Quick Start for Kansas Doesn't Faze Memphis in 55-23 Loss

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Missed opportunities and a near perfect effort from Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch doomed the Kansas football team Saturday night, as the Jayhawks dropped their second-straight home game, 55-23, to the Tigers at Memorial stadium.
The Jayhawks (0-2) forced and recovered three fumbles in a defensive effort that saw junior safety Fish Smithson with a career-high 12 tackles. However, after pouncing on the most mishandles since Nov. 10, 2007 (at Oklahoma State), Kansas could only turn it into three points.
Still, it was a tall task to slow the Tigers and Lynch. Memphis managed 651 total yards of offense on 79 plays, with more than half of them coming in the air. Lynch completed 22-of-25 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, four different Memphis players found the end zone with Jamarious Henderson leading the way with 77 yards.
Kansas stuck to the game plan of first-year head coach David Beaty and his fast-start mentality, jumping out to an early 10-0 lead. Memphis (2-0) then erupted to score 17-unanswered points and never looked back.
Kansas junior quarterback Montell Cozart connected on just 13-of-28 pass attempts for 118 yards. Junior running back Ke’aun Kinner backed up last week’s 157-yard performance with another 100-plus effort. On 16 carries, Kinner rushed for 113 yards and one of KU’s two touchdowns on the day.
KU bolstered its special teams attack and picked up nine points with a perfect 3-for-3 effort on field goals, including a season-long 51-yard strike by junior Matthew Wyman. Sophomore Nick Bartolotta added two of his own, from
Kansas got the start it was looking for a week ago, taking a 10-0 lead against Memphis after a 30-yard field goal from Bartolotta and a five-yard scamper from Kinner in the game’s first six minutes.
The Jayhawks stalled on their opening drive, but converted a short-yardage situation with Bartolotta’s strike after a Memphis fumble. The Kansas defense followed with a three-and-out, then Kinner punched one in and capped a five-play, 73-yard scoring drive with 9:48 left to play in the opening quarter.
Though stunned, Memphis didn’t roll over and Lynch lived up to his top billing in the first half by completing 14-of-16 passes for 217 yards – most importantly by leading the Tigers to three consecutive scoring drives to take back the lead at 17-10 early in the second quarter.
Bartolotta added his second field goal for Kansas midway through the second period to pull the Jayhawks within four, but Lynch notched his first touchdown of the half in the final minute to give the Tigers a 24-13 lead at the break. Lynch, who entered the game with more than 5,000 yards in two seasons and a better-than-60 percent completion percentage, hit seven different receivers.
Following a quick three-play Memphis scoring drive to open the second half, Kansas spread out the field and turned to its ground game to keep pace with the Tigers. Kinner racked up 33 yards in the 75-yard drive for his second-consecutive game of 100-plus yards rushing. Cozart gave his stamp of approval with an empty backfield and ran up the gut from the Memphis seven-yard line for the score to pull the Jayhawks back within 11, 31-20, at the 11:20 mark in the third quarter.
The Tigers answered right back in quick-strike form, thanks in large to a 42-yard completion from Paxton to wide receiver Mose Frazier, who finished the game with 77 yards receiving. Paxton then found tight end Daniel Montiel in the end zone for his second passing touchdown of the game increasing the Memphis lead, 38-20.
Memphis tacked on another 17 points before Wyman scored the final three for Kansas on his 51-yard boot and the Jayhawks fell, 55-23.
Kansas will take advantage of a bye during week three of the season, before traveling to Rutgers, Sept. 26, for its first road contest of the year. Kickoff for the Jayhawks final non-conference matchup is slated for 11 a.m. (CT) and can be heard on the Jayhawk Radio Network.

Kansas head coach David Beaty
Opening Statement

COACH BEATY: You know, just a couple things before we get started. Justin Fuente, I’ve got to take my hat off to him. He has done a tremendous job with that program. Those guys did a really nice job. Knew that they were a good football team coming in and they are, they’re a good football team. They played really well. After that opening drive, they kind of stuck their foot in the ground and kind of stabilized there and did some good things and they earned the victory that they got tonight. My hat’s off to them, and hopefully those guys can keep moving forward and keep everybody healthy. So let’s take some questions.

Q. Coach, you wanted to start faster. You got a turnover early and a much faster start out of the gates in this one.
COACH BEATY: Yeah, you know, that was something we needed to get corrected from the last week and it was good to see, it was good to see. We started quick there. We had a couple of scores early and a turnover really quick by our defense, which was something that we wanted to stress for this week. Unfortunately, after that first drive and being able to get a sack on him, we didn’t get much pressure on him from that point forward and they got going pretty good.

