KU heads to No. 14/15 West Virginia for Saturday showdown
Kansas has broken up 37 passes through eight games in 2016, already 23 more than the Jayhawks had at this time last year.
at #14/15 West Virginia
Nov. 5, 2016
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas football team heads back out on the road for its second-to-last away game of the season at No. 14/15 West Virginia, Saturday, Nov. 5, with a 6 p.m. kick on ESPN2.
WVU (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) and Kansas (1-7, 0-5 Big 12) have only met five times – four since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 Conference – and the Jayhawks trail the all-time series, 4-1.
GETTING OFF THE FIELD
When it comes to third-down defense in the Big 12 Conference, Kansas ranks atop the leaderboard allowing a 35.3 percent conversion rate (41-for-116). Compared to this time last year, the Jayhawks ranked 118 out of 127 in the FBS and eighth in the league. KU’s 35.3 percent rate of getting off the field has it ranked 39th in the FBS through eight games played in 2016 – a 79 spot improvement from a season ago.
THE LITTLE THINGS
Since taking the reins of the program, Kansas head coach David Beaty has preached the mantra, “a smart team is a hard team to beat.” Although it hasn’t shown in the win column just yet, the Jayhawks exhibit extreme discipline averaging the fewest penalty yards in the Big 12 Conference (45.6 yards per game). That number also ranks the young team inside the top-25 at No. 24. This time last season, KU averaged 63.75 yards per game in penalties – almost a 20-yard improvement.
With such an inexperienced squad in 2015, Kansas allowed its opponents to rack up 334.5 yards per game through the air while completing 70.6 percent (202-of-286) of their passes through the first eight games. As a result, the Jayhawks ranked dead last in the Big 12 Conference and No. 126 out of 127 in the FBS while having only 14 pass breakups and five interceptions. Fast forward to 2016 and KU has drastically improved upon that effort ranking third in the league and 76th in the FBS allowing 236.1 passing yards per game – almost a 100-yard improvement. If that is not enough, the secondary has broken up 38 passes – 24 more than last year at this time – and held opponents to a completion percentage of just 57.5 percent (150-of-261), all while having faced five of the top six passing offenses in the league.
Kansas ranks in the top third in the FBS in total sacks at No. 35 with 2.63 sacks per contest. Spearheaded by a Big 12-leading eight-sack effort from sophomore defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., the Jayhawks have dropped opposing quarterbacks to the ground 21 times and if the season ended today, they will have finished with the best sack average in the last decade at 2.63 per game.
PUNTING DOWN A DREAM
Junior punter Cole Moos continues a strong, reliable season after recording 63-yard boot at Oklahoma and has now recorded at least one punt of 60 or more yards in three-consecutive weeks. Moos currently ranks tied for second in the FBS with four 60-yard punts on the season and he is one of 66 Ray Guy Award candidates, bestowed to the nation’s top punter. Moos ranks ninth in the FBS with 7.8 percent of his punts traveling 60-plus yards. In his last three games, Moos has punted the ball 21 times with seven traveling a distance of 50 or more yards, including the third-longest in Big 12 history at 82 yards (also kicked a 73, 66, 63, 53, 53 and 52). Prior to his break-out game at Baylor where he averaged 50.4 yards per punt and earned Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors, Moos was just under a 40-yard average sitting at 39.6. Since then and in the last three games, he has averaged 44.5 yards per punt on 21 kicks. That weekly award Moos earned at Baylor marked the first for KU since Dexter McDonald took home the Defensive Player of the Week Award on Sept. 8, 2014. Trevor Pardula was the last KU player to snag a Special Teams Player of the Week award for KU as he was the winner on Sept. 23, 2013.
CAN’T BLOCK HIM
Sophomore defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., became the first Jayhawk since James Holt in 2008 to record at least one sack in six-straight games when he wrapped up Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield in the third quarter last Saturday (Oct. 29). That takedown pushed Armstrong’s season total to eight and slides him into the top spot in the league averaging 1.0 sacks per contest. That average also marks the ninth-best in the FBS with Pittsburgh’s Ejuan Price leading the country at 2.0 sacks per game. With eight sacks, Armstrong moves into a tie for eighth all-time in single season sacks at KU with Phil Forte. In addition, Armstrong’s streak consisted of eight total sacks through six games, while Holt tallied nine during his in 2008.
Since 2006, only 11 Jayhawks can boast reaching the 10.0 TFL benchmark in a season, including defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. With his 2.0 TFLs against Oklahoma (Oct. 29) the sophomore ran up his season total to 12.0 and averages 1.5 per game. Those numbers rank Armstrong first in the conference and 11th nationally, with UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley and Pittsburgh’s Ejuan Price leading the FBS at 2.0 TFLs per contest. Among the 11 KU players to accomplish this feat since 2006, seven held a position on the defensive line – Armstrong, Jake Laptad (12.0), John Larson (12.0), James McClinton (16.0 & 11.0), Max Onyegbule (11.0), Toben Opurum (10.5) and Michael Reynolds (14.5).
Kansas returns to Memorial Stadium to begin its first of final two home games of the season. The Jayhawks will play host to Iowa State on Saturday, Nov. 12, with an 11 a.m. kickoff on Fox Sports Net, before hosting Texas on Senior Day, Nov. 19.
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