ATHENS, Ohio — Cut up and diced for a second consecutive week, Joe Dineen minced no words in describing the lastest outing for the work-in-progress Kansas defense.
“Hats off to them,” the KU linebacker said of Ohio’s 42-30 victory over the Jayhawks on Saturday at Peden Stadium. “They prepared well, and they came out and whupped us.”
The numbers aren’t pretty for the KU defense.
- The Jayhawks (1-2) surrendered 450 total yards to Ohio one week after another Mid-American Conference foe, Central Michigan, tallied 590 yards in a 45-27 victory over KU.
- Ohio’s two-quarterback offense produced two 100-plus-yard passers and a combined 72.7 completion percentage.
- The Bobcats averaged 9.1 yards per play in their meaningful first-half drives en route to a 25-14 lead at the break.
- The KU defense notched one sack Saturday and has only two sacks through three games.
- Opposing quarterbacks have now thrown 10 touchdowns compared to only one interception against KU, and the Jayhawk defense has two takeaways on the season.
- KU allowed six plays of 20-plus yards against Ohio — five in the first half — and 12 plays of 15-plus yards.
That last fact about surrendering long plays — particularly in the passing game — is what KU coach David Beaty said has stood out to him most through three games.
“I mean, that’s not something you’re not going to be able to see if you look at the tape,” Beaty said. “We’ve got some young safeties that are playing and they’ve just got to grow up fast. They’ve got to grow up fast, and we’ve got to find some other guys that can help us back there just to stabilize that.”
The Bobcats also converted 5 of 9 third-down attempts, another outcome that left Beaty perturbed.
“You know, we had a chance to get off the field several times there and (Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke) would slip out of it,” Beaty said. “We just didn’t tackle well down there in those situations.”
Tackling, Dineen said, was the Jayhawks’ biggest issue in Week 3. While Dineen finished with a team-high 11 tackles, the team captain shouldered blame for that deficiency.
“Personally, I didn’t play well enough for us to win,” said Dineen, who had a third-down facemask penalty that extended an eventual first-quarter touchdown drive for the Bobcats. “I missed a bunch of tackles on the perimeter, tackles I normally make but I just overran them today and it hurt us big time.”
There was one silver lining for the KU defense: After surrendering 329 rushing yards in last season’s 37-21 loss to Ohio, the Jayhawks held the Bobcats’ potent ground game to 196 yards. And if you take away Ohio’s 63-yard run on its first play from scrimmage, the Bobcats averaged only 3.24 yards per carry.
“Against the run, fairly decent against a very good, explosive running team,” Beaty said. “You know, I thought our guys actually played a lot better than they did last year against the misdirection, run-option attack that they do that can be very difficult on the (defenders’) eyes.”
Still, on the heels of back-to-back poor showings against MAC foes, one can only wonder what is in store for the KU defense in Big 12 play, which begins at 11 a.m. Saturday against West Virginia (2-1) at Memorial Stadium.
“We have a lot of (room for) improvement,” Dineen said, “but I feel like we are getting better.”
SIMS FULL SPEED AHEAD — Junior wide receiver Steven Sims, who missed most of the Jayhawks’ loss to Central Michigan with an ankle injury, returned Saturday with a six-catch, 60-yard performance.
The offensive standout said he was not limited against the Bobcats.
“I kind of knew Coach was going to come to me. I’m a big help to the team,” Sims said of his availability. “But we’ve just got to make more plays on offense.”
Asked if his game-changing speed has fully returned, Sims nodded.
“Yes sir,” Sims said. “I do believe I still can burn anybody deep.”