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Matt Tait: KU football regression continues in Week 7; so what comes next?

Kansas quarterback Jason Bean (17) passes the ball against Oklahoma during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Norman, Okla. Oklahoma won 52-42. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Regression was probably inevitable at some point, but I don’t think Kansas fans thought it would look quite like this.

In their second crack at becoming bowl eligible this season after a 5-0 start, the 19th-ranked Jayhawks came up short again, this time in the form of an uninspiring 52-42 loss on Saturday at unranked Oklahoma.

The final score did not fully indicate how lopsided Saturday’s matchup was, but the Jayhawks, despite the loss, showed that the idea of fighting to the end is firmly entrenched as a part of this team’s culture.

There’s still value in that. And it is a significant part of the progress that’s being made this season. But that doesn’t always win you games.

Related document

Box Score: Oklahoma 52, Kansas 42 ( .PDF )

Fighting a little harder a little earlier sure would have helped in this one.

Kansas surrendered 701 yards of total offense and much of it looked far too easy for the Sooners, who ran a whopping 100 plays — to 62 for KU — and got a huge lift from the return of starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel.

While there were issues and errors for Kansas (5-2 overall, 2-2 Big 12) all over the field, the starting quarterback matchup might have been the best indicator of why Saturday went the way it did.

Gabriel, who had missed most of the previous two games with a head injury, looked good from the start, leading the Sooners (4-3, 1-3) on easy touchdown drive after easy touchdown drive throughout the afternoon.

He was confident, crisp and in complete control. The fact that Kansas got next-to-no pressure on him and that so many of his wide receivers were running wide open down the field, certainly made life easier for him and the entire OU offense.

On the flip side, KU backup Jason Bean — starting for the injured Jalon Daniels — had some good moments, but he wasn’t as effective as he needed to be.

He threw two interceptions, never really made the Sooners pay with his legs — that might have been as much about the play calling and game plan as anything — and did not bring the same confidence and swagger to the field as KU’s regular starter.

There was a lot of talk all week about how this Kansas offense would be fine with Bean in there in Daniels’ place. And KU did put up 42 points. But it was still obvious how much they missed Daniels, who was in attendance, standing on the sideline in street clothes and with a headset on.

On the radio broadcast after Saturday’s loss, KU coach Lance Leipold characterized Bean’s day as “up and down” and noted that his quarterback has to be “cleaner.”

“He understands that,” Leipold added. “And we have to keep working on that and sharpen that up.”

Bean gained 41 yards on 10 carries, but at least half of those were on scrambles rather than designed runs. Color me surprised.

Earlier in the week, while saying that the KU offense would remain the same despite the change at QB, Leipold noted that the coaching staff always looks to tweak the game plan to take advantage of a particular player’s strengths. It did not look like that happened with Bean on Saturday.

Daniels racked up huge yardage in the first five or six weeks of the season off of option runs, but Bean was not used in the option run game on Saturday more than a few times.

Perhaps that was because of where the Jayhawks currently find themselves at the position. With Daniels out, the only thing keeping true freshman Ethan Vasko from being in the game is Bean remaining healthy.

All of that being said, this game was not on the Kansas offense or Jason Bean. Scoring 42 points on the road against a team like Oklahoma should be more than enough.

It was for Kansas State. It was for TCU. And it was for Texas in the past three weeks. While those three teams knocked off OU in consecutive weeks, they did so with their defense giving up an average of 19.3 points per game to the Sooners, who played two of those games without Gabriel.

Had the Jayhawks been able to hold OU to 20 points on Saturday, they would have left Norman with their sixth win of the season and their first road win at OU in 26 years.

Instead, they left with questions about their backup QB, a defense that’s a little shaken, their best cornerback dealing with a significant injury and that elusive sixth win for bowl eligibility still sitting out there.

The Jayhawks still have five more cracks to get it, but they’ll need more consistent play from their quarterback and more fire from their defense to reel it in.

Comments

Michael Maris

Was it really a matter of regression? Or, OU finally waking up and regaining their football swagger back.

