Second half once again spells doom

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Despite a strong first half that saw them play virtually step-for-step with No. 3 Oklahoma, the second half woes continued for the Kansas Jayhawks as they mustered just six yards of total offense after intermission en route to a 47-17 defeat.

At this point, one has to wonder if Kansas head coach Turner Gill isn't giving some thought to petitioning the NCAA for a change in the rule book.

More specifically, the section which decrees a football game must be four quarters in length. Because for 30 minutes his Jayhawks went step for step with the No. 3-ranked Oklahoma Sooners, before once again sputtering to a halt in the second half and ultimately falling 47-17.

This one has to feel particularly frustrating for the fans, coaches and players, as for maybe the first time all season the Kansas defense showed real signs of improvement, and against one of the top offensive teams in the country no less.

Just a week after getting shellacked in record-setting fashion by Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks were able to force multiple turnovers and punts by the Sooners, setting up their own offense and playing with a speed and intensity not seen in five previous games.

"They came out and played pretty well against a very, very good offensive football team," Gill said. "And so that was good to see."

For much of the first half, whenever Oklahoma scored Kansas found a way to answer. The Sooners got on the board first with 11:32 remaining in the first quarter, when quarterback Landry Jones hit receiver Kenny Stills for a 17-yard touchdown strike.

The Jayhawks were forced to punt on the ensuing drive, and though Oklahoma marched down the field on an 11-play, 68-yard drive the defense stiffened in the red zone, holding the Sooners to a field goal.

Down 10-0, the Jayhawks got on the board on a busted fourth-down attempt from their own 44-yard line, when what was supposed to be a standard speed option turned into a lateral the opposite direction from Jordan Webb to James Sims when the pocket collapsed.

With Sims going left, and the play's momentum carrying the defense right, the sophomore tailback saw 56 yards of open field in front of him and took it the distance.

At halftime, the Sooners' lead was just 27-17, after the defense played tough once again inside the five yard line. With 1st and Goal from the Kansas two-yard line, Oklahoma was unable to convert in the final seconds of the second quarter, settling for a field goal. Kansas entered the locker room with the momentum and the knowledge that the ball would be theirs to begin the second half.

But the second-half problems that have plagued the Jayhawks virtually all season long sprung up once again after halftime. While the defense continued to struggle valiantly, holding Oklahoma to just three points in the third quarter, the offense mustered just six total yards after intermission and a single first down.

"I think the bottom line is their defensive line or their front seven beat our front seven," Gill said. "We had a few things happen good for us on the offensive line in the first half, and they came back and out-physicaled us. They were more physical than us in the second half."

The Sooners tacked on 17 points in the fourth quarter, capping the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown run by tailback Dom Whaley with 3:53 left in the game.

Outside of Sims' touchdown run in the first half, freshman Darrian Miller was perhaps the lone bright spot offensively for the Jayhawks. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry on 15 carries, scored one touchdown and added a pair of receptions.

Defensively, several newcomers made their presence felt, most notably freshmen Colin Garrett and Victor Simmons, who saw their first major action of the season at lienbacker and safety respectively. Simmons forced and recovered a fumble in the second quarter that set up an Alex Mueller field goal.

Senior linebacker Steven Johnson was solid as usual, leading the team with 13 tackles, and sophomore linebacker Darius Willis played perhaps his most complete game as a Jayhawk, recording 10 tackles of his own - including seven solos.

Next up for Kansas (2-4) is in-state rival Kansas State (6-0), who rolls into town next Saturday for an 11 a.m. kickoff.


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