Q. Yeah, in the third quarter, certainly difficult. Looked like they got your defense on their heels awfully quick. What were they doing? Was it the pace, was it the guys moving around? Obviously the quarterback keys that whole thing for them.
COACH BEATY: Well, I think the first thing is they’re a good football team, there’s no doubt about that. They have that potential. I think probably the biggest thing for us is in that second quarter, we gave up a big play there at the end when there was not much time left on the clock and got them in position to score. We gave up a touchdown and we really needed to come out in that first drive of the second half and get a stop, and we weren’t able to do that and they were able to extend the lead there. And then from there I never felt like we really got it back going again, either side of the ball.

Q. You answered the first score, though. At least that had to be a positive end of the second half answering their early touchdown.
COACH BEATY: Yeah, you know, there was some things in here that were some bright spots. We were three-for-three in the kicking game on field goals, which was good. A 51-yarder by (Matthew) Wyman, which was good for us. We forced three turnovers today, which was a good deal for us, but we only got three points off those turnovers. (Paxton) Lynch was 22 I think of 25, and after that first drive I don’t think we got his jersey dirty. We’ve got to be able to get pressure on guys like that. He can’t sit back there and have all day like that because he’s a talented guy and we’ve just got to do better. If you look at the stat line, it tells a story. 7-and-7 in the red zone, we’ve got to stop them down there. We punted eight times and we averaged 36 yards a punt. We’ve got to change the field better. Just a lot of things here that added up to that being the result.

Q. You’ve got a bye week coming up and a tough road trip ahead. What do you look to focus on here to get better before that road trip?
COACH BEATY: Well, we’ve obviously got plenty that we can work on to get better with. The thing is we talked about starting fast and we corrected a lot of things but there’s some other things that popped up in this game.

Most teams go through that, they go through that. Unfortunately, we went through it tonight. There’s a lot of things that I’m disappointed in, but I’m not discouraged at all. I’ve got a good bunch of guys in that room that care and they want to get better. If we’ve got that, we’ve got a chance.

Q. Are they discouraged? Did you have to pump anybody up already early?
COACH BEATY: Not at all. That’s the reason I feel so good about this group. Every one of them are hurting, every one of them are dissatisfied, they’re disappointed. But from a discouraged standpoint, they know we’ve got their back, they know we love them, and they know this is a process, not an event, and we’re in it together.

Q. Did you guys have an opportunity to take more control of the game or did they settle down?
COACH BEATY: Absolutely. I think right there you’ve got a chance to go up 14-nothing and you go up 10-nothing. We had three turnovers in the game and we got three points off those turnovers. That’ll kill you. You’ve got to be able to convert. Defensively, that was a positive. We got three turnovers this week, we didn’t get any last week, so we fixed something that we were working on.

We also talked about starting fast, and we were able to do that but not as fast as we wanted to. Like you said, we needed to be able to convert and put 14 points on the board there and really take some momentum away from those guys.

There was no turnovers offensively. That’s another positive, but we’ve got to be able to concert those turnovers that the defense gives us into points. When you don’t do that, you leave yourself in a position where they can stick their foot in the ground and they can recover.

Q. What made the big plays so hard to defend?
COACH BEATY: I think, number one, after that first drive, I don’t know that he got his jersey dirty. We didn’t get enough pressure on him, and we’ve got to be able to get pressure on a quarterback whether we’re rushing four or we’re creating it with some kind of blitz or pressure. We’ve got to be able to get to the quarterback and create some pressure. He’s too good of a player to sit back there and just let him throw it around all over the place. We knew that going in. It’s not something new. We knew we had to create pressure, but once again, their offensive line did a nice job of protecting him and I thought their receivers did a good job of getting open, and we weren’t making plays when we were close enough to make plays and we’ve got to be able to do that. We’re a young team. When we get an opportunity to knock a ball away, we’ve got to be able to knock it away. We’ve got to be able to create some pressure to help those young DBs back there, too. We haven’t got that solved, but we’ll get it solved moving forward. We have to find a way to get that done.

Q. He obviously didn’t have to, he was so effective throwing the ball, but did you expect more from Lynch as a runner tonight?
COACH BEATY: I think he can do whatever he’s called to do, to be honest with you. He’s a talented guy, he really is. There’s a reason why he’s one of the highest rated guys in the NFL draft boards coming forward. He can throw it, he can run it, he can do it all. He’s a really good player. Plus, he’s a giant.

