David Beaty pondered the question, scratching his elbow for a second to think on the response.
His Kansas football team had just lost 56-34 to West Virginia on a sunny afternoon at Memorial Stadium, trailing by eight to start the fourth quarter before turnovers turned a competitive game into a late blowout.
In the process, the Jayhawks set new offensive records … while also continuing to allow points at an alarming rate.
So, what exactly was the takeaway here?
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“I am seeing improvement, which is good,” Beaty said after his brief pause. “Very discouraged by that fourth quarter, because that’s not how I felt like that game should have ended up.”
Though a late fumble and interception were costly late, there was another primary reason the Jayhawks fell short of an upset while falling to 1-3:
KU struggled to contain receivers while allowing six touchdown drives of 70 yards or more. The Mountaineers had a 340-yard passer, two 100-yard rushers and also averaged 7.7 yards per play.
“We’re getting better in a lot of areas. We’re just not there yet,” Beaty said. “I hate it for our fans. I hate it for our stakeholders, because they deserve better than that. There’s a lot of improvement in areas, just not enough yet.”
It all overshadowed a historic performance.
Khalil Herbert’s 291 rushing yards were the most by an FBS player this year. It also was the third-most in the program’s history and the best mark by a Jayhawk in 26 seasons.
“Just running how I know I can run,” Herbert said. “Being patient and really studying the film, learning how defenses are. The game’s really slowed down for me.”
Still, that much success should result in a closer game, right? Since 2000, FBS teams were 59-6 when a rusher went for at least 290 yards.
In the end, KU couldn’t dig itself out of a 35-13 hole following a mistake-filled first half.
The Jayhawks’ defense — forcing numerous third-and-longs but failing to capitalize — allowed four consecutive touchdown possessions of 80-plus yards.
The offense, meanwhile, found some success in the run game with Herbert, but it had gaffes at crucial times. The Jayhawks had two false-start penalties that halted drives, while a Peyton Bender overthrow turned into a deflection and pick-six in the final minute before the break.
“I think we’re getting better as each week goes on. It’s just, we play great for a quarter, then we look terrible for a quarter,” Bender said. “We’ve just got to keep building on what we have.”
There were still reasons to be optimistic about KU’s performance. Saturday’s 34 points were the most against a non-FCS opponent in the Beaty era, and KU’s 6.7-yard-per-play average was its best Big 12 mark since 2009.
“Kansas is pretty good on offense,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “They are going to do this to a lot of different people.”
That was the positive for KU on a day that still had too many negatives.
“As much as I know it may be difficult for just the average fan to see, I see the improvement. I see some improvement going on out there in all three phases,” Beaty said. “We’ve got to make a lot of progress quicker, because this is a tough conference.”