Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Both KU and Ohio looking to recover from losses fueled by turnovers

Central Michigan defensive back Tyjuan Swain rips the ball away from Kansas receiver Quan Hampton for an interception on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Central Michigan defensive back Tyjuan Swain rips the ball away from Kansas receiver Quan Hampton for an interception on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.


Earlier this week, when Kansas football coach David Beaty began watching video of the Jayhawks’ next opponent, the footage seemed strangely familiar — and not just because KU faced Ohio at Memorial Stadium in 2016.

As Beaty caught himself up on how the Bobcats’ trip to Purdue played out, he saw Ohio’s fortunes take a turn for the worse in a fashion comparable to KU’s turning point against Central Michigan.

“If you haven't had a chance to watch it, it was 10-7 in the second quarter,” Beaty said of the home team Boilermakers’ advantage, “and then Purdue went on a 24-point run in the second quarter. Very, very similar. Very uncharacteristic stuff from their team, I'm sure. Just based on what I've seen on tapes from them for two years. They turn the football over a couple times (at Purdue), a few big plays that you just don't see happen very often by them.”

The teams, of course, played under very different circumstances — Ohio, of the Mid-American Conference, was on the road against a Big Ten program, while KU, of the Big 12, played host to the MAC’s CMU. But it was pre-halftime points off turnovers for their opponents that sent the Jayhawks (1-1) and Bobcats (1-1) into Week 3 coming off a loss.

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On this episode of the KU Sports Hour, hosted by KU football beat writer Benton Smith, the staff discusses KU football's 45-27 loss to Central Michigan. Topics include: Is KU better than last year? (0:55-17:30), are lineup changes coming? (17:30-27:40), the football mailbag — coaches on the hot ...

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Kansas only trailed, 10-6, late in the second quarter before a quick CMU answer to a Gabriel Rui field goal, followed by a Peyton Bender interception allowed the Chippewas (2-0) to extend their lead by 14 in the final 2:59 of the half.

For Ohio, late-second quarter fumbles from running backs A.J. Ouellette and Dorian Brown helped build Purdue’s halftime cushion to 34-7.

“Ironically, I have a feeling both teams are going to be working on some of the very same stuff this week,” Beaty said. “One of us is going to get them corrected, and we’re going to get them corrected better than the other. And whoever does that is going to be the benefactor of it. It was very unique to look at that game and see how it played out, because that game probably should have been a lot closer than what it was, if you just take away some of the things.”

Indeed, Ohio head coach Frank Solich’s comments at his Monday press conference echoed many made by Beaty after KU lost to Central Michigan.

“Some of the guys that are experienced players for us didn't play at the level that they are capable of playing at. That certainly was a problem,” Solich said after his team, like KU, finished minus-two in turnover margin. “The second quarter was the ball game, 24 points to zero. We helped them out with two fumbles, we gave them some big throws and they got some big and explosive plays. The second quarter took us to where there was a separation that was hard to overcome. I felt good about our guys staying in the game, battling, fighting hard and making plays. But looking back on it, we made too many mistakes and errors. They are correctable, but we didn't do a good enough job preparing and they didn't do a good enough job playing them. So I put the blame on all of us."

The disappointments of the previous weekend for both programs will shape how Kansas and Ohio prepare to recover leading up to Saturday’s meeting (11 a.m. kickoff, ESPNU) at Peden Stadium, in Athens, Ohio.

The Jayhawks’ season turnover margin of minus-3 is tied for 113th in the FBS ranks, while Ohio is minus-1 and tied for 80th. From Beaty’s perspective, ball security issues and breakdowns in the KU secondary must be addressed.


Kansas defensive back Derrick Neal (7) watches Central Michigan players Cory Wiilis (8) and Logan Hessbrook celebrate Willis’s touchdown in the first half of the Jayhawks game against Central Michigan Saturday, Sept. 9 at Memorial Stadium.

“The thing that I do know about those situations is those big plays, those things are certainly unacceptable, but they are definitely correctable as we look at it,” Beaty said. “It's not a personnel deal. It's down to us doing a better job — starting with me coaching, then starting with our coaches from there doing a really good job of teaching and, technically, making sure we are trusting our technique.”

Ohio, which opened the season by trouncing Hampton, 59-0, has three different running backs averaging at least 4.1 yards per carry, in Ouellette (23 carries, one touchdown), Julian Ross (20 rushes, three TDs) and Brown (17 runs, one TD). Quarterback Nathan Rourke has found even more success on the ground, with 15 carries for 86 yards (5.7 average) and three scores. Through the air, Rourke has completed 66.7 percent of his 33 throws for 283 yards and a TD, without an interception.

Beaty said he trusts defensive coordinator Clint Bowen will get that side of the ball “fixed” before the Jayhawks try to slow down Ohio’s offense.

“When you freelance, the ball finds you,” Beaty said of KU’s defensive woes in the CMU loss. “So we’ve got to eliminate that freelancing from our repertoire, so to speak. And I know we will.”

Jayhawks across the board entered the week “embarrassed,” according to Beaty, by the home loss.

“I don’t like to be embarrassed,” junior defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. said. “But I know for a fact that that game wasn’t our team. We were sluggish throughout the entire game, kind of. It’s just kind of a lack of focus going into the game that put us behind. And that’s just not how we are. We’re going to come out here better than that.”

Beaty expects as much, too, of what he thinks is a resilient group.

“There's no panic here,” the third-year KU coach said. “We see what happened on the video, and I think we're going to be able to move forward. We're looking forward to going on the road for our first road trip and coming home with a victory up there in Athens. Should be a great environment.”

