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October 19, 2013Saturday's 34-19 loss to Oklahoma for the most part followed the narrative that we have seen for most of the season. An improving and increasingly confident defense kept Kansas in the game while the offense struggled to move the ball through the air.
Charlie Weis tried to mix it up on offense and pulled the redshirt of freshman quarterback Montell Cozart, but the offense still sputtered.
One of the surprises this week was the improvement in the running game. The offensive line now into its second week with its new lineup opened up holes for James Sims and Darrien Miller. Right tackle Aslam Sterling seems more comfortable on the right side of the line, and Kansas mostly ran it in that direction with success. On the day, Kansas had in total 185 rushing yards.
"We watched them on film and we knew there were a couple spots we could hit them and it kind of worked out. In practice we focused on being physical and hitting our aim points and just running hard," Miller said. "That was what we tried to do today and we had a little bit of success. We have to keep on working with it."
The defense blitzed more on Saturday than they had all season. After the game, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops remarked on how KU's strategy helped slow down OU's running game.
"Offensively they did a nice job in the first half creating some adjustment problems for us in the run game," Stoops said. "There was stuff we did see and anticipated coming into the game, but we just didn't handle it very well, recognizing it and getting where we needed to be and at times backers were over pursuing some of the inside plays.
Kansas was without Ben Heeney but Jake Love and Courtney Arnick took solid angles to the ball and the group as a whole was solid in Heeney's absence.
"Our guys stepped up big today; guys like Jake Love showed when someone goes down another guy needs to pick him up," defensive lineman Keon Stowers said. "We knew Ben wasn't going to play and we'd be in a pretty tough situation defensively. We could have used Ben out there, but the guys who came in for him really held their own."
Next week, Kansas faces one of the toughest offenses in Baylor, and will likely have trouble matching Baylor's firepower. The rest of the schedule though should give Kansas fans some hope. There isn't any reason why Kansas can't at least be competitive in their remaining games. For them to do so the defense will need to continue to play at a high level.
"I feel, as a defensive team, we've become so much closer this season because we have each other's backs out there," Stowers said. "I'm not saying we don't have the offense's back, because we do, but as a defense we've developed that brotherhood. We understand we're not the most talented team so we have to get everything perfect."