After taking a three-point lead into the locker room at halftime, the Jayhawks watched Colorado score the final 14 points over a span of just under two minutes in losing their Big 12 opener, 27-16, on Saturday at Folsom Field.
"Frustrating game. We had our opportunities," KU coach Terry Allen said. "I'm proud of our football team. I thought our kids played hard. They were just too much at the end. We had a chance and we missed a couple of shots. " It's a tough loss because I thought people didn't expected us to come out here and play the way we did. Our kids played hard.
"It's just unfortunate we couldn't hold on to it there in the fourth quarter."
KU silenced the majority of the 47,495 fans at the end of the second quarter when freshman kicker Johnny Beck blasted a 59-yard field goal -- the second-longest kick in KU history and longest at Folsom Field -- for a 13-10 advantage.
But after KU gained 202 total yards in the first half, including an impressive 92 on the ground, the Buffaloes baffled the Jayhawks, holding them to a mere 76 total yards in the second half -- 21 rushing and 55 passing.
"As I came in (after the game), I was thinking to myself what made the difference in the second half," said red-shirt freshman quarterback Mario Kinsey, who made his first start for the Jayhawks. "I don't want to say we got away from what was working, but in a way we did. We were mixing it up. Then we came out in the second half and we had some drives that we ran the ball three straight times, then we had some drives that we passed the ball three straight times.
"In the first half we might have run it once, passed twice within three downs. Then in the second half we went away from that -- all runs, all pass. I feel that hurt us a lot."
Allen revealed after the game that sophomore quarterback Zach Dyer -- who didn't play a down -- had suffered a bruised sternum two weeks ago against UCLA and was having a hard time throwing the ball. KU's coach also announced Kinsey now was the Jayhawks' regular starting QB.
Kinsey connected on his first two passes -- for a gain of 45 yards to junior Termaine Fulton and a gain of 23 to sophomore running back Reggie Duncan -- and was 4-of-9 passing for 110 yards in the first half. He finished 12-of-25 for 165 yards with a 38-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Roger Ross and had no turnovers.
"The way the game was going, we didn't feel it was appropriate to take Mario out," Allen said. "Mario was doing a good job. It just wasn't the time or the occasion to make a change. Mario's going to make it happen.
"We've gotta to live and die with what Mario can do for us and get him the majority of the snaps."
The Jayhawks opened with a new look Saturday, using a fullback (junior Mitchell Scott), a tight end (sophomore Adrian Jones) and two wide receivers (Ross and Fulton).
It worked for a half, as Duncan earned 63 yards on 16 carries for an average of 3.9 per run. Coming in, he had averaged just 1.3 yards an attempt.
"Definitely, I could feel the difference," Duncan said. "With an extra blocker, you will always be able to tell."
Duncan carried just six times for seven yards in the second half and Scott was limited to a handful of plays.
"We went away from him because of what we were trying to do," Allen said of the fullback. "Initially we moved the ball with him. We went away from him because we wanted to try to throw the ball a little more. It set up the plays, but we just didn't execute."
Kinsey came close to connecting on two long plays in the second half. He barely overshot a diving Fulton, who was 10 yards past the CU secondary, and narrowly missed wide-open senior Derick Mills. Both plays would have gone for at least 50 yards.
"It was on my fingertips," Mills said of his near catch. "It wasn't a called play for me. I was just the one who got open and I was on that side when he started scrambling that way. I was the first receiver he saw."
In his return home, Ross -- a Denver native -- led the Jayhawks with four catches for 47 yards, including his TD. On the score, he jumped to make the grab, bounced off Colorado's Medford Moorer and cruised into the end zone.
But the touchdown didn't ease the pain.
"It's a little frustrating," Ross said. "At the half, we knew we could come out and just beat them. That second half, we thought we were going to get them. It just didn't go our way."
Following an off week, the Jayhawks will travel Lubbock, Texas, to take on Texas Tech on Oct. 6.
-- Sports writer Robert Sinclair can be reached at 832-7185.