The regression may have been inevitable at some point, but I don’t think Kansas fans ever thought it would look quite like that.
On the second crack in qualifying for the championship this season after a 5-0 start, the 19th seed Jayhawks came in short again, this time in the form of an uninspiring 52-42 loss on Saturday at unseeded Oklahoma.
The end result didn’t quite explain how lopsided Saturday’s game was, but the Jayhawks, despite the loss, showed that the idea of fighting to the end is firmly entrenched as part of this team’s culture.
There is still value in it. This is an important part of the progress being made this season. But this does not always win matches.
Fighting a little more aggressively earlier would definitely have helped with this.
Kansas conceded 701 yards of total attack and much of that seemed too easy for the Sooners, who had a whopping 100 games—down to 62 for KU—and got a huge boost from the return of base quarterback Dillon Gabriel.
While there were problems and mistakes in Kansas (5-2 overall, 2-2 Big 12) all over the field, perhaps the quarterback’s starting game was the best indication of why Saturday went the way it did.
Gabriel, who has missed most of the previous two games with a head injury, looked in good condition from the start, leading the Sooners (4-3, 1-3) on an easy touchdown after an easy drive through the afternoon.
He was confident, fragile and in complete control. The fact that KS was so pressured on him and that many wide receivers were running wide in the field made life easier for him and the entire OU offense.
On the other hand, Jason Bean, an assistant at Kuwait University, had some good moments, but he wasn’t quite as effective as he needed to be.
He threw two objections, never made beginners pay with his legs—maybe it had to do with contact game and game plan like anything else—and he didn’t bring the same confidence and bragging onto the court as a regular KU starter.
There has been a lot of talk all week about how good this Kansas offense would be with Penn out there in Daniels’ place. Kuwait University scored 42 points. But it was obvious how much they missed Daniels, who was present, standing on the sidelines in streetwear and a headset.
On the radio broadcast after Saturday’s loss, KU coach Lance Leibold described Penn’s day as “ups and downs” and suggested the midfielder should be “cleaner.”
“He understands that,” Leibold added. “And we have to keep working on that and further sharpen it.”
Bean gained 41 yards in 10 gigs, but at least half of those were in a scramble rather than a determined run. color me amazed.
Earlier in the week, while saying that KU’s offense would remain the same despite the change in QB, Leibold noted that the coaching staff is always looking to tweak the game plan to take advantage of a particular player’s strengths. This does not appear to have happened with Bean on Saturday.
Daniels collected plenty of yardage in the first five or six weeks of the season outside the electives, but Bean was not used in Saturday’s elective running game more than a few times.
Perhaps it was because of where the Jayhawks currently find themselves in this position. With Daniels out, the only thing stopping real new student Ethan Vasco from being in the game is Ben staying healthy.
All told, this game wasn’t on offense KS or Jason Bean. Scoring 42 points on the road against a team like Oklahoma should be more than enough.
It was for Kansas. It was for TCU. This has been for Texas for the past three weeks. While these three teams were knocked out of the OU in consecutive weeks, they did so by giving up their defense averaging 19.3 points per game to the Sooners, who played two of those games without Gabriel.
Had the Jayhawks been able to hold the OU to 20 points on Saturday, they would have left Norman with their sixth win of the season and their first road win in the OU in 26 years.
Instead, they left with questions about the reserve QB, a slightly shaky defense, the best corner back dealing with a major injury and that elusive sixth win for the playoff eligibility is still there.
The Jayhawks still have five more cracks to get, but they’ll need more consistent play from their quarterback and more fire from their defense for their reel.
#Matt #Tate #footballs #decline #continues #week