Q. Were you disappointed in the protection for Montell (Cozart)?
COACH BEATY: At times, but not — you know, I thought he had enough time to make the reads that we needed him to make. I mean, I really, as I walk away from this game, I look at a lot of missed opportunities really on Montell’s part. He’s a little bit more of an accurate quarterback than I think what he showed tonight. I think he’ll come back and rebound from that. There was a few nice reads he made, he just missed them a little bit; a couple down the corner routes, a couple right down the middle early in the game to our tight ends that we had guys fairly open and we just kind of overthrew them. He wasn’t completely on tonight and I know if he could get those throws back, he would take them back. But we weren’t able to convert there and that makes a big difference in the game. We were, I think we were 8 of 20 on third down, something like that. I mean, we were not very good on third down. We were in 20 third-down situations. We had a bunch of first downs, 23 first downs, but they had 34 first downs. We’ve got to be able to extend drives and get the ball in the end zone and we weren’t able to do that.

Q. Throughout his career it seems like his misses are overthrows. Is part of that fear of interception, do you think, or is it just a mechanical thing?
COACH BEATY: As you look at it, I think a lot of it comes back to mechanics. I mean, there’s a lot of times where when you see guys that overthrow people, they’re throwing off of their back leg a little bit and they’re not transferring weight from back to front. As we look at it and we see if they’re throwing from bent knee to bent knee, if they’re transferring their weight, usually you can track it back to that.

I think the big thing for him tonight was just trusting that his protection was going to be there and being able to sit in there and let that ball go. That’s something he’s got to continue to keep growing on, him and all of them, but he was just a little bit off tonight.

Q. Did (Deondre) Ford have a better week than (Ryan) Willis in practice? Is that why he went in first?
COACH BEATY: He did. He played pretty good this week. You know, when he went in there, he moved us, he moved us down the field, which was good. That’s something that we had asked him to do and to be able to recognize what’s happening coverage-wise and take advantage of open grass, and for the most part he did that. Down there towards the end of the drive, though, I thought he got tired. He started making crazy decisions. He threw the ball up one time and he got picked off, but that was the freeze play and we were trying to draw them offsides. He just threw the ball to the wrong guy in that particular situation. But you know what, I was happy to see him go in there and be excited about it and move us down the field throwing that last drive; as happy as you can be with a game turning out the way it was.

Q. Have you thought about both of them going in perhaps?
COACH BEATY: Well, if we would have had a little bit more time at the point that we make a decision, we might have, but at that point it was all Rob Likens’ decision at that point for me and he wanted to stay with him and put him in there, so that’s where that came from.

Q. Is it tough playing with so many newcomers and young guys in your program?
COACH BEATY: You know what, we are — we’re at a point in our program right now where we have to continue to do a great job of developing these young guys. We have to continue to do that, and then we also have to continue to improve our talent overall to create a competitive environment in there that makes us better. We’ve done that to a degree, but we haven’t been able to do it like we completely want to yet. That’s going to take some time to take some to get that done. That’s going to take a couple recruiting classes to get those things done.

With that being said, we can’t use any of that stuff as an excuse. We’ve got to get the job done. We do have some young guys out there playing, there’s no doubt about that, but there’s a lot of young guys playing in college football nowadays. It’s hard to redshirt anybody anymore. I don’t know that we can use that as an excuse. We just have to continue to improve and get better.

There was some things that I saw those young DBs improve on tonight, which was good. We tackled a little bit better at times. We actually caused a turnover back there with those guys, which was good, but we’ve got long way to go. Our guys, our coaches are doing a good job of trying to make sure we address each of those issues one by one.

Q. What went into your decision to kick field goals today?
COACH BEATY: Well, you know, we knew that Wyman had the leg, but we were trying to figure out whether we wanted to go for that or not. We felt like we were in a position where we wanted to see if Wyman could reach that and he did that, which was good. We also really were kind of edging down on the play clock there, so we took our timeout, allowed us to take a deep breath and be able to kick it.

Q. Can you talk about the decision to go for a field goal later in the second quarter?
COACH BEATY: Initially, we were going to do some different things there to give us a chance to take a look at what they were in, and then from that point forward we just — we wanted to go ahead and take points there and get those points on the board. Our kid that does those, kicks those field goals, (Nick) Bartolotta, is a pretty accurate guy so we felt good about getting points on the board, particularly where we were at that point in the game with the score.

