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A (Semi) Statistical Recap of TCU


NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

So I’ve been debating for well over 24 hours now on how to approach this recap. While it was fun to see the Jayhawks win a football game, all this is going to do is add more ammunition to the “David Beaty needs more time” folks.

Here’s the thing, though - the more and more that I look at it, the more it looks like this win (as fun as it was) was a fluke. A dive into the numbers will show that improvement wasn’t made on Saturday. Obviously, we won’t know for sure until two weeks from now. If Kansas beats Iowa State and K-State, then OK, there’s your improvement, and we’ll talk about retaining Beaty (despite the current state of the 2019 recruiting class).

Until then, I’m not even cautiously optimistic about the rest of the season.

I offer the following for your consideration.

Courtesy of Jesse Newell, we learned that until Saturday, Big 12 teams were 106-0 over the past 15 seasons when gaining more than 7 yards per play and keeping the opponent under 5 yards per play. That record is now 106-1.

TCU ran 72 offensive plays for 504 yards, exactly 7.0 ypp. KU ran 67 plays for 307 yards, just 4.5 ypp. Kansas averaged just 1.5 yards per rush as a team, and no back averaged over 3.5 yards per carry.

In fact, KU’s offensive output didn’t show improvement anywhere except third down conversions. The Jayhawks converted 10-17 (58.8%), the first time this season they’ve been over 50.0%. However, they still allowed TCU to convert 8-12 (66.7%).

I will say, it was nice to FINALLY see KU have more rushing attempts than passing attempts.

Obviously, turnovers played a pretty big part in the outcome of this game against TCU (just like they did against Texas two years ago). However, turnovers are notoriously unreliable. In fact, turnovers, especially fumble recoveries, are completely random and mostly luck. According to the numbers, a good amount of interception percentage is luck as well, although coaching and other factors can increase interception rates.

So yes, TCU turned the ball over twice inside their own 15-yard line. (Meanwhile, Kansas did not turn the ball over at all.) But Kansas only turned those two turnovers into 3 points. Or, you could make the argument that they turned it into one point since they took the safety following the butt-fumble.

That’s right, KU didn’t force that fumble. The TCU running back ran into the back of his offensive lineman and dropped the ball; Kansas just managed to fall on it. Then the Jayhawks threw the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety in an attempt to kill the clock.

And while we’re talking about it, Beaty messed up the free kick. With one second on the clock, KU had a free kick from the 20-yard line following the intentional safety. The squib kick looks more like an onsides kick, but instead of falling on it, the TCU player attempts to advance it. Gary Patterson, for his part, was incensed, saying he repeatedly told everyone to fall on the ball (which would have kept the clock from starting and TCU would have had one more play).

The Frogs could have attempted a 50-yard field goal to win the game had the TCU players heeded their coach’s instructions. So why didn’t Beaty kick it deep? Because he didn’t know the rule.


Gary Patterson knew the rule. David Beaty didn’t, and apparently none of the assistant coaches did, and apparently no one thought to simply ask the referee.

This is still a team that lost to Nicholls State in week 1. This is still a team that hasn’t been regularly competitive against its conference since 2009. The head coach now has four wins over FBS teams in four years; only one of those wins saw his defense come away with less than six turnovers.

Every once in a while, Kansas wins a football game, even a conference game. This game against TCU followed a very familiar script. KU beat Colorado when the Buffs were falling apart and Dan Hawkins was on his way out (2010). Charlie Weis beat West Virginia when half their team was hurt and they weren’t going bowling (2013). Same for Clint Bowen and Iowa State in 2014. The 2016 Texas team was a mess and everyone knew Charlie Strong was done.

TCU was starting a new QB, their best offensive threat had just been kicked off the team, and they were battling injuries as well. That’s how Kansas wins conference games, by stumbling upon opponents in chaos. (h/t to David)

I’m comfortable calling this a fluke win. I’ll take it, but I don’t think it should have any impact whatsoever on David Beaty’s job security.

The Good

It pains me to say this, but, Peyton Bender was actually really good on Saturday. Just 10 incompletions, no INTs, and I can’t even remember any passes that I thought SHOULD have been picked off. A couple of his incompletions were the typical Bender overthrows that we’ve gotten way too used to around here, but complaining about his stat line would be nit-picky.

Bender had a key third-down scramble for a first down on KU’s fourth quarter go-ahead touchdown drive, made an incredible throw to Pooka Williams for a touchdown in the third quarter, and finally, FINALLY, played a good game in a KU jersey.

The Bad

What in the world was going on with the run game? Yeah, TCU was putting 7 or 8 men in the box on almost every play, but that hasn’t stopped KU yet this year. Khalil Herbert averaged just 1.8 yards per carry while Pooka Williams averaged just 3.3 yards per carry.

The Ugly

I’ve already discussed the final minute or so of the game above, so I’m just going to embed this tweet and move on:

The Stats

Peyton Bender was 19-29 for 249 yards, 2 TDs, and NO INTs!

Khalil Herbert had 21 carries but picked up just 38 yards and 1 TD.

Pooka Williams had just 33 rushing yards on 11 carries, but did A LOT of damage in the passing game, with 102 yards on 7 receptions and 2 TDs.

Stephon Robinson was KU’s second-leading receiver on the day, picking up 59 yards on 4 receptions.

Jeremiah Booker had 49 yards on 3 receptions.

Steven Sims had just 27 yards on 2 receptions.

Joe Dineen had 13 tackles and was credited with a half-TFL.

Bryce Torneden had 6 tackles.

Keith Loneker had just two tackles but also had an INT.

Keyshaun Simmons had two tackles and recovered the butt fumble.

Gabriel Rui nailed two field goals (27, 34), and all three of his extra point attempts.

Kyle Thompson hit four punts for a 44.0 average.