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November 16, 2013

Kansas ends streak against West Virginia

Offensive lineman Gavin Howard was walking though the mob of fans on the field after KU's 31-19 victory over West Virginia. One kid wanted his gloves. He gave it to him. Another kid wanted his towel. He gave to him. Another kid wanted an additional souvenir.

"I told him I don't have any more equipment unless you want me to take off my pants," Howard said.

After KU's first conference win since 2010, the fans and the players were due for some celebrating. Storming the field? Check. Singing the alma mater with the players at midfield? Check. Taking down the goalposts? Check.

"You really want the football program to be intertwined with the student body," Charlie Weis said. "You watch at the end and that's the message that you saw. I had kids sticking cell phones in my face but it was worth it because for the student body it's been a while since they got a chance to enjoy it too. I am happy for them as well."

A big reason for the upset was a major shift in offensive philosophy for Kansas. During the week, players watched clips of Baylor's wide open offense hoping to emulate the style on Saturday. They receivers would line up closer to the sideline which opened up the field for the offense.

"We spread the hell out of them today," Weis said. "I figure everyone else in the league is doing it to us why not do it to them."

The game plan forced West Virginia defenders to play out more in space which allowed the Kansas offensive line to have more one-on-one matchups that resulted in a big day running the football. Kansas running back James Sims finished with 211 rushing yards, the 15th best rushing day in KU history.

"I don't think they were expecting us to play that style of game," Weis said. "There were a lot of holes. It was a lot of five on five. The offensive line still has to get them but at least you weren't getting out numbered."

The style of offense also played to Montell Cozart's strengths. Cozart said he had found he was going to be the starter this week last Saturday just hours after the team had returned from Lawrence from their blowout loss against Oklahoma State. With the spread out offense, it left less players in the box, so when the plays broke down, Cozart found room to run for extra yardage that kept drives alive.

"When they put that spread attack in Coach Powlus asked me how I felt about it and I said I love it," Cozart said. "This is something I had been doing at Bishop Miege which gave me the category of being a dual threat guy. Just being able to pull it down and run puts the defenses in bind. I am really comfortable running this offense."

The defense also had several game changing plays. One was a Ben Goodman interception in the 3rd quarter. When he pressured the quarterback he leaped and the next thing he knew he had the ball and was running towards the endzone where he was stopped at the 14-yard line. The turnover would later result in a Kansas score that would begin to put the game out of reach for West Virginia. Goodman said the 54 yard return was the longest distance he had ever run with the football in a game.

"I have to say I applaud all tight ends, receivers, and running backs," Goodman said. "I was looking at James [Sims] running earlier and wondering why he slowed down. I feel his pain now. You run out of gas."

After a convincing win, Kansas now looks to keep the momentum going against against a struggling Iowa State team next Saturday.

"It obviously sunk in knowing we weren't going to a bowl game so we just wanted to treat the last three games that we have coming up as our bowl season," James Sims said. "We just took down West Virginia so that's one, now we've got to go to Ames, Iowa and get a win up there and make it number two."


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