Campus Corner

Sunday Rewind: Three thoughts after Kansas’ 38-13 loss at Iowa State

Kansas starting quarterback Montell Cozart was injured in the second half of the Jayhawks’ 38-13 loss Saturday at Iowa State. Considering how Cozart’s backup, Ryan Willis, performed in the game, The Star’s Rustin Dodd writes that it may be time for KU coach David Beaty to reconsider the two players’ roles.
Kansas starting quarterback Montell Cozart was injured in the second half of the Jayhawks’ 38-13 loss Saturday at Iowa State. Considering how Cozart’s backup, Ryan Willis, performed in the game, The Star’s Rustin Dodd writes that it may be time for KU coach David Beaty to reconsider the two players’ roles. The Associated Press

After four games, the Kansas Jayhawks are still looking for their first win. The Jayhawks suffered a 38-13 loss to Iowa State on Saturday in Ames, Iowa, falling in their Big 12 opener. One day later, here are three thoughts on the loss at Iowa State:

1. Kansas is barreling toward a winless season. The Jayhawks, of course, haven’t finished without a victory since the 1954 season. If this KU football team wants to avoid the despair of 0-12, it will have to pull a monumental Big 12 upset. Here are the updated projections from ESPN’s Football Power Index, which offers predictions for each game among teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision:

Kansas opponent

Percentage chance for a victory

Baylor

0.9 percent

Texas Tech

5.1 percent

at Oklahoma State

1.9 percent

Oklahoma

1.5 percent

At Texas

6.1 percent

At TCU

0.6 percent

West Virginia

3.0 percent

K-State

5.4 percent

If you’re looking for the Jayhawks’ best chance for a victory, it might come at Texas on Nov. 7. The Longhorns have started 1-4 and were thoroughly embarrassed against TCU on Saturday. At the moment, ESPN’s FPI gives Kansas a 6.1 percent chance to pick off a victory at Texas.

2. It may be time to give true freshman quarterback Ryan Willis some significant playing time, but even that could be a risky proposition. Willis, the Bishop Miege product with a strong right arm, recorded a career-high in snaps against Iowa State after coming on in relief of junior Montell Cozart, who went down with a shoulder sprain. Kansas coach David Beaty had already planned to use Willis — and Willis logged one series late in the first quarter — but it may be time to rethink the quarterback roles. Before the season, Beaty appeared hesitant to use two quarterbacks. In his words, he wanted to pick one quarterback and “give that guy some rope.” But with a shaky offensive line, and a young quarterback that could benefit from some extra reps, the calculus has changed.

Beaty and offensive coordinator Rob Likens have stated that Willis is still developing. He’s still working on being quicker with his reads, and if you watched Saturday’s loss, you could see that his pocket presence needs some work. On one play, Willis scrambled to his left and was nearly standing upright while the defense closed in. He took a big shot. So, yes, with eight conference games left in a likely lost season, you don’t want to turn Willis into a sitting duck.

On the other hand, the extra playing time could be invaluable for Willis, who possesses the best combination of arm strength and accuracy among Kansas’ quarterbacks.

If the last two weeks were any indication — Cozart and Deondre Ford were both sidelined with injuries — the Jayhawks will need multiple quarterbacks to survive the season. In other words: Willis might not be ready to be the man at quarterback — at this point at least — but he’s certainly ready to get some “real-word experience”, as Beaty termed it on Saturday. And really, KU has nothing to lose.

3. Here are two unpleasant stats for Kansas fans: KU ranks 121st in the country in rushing defense, allowing 251.5 yards per game. Baylor is second in the country in rushing offense, piling up 376.8 yards per contest.

The two teams will meet at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Lawrence, and Baylor has opened as a 38-point favorite, according to some oddsmakers. That’s a large point spread, and it could grow larger. But we know one thing for sure: Expect Baylor to run the ball. A lot.

Rustin Dodd: 816-234-4937, @rustindodd

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