Jason Bean needs to STOP playing to NOT lose the game. And, start playing to WIN the game. Sure, he looked fine, after the game was pretty much OVER........

HOPEFULLY, Cobee Bryant will not be injured to bad. Team has truly suffered enough from the injury bug these past 3 games.

Sevion & Ky both need to step it up on the ball carrying for additional positive yards.......

Defensive Unit was on the field for to long in 1st half.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Matt Tait

I hear ya. OU definitely was a different team than it has been in the past couple of weeks, with the QB back. I mostly just meant overall regression, as in, nobody thought (I don't think) that KU was going to keep winning games all season and finish 10-2 or something crazy.

This is still a team that is very much rebuilding and while the 5-0 start was no doubt fun and absolutely legitimate, you had to expect that some losses were forthcoming. That's 2 in a row. What comes next?

They missed Daniels. But, man... They'll miss Bryant even more if he's out for any length of time.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Robert Brock

KU’s defense looked completely stumped against OU. Getting a healthy, rested Dillon Gabriel back from his concussion gave the Sooners leadership and a dangerous weapon. The Jayhawks looked like they were facing Joe Montana.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Brett McCabe

Matt, you may have missed the score. We scored 42. 35 when it was still a game. And it’s Bean’s fault?

We were absolutely steamrolled. And when you are behind nearly the entire game, then your offense becomes predictable.

My goodness.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Micky Baker

Yes, Bean made some terrible decisions. I didn't get to watch every play. But the two INTs was that he was not decisive. If he had thrown the ball that went for the 2nd INT sooner, it would have been a reception for us. Also, on the 3rd and long, he just fell to the ground 2 or 3 yards short and could have gotten the first. Another play where we had a wide-open receiver and he threw it too low and it got knocked down by a linebacker. It is predictable when you stare at the receiver for 2 seconds before you throw it to that receiver.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Brian Skelly

The game wasn't as close as the score indicated. But I think a lot of that is OU "waking up" with their QB back and healthy.

Our "D" is still our weak spot. But I really don't we'll win games again until Jalon Daniels is healthy and able to play.

Bean is fine -- but Daniels is a difference maker.

I'd still like to think 7-5 is do-able. But It's getting harder to see two wins in our remaining games.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Rodney Crain

I disagree Matt.

There were a lot of positives today:

- We only gave up 701 yards to OU

- We held them to 7 touchdowns in 3 quarters. That's pretty good.

- They only got 36 first downs

- They only punted once. Think about that. We held them to one punt.

- We kept them under 50 points until there was only 5 minutes left.

That is pure dominance. The ref's cost us that game.

I predict we will win all of our remaining games, especially those played at sold out Leipold field.

#RCJH #COY #Heisman

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Joe Baker

Here we go again. But they allowed us to hang 42 in Norman.
Bowl? Rebuilding? Leiphold leaving?
BU, OSU, UT, KSU, and TT? OU in the SEC? Answer. So you’re saying we have a chance. RCJHGOKU

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Reasonable article Matt, but to throw out ou’s average points in the last 3 games when they had virtually no qb for the majority of those games is low hanging fruit on the tree of “statistics lie”.

One stat that seems important was Jason completing less than half his throws through the middle of the game (3rd quarter?). Coin flip completions generally isn’t winning football. At least it wasn’t for the past decade.

This is also about the time of year last season when another first coach started to get things turned around with his team, though the situation was also very different.

Maybe coincidentally, ou has played all of the teams in the top half of the conference so far (except OSU).

It’s looking ahead, but Baylor is coming off a loss to WVU.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

“Bean was not used in the option run game on Saturday“ maybe because of 2 (?) bad pitches last week.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Where was Grimm today?

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Jeff Coffman

Putting the blame even close to Bean is incorrect.

If I remember correctly Daniel's had 0 TDs in the first half last week and Bean had 4.

This week 4 TD passes and 6 offensive TD drives. 42 pts is rarely a loss.

This was a road game in the hardest place to win in the vip12. I cant even believe people think that listening to the announcers saying the offense was struggling unlike when Daniel's was running it...that is far from true.

