Kansas coach Les Miles told his players during a team meeting last week that the Jayhawks’ upcoming Kansas State game had a chance to be a sellout.
At the time, only 4,000 tickets remained. And as he spoke, Miles focused his attention on an upperclassman sitting directly in front of him.
“He closed his eyes and ducked his head. He wasn’t even knowing that I was watching,” Miles said. “This smile came to his face and he said, without ever saying a word (out loud), ‘Oh, how cool.’”
Though KU ended up losing 38-10 Saturday at Booth Memorial Stadium, Miles said the experience was memorable for both he and players.
It was the Jayhawks’ first home sellout since November 2009. The attendance number — 47,233 — was just above the stadium’s new listed capacity of 47,000.
“This team enjoyed playing in front of that crowd,” Miles said. “I wish we would have played better.”
The Jayhawks seem to understand that much of the buzz they created the last two weeks likely was lost in Saturday’s dud.
KU, which dropped to 3-6, struggled to get anything going offensively against K-State, which was clearly the more physical team.
So was the fan bump a one-game blip? KU will get some indication of that later this month, playing at Oklahoma State and Iowa State before returning home for the season finale against Baylor on Nov. 30.
Here are grades for all three KU units, a highlight from Saturday’s loss against K-State and a look ahead to the game against Oklahoma State.
Play of the game
Weekly winner: KU receiver Daylon Charlot finds himself in this spot for a third time this season, as he once again showed remarkable hands to come down with a 32-yard jump ball late in the fourth quarter.
The catch set up KU’s only touchdown. Quarterback Manny Miles scored two plays later on a 1-yard option run.
Offense: F. KU quarterback Carter Stanley summed things up well after the game: “I just never saw that outcome coming.” Sure, one could have expected KU’s offense under new coordinator Brent Dearmon to be slowed more against K-State’s talented defense. But to be held without a touchdown for 59 minutes? And to muster just 241 yards after consecutive 500-plus efforts?
The bottom line: K-State out-toughed KU. The Wildcats’ defensive line was dominant. They were able to flood KU’s defensive backs deep while still being protected in the run game simply by muscling their way around blocks from KU’s linemen.
Stanley was inaccurate and threw two picks. Pooka Williams never broke free, with his longest run going for 13. It was simply a poor effort all around for KU ... that happened to come in the biggest game of the season.
Defense: D-: When it mattered, K-State scored 38 points on 10 possessions, with its first two touchdown drives going for 88 and 78 yards. The Jayhawks didn’t force a turnover, and they also were miserable on third downs again, with K-State converting 11 of 17 chances.
KU was gashed repeatedly in the run game and also was unprepared for quarterback Skylar Thompson’s scrambles and option runs. The Jayhawks tackled poorly early as well, which cost them a couple opportunities at big plays.
The KU defense has been in a tailspin since linebacker Dru Prox’s shoulder injury, and there simply doesn’t seem to be an easy fix here until the program can bring in (or develop) more talented players. It’s still not encouraging, at this point, that KU’s defense seems to lack an identity without a true strength in any area.
Special teams: C+. Not much to report here, which actually was a big win for KU given how poorly its special teams had played the last four games. Liam Jones made his only field-goal attempt from 34 yards out, while Kyle Thompson’s punting was fine. K-State also didn’t block a kick (KU had four of those in the last two weeks), and the Jayhawks covered well on kickoffs and punts. Special teams, in other words, was basically a non-factor in determining Saturday’s outcome.
KU will have a bye week before playing at Oklahoma State on Oct. 16 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla. Game time and television information has not been announced yet.
The Cowboys are 6-3 after a 34-27 home victory over TCU on Saturday.