For two Saturdays in a row now, I have left a football game saying, “I don’t believe what I just saw” - and as a fan of the Kansas Jayhawks, for the first time in 10 years, that’s a good thing!
Before we really get going here, though, I would like to point out one thing. If you’ll notice in the picture above, there is a line of security guards around the south endzone goalpost. However, no one made a move toward said goalpost. There were no P.A. announcements, there was nothing to indicate any danger to the goalpost.
What I’m driving at is this: the perception from Rutgers fans and writers is that this loss is the worst loss in the history of college football - and I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating their reaction. But here’s some levity - KU beating Rhode Island in 2016 was a bigger win than beating Rutgers. KU beating Iowa State in 2014 was a bigger deal.
At least, those games were clearly bigger deals to a Kansas fanbase who has been much-maligned the past 10 or so years, the same fanbase who took those goalposts straight to Potter Lake. (Although I don’t think they actually got it down after the Rhode Island game.) Regardless, suck on that lemon, Rutgers!
Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Kansas pummeled Rutgers almost any way you look at it. The Jayhawks outgained RU 544-274. KU ended up at 7.4 yards per play while Rutgers managed just 4.2 yards per play.
Kansas is still struggling to convert in third-down situations, making just 6-15 (40.0%) while holding Rutgers to 5-14 (35.7%).
David Beaty only punted once in plus territory this time, on 4th-and-8 from the Rutgers 38-yard line while leading 31-7 with 8:28 to play in the third quarter. Don’t worry, Beaty is nothing if not consistent; he called timeout prior to punting.
There’s a couple of different ways I could go here, so I’ll mention both. Obviously, KU’s defense was on-point, collecting six turnovers for the second straight game including two pick-6s (and dropping another sure third pick-6 early in the first quarter). After getting just nine turnovers in all of 2017, Kansas has 13 through the first three games of 2018. Per College Football Reference, Kansas is the first school ever to get 13 takeaways in the first three games of a season.
Additionally, KU’s run game was incredible, and I don’t just mean Pooka Williams. Yes, Pooka electrified the Kansas offense, but Khalil Herbert and Deron Thompson also had big runs. Nine Jayhawks were credited with at least one rushing attempt as KU racked up an even 400 rushing yards at a clip of 8.3 yards per attempt. Kansas had 48 rushing attempts to just 25 pass attempts, a 65/35 ratio.
Part of that ratio is simply how the game unfolded, with the six turnovers and getting a big lead early. But hopefully it’s also partially due to the fact that coaches are realizing their best playmakers are the running backs, especially considering the way KU quarterbacks have struggled so far in 2018.
Quarterback was rough again today, folks. Bender averaged just under 6.1 yards per attempt, while Kendrick averaged exactly 6.0 yards per attempt. While that’s an improvement from the first two weeks, it’s still nowhere near even average for a D1 quarterback. Bender continues to miss open receivers, or if he does seem them, he tends to throw it over their head.
I would also like to mention special teams here. A blocked kick happens every now and then, that’s just football. But two in the same game? And the first one was a complete breakdown - the Rutgers player came through the line practically untouched and was able to scoop up the block and run it all the way back for a touchdown.
One more thing that is bugging me that I’d like to mention real quick is a lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Yes, KU had six turnovers. But on at least two of those INTs, the QB had a clean pocket - he just made bad throws. KU was only credited with five TFLs and two QB hurries. That’s not going to be good enough in Big 12 play.
David Beaty says he values timeouts, but his actions during gamedays say otherwise. KU’s first timeout of the day came just 46 seconds after kickoff, when Rutgers had the ball 3rd-and-10. The second timeout of the first half was taken with 11:36 to go before halftime with KU facing a 3rd-and-7.
Then, in the third quarter, KU had a 31-7 lead and was facing 4th-and-8 from the Rutgers 38-yard line. The offense stayed on the field, rushed to the line of scrimmage, and tried to draw Rutgers offsides. That failed, so instead of taking the delay of game (which would have pushed Kansas back to the 43-yard line), KU burns a timeout and brings out the punt team.
Or, you know, KU could have attempted a 53-yard field goal with a kicker who hit a 55-yarder in week 1, although after two blocked field goals earlier in the game I can see why coach might be a bit gunshy to try another.
Regardless, these coaching decisions just don’t make sense to me.
Todd Reesing returned to Lawrence to be inducted into the Ring of Honor along with all the other Kansas greats, and inspired the Jayhawks to a 55-14 shellacking of Rutgers.
Peyton Bender started and played most of the first half, but not take a snap after halftime. He finished 8-12 for 73 yards.
Miles Kendrick saw two series in the first half and played the majority of the second half before KU called off the dogs. Kendrick finished 6-11 passing for 66 yards and one TD while adding 28 yards on 6 carries and a rushing TD.
Carter Stanley saw mop-up duty in the fourth quarter, completing his only pass attempt for 5 yards and rushing for 26 yards on 3 carries.
Anthony “Pooka” Williams for Heisman! MOAR POOKA WILLIAMS! As they explicitly said they would prior to the season, coaches are limiting Pooka’s touches. However, he still led the Jayhawks in carries and yards, going for 158 yards on 18 carries and adding 1 reception for 5 yards.
Dom Williams had the second-most carries, but got just 39 yards on 9 attempts.
Khalil Herbert inexcusably had just two carries on the day, but went for 64 yards including a neat 59-yard TD scamper where he absolutely ran away from trailing defenders. Herbert did add 13 more yards on two receptions, but still - MOAR KHALIL HERBERT!
Deron Thompson had 70 yards on just 3 carries, with most of those coming on a 55-yard TD run.
Jeremiah Booker led KU receivers with 32 yards on 3 receptions with a TD.
Kerr “The Blur” Johnson added 25 yards on 3 receptions.
Steven Sims is off to a rough start this year. He had just 22 yards on 2 receptions against Rutgers. In three games, Sims has just 81 yards on 10 receptions.
No other receiver had more than one reception.
Joe Dineen led all tacklers with 10 on the day. Dineen also had one of KU’s three fumble recoveries.
Bryce Torneden had 6 tackles to go along with his 39-yard pick-6 in the first quarter that gave KU an early 10-0 lead.
Mike Lee had 3 tackles and a 31-yard pick-6 in the second quarter that extended KU’s lead to 24-7.
Corione Harris was credited with 3 tackles and got his first INT as a Jayhawk.
Daniel Wise had just one tackle which was credited as a TFL, but came off the field with an apparent leg injury about three minutes before halftime.
Kyle Thompson hit 4 punts for a 40.5 average.
Gabriel Rui lined up for four field goals, making a 34-yarder and a 49-yarder, but the other two were both blocked.