Q. Can you assess where you are with the quarterback situation? Is Montell entrenched in there? Is there competition?
COACH BEATY: No one’s entrenched at any position ever, so that’s not going to happen, but he’s still our starter. We’ll go back and we’ll look at this tape and we’ll evaluate that, and then we’ll also evaluate this week’s work and next week’s body of work. If a guy continues to improve and he does better and plays better just like Larry Hughes played better this week in practice. He started, I don’t know if you realized that. He played right tackle the entire game. Those guys earn it and they beat a guy out and they’re going to take that job until the other guy steps back up and takes it back. So the quarterback’s not going to be any different for us. We want those guys to have confidence, but they still are going to have to compete. I love Montell, I trust him, I know that he wants to do well. I just think he didn’t have his best game tonight, but I know he’ll come back and work on trying to get better.

Q. Your offense is a fast temp offense regardless of the score. How do you handle that in terms of the defense – do you tell them just hang in there, do you have to have those discussions?
COACH BEATY: You do. I mean, there was a time where I went down and addressed the defense a couple times tonight. Then there was also some times where we were climbing back into the game. We were down by 21 at one point early in the third and we were moving fairly fast, and that was kind of one of those decisions, do we slow it down a little bit, give our defense a little bit of a break. But we went down there and scored and kind of gave ourselves some hope there in the third to go ahead and close the gap. However, then they started tooling away and we had to do a good job of trying to manage that time and it was the reality of the situation. We had to manage the time and keep our defense a little bit fresher to help. They had been on the field a long time.

Q. Does your by week come at a good time as far as evaluating the games so far and comparing for the rest of the season.
COACH BEATY: Honestly, I’m not sure that the bye can come at a better time for us. With us being in our first year of our program with a lot of our guys playing, really? We’ve got two games under our belt. Two of them gave us a lot of different situations that we can go to school on. So I think there’s a lot that we can learn from, we can continue to build on, and then really fundamentally we’ve just got to just continue to add another week of being better fundamentally. I said it from the very beginning, we’ve got to just get a little bit better every week. The deal is, that means we’ve got to not make the same mistakes and then we’ve got to not let other things pop up. For us to do that, we’ve got to continue putting them in those situations and make sure that we’re preventative in nature so they know how to handle it. So this bye week’s going to be great for us. Just walking out of that locker room right there, I’m pleased — if I can say pleased, I’m pleased with their demeanor because they’re disappointed, they know they’re better than that and they’re ready to go to work right away, so that’s good.

Q. What was Montell’s demeanor like after the game?
COACH BEATY: He’s good like he always is. He’s a great kid. He just wants this team to win. He’s going to compete, he’s going to do everything you ask him to do, but his demeanor was good. Thanks a lot.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Kansas junior OL Jordan Shelley-Smith
On the attitude in the locker room over the past two weeks:
“We have 10 games left. It’s early in the season and we have plenty of time. We need to fix the things we can do, because it’s about us. It’s not about anybody else; it’s what we control that determines the outcome of the game. Guys are definitely more positive than you would think. We’ll come in tomorrow and get our bodies right, and then come back on Monday and get it started.”
On if it’s fun to block for a running back like Ke’aun Kinner:
“Any time you have a guy that can move like that, it’s a really good thing. Our coaches say, ‘Do your job’ and ‘Control what you can control.’ That’s all we can do. We have some really solid backs. Hats off to running backs Coach (Reggie) Mitchell, he’s one of the best in the nation.”

Kansas junior LB Marcquis Roberts
On if not finishing down the stretch is a mental issue for the team:
“That’s how I feel about it. I know we have the players to do it. I’ve played in the SEC (Southeastern Conference) with great players. I know we have enough talent to win.”
On the difficulty of stopping the passing attack of Memphis:
“Do your job, that’s what it comes down to. How disciplined we are going to be when they try to pass the ball. We have to get to the quarterback.”
On what made it difficult to apply pressure to Memphis’ quarterback:
“I’d say execution. We just have to keep fighting until we get there.”

Kansas junior CB Brandon Stewart
On preparing for the next game over the next two weeks:
“We’ve been taking it week by week and focusing on our opponent. It’s really simple; we have a good football team, as you saw in the first half, we just need to stay focused and play as a group down by down and play by play. We’ll be okay.”

