Kansas topped by Ohio, 37-21
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Trailing 28-7 at halftime, Kansas football’s defensive adjustments began to work, while the offense ignited in the third quarter, cutting the Ohio lead down to 10 points, but a potent Bobcat rushing attack hoarded the time of possession 43:38-16:22 and downed the Jayhawks, 37-21, Saturday afternoon inside Memorial Stadium.
The Bobcats relied on a triple-digit rushing effort from their quarterback – an uncharacteristic career-best by Greg Windham- and used a smothering defense – the Jayhawks had 21 total yards in the first half – to stifle KU and burst out to a 25-point lead before KU scored.
Junior transfer LaQuvionte Gonzalez put the Jayhawks on the board, 25-7, when he returned a kickoff 99 yards for the first special teams touchdown of his career. Gonzalez’ breakaway speed through the Bobcats’ kickoff coverage late in the second quarter sparked the Kansas rally to begin the second half.
After mustering just 15 passing yards in the first stanza, head coach / offensive play caller David Beaty dialed up a deep strike down the sideline for redshirt junior quarterback Montell Cozart to find sophomore wide receiver Steven Sims Jr., on a 74-yard touchdown toss, 28-14.
After the Jayhawk defense tightened up at the line-of-scrimmage midway through the third quarter and began stopping Ohio’s running attack, the Bobcats were able to convert a field goal, 31-14.
On the next drive, Cozart hit Sims once again, who brought down an acrobatic catch over a defender in the end zone, to pull within 10 points with 10:53 to play in the third quarter, 31-21. In all, Cozart connected on eight-straight passes as KU outgained the Bobcats 190-66 in the third quarter, but Ohio found a way to keep KU at arm’s length.
After the two teams traded punts on consecutive possessions, Ohio moved the ball down the field, driving 46 yards to the KU 13, before Windham was intercepted by senior safety Fish Smithson in the end zone.
Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, their offense was unable to sustain the momentum of the pick, and was forced to punt. Ohio’s ensuing drive tacked on another three points after they were given prime field position at KU’s 29-yard line, 34-21.
Kansas regained possession trailing by 13, but Ohio stymied the Jayhawks’ offensive efforts leading to another punt with 13:27 to play in the game.
Ohio grasped the 13-point lead and chewed the next 10 minutes off the game clock with an 18-play, 81-yard drive, putting the finishing touches on the outcome with a 22-yard field goal, 37-21.
Kansas head coach David Beaty
DAVID BEATY: First of all, just give credit to Coach (Frank) Solich and his team there at Ohio. They played a really good football game today. I said it earlier in the week, that team is not going to beat themselves two weeks in a row. They don’t really ever let that happen, and they certainly have not let it happen two weeks in a row very much in his career, and they made the necessary adjustments from last week. I thought they played a really smart football game.
You know, they ran the ball really, really well. They converted early on third down. They were 5-of-6 on third down early in the game. They went 9-of-22 on third down, which is not all that great, but 5-of-6 early kind of told the tale of getting off to a good start for them to put some points on the board.
That first drive was big for them, getting the ball in the end zone from a long way away, and we had some chances to get off the field there and we weren’t able to take advantage of it, and that’s a big momentum swing that — we have that goal to be able to score on the first drive or get off the field on that first drive, and we weren’t able to do that. So they got off to a good start there.
Listen, the tale of the tale is in the mistakes. They made very few, and we made a ton. We’ve got to get better in the area of punt return. We’ve got three muffs in the last two weeks, and not acceptable. Now, the good news for us is the ones today were absolute technique errors. If we just keep our eyes on the ball all the way through, we make those catches, and just make good decisions and we’ll get better. We’ll get better. There’s no doubt about that.
Offensively we’ve got to do a better job early in the game to be able to help our defense out. They played — I know over 40 plays in the first half, and I think we played like 15, and the defense, every time I looked up, they were out there. We returned a touchdown on a kickoff return, and they had to go right back out there. Our defense really did some really good things throughout the game by being put in some really poor field position, and they got nine points out of those three muffs or turnovers right down there inside our own our 30-, 35-yard line, and that was really good to see. That was really good to see.
I thought we had a little bit of a momentum surge there at halftime coming out, and it was good to see that, but we didn’t do enough.
Let’s take some questions.
Q. How disappointing is it that some of those mistakes are from some veteran guys on the team? Does that compound it?
DAVID BEATY: Whether it’s veterans or it’s young guys, you know, those things hurt you in games. I mean, turnovers, I mean, they change lives. We talk about it all the time. We’ve got to be really, really good in that department, and we were not very good in that department last year nationally, and today, we hurt ourselves in that area.
