A tale of two halves is the perfect description of the last two games for the Kansas football program.
Against Coastal Carolina, the Jayhawks held a 15-28 deficit at halftime. They cut the lead to 22-28 in the third quarter but then allowed the Chanticleers to score 21 unanswered points, allowing for a lopsided loss of 49-22.
During that second half, Coastal Carolina had an advantage in both time of possession and offensive yards. The Chanticleers held the ball for 17:31, while the Jayhawks had possession for 12:29. The Chanticleers gained 234 yards on offense, while KU gained 215 yards.
Against Baylor, the second-half discrepancies became even more gruesome.
Like the Coastal Carolina game, the Jayhawks kept it a competitive game through the first half. They were only down 7-14 at the half, but that changed quickly as the Jayhawks went three and out to begin the second half.
After a KU punt, the Bears scored a touchdown in just one play, extending the score to 21-7.
The Bears would go on to win the game by a blowout score of 45-7 thanks to a scoring advantage of 31-0, a time-of-possession advantage of 16:36 to 13:24, and an offensive yards advantage of 357 to 66 – all in the second half.
Why second-half improvement is crucial
If KU hopes to remain competitive in games this season, they must start making better halftime adjustments.
The Jayhawks are likely going to be out-talented by every team remaining on their schedule. One of the few ways they can equalize that talent discrepancy is by making better adjustments in the second half.
That responsibility falls on both players and coaches to assess what needs to be corrected, which plays are working and not working, and how they can be better on both sides of the ball.
Being competitive through four quarters is also what is going to keep fans in seats.
KU fans have been through a lot this past decade, and for better or worse, a significant fraction of the KU fanbase will not stick around for a game that isn’t close. I’m not sure many fanbases would after some of the performances KU fans have witnessed in recent years.
For year one, being competitive more often than not is about all anyone is asking for of this team. That’s going to keep fans in the stadium, it’s going to keep fans coming back, it’s going to keep fans watching on TV, and it’s going to add much-needed revenue for KU Athletics.
Lance Leipold and his staff need to use all the coaching experience they have to prevent more second-half blowouts for this Kansas football program. If they can find a way to do that, then that’s a win already.