

Sounds like something Yogi Berra would have said.

Chris Condren 4 years, 6 months ago

The what if’s really do not matter. KUnis fated to post another 1-11 season. But we are making clear progress!

Edward Daub 4 years, 6 months ago

As Yogi once said "It's deja vu all over again"!

Charlie Gaughn 4 years, 6 months ago

Any time a coach complains about poor execution what he is really saying is the team lacks discipline. In his day., Bill Snyder could’ve taken any 5 kids from small north central Kansas schools and in three years they’d be quality offensive linemen. Better yet, he’d get them to walk on and not even have to waste a scholarship until he KNEW they wee good enough to contribute.

Of course a poorly coached, undisciplined team is going to have some breakdown on almost every play. It’s not a talent issue it’s a player development and discipline issue.

On a positive note, how refreshing was it to hear the band play during timeouts instead of the disgusting noise pollution we’ve had to deal with for years? Too bad we have to amplify the band like it’s a rock concert but with Our crowds we need all the noise we can get!

Kevin Robert Fest 4 years, 6 months ago

Everyone on this site is always crying about something that we don't have. Let's bring back Mangino that will solve all the problems. Why did we let Cozart leave. If only Ryan Willis was still here. why isn't Carter Stanley starting. All three of these quarterbacks stunk Cozart threw high and threw a lot of interceptions Willis was inaccurate lots of interceptions everybody called for Stanley now you're seeing the same thing, Peyton Bender same thing. Weis tried bring in his old qb from ND and brought in a QB from BYU. SAMETHIG!!! Horrible QB play. No the answer isn't to hope beyond hope Reising has another year of eligibility.

Do I have the answer no. But clearly the answer isn't to keep crying about a quarterback who isn't with the program anymore but when they were with the program we're doing the same thing the quarterbacks who are in the program presently are doing, inaccurate throws and lots of interceptions. Then trying to make them out to be the second coming of Joe Montana because they're not in the program anymore.

Bryson Stricker 4 years, 6 months ago

Mike Lee is out vs Texas, will not be traveling.

Doesn't help me emotionally seeing as Mike was one of the biggest reasons we won last year.

Rock Chalk 0-0

Dillon Davis 4 years, 6 months ago

This will be the 2017 version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre tomorrow. They strongly remember what happened last year and will surely take it out on us tomorrow.

Anyone else wake up on Monday morning hoping to hear some news on Twitter about Beaty and Zenger being fired? Me too...

Kevin Robert Fest 4 years, 6 months ago

If it didn't happen after any of the other games what makes you think this particular Monday will be any different? Wash rinse repeat for as long as the administration wants. Stop looking for something that isn't going to happen. Not this year or next year maybe.

Drew Matthews 4 years, 6 months ago

Wow you sound depressing. We need to keep demanding change or it will never happen. If we lose these next two games badly. Go get Jim Mclwain.

Kevin Robert Fest 4 years, 6 months ago

I do? Me? Im to blame? This whole situation is depressing. If they fired Gil AND Weis with better records in a shorter period of time and Beaty wasnt firef after the TCU game you tell me when will it happen?

Drew Matthews 4 years, 6 months ago

Zenger made those decisions. He won't be making this one so we do not know when and if a decision will be made. Also, I did not say you were to blame just said you sounded depressing. We need to keep apply pressure, not accept these performances as normal.

Jeff Coffman 4 years, 6 months ago

If we were to magically win this week, one could argue that we didn't progress, but we also didn't regress by the wins evaluation.

I don't think I've made too much of a secret that I'm not satisfied with Beaty at all. I think Zenger is great at fundraising and should shift to that, but Zenger is not great at identifying and securing Coaching Talent. That is not isolated to football; however, football is what pays the bills. He has made two unsuccessful hires at football, and we need someone that can make that evaluation. If they don't move Zenger to something else, than he has to be fired. I don't think Zenger should be selecting the next football coach. I also would point out, if Self is true to his heart of not wanting to coach until he is 60, Zenger shouldn't be in place to identify and hire the next BB coach either. This is precarious times in the football and basketball worlds, and unfortunately, Zenger's strong suit is not identifying coaches.

Micky Baker 4 years, 6 months ago

There are a lot of things wrong. One of the things that I noticed is that our wide receivers don't get the blocks early enough on the screenplays. They can block the defenders before the receiver catches if its a screenplay behind the line of scrimmage. Get Simms past that first layer he can make some things happen. There were also some drops including Simms himself and Herbert on a couple of the screen passes where there was something there for some sizeable gains.

The defense has shown a lot of improvement despite the young defensive backs.

All I can say is to have patience. Going into this season we were still 18 scholarship roster spots down.

I think Beaty needs to choose one guy at QB and stick with him. We actually got worse when Stanley started the few games he's started. The O-line looks frustrated and uninspired. The QBs have to be able to make quicker decisions, and it takes practice to do that. If we're going to play Stanley, then start him the rest of the season. If it's Bender, then stick with him. If it's Willis, stick with him. Then have both the 2nd and 3rd QBs charting the plays so that they can notice when there is someone missed wide open or when there is a hot route that is wide open within a second or two of the snap. Exploit those. Every team we play against does that to is, we should be able to do it too.

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