KU offense in search of more points: ‘I don’t think 28 is enough’
photo by: Mike Gunnoe
Renowned through the years for its football shootouts, sometimes infamously so due to preposterously high final scores, the Big 12 is no place for a struggling offense.
So when the Kansas football team got off to such a lethargic offensive start once conference play began, the Jayhawks’ four touchdowns against Oklahoma State in a 20-point loss this past week felt like progress.
The truth of the matter, though, is that, more often than, not 28 points — the second-highest KU total in a league game in David Beaty’s time as head coach — won’t translate into a victory.
Just a few weeks into Big 12 play, six different teams are averaging more than 28 points in their conference matchups. It’s a very small sample size, for sure, but the Jayhawks, who only scored seven points at Baylor in Week 4, understand their offense better keep trending upward if they want to become truly competitive.
Asked following his 10-catch day versus OSU whether 28 points is enough in the Big 12, senior KU receiver Steven Sims Jr.’s immediate response was, “No, sir. I don’t think so.”
Of course, that total could do the job, theoretically, if the defense played lights out, Sims conceded.
“But we know we’re going to have to score more points than that in the Big 12. Everybody’s going to score points. They’re great athletes, they’re good players, they’re coached by great coaches, so everybody’s going to score points,” Sims said. “We’ve just got to match that and keep fighting.”
On Sept. 22 at Baylor, the KU offense only totaled 271 yards on its 11 drives, with quarterbacks Peyton Bender and Miles Kendrick handling most of the snaps.
But the following week against Oklahoma State, when Carter Stanley started and played exclusively at QB, the offense showed some improvement, producing 368 yards on its 14 drives. Most importantly, four of them went 65 yards or more and ended with a TD.
“In certain areas we improved, I would say,” Sims said. “But we just have to focus on ourselves and the minor things — holding, false start penalties, just little things like that that kill the drives.”
At Baylor, the KU offense incurred four penalties (three false starts and a holding call, all against offensive linemen) for 20 yards. Taking on the Cowboys in Lawrence, KU’s offense committed two penalties that were accepted by OSU, a 15-yard personal foul on offensive lineman Malik Clark in the fourth quarter and a holding flag on right tackle Kevin Feder in the second.
After a seven-point, 106-yard first half against Oklahoma State, Stanley, who played sparingly in the three prior games, settled in. With a major boost in the form of a 60-yard Pooka Williams touchdown run, KU’s offense scored on three of eight possessions after halftime, with the biggest misstep coming in the form of a late third-quarter fumble by receiver Takulve Williams.
Stanley said he felt pretty good about what the offense accomplished in the second half of his first start of the season.
“You never know how much is going to be enough,” Stanley added, regarding the points required from the offense. “You never really know. I’ve been in games where (28) has been enough, but at the same time, the objective of the game is score more than the other team. And it’s the Big 12 – people score a lot. So, me personally, I don’t think 28 is enough. I’m going to make that known to the guys. Going forward, I’d obviously like to score more than 28.”
The Jayhawks (2-3 overall, 0-2 Big 12) most likely will need another uptick in production Saturday, when they play at No. 9 West Virginia (4-0, 2-0).
The Mountaineers are averaging 476.5 yards and 38.5 points in conference victories over Kansas State and Texas Tech. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. (ESPN2), at Milan Puskar Stadium.
2018 Big 12 football scores to date
Oklahoma 37, Iowa State 27
West Virginia 35, Kansas State 6
Baylor 26, Kansas 7
Texas 31, TCU 16
Texas Tech 41, Oklahoma State 17
Oklahoma State 48, Kansas 28
West Virginia 42, Texas Tech 34
Texas 19, Kansas State 14
Oklahoma 66, Baylor 33
TCU 17, Iowa State 14
Big 12 team points per game
Oklahoma — 51.5 in Big 12 (48.6 overall)
West Virginia — 38.5 (42.3)
Texas Tech — 37.5 (48.4)
Oklahoma State — 32.5 (44.4)
Baylor — 29.5 (35.6)
Texas — 25.0 (28.8)
Iowa State — 20.5 (17.5)
Kansas — 17.5 (28.8)
TCU — 16.5 (31.6)
Kansas State — 10 (19.6)