It's a similar - though not exact - story to past years, when the Jayhawks' inability to execute fundamentals and protect the ball led to blowout losses. This season, KU ranks last in the FBS in turnovers lost with 27, including an NCAA-worst 16 interceptions. Those have been split almost evenly between platooning quarterbacks Montell Cozart (8 INT) and Ryan Willis (7 INT), with one going to reserve Stanley Carter. Portions of the picks have come because Kansas has trailed in the majority of game time and thus been forced to throw in an attempt to rally.
But some, like many of Willis', have been tossed carelessly to wideouts, or thrown into double coverage. It's caused head coach David Beaty to reevaluate the position, and turn the position primarily over to Cozart, a fine runner but the poorer of the two in pure passing ability. Cozart has, however, begun to make better reads downfield, and his ability to escape pressure adds another element to a passing game that has thus far hurt the Jayhawks more than helped.
"Our execution has got to continue to improve," Beaty said. "To say that we are frustrated with that and our production offensively is an understatement. Defensively we are still giving a up a lot of points. I know we are playing well for spurts or even large portions of the games. But we can't give up points. Those are areas where it's the name of the game for every team in the country and you've got to be better there. From our standpoint (the West Virginia game) really going to be about us. We've gotta work so hard at being better at what we do before we can ever focus on anyone else."
That's Kansas football in a nutshell. Beaty understands the limitations of his roster and talent and depth levels, which when combined are arguably the worst in the Big 12. it's a prime reason KU hasn't won a road game since 2009 - the current streak is at 33 games - and has won just two Big 12 games since the league realignment in 2012. One of those, of course, was against West Virginia in 2013, but Kansas has since dropped all three series meetings with the Mountaineers by an average of 39 points.
"We gotta look at reality and where we really are," Beaty said. "One of our big goals coming off what we have done on the road to this point was coming out and starting fast. We were out of the game at Baylor really quick. We were out of the game versus Memphis really quick. That was due to slow starts. Obviously you have to play a full four quarters. But given our roster and the amount of depth that we have, at times you are going to get worn down a bit. We understand that. We have to do a better job of training the guys behind (the starters) to make sure they can give us the plays we need to be able to play deeper into the game.
"We have the right guys on our team. I say it every week, I say it in the postgame. If we didn't, you'd see it. We don't have anybody who's not straining all the way through the echo of the whistle. If we do, we replace them and they understand. We don't have those problems which is a sign of progress fro our team. Now we have to be better at executing and getting better as players. We have to continue to recruit because that creates competition. From our standpoint, (Oklahoma) was the best first quarter we have played on the road. That is a sign of progress. The big thing for us is to continue to work hard and when a bad play happens to not let one bad play turn into two, and two turn into three and so on. if we do that, we are going to have a chance to be a good team."