6 TDs is not a struggling offense. Not forcing 1 punt and the other team going 14 of 17 on third down was the problem.

Matt I like your article, but calling out the offense is not defensible. The offense is the only reason we were playing in the 4th qtr.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Interesting observation by Scott Chasen in Booth Review that ou played at least the first few series without subbing. That meant that KU didn’t get the opportunity to sub the DL in particular.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Clarence Haynes

Those 2 interceptions might’ve been avoided if in both cases, Bean had put a little air under the ball. Receivers were open.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Jeff Coffman

The first interception was probably the catch of the year, but it was on target. The second was a misread of the defense, which basically the offensive playcalling positioned him into a zone throw reading left to right.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Doug Cramer

Was Clint Bowen coaching our defense ? Looked like to me we played defense without any linebackers. Too much is being made about Bean, when the defense was non-existent. Where were the linebackers ?

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Alex Berger

The defense was a flashback to DBs 10 yards of receivers, wide open every play. But having an offense with a back-up QB go out and score 42 points is no joke. Perhaps with Daniels a few drives would have ended differently but I agree with the sentiment that OU in a home environment, getting their starting QB back after a string of 3 losses, is a hard win. Not there yet.

However, I think Leipold has shown that he makes adjustments between games that make a difference. That plus the offense rolling gives some good odds for more wins.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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matt wtf r u talking about. our season win o/u was 2.5 & were at 5, now. our starting qb - & Heisman candidate- was out & injured. do u even Bother to Watch the games anymore?! ffs. come on. ur better than this. #keepsawinwood

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Blake Brown

Not sure why we played a prevent defense from the start or it certainly looked like it. I guess no D is a better way to put it. Even then, we are competitive and still relevant; not the case for many years.
How about Vegas calling OU a 10 point fav? They have an uncanny way of getting it right.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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W Keith Swinehart II

"What comes next?"

Hey! Game's over. Watch the film. Learn. Adjust. Improve. Heal our wounded.

Leipold hasn't been here two years. He's turned the program around. Enthusiastic fans are back. He's building a program.

Let's focus on the next week.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Steven Haag

Most of the “realistic” KU fans were expecting/hoping for 3 or maybe 4 wins this year AND be competing in the majority of the rest. We would consider that progress and a successful season.....moving in the right direction. To rebuild a football program in a P5 conference is not microwave popcorn. It takes awhile. After we started 5-0, some fans lost their minds and started talking “competing for a BIG XII championship”. I looked at the remaining 7 games and predicted 5-7 or 6-6, banking that we always usually play TCU close and may win that one. Now I am sticking with 5-7 record. Just stay competitive and finish filling in the holes that need filled. On the defensive side?????? We have quite a few holes.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Jeff - Many good observations, but in a 22 player game there’s usually plenty of blame for a loss and especially at the position that touches the ball on virtually every play.

Another Interesting observation from Chasen at the Booth Review was that Jason slid or went out of bounds short of the line to gain on several occasions. There was an article earlier in the season about some players making winning plays by sticking their foot in the ground and going upfield for a first down. It would seem that the converse is also true.

Jalon also commented about putting on extra lbs in the offseason to absorb the contact. Jason on the other hand is thinner so it’s reasonable that the contact would have more impact. Unfortunately, it is a contact sport.

The QBR ratings are also out for week 7. Jason was the lowest in the league by a good measure at 57. Gabriel was next lowest at 74. A stark contrast to 90 in the second half last week.

As Lance said last week, our margin of error is still small.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Brad Watson

Where is the Leipold post game video?...can't find it anywhere.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Brad Watson

That crazy alignment at the end of the half is what led to the Cobee Bryant injury...What was that?...I have never seen that EVER and the announcers mentioned it as well...WTF?

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Jim Stauffer

The RB's are never allowed to develop a rhythm. Constant subbing, one play and out does not allow it.
My only complaint of coaching.
Players and coaches doing their best. Anyone who could not see the disparity of jimmies and Joe's was not paying attention

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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