LAWRENCE — For two years, Charlie Weis has searched for a big-play threat in the passing game, something to spark a consistently invisible receiving corps. For one night, junior receiver Rodriguez Coleman provided a couple signs that he could grow into such a player.
By RUSTIN DODD
The Kansas City Star
It wasn’t much consolation after a 59-14 loss to Baylor at Memorial Stadium. Who can take much delight in anything after a 25th straight Big 12 defeat? But after an early drop, Coleman finished with two catches for 75 yards, playing a part in both of KU’s second-half touchdown drives.
The first touchdown was set up by a 45-yard strike from freshman quarterback Montell Cozart to Coleman, while the second score came when starter Jake Heaps found Coleman for a 30-yard touchdown.
“It’s been a long time coming for him to try and get in the mix here,” KU coach Charlie Weis said of Coleman. “We really need him to step up and get involved more.”
For Coleman, who entered the game with just three catches for 39 yards this season, it could be a confidence-building performance. When the season began, Weis believed that Coleman could provide a lift to a receiving corps that failed to haul in one touchdown catch in 2012. Coleman, 6 feet 3 and 195 pounds, spent last season as a standout at Garden City Community College, leading the Jayhawk Conference with 64 catches for 973 yards. But it’s taken Coleman a little bit of time to get comfortable in a new offense.
“I kind of got off to a slow start, so I felt like I was due for a good game,” Coleman said. “So hopefully it carries over to the next few games we’ve got.”
Coleman accounted for more than half of Kansas’ passing game. Heaps and Cozart combined to complete 11 of 33 passes for 154 yards, and Kansas lost another big threat on offense when running back Tony Pierson left early because of dizziness.
With Pierson out, the deep ball from Cozart to Coleman was a glaring example of what the KU offense has missed this season: the ability to gain yards in chunks.
“He put it right in the basket,” Coleman said. “All I had to do was just run and track the ball down, and the ball was right there. That was a heck of a throw by Montell.”
How good was Baylor’s offense against Kansas? The Bears put up the third-most yards ever against a KU defense, and Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty (430 yards passing) was well on his way to a historic night when he was pulled early in the third quarter. Here are some numbers:
Most yards ever gained against KU
799, Nebraska, 1978
768, Georgia Tech, 2011
743, Baylor, 2013
680, Auburn, 1988
680, Nebraska, 1983
Most passing yards ever against KU
476, Seth Doege, Texas Tech, 2012
476, Mike Fouts, Utah, 1996
475, Phillip Rivers, NC State, 2003
444, Kent Kiefer, Missouri, 1989
430, Bryce Petty, Baylor, 2013
It may have appeared that Kansas took a marginal step forward on offense. One week after being held to 201 yards against Oklahoma, the Jayhawks gained 308 yards against Baylor. Better, right? Well, not really.
Kansas ran 83 plays on Saturday, 31 more than they ran against Oklahoma. (Baylor often scored so fast, the KU offense was right back on the field.) If you factor that in, the Jayhawks actually averaged more yards per play (3.8) against Oklahoma than they did against Baylor (3.7).
To reach Rustin Dodd, call 816-234-4937 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/rustindodd.