And we knew that going into the game. We knew that when you play a good team like this you can’t turn the football over because they’re not, and they’re not going to beat themselves, so you’ve got to match that, and if you do that, then you’ve got a chance. You take nine points off the board from those three turnovers, and that’s where I take my hat off to the defense because that could have been much worse than it was. But man, they did a nice job being firemen and coming and putting out that fire, and they did a good job of holding the field, because that kicker, man, that dude is good now. I think he was the special teams player of the week. That dude is money; he buried those kicks. That dude is a really good player, so that helped them.
Q. How bad a look is it with the scoreboard showing you’re down 28-7 to get a taunting penalty?
DAVID BEATY: It is very disappointing, and you know, the thing about that is we know better. We talk about it. We actually rep it. We practice it, and it wasn’t really a taunting penalty, it was a guy that came off the sideline, and you can’t do that trying to celebrate, and we actually practice that. We actually have mock games where we practice where they can go to and where they can’t and how you have to stand and wait for that guy to get back to you, and that’s where focus comes in.
I mean, the thing we left that locker room with today is your focus is everything. If you lose it for a second, it changes everything. So the focus has got to be great. We lost our focus on two punt returns, and it cost us. We lost our focus on that snap, and it cost us on that punt. We lost our focus on that particular play, and it cost us.
You know, you lose your focus, that’s where everything starts. You lose your focus and you start focusing on the wrong things, and you start having problems.
Q. Was the hole you dug in the first half just too much for the guys to overcome?
DAVID BEATY: You know, there was a lot of things that went wrong in the first half. Offensively not being able to get a first — I think we went into halftime with maybe a 1st down. That’s ridiculous. As explosive as we are and as good as we are offensively, and I do believe we are better than that for sure. For us not to have a 1st down — you know what, they’re a good football team and they’re a really good defense; there’s no doubt about that. I mean, they’re talented and they played a lot of ball, but they didn’t make any just ridiculous adjustments that I thought would have prevented us from being able to do that. We just didn’t make plays, I mean, just routine plays, being able to handle things up front from a run game perspective. We knew they were going to cut the box up. We knew that. We worked on it all week. We’ve just got to execute it, and we didn’t do it.
That is just — for us, we are still in that progress of building this program. We’re still there. And our guys — we’ve talked to them about it until we’re blue in the face. One win does not make you something special. You’ve got to go back to what got you there, and we didn’t do it this week but we will next week. We’ll get ready to go play Memphis, and we’ll get on our first road trip, and I know those guys will find their focus again. I know they’ll learn a lot from this game.
Q. On 4th down that ended up being a yard short in the first half? Was that just an issue of the blocking breaking down?
DAVID BEATY: You know, I can’t remember that specific play right now. I’ll look at it on tape, and I can’t remember exactly what happened there. I know that we didn’t execute it correctly, and there’s details in there that cause you not to be successful when you don’t execute it correctly.
You know, we had one there with Montell (Cozart), we were about to decide to go for it on that one fourth down in that third quarter, and then he got whacked pretty good. His shoulder is kind of jacked up. I mean, I wasn’t ready to put Ryan in because Ryan (Willis) hadn’t played at that point, and we were in a 4th and three now as opposed to a fourth and one. It wasn’t just an absolute running situation. So he had not thrown and he wasn’t warm, so we decided to go ahead and punt it, and we pinned them down there, and that was a good decision for us.
Q. Were you anticipating going in to the game that Montell would be in for that third series?
DAVID BEATY: We think Montell has actually done a really nice job in practice, and Ryan actually has, too. He really has. Ryan knows the things that he’s got to get better at, and so does Montell. Montell, we had planned for the second half to put Ryan in on that third series, but we came out and Montell had a hot hand. He was going pretty good. We scored back-to-back drives, and the thing that I really was proud of those guys on, particularly Ryan, he kept his demeanor good. He kept everything about him really, really good. Now, he’s a competitor. He wants to play. He wants to play. I mean, but I was really proud of the kid because I know he wants to play, and he understood when we stayed with Montell during that period.
Q. After the first quarter, they had favorable field position multiple times. Evaluate how your red zone defense toughened up.
DAVID BEATY: Man, they did a great job. I mean, they really did. How many field goals did that kid kick, five, six? Five? That’s a good deal now, and I know Coach Solich talked about it coming in, they needed to score touchdowns when they were in the red zone. From our standpoint, that was going to be a challenge because I knew he was going to focus on that this week, and our stiffened their neck and they made some really, really big plays down there. I thought Tevin (Shaw) made a great play down there to keep a touchdown from going in. I think Bazie Bates made a really good play down there and knocked a ball out of a guy’s hands when he had it. He basically had it possessed; he didn’t possess it all the way through. There was some great individual plays there. Marcquis (Roberts) made an unbelievable play and almost came up with that interception.
