University of Kansas

Jayhawk report: OSU 44, KU 20

Oklahoma State Cowboys wide receiver Jalen McCleskey hangs onto the ball as he is tackled by Kansas’ Courtney Arnick, left, and Mike Lee in the first quarter Saturday in Lawrence.
Oklahoma State Cowboys wide receiver Jalen McCleskey hangs onto the ball as he is tackled by Kansas’ Courtney Arnick, left, and Mike Lee in the first quarter Saturday in Lawrence. skeyser@kcstar.com

First quarter

The key: KU quarterback Montell Cozart correctly read single coverage on the outside, then delivered a nice deep ball to LaQuvionte Gonzalez for a 68-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter. Cozart completed 6 of 7 passes for 99 yards in the opening 15 minutes.

Second quarter

The key: Oklahoma State put together its most effective drive late in the second quarter, going 74 yards on five plays for a go-ahead touchdown that made it 17-13. Running back Justice Hill finished the possession with a 1-yard score.

Third quarter

The key: Under heavy pressure, Cozart threw an interception to 310-pound defensive tackle DeQuinton Osborne, who was dropping as part of a zone blitz. Osborne rumbled down to the 1-yard line, and the Cowboys scored on the next play to make it 31-20.

Fourth quarter

The key: KU’s final chance at making it a one-score game came early in the fourth quarter when the team faced fourth and goal from the 5-yard line. Cozart’s pass to Gonzalez fell incomplete, though, and Oklahoma State followed with a long drive that ended with a field goal to put KU away.

Report card

Offense: B-. There is progress here. KU had an effective running game, rushing for 200 yards for the first time all year. Cozart made quick reads and also was able to get the ball often to the Jayhawks’ best offensive playmakers — Gonzalez and Steven Sims. The three turnovers still were costly, though, and the inability to finish drives kept KU from having a more productive day.

Defense: C-. First, the good: KU’s defense had five sacks and was able to create constant pressure on Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph. This still has to be considered a disappointing effort in a low-possession game. The Jayhawks had a couple of nice stands following turnovers, but they also allowed scoring drives of 75, 74, 89 and 85 yards. For the first week in a while, KU’s defenders were outplayed by their offensive counterparts.

Special teams: D. Matthew Wyman bounced back to make a pair of field goals after a rough start to the season. Still, this grade is dragged down by numerous miscues in the return game. After kickoffs, KU started inside its own 15-yard line four different times — a feat that’s hard to accomplish once without a major mistake.

Coaching: B. KU coach David Beaty made the unpopular decision to start Cozart, and it worked out well for his team. The Jayhawks moved the ball better than they did last week. Cozart made quicker decisions and seemed to have a better grasp of the offense than Ryan Willis did seven days earlier.

Player of the game

Safety Fish Smithson had one of his best games, posting 16 tackles with a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Reason to hope

It was the first game all season in which KU had success both running and passing the football.

Reason to mope

The defense, solid for most of the season, was gashed for big gains while allowing 6.6 yards per play.

Looking ahead

The Jayhawks will play at 6 p.m. next Saturday at Oklahoma.

Jesse Newell

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