Jayhawk report: KU 31, West Virginia 19

11/16/2013 4:52 PM

11/16/2013 4:53 PM

First quarter

Key play: West Virginia faced third and 5 on the final play and would have punted into the wind if not for Paul Millard’s 12-yard completion to Daikiel Shorts.

Key stat: Kansas had two holding penalties and both were costly. KU had driven to the 6 on its first possession, but tackle Aslam Sterling was flagged, and the Jayhawks settled for a field goal. On the second drive, KU never got started when Ngalu Fusimalohi was called for a hold.

Second quarter

Key play: James Sims went 68 yards for a touchdown in the final minute of the half for a 17-7 lead.

Key stat: Sims rushed for 131 yards in the quarter, including runs of 62 and 68 yards.

Third quarter

Key play: Kansas linebacker Ben Goodman stepped in front of Millard’s short toss and returned the interception 54 yards, setting up Sims’ third touchdown.

Key stat: West Virginia had good field position twice, starting at its 43 and 49 and gained a total of 13 yards on those drives.

Fourth quarter

Key play: Ben Heeney’s 28-yard interception return set up Kansas at the 1, where Brandon Bourbon scored on the next play.

Key stat: Kansas held the ball for 9:04 of the quarter.

Report Card

Offense: B+. For a team with a first-time starting quarterback, this was a superb effort. The Jayhawks allowed Montell Cozart to manage the game and Sims win it. The 31 points were KU’s most against a FBS opponent this season.

Defense: A. West Virginia put up 40 last week on Texas. Saturday, the Mountaineers were held to seven until the final few minutes. Kansas came up with two interceptions with big returns, two sacks and, after Paul Millard’s hot start, slowed down the Mountaineers’ passing attack.

Special teams: A. Kansas handled the wind well. Punter Trevor Pardula put two inside the 20, and kicker Ron Doherty made his only field-goal attempt, from 25 yards. Kansas had the biggest special-teams play of the day when it blocked a West Virginia field goal just before halftime.

Coaching: A. Charlie Weis said afterwards that his joy in the victory came from seeing the happiness from players, coaches and students. But he should take a measure of satisfaction from this one. The staff poured over Baylor’s success against West Virginia and applied many of the same spread formations, which helped open lanes for Sims and Cozart.

Player of the game: Several candidates, but KU running back James Sims rises above them all. His 211 yards set a career best and were the most by a Kansas player since Reggie Duncan went for 227 against Texas Tech in 2001.

Reason to hope: It wasn’t that Kansas won; it was how the Jayhawks did it. They stood up to a fellow Big 12 team and outplayed it.

Reason to mope: On this day, there isn’t one. But if you want to be picky, Kansas allowed a couple of garbage-time touchdowns.

Looking ahead: Next Saturday’s game at Iowa State kicks off at 7 p.m., and a Kansas victory means the Jayhawks would not finish last in the conference for the first time since 2008.

Blair Kerkhoff

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