You know, the thing that I was really proud of is when we started making that run, I thought our defense was actually matching that, too. They were continuing to help and give us an opportunity, which was good to see. You know, it was — it’s just a deal where we needed to keep it going offensively. It got to a point where we were going to cut it close, and then we had to punt that football, and then next thing you know we’re back in a hole again, now the lead extends, and your play selection changes. It changes when you’re down by so many scores and not enough time left.
We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and make sure that we understand how to execute early in ballgames because that way you can play in just regular call situations.
Q. Talk about Montell’s shoulder. Do you have any indication if that’s a serious thing at this point?
DAVID BEATY: Well, I think he’s going to be all right. Murph (Murphy Grant) does a great job with those guys. I think he probably could have went back in, but I didn’t want to take a chance on it just because I watched him fall, and when I saw him fall, I saw kind of how his arm fell a little bit. I think he’ll be okay, but it’s a little bit early to tell. I’ll kind of find out here afterwards when we get our medical report.
Q. When the rushing yards are at a trickle, how does that affect the play calling?
DAVID BEATY: Well, you know, it affects it. You’d like to be a better run team obviously on early downs, and we weren’t effective early in the game, and that was a situation that is not good to see. You’ve got to be effective running that football early in the game, particularly if you give up some scores, because scores changes things a little bits, and that affects your play calling, but there’s no excuse. There’s no excuse.
They did a nice job with their game plan. They did a really nice job of clamping the coverage down a little bit. They did a nice job of following Quiv (LaQuvionte Gonzalez) and clamping him. They did a good job, but listen, we know people are going to do that to us, so we’ve prepared for it, and we just didn’t execute well today.
But I still love that team. I love our guys. They’re resilient. There was a lot of disappointment in that locker room, but you can tell they’re ready to go back to work, which is what I love about this team. I like our guys, and we’ll be okay moving forward.
Q. It seemed like on that last drive the defense got them the third down three or four times, but they kind of just ran out of gas.
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, they did, but that last drive, that goes on the first half. When we cannot — we had one 1st down going into halftime, I think, if I’m not mistaken, and when we can’t get our defense off the field for more than three plays at a time, that’s going to be a problem down the road if you’re not putting points on the board. I mean, there was one time when we hit a quick pass, and I think they were off the field for 15 seconds, which we scored, we had two quick scores that really still kind of put that defense back out there. The time of possession was unreal, 46 minutes to 13:56. I mean, I haven’t been a part of many of those. A lot of people will talk about, hey, the no-huddle, but you watch the tempo, that wasn’t the deal today. We weren’t able to go fast because we weren’t putting 1st downs together, and when you put 1st downs together, the tempo starts showing up. When you’re not putting 1st downs together, it’s hard to go fast. It’s hard to go fast. You’ve only got three plays. So we’ve got to be better in that area.
Q. During the course of the season, you don’t have time to get them stronger, so how can they get better, become better run blockers?
DAVID BEATY: Well, they’ve just got to keep working at it. We do. We’re like everybody else. You do have to maintain your strength levels throughout a season. You absolutely can. We’re in a development phase, so we still develop our guys. I mean, our guys probably lift more than most teams because we know we have to get stronger and we have to get faster.
We’ve got a lot of young guys playing. I get that. But the only way you get stronger is to continue to lift and get proper rest because that’s all part of it, too, and then we’ve just got to be better technically. We’re going to look at the tape and we’re going to see a lot of technical issues that we’re going to learn from this week. Last week, as great as it was, we learned a lot from it, but I guarantee you we didn’t learn as much from it as we’re going to learn this week. We’re going to learn a lot this week, and it starts getting glaring to our guys, our coaches, everybody involved, myself.
Q. How do you address the muffs in practice because I’m sure it’s not happening in practice, only in games. How do you address it?
DAVID BEATY: Well, first of all, we prepare multiple people for that, so it’s not just a Quiv thing. We’ve got upwards of probably I’d say 14, 15 guys who are catching punts daily. We’re developing for the future, and we’re developing for now. You know, you just keep working at it, and you keep using technique. Both those punts, listen, you guys know my relationship with Quiv. I love him to death. Both those punts, exactly when he came off the field I was able to say, Quiv, you took your eyes down and looked at the rush; what happened? I’ve never seen you do that. I’ve never seen you do that. The good news is you can fix that.
