I was right. Sam Herder was kinda right.
Benton Smith, Jesse Newell, Matt Tait (probably), Kevin Keitzman (on-air multiple times), Berry Tramel, Matthew Postins, Rock Chalk Blog, KFH radio in Wichita, and every single one of you reading this were all wrong.
I tried to tell you back in May and again last week, but you wouldn’t listen. And now I’m going to take every opportunity to say: I told you so.
Let’s not make Nicholls out to be Alabama, you mocked. Yeah we’re bad but KU is still 6-2 recently against FCS schools, you said.
Well, that kool-aid is awfully sour now, isn’t it?
Ok, so I didn’t nail it exactly. Honestly, I thought the Colonels would be in control for most of the game before a furious Kansas comeback that would fall short. It didn’t turn out that way. But Nicholls was better coached, more prepared, more disciplined, tougher, more confident, and just plain better than Kansas.
And that’s the most disheartening thing to come out of Saturday night in Lawrence.
If not for special teams miscues by Nicholls in the second half - a snap over the punter’s head for a safety in the third quarter and a muffed punt deep in Nicholls territory in the fourth quarter - KU likely loses this game in regulation by more than three points.
Nicholls outgained Kansas 329-255. You read that right, KU had just 255 yards of total offense against an FCS school. The Jayhawks averaged just 3.6 yards per play, including just 1.8 yards per rush. (NSU averaged 4.4 yards per play.)
Kansas was 6-17 (35.3%) on third down while NSU converted 10-20 (50.0%). NSU had 17 first downs to KU’s 14.
Kansas punted twice from inside plus territory, and two more times within five yards of midfield (but still in KU territory). KU didn’t attempt a single fourth down conversion out of their 10 fourth downs, including a fourth-and-1 and a fourth-and-2 early in the game; admittedly, KU was still inside its own 40-yard line on both of those. The Jayhawks also had two penalties on fourth down - one a delay of game and one a false start - that pushed them back even farther from the sticks.
But don’t worry you guys. David Beaty is on it. The sun will come up on Monday and the Jayhawks will get better. And it will come up on Tuesday and the Jayhawks will get better. And the sun will come up on Saturday, and KU will (probably) extend their 46-game road losing streak even though they’re (allegedly) getting better every day.
Um. Ok. I can do this. Let me think for a bit.
The offense in general, but Steven Sims had a terrible game. He dropped a sure touchdown early in the second quarter and finished with just four grabs for 29 yards and a TD. Sims could have been a difference maker in this one, but just had a bad game.
As for the rest of the offense, KU ran 38 pass plays to 32 rushing attempts, because AIR RAID Y’ALL. Highly regarded freshman Pooka Williams was announced as a scratch for “non-disciplinary reasons” about 20 minutes before kickoff. Regardless, instead of leaning on its talented backs, KU gave Khalil Herbert and Dom Williams a total of 18 carries combined.
Oh, and let’s not forget the offensive line. Nicholls recorded six sacks on the night, and there were at least four bad snaps. Pass blocking as a whole was sub-par.
The coaching staff. This is just comical at this point.
Case in point: 10 minutes to go and KU is down by five. It’s fourth-and-nine on the Nicholls 37-yard line. TIMEOUT. Now go punt. FALSE START. Ok now for sure go ahead and punt.
And why would you bring Kendrick in late in the game, for one play, on a critical third down, and do EXACTLY WHAT EVERYONE IN THE STADIUM THOUGHT you were going to do?
And icing the kicker? Seriously? What in the blue hell was that?
There was seemingly constant indecision, extremely questionable timeout calls, players caught out of position after substitutions, and what was that offensive gameplan?
Fire everyone. (Except maybe Tony Hull.)
The Good (Redux)
I’m gonna go with the kicker on this one. Gabriel Rui nailed two field goals, including a 55-yarder, and will probably be KU’s primary scoring option the rest of the season.
Peyton Bender started and played every series except one (probably scripted) in the first quarter and one snap of the fourth quarter. His final line was 19-35 for 187 yards, 2 TDs and zero INTs. In fact, I don’t think he had any that should have been picked off and weren’t. Overall, Bender actually played a decent game. However, he was plagued by a porous offensive line and receivers that couldn’t catch.
Bender was credited with -15 yards on 10 rushing attempts, six of which were sacks. He actually had two really nice scrambles in the first quarter, one for 14 yards and one for 15 yards, both of which converted third-and-long into first downs.
Miles Kendrick saw a series in the first quarter that gained 20 yards on five plays before punting. He also came in for one play on a critical third down in the fourth quarter, where coaches predictably called a QB draw that got blown up and KU kicked a field goal. He finished 2-3 passing for 12 yards and was credited with 2 rushing attempts for one yard.
Khalil Herbert led KU’s rushing attack with 12 carries for 61 yards, including a long of 23. Herbert added two receptions for 8 yards. I definitely would like to have seen MOAR of Khalil Herbert.
Dom Williams picked up 35 yards on 6 carries, along with one reception for 4 yards.
Kerr “The Blur” Johnson led KU with 54 receiving yards on just 3 receptions, including a nifty catch-and-run 15-yard TD through traffic late in the fourth quarter to give KU a (very temporary) lead.
Stephon Robinson saw a LOT of time at WR in this one, hauling in 4 receptions for 43 yards.
Steven Sims had a rough night as mentioned above, picking up just 29 yards on 4 receptions and dropping a huge pass in the end zone on a perfectly thrown ball from Peyton Bender.
Quan Hampton had one catch for 24 yards.
Mavin Saunders, the TE, had two catches for 10 yards and added a reception on a two-point conversion.
Evan Fairs was a ghost after drawing rave reviews in fall camp, with just one catch for eight yards.
Joe Dineen started off his Heisman campaign right with 16 tackles.
Keith Loneker added 9 tackles, including a TFL.
Daniel Wise was pretty well contained by the NSU offensive line, but still recorded 8 tackles and a TFL.
Hasan Defense was credited with just four tackles, but had several key pass breakups throughout the game. He was officially credited with just two PD, but it seemed like more than that.
Kyron Johnson recorded the only sack for Kansas, a seven-yard loss for NSU on first down that was given right back to them on the next play by a facemask call on Joe Dineen.
Gabriel Rui was KU’s Player of the Game, hitting both field goal attempts including a 55-yarder.
Kyle Thompson punted 8 times with a 47-yard average, while Donovan Gagen punted once for 32 yards.