University of Kansas

Despite encouraging signs, KU football falls short against West Virginia

Kansas football’s best chance at a Big 12 victory has now come and gone, so labeling Saturday’s 29-24 loss to West Virginia as anything but a disappointment would probably be disingenuous.

Though there technically were some positive signs in defeat, the bottom line was this: KU’s offense didn’t extend enough drives, and costly mistakes were more than the team could overcome.

The back breaker came in the fourth quarter. With KU trailing by six, quarterback Carter Stanley underthrew a deep sideline pass intended for tight end Jack Luavasa, with West Virginia cornerback Keith Washington elevating to tip the ball to himself for an interception.

West Virginia, nearly doubling up KU in plays because of the Jayhawks’ inability to convert on third downs — followed with an 11-play, 51-yard touchdown drive, giving the Mountaineers a two-possession lead that withstood a furious late KU rally.

The Jayhawks struggled specifically on offense before the break.

Following a 48-point road effort against Boston College last week, KU scored on just one of seven first-half possessions, punting five times with Stanley also losing a fumble. The Jayhawks’ overall numbers on the halftime stat sheet weren’t pretty either: five total first downs, 5 yards per play and its previously dynamic running attack held to 44 yards.

The Jayhawks, a year after finishing second in the nation in turnover margin at plus-16, have been lousy on both ends of that equation this season. KU entered tied for 117th nationally with a negative-four turnover spread, and that number dropped to minus-six by the time Saturday’s contest was over.

There were some good signs for KU. Andrew Parchment added two touchdown receptions, which included a 75-yard score late in the third quarter. The Jayhawks also held the Mountaineers to 4.6 yards per play while gaining 7.4 themselves.

It wasn’t enough for a win, though, as KU dropped to 2-2 and 0-1 in the Big 12, with a road game against TCU on tap next week.

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Jesse Newell — he’s won an EPPY for best sports blog and previously has been named top beat writer in his circulation by AP’s Sports Editors — has covered KU sports since 2008. His interest in sports analytics comes from his math teacher father, who handed out rulers to Trick-or-Treaters each year.
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