No. 14 Mountaineers look to hand Kansas its 40th straight road defeat
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Kansas coach David Beaty is still waiting for that first celebration on the plane ride back home.
Beaty was the receivers coach under Mark Mangino the last time the Jayhawks won a road game in 2009. When Beaty was named the team’s head coach last season, he inherited a 30-game road losing streak.
Kansas will try to summon the will to avoid that streak hitting 40 on Saturday at No. 14 West Virginia (6-1, 3-1 Big 12, No. 20 CFP).
To have a chance, Beaty said his players must start fast because they tend to fade as the game goes on. The Jayhawks have been held under 10 points in two of their last three contests.
“Given our roster and just the amount of depth that we have, at times you’re going to get wore down a little bit. We understand that,” Beaty said.
Despite the team’s struggles, including a 56-3 loss at Oklahoma last week , Beaty said he is sticking with Montell Cozart as his starting quarterback. Cozart has thrown four interceptions in the past two weeks.
The Jayhawks (1-7, 0-5) have lost 17 straight Big 12 games. They’ll have a chance to severely damage West Virginia’s conference title hopes.
The Mountaineers are coming off their first loss , 37-20 at Oklahoma State. They still face No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 13 Baylor at home and Texas and Iowa State on the road.
Coach Dana Holgorsen is simply looking for improvements on offense, no matter the opponent this week, after the Mountaineers were held to their second-lowest point total of the season against the Cowboys.
“We have to score,” Holgorsen said. “We just have to be in the right frame of mind, and we will be this Saturday.”
West Virginia has held four straight opponents to under 400 yards of offense after failing to do that in the first three games of the season. The Mountaineers have allowed 16 touchdowns all season, one less than Baylor.
“I’m happy with where we are at,” said West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson. “Being the defensive coach, I think whether it is conference titles, national titles, whatever it may be, that’s the way you win championships. We’re not talking about that in our building. That’s a long way away. We have to be able to beat Kansas, so we have to prepare to get ourselves ready to go.”
Some other things to know as the Jayhawks and Mountaineers prepare to play at night:
TURNOVER TROUBLES: Kansas is last in the nation in turnovers and next-to-last in turnover margin. West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard had a fumble and two interceptions against Oklahoma State after West Virginia’s offense had no turnovers in the two previous games.
GIMPY SHELL: Last year at Kansas, West Virginia had three 100-yard rushers for the first time since 1969. One of those was Rushel Shell, who tweaked an ankle against Oklahoma State last week and is listed as day-to-day. Teammates Justin Crawford and freshman Kennedy McKoy are expected to get most of the carries again if Shell can’t go.
DINEEN OUT: Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen was declared done for the season this week with a hamstring injury. He played in the first three games before the injury relegated him to the bench.
FAN SUPPORT: Dineen and several other Kansas players shaved their heads this week to support a 7-year-old boy with cancer. Cole Hayden, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called undifferentiated sarcoma, is the son of the team’s academic and career counselor.
BECHT BACK: Former West Virginia standout tight end Anthony Becht will return to Morgantown for the first time as a network color analyst. On Friday night he was scheduled to attend a roast in Morgantown for retired Mountaineers coach Don Nehlen.