The key: Ohio was dominant offensively, gaining 250 first-quarter yards, which included 193 on the ground. The Bobcats also averaged 8.6 yards per play.
The key: After giving KU one of its only positive plays of the half — a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown — LaQuvionte Gonzalez halted his team’s momentum when he later fumbled a punt that was recovered by Ohio.
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The key: Steven Sims shimmied off the line to clear space, then hauled in a deep throw from Montell Cozart for a 74-yard touchdown reception just 20 seconds into the second half. That one pass more than tripled the yards that KU had before halftime (21).
The key: KU faced a tough challenge while trailing by 13 either way, but the team’s decision to punt on fourth-and-2 from its own 45 early in the fourth quarter ended up being the Jayhawks’ final gasp. Ohio followed with an 18-play drive that took more than 10 minutes off the clock, as a tired KU defense couldn’t get a quick third-down stop it needed to give the offense a chance.
Kansas coach David Beaty deserves credit for second-half adjustments, as the Jayhawks were much better after the break while exploiting Ohio’s secondary with vertical throws. Still, three first-half three-and-outs, a safety and 21 total yards before halftime is, as Beaty said in his postgame press conference, unacceptable for a team trying to show progress offensively.
The defense doesn’t deserve as much blame as it appears, as it had to deal with poor field position and quick KU offensive drives all day. The Jayhawks still struggled to stop the run, as the Bobcats often were able to use misdirection and fakes to get overaggressive defenders out of position.
It’s hard to get this low of a grade on a day with a kickoff return for touchdown, but KU’s special teams did little right besides that. LaQuivonte Gonzalez fumbled a pair of punts after not looking the football into his hands, while a bad snap by John Wirtel led to a blocked punt.
The encouraging part? KU’s staff made strong adjustments at halftime on both ends to get the offense going and also shut down Ohio’s running game in the third quarter. The Jayhawks still were ill-prepared for the Bobcats’ quarterback run game and too slow to abandon a short-pass gameplan that didn’t work early. Beaty also was indecisive on a fourth-down decision late, calling a timeout following a media timeout before eventually deciding to punt.
Player of the game: Steven Sims takes this honor for the second straight week after posting his second 100-plus-yard, two-touchdown game of the season.
Reason to hope: KU didn’t fold trailing 28-7 in the third quarter, trimming the lead to 10 at one point while showing some explosiveness offensively.
Reason to mope: The Jayhawks were outrushed 329 yards to 26 … and the competition up front is only going to get tougher in Big 12 play.
Looking ahead: The Jayhawks will play their first road game next Saturday at Memphis.