Over the next two weeks, we’ll continue to close the door on the 2013 season. Every Big 12 team suffered at least one loss during the regular season and losses can be as beneficial as wins. In this team-by-team series, we’ll take a look at the best loss of the year for each Big 12 team including what happened and why it matters.
On Friday, we wrap up the series with Kansas.
Best loss: 27-17 to TCU, which sparked changes on offense for the Jayhawks.
What happened: The Jayhawks put up a good fight against TCU in an early Big 12 road game but their offense, which was expected to be the strength of the squad, let them down. KU’s defense forced five turnovers and gave the Jayhawks a 10-point advantage in points-off-turnovers yet the Jayhawks still lost the game by double digits.
KU averaged a season-low 1.4 yards per carry, gained 198 total yards and averaged 3.3 yards per play. The game was tied at halftime but KU’s offense simply could not make big plays against a quality Horned Frogs defense as quarterback Jake Heaps’ 16 Adjusted QBR was one of the worst single-game performances from a Big 12 quarterback this season, and his inability to force TCU’s defense to account for his running ability limited the Jayhawks' options of attack.
Why it was helpful: KU coach Charlie Weis took the redshirt off freshman quarterback Montell Cozart the following week against Oklahoma. Cozart wasn’t considerably better than Heaps and the duo rotated for much of the season but Cozart provided an added element to KU’s offense with his feet, helping create running lanes for standout running back James Sims. And he was the starting quarterback who led the Jayhawks to their lone Big 12 win, a 31-19 win over West Virginia.
But Cozart is just part of the equation. Weis started tinkering with the Jayhawks offense and recommitting to the running game after the subpar performance at TCU. KU had Oklahoma on its heels the following week, behind a strong commitment to the running game, and the Jayhawks’ win over WVU was built on the shoulders of Sims. The TCU loss was the last time KU attempted a pass on at least 50 percent of its plays -- until the season finale loss to Kansas State -- after putting it in the air 50 percent of the time for three straight weeks heading into that game.
KU’s loss to TCU was a bad loss but it helped spark some changes that led to the Jayhawks snapping their 27-game conference losing streak against WVU.
Revealing stat: KU averaged 10.8 yards per drive against TCU, the lowest output of the season for the Jayhawk offense and the lowest average yards per drive in a single game in the Big 12 in 2013.
Quote of note: “People talk about pulling redshirts off, but really we haven't put the redshirts on. I think that once we get past the halfway mark of the season that's when the conversation begins. If a kid can be involved for half a season sometimes it makes him more prepared to play the next year.” -- Weis on Cozart the week before playing the freshman for the first time against OU.