Despite having a shot late in the fourth quarter with a little luck, Kansas was unable to secure a second straight home win against Texas on senior day.
It wasn’t the result any of the seniors wanted. Unfortunately for seniors Peyton Bender (159 yards, a touchdown and interception) and Steven Sims Jr. (five catches for 13 yards), their performance was also not how I’m sure either of them would want to end their careers.
The senior leaders on defense had more success in slowing down the Texas offense. Joe Dineen Jr. had 14 total tackles, 11 solo, and Daniel Wise filled up the stat sheet with five tackles, a sack, and three tackles for loss.
Last week, I focused on Steven Sims Jr. and his dip in production. This week, I want to look at the season Dineen had, because I don’t think people are recognizing the impressive nature of what he accomplished.
After 11 solo tackles against Texas, Dineen not only leads the nation in solo tackles for the season, but his 109 solo tackles is the third most by any player in the country since 2005.
The bar had been set high after Dineen’s junior season last year. So it would not have been unreasonable to see Dineen just hit that mark again or even digress a bit statistically. But instead, he went ahead and flew past his previous marks in his final campaign.
The 109 solo tackles were 20 more than last season, and Dineen also had nine more total tackles (142 from 133), three sacks (he had 2.5 last season), and the first interception and two fumble recoveries of his career. The only points of regression were in assisted tackles (33 from 44; which he made up for with solo tackles) and tackles for loss (10.5 from 22).
But back to where this puts Dineen in recent college football history. Because while he is in third place behind Jordon Dizon and Luke Kuechly, both players numbers—114 and 110 solo tackles respectively—include stats from bowl games; a luxury Dineen won’t have. It’s not crazy to think Dineen would have six solo tackles in a hypothetical bowl game had the Jayhawks been good enough, and then we’re talking about his as the greatest single season of tackling in recent history. There’s a lot of comparisons, naturally, to fellow Jayhawk Ben Heeney, and for good reason. But Heeney’s best season saw him record 92 solo tackles, which ties for 22nd best.
It’s not just the one season. Dineen’s 278 career solo tackles is fifth most in the NCAA and second in the Big 12 since 2005, and that’s with him only having four solo tackles as a freshman and 10 in a redshirt season in 2016. In terms of total tackles, it’s a similar story. Dineen’s 382 for his career is fourth best in the Big 12 since 2005 and the previously mentioned 142 in 2018 is best in the conference and third best in the country.
Dineen’s performance won’t get as much recognition as it would had Kansas been more competitive in the Big 12, but The Mayor put up numbers it will be hard to duplicate in the upcoming years.