(Begin sarcasm font.) Well, fellas (and ladies)... the streak is over. I gotta say... I'm pretty disappointed. The ONE thing we had going for us this year was our defense, and the fact that they had not given up points on the opponent's first offensive possession of the game ALL YEAR. And now, that's RUINED. So upset... Words can't even describe... (End sarcasm font.)
Oh, another streak ended on Saturday, too. You may have heard about it. Something about not having won a conference game in three years. Or not having beaten any of the teams currently in the conference in four years. 1000+ days they say. I know K-State fans were hoping we'd break Baylor's 29 game streak. Jerks.
Let's get to the recap.
It's a great day in terms of temperature. Very, VERY windy, however (wind is blowing south to north). This can only work in KU's favor, right? Right? RIGHT? Anyway. The crowd is about what you would expect from a 2-7 struggling on offense. Nice day, decent crowd considering the way the season has gone, let's see what happens. Oh, right, the uniforms. Gray on gray (grey on grey?) with red helmets. I personally think blue helmets would look much better with this look.
Kansas will kick with the wind behind their backs. Pardula puts it at least 20 yards behind the end zone. Yep, wind will be a factor. Aaaaaand six plays later WVU is dancing in the end zone. "Well fellas," I say to the guys next to me, "That sure was fun. See ya in a couple weeks?" I'm pretty upset about our afore mentioned streak being broken. They convince me to stay, however. Kansas answers with a steady diet of James Sims and a field goal. I wonder why it took Charlie Weis 10 weeks to figure out that James Sims was his workhorse.
On KU's next possession, punting with the wind behind his back, Pardula really booms one. WVU muffs the punt, and it's a race to see who can recover. Justin McCay is right there... fall on the ball!!! NOOOO. He instead trips, falls on the WVU returner, and allows WVU to recover. I'm trying really, really, REALLY hard to not rag on Just McCay. All I'll say is that that kid has been a disappointment in terms of production. The teams exchange a few punts, and the quarter ends Kansas 3, West Virgina 7.
After some more exchanging of punts (what, is it Christmas already?), Kansas breaks off a big run by who? James Sims. Again... this took TEN WEEKS to figure out. James gets us down to the 10 yard line, and a couple of plays later, Kansas punches it in and takes a lead. Fans are waving the wheat, especially PenHawk and his boy, and everyone is having a good time. Except for Grad, who didn't think it was important enough to come. I digress.
West Virginia still can't get their offense going again, and the teams exchange a few more punts. Kansas gets the ball near their own 30 with 39 seconds left. I'm guessing they'll just run out the clock. Sure enough, a toss to James Sims, and (begin Bob Davis voice) big hole, THERE HE GOES, HE IS GONNA SCORE!!!! (end Bob Davis voice). West Virginia actually gets a big play after the kickoff to set up a half-ending field goal attempt, which is partially blocked by KU.
The Jayhawks run off the field with emotion and momentum to a VERY excited crowd. Kansas 17, West Virginia 7.
Apparently the KU band has been watching viral videos on YouTube of the Ohio State band. (Check it out, some of their shows this year have been awesome.) The band plays songs that people actually know, and marches around and makes shapes that people actually recognize. Just like a real marching band!! It's about time, if you ask me. Is it too much to ask to have a "real" marching band and a "real" football team?
Fans are actually pretty positive, it seems. Looks like most people are going to stick around (or at least come back in) after halftime, another nice change. What's hard to tell from the stands, though, is this: Is the KU defense playing well? Or is the West Virginia offense not playing so well? Or is it a combination? I'd love to see an answer to this from someone who watched on TV. It just seems like WVU is getting their fair share of yards.
We get the ball first! Just imagine if we can take this opening possession and put another TD on the board. Alas, three and out. Of course. Is this where the tide turns away from us? NO, says Ben Goodman, as he picks off the WVU QB and returns it to the 10 yard line! He's probably gonna get crap for being tackled by a QB, but who cares! This is the turnover we've been waiting on. A few plays later, Sims punches it in (there's that Sims guy again), and KU extends the lead. Fans in Section 4 are almost giddy with disbelief.
The rest of the third quarter is actually pretty bland, despite a failed fourth and 10 by West Virginia from midfield that provided a little excitement. I doubt the "crowd noise" is bothering WVU that much, but, it's awesome to see the fans excited for KU football in the third quarter. The quarter closes with Kansas 24, West Virginia 7.