On Memphis’ performance:
“We came in with a good game plan, but a shout out to Memphis for coming out and playing harder.”

On big plays being difficult to stop:
“We were really prepared in practice, but we just didn’t have our eyes in the right spot. I think that was the biggest thing. As a team we just have to do better.”

On the difficulty covering Memphis’ wide receivers:
“We just didn’t execute tonight.”

Kansas junior QB Montell Cozart
On what is causing over throws:
“It’s just timing and getting in rhythm with the guys. I have a lot to learn from on film and continue to get better.”

On the main takeaway from this loss:
“As leader I need to keep the guys motivated in the locker room, keep them encouraged. We have all the confidence in the world, we just need to continue to build on it and learn from it. I (personally) need to continue to learn and get better.”

On how he believes he played:
“I think I did all right. There are a couple of throws that I wish I could have back. I need to trust the process that the coaches are running.”

Memphis head coach Justin Fuente
On the rocky start at the beginning of the game:
“We didn’t start very well, but our guys never panicked, which I was proud of.”

On handling the adversity of the KU team compared to last week’s opponent:
“I felt like they were anxious and when things didn’t go very well they got nervous. I think some of our leaders and coaches did a good job calming everyone down.”
On redshirt junior Paxton Lynch’s performance and successful completion percentage:
“Without studying the statistics I thought he played a good game. As far as where he was going with the football, there was one throw I didn’t really much care for but I thought he handled it all pretty well. “
On what got the team going after falling behind by 10 points early:
“Really, nothing. We just keep shooting ourselves in the foot, but we didn’t change anything, we just quit dropping it on the ground.”
On the amount of total yards and production of the offense:
“If they score it’s usually quickly and if they don’t it’s quickly so there is a lot of opportunity. I felt like as the game went on Kansas got a little tired defensively and I think that showed a little bit toward the end.”
On the Memphis wide receivers running the ball:
That’s something that we do. I’m a big believer of that and we’ve got some guys at wide receiver with those skill sets.”

Memphis redshirt junior QB Paxton Lynch
On his overall performance and the team’s:
“I thought I did a good job. I think we did a good job on the ground as well. The offensive line blocked really well, it was good to see them go after it a little. The run game opened up everything for the passing game.”
On his fumble:
“I don’t know what happened, probably just jitters. It was the first or second play of the game, it happens to everybody at least once.”
On WR Mose Frazier’s performance:
“He did all right, but no he played great. He’s always out working during the week, preparing, and he prepared for this game like any other and it paid off.”
On his accuracy (22-for-25):
“I mean I have never done that before in my entire life what I did tonight. But like I said, it’s all that practice in the summer and spring with the receivers I put in.”
On if he felt he was in rhythm throwing the ball:
“Yeah,definitely. You get in a rhythm, you get the game flow going, you get some handoffs to open up the pass game. Then you just drop back and the receivers are out there at the end of their routes when you’re at the end of your drop and they just go out and catch it.”
Memphis redshirt senior WR Mose Frazier
On what QB Paxton Lynch was like in the huddle when they were down 10-0:
“We’re all calm. We always say no pressure against us. We’ve been there before. We know what it takes to get back on top. When we get down like that, we don’t get down on ourselves; we don’t panic. We go out there and play football.”
On Lynch’s accuracy and performance tonight:
“He’s always accurate. I think he went for 88 percent. That was great by him.”
On scoring over 50 points the rest of the year:
“If we can do that, we’ll go for it. All we’re trying to do is win by one point. If the score is 3-2, we’d be happy with that.”
On beating a Power Five conference team in Kansas:
“Yeah, it means a lot, but it was just another victory for us. Our focus is going 1-0 and that’s what we did tonight.”
Memphis junior LB Jackson Dillon
On what changed after being down 10-0:
“Coach (Fuente) preaches all the time to stay calm. If they get up on us, stay calm and keep doing what we’re doing. We got to overcome that. I think that’s going to help us in the future. We were all calm as a defense. We had some mental errors that we have to get cleaned up, but overall everyone was calm and we knew what we had to do.”
On what Memphis needs to improve on from a defensive standpoint:
“Anytime they gained any yards on us it was because our guys were not communicating the calls. When we’re all on the right page, we can play with anybody. We have to over communicate.”
On what it is like standing on the sidelines when the quarterback is playing well:
“I love it. That’s when I feel comfortable. He (Lynch) can do that against anybody, every game. We just have to stay calm and trust in him. We all trust in him. He helps out on the defensive side.”

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