And the second one was a little bit more concerning because he did it again, and he had called fair catch. He’s going to learn from that, and we had a little private conversation right after I left that locker room just a second ago because he’s a talented guy, and we need him to do those things for us. He can do it. He catches the ball really, really well for us, but when you take a technique error, it’s going to cost you. It’s going to show up. So he’s got to continue to work on being more of a disciplined individual, and that’ll help him cure that.
Fish (Smithson) does a good job back there, as well. (Steven) Sims does a good job back there, as well. We’ve got some opportunities to put some other guys in, but we need Quiv to do that for us. He’s a dynamic guy, and he can do it, so we’ll get him fixed this week.
Thank you, guys.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Kansas senior LB Marcquis Roberts
On the defensive performance in the red zone:
“We know we have to fight. We know that it gets harder to score down there. The play-calling gets harder. We all just did what we needed to do and it all worked out.”
On the time of possession difference and the defense spending so much time on the field:
“While you are out there you really don’t think about things like that. It just doesn’t go through your mind. The only thing you’re thinking is to get them off the field.”
On the lessons that can be learned from the game:
“Come ready to practice on Monday. Ohio played great. They ran the ball hard and came off the ball hard. We need to be more physical and play a lot harder.”
Kansas senior S Fish Smithson
On the difficulty to stop Ohio on the final drive:
“We just couldn’t get off the field. We had to calm everybody down. They just kept finding ways to create problems for us.”
On feeling tired after playing so many minutes on the field:
“No not at all. That’s our job. Coaches call us the firemen. If anything happens and the offense turns the ball over, it is our job to go in and put out the fire. So no, I don’t get tired.”
On how to improve special team mistakes:
“It is all just fundamentals. You have to go back to the basics. LaQuvionte [Gonzalez] is a great player for us and he will continue to be in the future. We just have to practice the fundamentals like watching the ball in and stuff like that.”
Kansas sophomore DT Daniel Wise
On feeling tired after playing so many minutes:
“Not at all. It goes back to summer conditioning. We were well prepared and all in shape. It didn’t feel like 45 minutes at all. You just have to stay out there and do what coach asks you to do and it will go by fast.”
On the ability to put pressure on the quarterback:
“The play calling from Coach (Clint) Bowen and the other defensive coaches put us in the right position to make plays and we executed.”
On the difficulty of forgetting about the loss and focusing on Memphis:
“It’ll be just like that. We have a fresh start tomorrow. This game is over. We need to prepare for Memphis and go down there and just do it all over again.”
Kansas redshirt junior QB Montell Cozart
On his 74-yard touchdown pass to Steven Sims Jr.:
“It was exciting to see him come down with it. That’s just something we’ve been working on, the chemistry. Like we said last week, we just keep building, we trust those guys.”
On the team’s slow start:
“The defense was on the field way too long, from an offensive standpoint. We got started slow, and if the defense is on the field that long, they’re going to get tired. We’ve just got to move forward from it, help those guys on defense and keep those guys off the field.”
On going out of the game after shoulder injury:
“I went in and got my shoulder strapped and I was ready to go. But I stayed out (of the game) because we’ve got to get ready for Memphis next week.”
On the difference from this game and past losses:
“In the past, we would’ve seen everyone tanking. We would’ve seen everyone starting to get into their shells. The score would’ve been worse than what it was, but like we said, we’ve just got to keep trusting each other. We came out and we scored quickly, right after that we scored within like five plays. This offense allows us to go right down the field and score quickly. We’ve just got to keep trusting it and building on it.”
Kansas sophomore WR Steven Sims Jr.
On Kansas’s slow start to the game:
“We started off very slow today, we didn’t have very many explosive plays in the first half. So I think that was our main focus coming out in the second half, to get vertical on them and make explosive plays down the field. And that’s what we did, we rallied, but it just wasn’t enough.”
“I give them credit, they had a great game play today and they just did their job.”
On his second-half touchdowns:
“Those two touchdowns were just me doing my job, trying to help the team win. I just felt like it wasn’t enough today and I could’ve done more. (I) Could’ve started earlier, faster, in the first quarter and in the first half.”
Ohio head coach Frank Solich
“I am proud of our guys and the way they came back after last week’s loss. I think they showed a lot of resolve. They practiced well this past week and the signs were there that we were going to have an opportunity to play well and up to our potential. There were times in the second quarter where I didn’t think we played that well and there were times in the second half where we didn’t play as well as we should have been able to play. You’ve got to give Kansas credit, they did a great job adjusting things at halftime and they came back and put some points up on the board and got back into the game. It became a dogfight at the end.”