Kansas begins the quarter with the ball and is driving. The drive stalls out on the 14 yard line. Kansas is looking at a fourth and 1. Weis elects to go for the kill, but a run by Brandon Bourbon (where is Sims?) loses three yards and WVU still has a chance. KU defense picks up another 3 and out. Then so does the KU offense. Then Ben Heeney says "Wassup" and picks off a pass and takes it all the way down to the one yard line. (Replays look like he scored. Weis doesn't challenge.) Bourbon punches it it, and delirium sweeps through Memorial Stadium as Kansas has a 31-7 lead with 6:27 left.
Sure enough, just to make it interesting, West Virginia scores quickly. KU recovers the onside kick. Bourbon fumbles a couple plays later. (WHERE IS SIMS??) West Virginia scores AGAIN, but the Kansas defense forced them to run most of the remaining time off the clock, and after recovering another onside kick, the KU offense sets up in the seldom-used "Victory Formation" and kneels out the rest of the clock.
Kansas 31, West Virginia 19.
You read that right. We WON.
Onto the field come the students (and a few from the alumni side), and down comes the south goalpost. Very shortly it will reside in Potter Lake.
IMAG0924 (via crmp0007)
IMAG0923 (via crmp0007)
As I'm sure most of you know, Montell Cozart started and played the entire game - even the kneel downs at the end. The only time we saw Jake Heaps was for the coin flip. Cozart's overall numbers were actually not very impressive. However, I think it's very clear that just having him out there as a threat to run or pass really opens up things for this offense. James Sims had what I'll call a "quiet" 211 yards rushing and three TDs. He got most of that yardage in the first half. Carries by quarter for Sims - 7, 3, 9, 3. There were times when we tried to force the ball to Tony Pierson or Brandon Bourbon. I guess I can understand wanting to give different looks, but come on... why were we messing with what was clearly working?
Seems to me like the delay was killed West Virginia. (I mean delay hand-off or QB draw type plays.) Up the middle was definitely where we made noise. It just seemed like we couldn't get to the outside at all. If the delays had not been working, I think we would have had a 13-10 game on our hands.
Overall, the offense was much improved over what we've seen all year out of that Kansas team. Hopefully they will continue to add new wrinkles and keep moving the ball in our next two games.
Stellar effort by the defense, despite the "oh by the way" late touchdowns scored by West Virginia. In reality, Kansas gave up 19 points, but it really felt like they only gave up 7 the way they controlled the game. WVU receivers seemed to have trouble getting open. The defense forced a couple of big turnovers that were immediately turned into points by the offense. I wouldn't say that we "harrassed" the WVU QB by any means, but at times, the line did eventually force him to scramble around. Overall, a very good team effort.
Coming into the game, Trevor Parula had punted for almost 1.7 miles worth of yardage on the season. He added to that total with another 237 yards on 7 punts. KU only attempted one field goal in this game, and Ron Doherty nailed it, a short 25 yarder. Coverage seemed to be pretty good, kicking was pretty good... not much to complain about here.
I had a good time at a KU football game! I haven't been able to say that for quite some time. Sure, the Louisiana Tech game was Ok. Pretty uninspiring though. Ditto most of the other home wins over the past several years.
I'll be the first one to admit, this game did NOT turn out like I expected. Obviously, I'm not complaining, I'm actually quite excited! The past several years, Kansas has been a game that a lot of teams who have had not-so-great seasons use to feel good against. Well, that didn't happen today.
Kansas finally played a complete game against a conference opponent. However, we are still only 3-7. Has this team improved enough to win a conference game on the road? Have they improved enough to hang with the SnyderCats for more than two quarters?
I for one can't wait to find out the answers to these questions. Sure, basketball has already started, but football still has two games left, and I REALLY don't want to see a lot of purple in Memorial on Nov 30. Y'all dig? Come help me out. You already know where to find me. (Section 4 in case that wasn't obvious.)
To all Jayhawk Nation and especially those heading up to Ames this weekend, don't forget... to Rock Chalk!
p.s. The day ended in an excellent fashion, too, as I attended the KU-KState volleyball match in the Horesji Center next to Allen Fieldhouse at 6:30 after the football game. Look for a recap of that in FanPosts as well.
Division II update: Emporia State defeated Washburn to claim second in the MIAA behind Northwest Missouri State. Both ESU and NWMSU clinched playoff berths. What? There's playoffs in college football? Amazing, I know. NWMSU has earned a first round bye (What??? You mean there's more than four teams in the playoff?? I know. It's amazing! I already said that!!). ESU will travel to Minnesota-Duluth next weekend and the winner of that game will play NWMSU.