Kansas has lost 41 consecutive true road games, and 44 straight away from Lawrence.


Chris DeWeese 5 years, 2 months ago

It's time to make some changes, and I think it's time to say goodbye to Clint Bowen. He has NFL caliber players at his disposal, and yet his defenses continue to rank poorly. Why is that? Why is he still on the coaching staff when we've had so many blowout losses? It's time to stop making excuses for him. As much as it pains me to say it, he is not a good defensive coordinator. He's a great home town guy who bleeds crimson and blue, but how much longer are we going to allow his defenses to flounder? How much longer is Beaty going to deny the fact that Bowen's defenses are ill-prepared year in and year out? It's not for lack of talent. We can clearly see that. Bowen clearly can't scheme or keep up with opponents. He can talk a good game during interviews, but he cannot execute. His defenses have been a common denominator for all the losing seasons we've had recently. We got rid of our Offensive Coordinator (Likens). It's time to take the next step.

Jacob Zutterman 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm really at my limits with Bowen and this team that was hyped up to be substantially better, but I can't see where everyone thinks our defenses have always been terrible under Bowen. Statistically? Yes. But how many times did we see our defense hold opponents within a score or two and the offense continually went three and out? We'd barely take a minute off of the clock, maybe gain a first down, and turn the ball over or punt. We had some solid defenses on and off over the last 9 years, but everyone breaks down when you spend 2/3 of the game on the field. Let's not put all the blame on Bowen

Dirk Medema 5 years, 2 months ago

I was surprised by the lack of pressure by our DL in either game.

I was also surprised that all our brand new DB's played so well in the first game, but less concerned that they played to their age and experience level in their P5 game. The real concern though would be if they don't progress through the year, but my guess is they will develop as others have in the past.

Chris DeWeese 5 years, 2 months ago

I've been a proponent of Bowen's for years, but enough is enough. The stats don't lie. It's time for a change. Perhaps his talents would be better suited in a different level of college football.

Robert Brock 5 years, 2 months ago

Dr. Zenger will turn KU football around by the year 2032.

Joe Ross 5 years, 2 months ago

Here's where we're at, and it's not an enviable situation.

Both Zenger AND Beaty have to stay put. "For now." One reason has to do with Zenger directly, and the other has to do with Beaty, with an eye to the future and his successor.

Zenger must stay because he's been in negotiations with donors who plan to build a stadium. That process must go forward! A new stadium does two very important things. One, it attracts recruits. Players choose colleges for all sorts of reasons. When you look at OSU's stadium (or others) and then you visit Kansas' Memorial Stadium, there's no way the venue does NOT play in the minds of top recruits. No friggin' way. Secondly, we need the new stadium for possible realignment in the future. If another round of it comes on the horizon, where programs are and, importantly, what their prospects will be will weigh in the minds of conferences as they make decisions about who to include and exclude. So a new stadium is an absolute necessity, and Zenger has already begun the process of setting up donors and drawing up plans. He may or may not be great at hiring coaches, but the task he has his hand to must be completed, and he is the one to complete it. It may be that improved performance on the field (which reflects coaching) might linger behind improvement in facilities, with the latter jump-starting the program rather than our play.

But here's the rub. Zenger can not hire another coach. Simply can't do it. He struck out with Weis. Beaty is still a question, but the he has done better in my opinion in pointing the program in the right direction than his predecessor. But Beaty was an unproven coach who inherited an awful situation, and it's hard to know at this point if he's figuring things out. Evidence can be found on both sides of that argument. But if at some point progress dictates we look beyond Beaty, you want your new coach--whomever that will be--coming into a situation where he doesn't have his hands tied with low scholarship numbers, rosters full of jucos, etc. that Beaty himself had to deal with. The table needs to be clear of those kinds of encumbrances. Beaty may not be winning games, but he may serve well as a table-setter for a successor (if at some point progress demands that there be one named). To do this, Beaty needs to stay in place for now. Perhaps even to the end of NEXT season. By that point, the new stadium construction will be underway, and hiring a new coach might actually be made easier by the upgrade in facilities. In other words, the environment may make Kansas as a coaching destination a little more attractive, so that we end up with a higher-caliber coach if Beaty proves incapable by that time.

Joe Ross 5 years, 2 months ago

The combination of a good coach and great facilities roll into one another in a mutually satisfying way, such that they create a situation where recruits consider Kansas more heavily.

If you get rid of Zenger now, all you get is the same kind of instability that has plagued Kansas since Mangino left. (Yeah, "THANKS, LEW!") Zenger must stay. Beaty must stay. The fans must one again bite the bullet. Nevertheless, this is one rare case where the ends truly justify the means.

David A. Smith 5 years, 2 months ago

Great insight into our situation! We have to think long term. I'm so frustrated by reactionaries. The hole was very deep, and everyone just conveniently forgets that.

Almost no one picked KU to win more than 4 games this year. We still have ISU, Baylor, TTU, and Ohio on the schedule. For those same people to call for firings after going 1/1 is pretty odd.

Bob Bailey 5 years, 2 months ago

How about a new DC? Beaty's comments would certainly be contrary to Bowen;s problem. No tackling. No coverage. And a Defensive scheme a 5th grade student could beat.

Edward Daub 5 years, 2 months ago

If you had to pick a Flavor to describe KU's Defense what would it be? I would pick "Vanilla"! KU's defense lost the CMU game, but here we have the KU media pointing more at turnovers (only part of the problem).

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