On Ohio’s defense:
“I hope the previous week was not typical of us in terms of defensive football. I think we did do some adjusting on some coverages and we challenged guys a bit, they hurt us on a deep throw. All in all, I think we held up better with the mixture of coverages we used today. I think that was certainly a lot of help. We gave our corners help at times and let them press other times. We’re young in the secondary so these two games certainly gave us a good deal of experience to get better, hopefully quickly.”
On the time of possession advantage:
“I feel like we have a running game which gives us a chance to build up time on the clock. We were able to hit enough passes to keep drives alive when we did stall on the ground. That combination can help you possess the ball a great deal of time. Other than one interception, we didn’t stop ourselves and we continued our drives. Possession time can help you a lot but it’s not the whole answer; I’ve been on the bad side where we had the possession time and not the points on the board.”
On the safety:
“The defense got excited after that. For them to be able to put points on the board early in the game was a great boost to them. I thought they did a great job on that.”
On redshirt senior quarterback Greg Windham rushing for 146 yards:
“He’s a strong physical football player. He talks about sliding more; there are times to slide obviously but if you’re going into the end zone or need to pick up a first down, he’s the kind of guy that will go for that and get the extra yards to keep the drive going. He’s got some toughness about him, I like the way he stood in the pocket today. He didn’t get flustered, didn’t get flushed out and he stood in there and made some critical plays. He’s capable of doing it all, it’s just that sometimes he gets going pretty good and he starts pressing to make special plays and he takes a step backward sometimes. He’s still learning, this is his second start. We feel good about what he accomplished.”
On dominating a Big 12 team on the road:
“So far I’ve been proud of our guys in terms of physicality and how they’ve approached both games. We have the ability to be pretty good up front on both sides of the ball but obviously you face a lot of strong physical football players along the way. This is a great win for us, but we need to go back to work. There are a lot of areas we need to get better at.”
Ohio senior DE Tarell Basham
On physically dominating Kansas:
“It was great. I’m pretty sure we’ll see a better team next week (Tennessee) but this week, this team definitely brought it. They’re a Big 12 team so we know we’ve got to bring our A game as a MAAC conference team, but at the same time I feel that we’ve got great athletes and it showed.”
On being the all-time sack leader at Ohio:
“It feels great to have the all-time sack record and know that all my hard work is showing. I’m not comfortable at all, I am definitely going to continue fighting for those sacks and hopefully next week we can get another one.”
On rebounding from giving up 56 points to Texas State:
“We had the taste of defeat in our mouth. We didn’t expect to let Texas State to put up so many points on us, so it was definitely personal. We focused on not having that same taste in our mouth again. We came out on top of it, we focused, we executed plays and we stopped them.”
Ohio redshirt senior QB Greg Windham
On scoring 15 points in the first quarter:
“All along we knew we could do that. Our offensive line was blocking, our running backs were doing a great job running it in and our wide receivers were catching the ball. Last week it was a lot of mental mistakes and we fixed it. It showed today.”
On running for 167 yards:
“I always believe in myself as a runner even though I’m a passer first. If push comes to shove, I can run the ball. I’ve got to do a better job sliding and protecting myself. But all in all, I believe in myself and my coaches believe I can run the football.”
On his game-long 53-yard carry:
“The defense over-pursued and I saw a big hole and I hit it.”
On the offense rushing for over 300 yards:
“It’s awesome to do that because we’ve got teams on their heels. We can go over the top on them and throw it deep or run it. It puts pressure on the defense, they want to respect our run game and it opens up our passing game.”
On beating a Power Five team after losing to Texas State:
“Last week was last week. I made a lot of mental mistakes and I just had to go back and watch film and correct those mistakes. I know what I can do and I trusted my team. My o-line did an awesome job opening up holes and my receivers made some big-time plays.”
Ohio redshirt junior LB Chad Moore
On the defense bouncing back from giving up 56 points to Texas State:
“It came down to execution. As of last week, we didn’t execute very well. We took all of this week to work on our execution, get back to our basics and went back to the drawing board and said, ‘Boys, we’ve got to play our football.’ At the end of the day we have two basic calls and that’s what we did.”
On how the defense took the challenge this week of stopping Kansas:
“We took it as a personal challenge because as a defense because we never expected to give up 56 points to Texas State. We took it personal because we know we’re a better defense than that and we know we showed that.”
On the safety:
“At the time it was a big play because we were up 6-0. The coaches had great communication and it’s nothing on me, it’s on our coaches and their schemes, which worked out to our advantage.”
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