LAWRENCE — David Beaty pondered the question, scratching his elbow for a second to think on the response.

His Kansas football team had just lost 56-34 to West Virginia on a sunny afternoon at Memorial Stadium, trailing by eight to start the fourth quarter before turnovers turned a competitive game into a late blowout.

In the process, the Jayhawks set new offensive records ... while also continuing to allow points at an alarming rate.

So, what exactly was the takeaway here?

"I am seeing improvement, which is good," Beaty said after his brief pause. "Very discouraged by that fourth quarter, because that's not how I felt like that game should have ended up."

Though a late fumble and interception were costly late, there was another primary reason the Jayhawks fell short of an upset while falling to 1-3:

Defense.

KU struggled to contain receivers while allowing six touchdown drives of 70 yards or more. The Mountaineers had a 340-yard passer, two 100-yard rushers and also averaged 7.7 yards per play.

"We're getting better in a lot of areas. We're just not there yet," Beaty said. "I hate it for our fans. I hate it for our stakeholders, because they deserve better than that. There's a lot of improvement in areas, just not enough yet."

It all overshadowed a historic performance.

Khalil Herbert's 291 rushing yards were the most by an FBS player this year. It also was the third-most in the program's history and the best mark by a Jayhawk in 26 seasons.

"Just running how I know I can run," Herbert said. "Being patient and really studying the film, learning how defenses are. The game's really slowed down for me."

Still, that much success should result in a closer game, right? Since 2000, FBS teams were 59-6 when a rusher went for at least 290 yards.

In the end, KU couldn't dig itself out of a 35-13 hole following a mistake-filled first half.

The Jayhawks' defense -- forcing numerous third-and-longs but failing to capitalize -- allowed four consecutive touchdown possessions of 80-plus yards.

The offense, meanwhile, found some success in the run game with Herbert, but it had gaffes at crucial times. The Jayhawks had two false-start penalties that halted drives, while a Peyton Bender overthrow turned into a deflection and pick-six in the final minute before the break.

"I think we're getting better as each week goes on. It's just, we play great for a quarter, then we look terrible for a quarter," Bender said. "We've just got to keep building on what we have."

There were still reasons to be optimistic about KU's performance. Saturday's 34 points were the most against a non-FCS opponent in the Beaty era, and KU's 6.7-yard-per-play average was its best Big 12 mark since 2009.

"Kansas is pretty good on offense," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "They are going to do this to a lot of different people."

That was the positive for KU on a day that still had too many negatives.

"As much as I know it may be difficult for just the average fan to see, I see the improvement. I see some improvement going on out there in all three phases," Beaty said. "We've got to make a lot of progress quicker, because this is a tough conference."