A week after spectacularly ending its 15-game losing streak, Kansas was upended by a middle of the road Ohio team, 37-21, at home.
Kansas coach David Beaty doesn’t want that game to put a kibosh in the Jayhawks’ season. He’s making sure that the blindsiding loss will only prepare his team — specifically the defense — for what’s to come with the Memphis Tigers on Saturday.
“We’re going to learn a lot more than we probably did [against Rhode Island] because of the result,” Beaty said of the Ohio loss.
The chief takeaway will likely be how to control the clock better. Against Ohio, the Jayhawks held the ball for just over 15 minutes. That was thanks in part to three turnovers from the offense, but the Kansas defense struggled to move the offense off the field with any regularity, either.
With new Memphis coach Mike Norvell’s system in play, getting the offense off the field quickly will be a vital component to pull the upset.
“He was and still is one of the finest offensive minds in the country. What they do there at Arizona State is really, really remarkable,” Beaty said. “I know that he’s going to bring that same stuff to Memphis and they already have shown the things that you associate with Mike.”
Just ask Texas Tech how prolific Arizona State is offensively.
Of course, Norvell wasn’t a part of the Sun Devil’s 68-55 win over Tech, but pieces he helped put in place over the past four years were running on all cylinders. Running back Kalen Ballage scored eight total touchdowns on 15 touches and had 185 yards from scrimmage. There was great devotion to the run, setting up a similarly successful passing attack — something Beaty said he expects of Memphis as well.
“They’re difficult because they do a great job running the football and their play action off of that stuff is very difficult to deal with. On top of that, he’s a very cutting edge guy,” Beaty said. “There’s going to be some things Saturday that we haven’t seen that we’re just going to have to a do a good job of containing.”
Memphis has played just one game this season, winning 35-17 over Southeast Missouri State using play action and a devotion to the run successfully. Particular attention will be placed on quarterback Riley Ferguson and the dual backfield of Patrick Taylor Jr. and Doroland Dorceus.
Led by safeties Fish Smithson and Tevin Shaw, Kansas’ defense has held up well against the pass through two games, allowing a completion rate of 42.4 percent. But the rush defense has left more desired, allowing 250 yards per game with an average carry of 5.1 yards.
The glimmer of hope lies in the Jayhawks’ ability to send successful blitz packages. Roughly a quarter (14) of Ohio’s rush attempts were stopped behind the line of scrimmage, with defensive tackle leading the conference with four tackles for loss.
It will be up to players like Wise to make Shaw to keep Memphis’ strong run game in check, and thereby controlling the air as well.
“I know it’s going to be a great challenge,” Beaty said. “Talented team. It’s going to be a great challenge for us on the road.”