When he walked into the locker room at halftime, Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen drew up a few of the running plays that Ohio had been executing with success in the first half. He also explained what the Kansas defenders needed to do to stop it.
Across the room, Kansas coach David Beaty told his offensive players that they were about to take shots down the field.
Both coach’s adjustments worked in the second half … even if they were too late to make a difference.
In reality, the Jayhawks’ best chance at a win was killed with a poor first-half effort, as they fell into an early 25-point hole in an eventual 37-21 loss to Ohio.
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“The tale of the tale is in the mistakes,” Beaty said. “They made very few, and we made a ton.”
Some of those were in preparation. Three KU defenders afterwards said the team was surprised by Ohio quarterback Greg Windham, who had rushed eight times for 37 yards in his team’s opener against Texas State.
“We weren’t expecting him to run it as much as he did,” Kansas safety Fish Smithson said. “That gave us a little bit of problems. They just planned better than us today.”
Windham was one of Ohio’s best offensive weapons on read-option runs, rushing 16 times for 146 yards with a touchdown. He also helped the Bobcats to 271 rushing yards in the first half.
“We have calls for quarterback runs, and at the beginning we just weren’t in those calls,” KU linebacker Marcquis Roberts said. “But the closer we got to it, the more we started buckling down.”
The Kansas offense also limped through a first half where it tried to run many of the same receiver screens that had worked the previous week in a victory over Rhode Island. Ohio was ready, creeping its defenders close to the line of scrimmage.
The Jayhawks’ adjustment didn’t come until the second half, as they mustered just one first down before the break — a stat Beaty admitted was “ridiculous.”
“We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board,” Beaty said, “and make sure that we understand how to execute early in ballgames.”
If Saturday is any indication, KU also still has a ways to go to catch up with FBS opponents in the trenches.
Ohio rushed for 329 yards and 5.8 yards per carry while also impressing with its defensive front seven, holding the Jayhawks to 26 rushing yards — Kansas’ lowest total since 2014.
If nothing else, KU received good news from a health standpoint. Quarterback Montell Cozart, who played the majority of snaps on Saturday, was injured with 13:34 left in the fourth quarter after getting hit on his left shoulder on a run outside the pocket. He went to the locker room and later returned to the sideline but did not return to the game.
Cozart, though, said he expects to play next week.
“I’m good,” he said. “I went in, got an X-ray, and I’m fine.”
The first half couldn’t have gone much worse for KU as it fell behind 28-7. That included lopsided statistics, like:
▪ Ohio outgaining KU, 359 yards to 21
▪ The Jayhawks running 19 offensive plays
▪ Ohio accruing 18 first downs to KU’s one
KU picked up its only first-half touchdown on special teams, as LaQuvionte Gonzalez’s 99-yard return was the Jayhawks’ first kickoff return for touchdown since the 2015 season-opener.
The Jayhawks were down 13 early in the fourth quarter when Beaty elected to punt on a fourth-and-2 from his team’s 45. Following an injury timeout for Cozart, Beaty called another timeout before deciding he wasn’t going to risk putting in a cold Ryan Willis to attempt a fourth-down conversion.
“We pinned them down there, and that was a good decision for us,” Beaty said.
Ohio, 1-1, followed with an 18-play, 81-yard drive that took 10:03 off the clock, tacking on a field goal that would provide the final margin.
Cozart finished 17 for 24 for 198 yards passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Steven Sims had four catches for 114 yards with two scores.
Ohio dominated possession, running 93 plays to KU’s 44. The Bobcats also had the ball 46:04 compared to the Jayhawks’ 13:56.
“I haven’t been a part of too many of those,” Beaty said.
After the loss — KU entered as a 2 1/2 -point favorite — Beaty preached to his players that the team’s issues were self-inflicted. In addition to the early execution errors, the Jayhawks had three turnovers and also a bad snap that led to a blocked punt.
Kansas, 1-1, will play its first road game at Memphis next Saturday.
“I know these guys will find their focus again,” Beaty said. “I know they’ll learn a lot from this game.”
OH: White 11 run (kick failed), 12:31.
OH: safety, 8:27.
OH: M.Morgan 4 pass from Windham (Zervos kick), 3:57.
OH: Windham 23 run (Zervos kick), 14:56.
OH: FG Zervos 26, 6:37.
KU: Gonzalez 99 kickoff return (Wyman kick), 6:32.
OH: FG Zervos 22, 2:56.
KU: Sims 74 pass from Cozart (Wyman kick), 14:51.
OH: FG Zervos 25, 12:56.
KU: Sims 22 pass from Cozart (Wyman kick), 11:06.
OH: FG Zervos 46, :07.
OH: FG Zervos 22, 3:28.
Time of Possession
RUSHING:Ohio, Windham 16-146, D.Brown 20-122, Irons 8-39, White 9-37, (Team) 4-(minus 15). Kansas, Kinner 5-16, Cozart 3-9, Herbert 2-2, Gonzalez 1-1, D.Evans 1-1, (Team) 1-(minus 1), Willis 2-(minus 2).
PASSING:Ohio, Windham 19-36-1-167. Kansas, Cozart 17-24-0-198, Willis 1-5-1-8.
RECEIVING:Ohio, Belack 4-60, Reid 4-59, White 3-26, Cope 2-6, D.Brown 2-(minus 2), J.Brown 1-14, Mangen 1-5, M.Morgan 1-4, Irons 1-(minus 5). Kansas, Gonzalez 5-45, Sims 4-114, Kinner 2-13, Patrick 2-6, Hartzog 2-5, B.Johnson 1-16, Brewer 1-5, Herbert 1-2.
MISSED FIELD GOALS:None.