KU shows improvement on opening drives in loss

Kansas wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter celebrates with running back Khalil Herbert following a touchdown against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018.

Kansas wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter celebrates with running back Khalil Herbert following a touchdown against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. by Mike Gunnoe

Every Monday head coach David Beaty asks the University of Kansas football team if it scored during the first drive of either half in the previous game.

Far too often, that answer has been a no through five weeks of the 2018 season. In fact, the Jayhawks have recorded just 10 points on 10 such possession this year. The lone score on the first offensive drive of any half came on a field goal against Rutgers.

“That’s the biggest key, and it is something we focus on every day,” senior receiver Steven Sims Jr. said. “I take that personally, because I feel like we are capable of scoring every time we get the ball.”

But the Jayhawks performed better on their first offensive drive against Oklahoma State behind junior quarterback Carter Stanley, who got his first start of the season.

Trailing 7-0, Stanley marched Kansas into opposing territory. The offense accumulated 40 yards on nine plays, including a pair of completions from Stanley. Gabriel Rui ultimately missed a 52-yard field goal attempt on the drive.

Despite not getting on the scoreboard, it was a sign of improvement by the Jayhawks. After all, Kansas had combined for 31 total yards on its previous three game-opening drives that didn’t end in a score.

“Coach Beaty challenges us to score on the first drive in the first half and second half,” junior running back Khalil Herbert said. “It just starts off the game well, and gives our defense a breather.”

Kansas also got creative on its opening drive in the 48-28 loss to Oklahoma State.

The Jayhawks ran a play out of the wildcat formation, in which freshman running back Pooka Williams Jr. received the snap. Williams proceeded to run a speed option to the right before flicking the ball to Sims, who gained 23 yards on a reverse.

by Shane Jackson

In the second half, meanwhile, Kansas needed just three plays before Williams scored on a 60-yard touchdown run. It was the first time that the Jayhawks had scored any points on their first drive of the second half.

by Shane Jackson

Prior to that, Kansas had accumulated just 17 total yards on four possession to start the second half. The Jayhawks finished with 21 points in the second half against the Cowboys.

“We just have to be a smart team,” Herbert said. “We can’t have any penalties. Coach Beaty says we can’t go backwards. If we don’t go backwards, I think we will be in business.”

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