Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) – The Kansas Jayhawks will try once again to
secure the first victory for interim coach Clint Bowen when the team
entertains the 16th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys for a Big 12 Conference
clash on Saturday afternoon.
Oklahoma State dropped a 37-31 decision to defending national champion Florida
State in the season opener, but has since reeled off four straight victories,
the last two of which occurred in conference versus Texas Tech (45-35) and
Iowa State (37-20). The win over the Cyclones closed out a lengthy four-game
homestand for the Cowboys, who are playing their first official road game of
the season this week — the loss to FSU took place in Arlington, Texas.
Bowen, who was handed the reins after Charlie Weis was let go following the
team’s 23-0 loss to visiting Texas on Sept. 27, is a Kansas alum and a
Lawrence native. He has spent more than 20 years as part of the KU family, and
he was hoping that last week’s trip to West Virginia would be a positive one,
but once again the Jayhawks came up short in what turned out to be a 33-14
Oklahoma State owns a 33-29-2 advantage in the all-time series with Kansas,
which includes victories in the last four meetings and nine of the last 10
Despite their favorable record, the Cowboys are a middle-of-the-pack team in
the high-powered Big 12 with regard to both scoring offense (39.2 ppg) and
scoring defense (25.6 ppg). They are averaging 163.2 ypg on the ground and
286.6 ypg through the air, and since taking over for the injured J.W. Walsh,
Daxx Garman has thrown for 1,200 yards with nine TDs against four INTs.
Desmond Roland is currently tied for third in the conference in rushing yards
per game (76), and he has six TDs to his credit. Brandon Sheperd paces the
receiving corps, but has only 16 catches for 277 yards and two TDs.
In last week’s win over Iowa State, Garman completed 26-of-41 passes for 271
yards, one TD and two picks. His favorite target was Sheperd, who finished
with eight grabs for 94 yards, while Jhajuan Seals tallied 75 yards and a
score. Roland turned 19 carries into 95 yards and two TDs for the Pokes, who
rolled up 400 yards of total offense, compared to only 322 for the Cyclones.
Iowa State tallied 122 yards on 33 rush attempts (3.7 ypc), and failed to
score on the ground. The Cyclones did manage to come away with points on all
four of their visits to the red zone, but only two of them were TDs. Josh
Furman led the OSU stand with eight tackles, which included the only two sacks
the team recorded in the contest. The Cowboys did not force a turnover, and
they are dead even in terms of turnover margin on the season.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, while pleased with the outcome, knows his
team will need to perform better as the season moves along.
“I’m glad that one is over. We played very average in a lot of areas.
Offensively, not very good. Not running the ball as effectively as we need to.
The defense held on for a while, but gave up a couple of big plays.”
He continued, “We certainly have a long ways to go and a lot of work ahead of
Kansas couldn’t find its offensive rhythm last weekend in Morgantown, as
Bowen’s first game at the helm saw his squad tally a mere 176 yards of total
offense. The Jayhawks averaged a mere 1.9 ypc in amassing just 65 net rushing
yards, while the trio of Michael Cummings, Montell Cozart and T.J. Millweard
combined to go just 13-of-28 passing for 111 yards with no TDs. Nigel King led
the receivers with four catches for 52 yards, while Corey Avery paced the
runners with 58 yards and a score.
Nick Harwell returned a punt 76 yards for a TD late in the fourth quarter.
Kansas was successful on only 3-of-17 third-down opportunities, meaning Trevor
Pardula’s leg was certainly tired as he punted the ball away 14 times (a new
Milan Puskar Stadium record for punts by an opponent, and the second-most of
any punter in KU history).
The Mountaineers shredded the Jayhawks for 255 yards on the ground and 302
yards through the air, averaging 7.1 yards per offensive play, despite
committing three turnovers.
Isaiah Johnson made eight of his game-high nine tackles unassisted, and he was
credited with the Jayhawks’ only interception.
Kansas failed to register a sack in the contest, and the team ranks last in
the Big 12 in that category with only six on the season. The Jayhawks also
rank last in the conference in scoring offense (15.0 ppg), pass offense (154.6
ypg) and red zone offense (.636).
Avery and De’Andre Mann have both rushed for more than 300 yards this season,
with the former reaching the end zone twice. The team as a whole has just
three rushing TDs to its credit. Cozart has seen the bulk of the playing time
under center, but he has completed just 49.6 percent of his passes for 693
yards, five TDs and seven INTs. Cummings (.473) has been even less efficient
with significantly fewer reps, and no receiver has more than 14 grabs and 163
yards (Tony Pierson).
Kansas is yielding just shy of 420 ypg, and Ben Heeney has tried to do his
best to stem the tide by notching a club-best 49 tackles, 6.5 of which have
been behind the line of scrimmage. Dexter McDonald has picked off a pair of
passes, and the Jayhawks presently rank fourth in the league in turnover
margin (+3). They are also among the top teams in the Big 12 in punt return
average (20.1 ypr).
Despite the setback, Bowen was optimistic about the effort his team put forth
“I think we took a step in the right direction. Our players showed up in a
difficult week, and from Tuesday all the way through game prep, they worked
hard,” the first-time head coach stated.
“We will keep fighting. I think if they keep doing that we will improve.”