The Jayhawks very nearly toppled the Texas Longhorns for the second time in four years tonight. The offense did everything it needed to, but the defense simply couldn't stop, or even slow down, the Texas offensive attack, as KU fell 50-48 in a shootout.
It seems that "get Pooka the ball in space" was near the top of the priority list for new Kansas Offensive Coordinator Brent Dearmon as he took over during the bye week. The Jayhawks did so early and often in their road loss to the Texas Longhorns. Pooka responded, hitting the 100 rushing yard mark early in the second quarter.
The Jayhawks as a team found themselves down 14-3 through one quarter, but responded by taking the lead following two consecutive touchdown drives, and led 17-14 in Austin at the five minute mark in the second quarter.
Texas would respond to take back the lead, 21-17. KU drove to the red zone, but a Liam Jones field goal attempt was blocked, and KU was down four at the break. Jones was just 1-3 on his field goal attempts, but as a whole Kansas was right there with Texas, putting up 277 yards to the Longhorns' 288, with Dearnon's new offense firing off 7.5 yards per play.
Offensively, Kansas continued to find some success in the second half. Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by the defense's inability to slow the Longhorns. The two teams traded blows through most of the half, with both offenses generally having their way. With 2:47 remaining, KU took over down 47-40. They proceeded to move the ball with relative ease, ultimately finding the endzone with 1:11. The Mad Hatter then lived up to his name, opting to go for two, which KU converted on a pass to Daylon Charlotfrom Carter Stanley. Kansas kicked off up 48-47.
Sadly, the defense then did exactly what they'd done all game: fall apart. Texas faced zero resistance as they easily moved the ball into the red zone and kicked a game winner as time expired.
Despite coming so close to beating a ranked team on the road, this was a tough pill to swallow. If linebacker Dru Prox hadn't been sidelined with an injury, we'd likely be celebrating right now. Unfortunately, since he got hurt, the Kansas defense has been sickeningly reminiscent of the defenses we watched under Turner Gill.
Still, there's plenty to be excited about. It certainly appears that the offense is going to be legit under Dearmon. Pooka Williams had 215 yards from scrimmage, and while Carter Stanley had some accuracy issues, he did rack up 310 yards with 4 TDs and no picks, while running for another 65 yards. Andrew Parchment caught only three balls but made them count, taking them 83 yards with a TD of his own. StephonRobinson, Jr found the endzone twice with 7 catches for 67.
The result was disappointing but there's still some reason for hope that this team is legitimately improving. They're on primetime TV again next Saturday against Texas Tech in Lawrence. That won't be favored, but they can't be counted out, either.
Oh, and to Jeff Long, the University of Kansas, and the Big 12: this would have been a really fun game to watch. I get it, your paychecks are far more important than your actual fans, but maybe throw us a bone and stop making it so hard to watch our teams. The Longhorn Network is in very few households, and even when games are on real networks, those networks have awful streaming services that are hit and miss at best. I get it, the contract is already in place and you don't give a shit about us. But it would be nice if you could at least pretend the fans matter to you.