University of Kansas

KU needed 15 drives to get past its own 35-yard line. It was that type of day in Ames

Iowa State wide receiver Trever Ryen (19) ran from Kansas offensive lineman Chris Hughes while returning a punt 68 yards for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Ames, Iowa.
Iowa State wide receiver Trever Ryen (19) ran from Kansas offensive lineman Chris Hughes while returning a punt 68 yards for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Ames, Iowa. AP

Kansas coach David Beaty is a man built on optimism.

He’s the guy that bounces around fundraisers, introducing himself to strangers with a handshake and smile. Even after losses, he usually searches to find a positive, citing a stat or play that makes him feel good about the future.

The backdrop helps explain why Saturday’s press conference felt a bit different following a 45-0 road loss at Iowa State.

Beaty, sitting at a foldout table in the corner of Iowa State’s weight room, wasn’t focused much on hypotheticals and outlooks. Instead, he was speaking bluntly about right now.

“From a scoreboard standpoint … at the end of the day, that’s the thing that matters,” Beaty said. “We can try to justify anything we want to, but I’ve got to be able to do a better job of making sure that those things don’t happen on my watch.”

“Those things,” in this case, was a multitude of errors on a rainy afternoon as KU struggled with even the simplest of plays.

A yearlong season of disappointment had different actors but a similar script. KU’s much-maligned defense had its best effort against an FBS foe, but the offense and special teams were so dreadful that the Jayhawks couldn’t keep the game within three TDs of the 22  1/2 -point spread.

The most glaring failure was offensively. KU had 11 three-and-outs, totaled 40 yards in the first half and finished with 106 yards overall — the lowest total given up by Iowa State to a conference foe in more than 50 years.

In addition, the 1.8 yards-per-play tied for the second-worst mark by a Power Five offense this season.

“That doesn’t just all fall on Meach (KU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham). That falls on me as well,” Beaty said. “As an offensive coordinator, it’s not all his fault. I’ve got to be able to give him things that I think are going to be able to kick-start us. I didn’t do that either. This one’s squarely on David Beaty.”

There also was this: KU’s offense did not advance past its own 35-yard line until its 15th drive. That moment came with 12:27 left in the fourth quarter.

The Jayhawks’ biggest problems were up front, as they were unable to run against an Iowa State defensive look daring them to hand it off. KU finished with 33 rushes for 62 yards.

“It’s just not good enough,” Beaty said of his team’s offense. “I could sit here and quantify it if I want to, but at the end of the day, it’s not going to matter. We’ve got to be able to move the ball.”

KU’s offense and special teams were dreadful immediately following a 31-minute severe-weather delay.

Here’s a sample of the first-quarter miscues:

▪ Steven Sims muffed KU’s first punt return near midfield after a defensive stop on the first possession.

▪ On KU’s first play from scrimmage, the ball hit the hands of receiver Quan Hampton, who tossed it up into the air to Iowa State safety Kamari Cotton-Moya for an interception.

▪ Iowa State sent seven players to block a Cole Moos punt and didn’t get there, but returner Trever Ryen still managed to get to the outside for a 68-yard touchdown when Daylon Charlot lost containment.

“We had a mental breakdown in terms of where certain guys were supposed to be in the coverage,” Beaty said.

Things didn’t get much better after that.

Special teams had additional blunders. The punt team added a high snap (Moos fell on it to avoid a worse play) and fumbled snap (Moos just dropped it), only adding to the debacle.

KU finished with just 44 passing yards, with neither Peyton Bender nor Carter Stanley throwing for more than 26.

“I wish I had a magic answer to let you know (the issue), but I really don’t know,” Bender said. “We just didn’t play well today all around — all around on offense we didn’t have a good game.”

It all resulted in KU’s 43rd straight road loss, a streak that is now one away from tying Western State’s all-time record set between 1926 and 1936.

The Jayhawks, stumbling to their season’s midpoint at 1-5 and 0-3 in the Big 12, have a tough schedule ahead. The team plays at TCU next week with games against Kansas State, Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma still looming.

“When I watch the tape, I see enough for me to be encouraged to where we can play football in this league, and we can do it and be able to win games. I know we can,” Beaty said. “ … We’ve got to stop new things from popping up out there as we move forward.

“I still like our team. I like our guys. I always have.”

Jesse Newell: 816-234-4759, @jessenewell