The Kansas football team lost to Texas on Saturday night on the game’s final play. The 50-48 loss at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, though, seemed to do something pretty important in its own right.
It served notice that these Jayhawks now have the firepower to compete with any team left on the schedule.
“I’m proud to be associated with those men,” KU coach Les Miles said. “I thought that they did everything that we asked them to do and succeeded.”
For a night, KU matched a high-flying Big 12 offense mostly blow for blow. It stepped into the new world of run-pass option and exposed a defense that couldn’t cover the entire field effectively.
It was easy to point out the cause of that. Miles promoted Brent Dearmon — previously a team analyst — to offensive coordinator two weeks ago ahead of the team’s bye week.
On Saturday, KU’s Dearmon-led offense was nothing short of spectacular.
“I got guys that are fighting like hell to be a part of what we’re doing here, and Dearmon is one of them,” Miles said. “There’s just a bunch of real quality people, and the backdrop of that program is just doing a great job for us.”
The offense was so good, in fact, that the Jayhawks overcame poor special teams for a huge fourth quarter rally that came up just short.
Following a Pooka Williams 16-yard touchdown run with 10:06 left in the game, KU only needed an extra point to tie it at 31-31 and keep momentum.
It never materialized. Texas’ David Gbenda sidestepped KU lineman Clyde McCauley, coming through the middle to block the kick ... with D’Shawn Jamison scooping it and returning it 98 yards for two points and a 33-30 lead.
The Longhorns added a touchdown four plays later, but the Jayhawks even answered that. KU followed with a field goal then touchdown, with help from a defensive fumble recovery and also a fourth-down circus catch from Daylon Charlot near his ankles on the sideline — one that should get some run on ESPN.
Following Andrew Parchment’s TD reception with 4:25, KU had tied the score again at 40-40.
Texas marched 65 yards on its next drive, and KU matched. Stephon Robinson caught a 22-yard touchdown pass with 1:11 left, then Miles went for two, with Charlot securing that catch to put the Jayhawks ahead 48-47.
Texas offense drove 60 yards on the final possession, though, capped by Cameron Dicker’s 33-yard game-winning field goal with no time left.
KU, 2-5, fell to 0-9 all-time against Texas in Austin.
The Jayhawks were efficient offensively starting with the first half.
KU averaged 7.5 yards per play then — a full yard more than Texas — with Dearmon’s scheme putting KU in ideal numbers scenarios on a majority of plays.
There was also a renaissance for Williams. The shifty back was utilized more on the perimeter and in space, the results were immediate: 11 carries for 129 yards with a touchdown — the top first-half mark against the Longhorns since 2013.
Texas took a 21-17 lead into half, but perhaps was a bit fortunate to even have that. KU had two missed field goals before the break, including one that was blocked with 15 seconds left in the second quarter.
KU quarterback Carter Stanley was 27-for-47 passing for 310 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Williams, meanwhile, finished with 25 carries for 190 yards with two touchdowns.
“He is as explosive and dynamic of an athlete as we have in this league, and there’s a bunch of them,” Texas coach Tom Herman said of Williams. “There’s no weeks off when you’re talking about guys that can make plays like Pooka.”
KU plays at home the next two weeks, beginning with a 6 p.m. game Saturday against Texas Tech.