Jayhawks defense gets another test with Texas Tech in town
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas allowed seven touchdowns and a field goal by halftime last week against Baylor.
The Jayhawks aren’t getting much of a reprieve.
Texas Tech and its similarly potent offense rolls into town on Saturday, intending to become the latest team to run roughshod over the Jayhawks. The Red Raiders have scored at least 35 points in every game this season, and have twice topped 60 — including last week against Iowa State.
Then again, maybe the Jayhawks learned something from their licking.
"They’re very different in terms of how they attack people," said Kansas coach David Beaty, who’s in his first season trying to resurrect the downtrodden program.
"Don’t be fooled by those formations. Those plays are very, very different," he said of the comparison between Baylor and Texas Tech. "In terms of the spacing and understanding disguises and things like that, I think it will be — just watching practice or walk-through, I could already see a lot more retention that will be helpful this week, I think, as we move forward."
The Jayhawks (0-5, 0-2 Big 12) are grasping for whatever positives they can this season.
Beaty inherited a depleted roster, fan apathy and little else when he took over for the fired Charlie Weis. He’s been forced to play a slew of freshmen and the results have been predictable: a whole lot of lumps against just about everybody.
Baylor has been the worst yet, a 66-7 thumping in which the starters sat the second half.
But Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury has known Beaty for years, partly because their careers keep intersecting. And he knows better than to overlook his buddy, even if Kansas is struggling.
"I think he’s a tremendous football coach," Kingsbury said. "I know he’s trying to build something special out there. … They had a tough run, but they’re getting better."
The Red Raiders (4-2, 1-2) seem to be getting better, too.
After their heartbreaking loss to TCU to open conference play, they were slapped around by Baylor, 63-35 in defeat. But they handled the Cyclones easily a week ago, their defense playing much better and their offense just as good in a 66-31 victory.
Texas Tech had a school-record 776 yards of total offense in the game.
"They’re playing with confidence and playing faster," Red Raiders offensive coordinator Eric Morris said. "I thought that was the biggest thing is we got some of the young kids that are playing with a lot of confidence."
As they prepare to visit Kansas, here are a few things to remember:
LOPSIDED SERIES: Texas Tech is 15-1 against the Jayhawks, and has won eight straight in the series. The average margin of victory during that streak is more than 18 points.
DON’T BLINK: Of the Red Raiders’ 44 scoring drives this year, 19 have taken less than 2 minutes. Ten of them were under a minute. As a result, they ranked 121st out of 127 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision in time of possession, but No. 2 in scoring.
MAHOMES THE MAN: Patrick Mahomes II has thrown for 3,692 yards and 33 TDs in his first 10 starts, putting the sophomore on pace to finish ahead of Kingsbury, his coach, and Graham Harrell — the top two passers in school history. "He’s pretty special," Morris said.
SPEAKING OF QBS: Ryan Willis will get his second start for Kansas on Saturday. Willis had some positive moments against Baylor, including a nice TD toss to fellow freshman Steven Sims Jr., but also made some noteworthy mistakes. "I like his demeanor. I like how he handled the moment. I like how he made a mistake, and he didn’t let it rattle him," Beaty said. "He came right back and was able to continue to look forward and didn’t let one bad play turn into two or three."
HURTING JAYHAWKS: Wide receiver Bobby Hartzog and defensive lineman Damani Mosby are expected to be out again with injuries, but Beaty is hopeful wide receiver Tre’ Parmelee, running back Ke’aun Kinner and cornerback Brandon Stewart are available. "We’ll have to see how the week progresses," he said, "because it’s not a slam dunk for those guys."