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Kansas defeats Northern Illinois, 45-42

  • 6 p.m., Sept. 10, 2011
  • Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Best for last: D.J. Beshears caps wild victory

Kansas receivers Kale Pick (7) and D.J Beshears get airborne in the endzone to celebrate a touchdown by Pick late in the second quarter against Northern Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas receivers Kale Pick (7) and D.J Beshears get airborne in the endzone to celebrate a touchdown by Pick late in the second quarter against Northern Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 at Kivisto Field.

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KU quarterback Jordan Webb describes the game-winning TD pass to D.J. Beshears

KU quarterback Jordan Webb describes the game-winning touchdown pass to D.J. Beshears following KU's 45-42 victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 10, 2011.

KU receiver D.J. Beshears said he wasn't worried that his final TD would be overturned

KU receiver D.J. Beshears said he wasn't worried that his final TD would be overturned after a replay in KU's 45-42 victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 10, 2011.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Turner Gill

Kansas coach Turner Gill talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 45-42 victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 10, 2011.

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Reader poll

Who was KU's most valuable player against Northern Illinois?

  • D.J. Beshears: 7 receptions, 70 yds, 2 TDs; 197 kick-return yards 35% 663 votes
  • Jordan Webb: 21/30, 281 yds, 3 TDs 50% 953 votes
  • James Sims: 26 runs for 110 yds, 2 TDs 10% 191 votes
  • Darrian Miller: 10 runs for 57 yds, TD 0% 9 votes
  • Kale Pick: 3 receptions, 55 yds, TD 1% 34 votes
  • Other 1% 35 votes

1885 total votes.

For better or worse, Kansas University junior wide receiver D.J. Beshears had his hands all over the Jayhawks' 45-42 victory against Northern Illinois on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Luckily for the Jayhawks, the junior from Denton, Texas, saved his best for the end.

With Kansas trailing, 42-38, with five minutes to play, Beshears returned the NIU kickoff 51 yards to set up KU’s final drive inside Huskies’ territory. Eleven plays later, on a must-have, fourth-and-goal play from the six-yard line with nine seconds to play, Beshears’ precision grab and bulldozer mentality pushed the Jayhawks to victory in front of 48,084 entertained and exhausted fans.

“Great catch,” said KU offensive coordinator Chuck Long of Beshears’ game-winning grab. “Of course, he set the whole drive up with his return. I guess you could call that the D.J. Drive.”

The pitch-and-catch capped an incredible night for two of KU’s most important offensive players. Sophomore quarterback Jordan Webb played the game of his life (21-for-30 passing, 280 yards and three TDs) and often had Beshears to thank for it. While Webb consistently showed just how much he has grown — and improved — in the last 12 months, Beshears gobbled up everything in sight, finishing with 70 yards and two TDs on seven catches and another 197 yards on seven kick returns. The yardage and reception totals were career-highs. The return total was six yards shy of a school record.

“I don’t know if it’s the best game of his career,” KU coach Turner Gill said afterwards. “But I would say he did a great job. Not just on the offensive side, but (on) kickoff return, too. He’s one of our guys that we believe will be a play-maker for us, and he did that tonight.”

It didn’t exactly start out that way. Early on, Beshears dropped a pass that hit him in the hands, and, later, was flagged for holding on what would have been a 31-yard TD run by sophomore James Sims.

“I was bummed about that,” he said of the drop. “Coach just told me to keep my focus, and I tried to do that. When I got that holding call, I was giving good effort. I was trying to make the block for James to score. I apologized to him. Things happen. You just have to move on to the next play.”

Move on they did. Beshears and the Jayhawks overcame the early miscues and answered a 21-7 first-half defcit with a 28-7 counter-punch, en route to racking up 534 yards of total offense on 90 plays.

As for the game-winner, Webb said Beshears was his last read on the play, and Beshears said he knew it would work.

“It’s open in practice all the time, and we never hit it,” he said. “But I was glad we got it tonight. I got the right depth, saw Jordan throw it, made the catch, turned and scored. It was a great feeling. I just had to get off the field after that.”

He hardly reserved all the credit for himself.

“I tip my hat to Jordan, too,” Beshears said. “He made a hell of a play on that throw.”

For the most part, Webb did that all night. In addition to setting a career-high for passing yards, he completed 70 percent of his passes — a number that would’ve been higher if not for a handful of drops — and demonstrated great poise and maturity in turning 13 of 18 third-down attempts into first downs.

“What I loved about our offense was we had some adversity, we had some devastating penalties that just killed us, but our guys kept fighting back,” Long said. “They never lost their poise on the sideline, and I was very proud of that.”

Throughout the night, it looked as if the team that crossed the goal line last would win. After scoring first and taking a 7-0 lead on a 15-yard TD pass from Webb — yet another moment that had Beshears’ fingerprints all over it — the KU defense gave up three straight scores and appeared to be headed toward a 28-14 deficit before standing tall on a fourth-and-six play late in the first half. A pass from NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish to Nathan Palmer initially was ruled a catch, which would’ve set NIU up with a first-and-goal at the KU one. Instead, with Gill in his ear asking for a review, the referee turned to the replay and saw the ball was dropped. KU took over and, six plays later, tied the game at 21 on a 36-yard TD pass from Webb to Kale Pick.

“I want to give a shout-out to the offense,” senior linebacker Steven Johnson said. “They had our back the whole game.”

For many on the KU roster, big-name players who played key roles in Saturday’s outcome, the victory over NIU was the first of its kind.

“No I haven’t,” said Beshears when asked if he’d ever been a part of a more exciting finish. “That was my first fourth-quarter touchdown like that.”

For others, the fact that the Jayhawks now sit 2-0 and take a ton of confidence into next week’s match-up at Georgia Tech, offered the chance to cheer after getting off to a start that almost no one expected.

“It feels great, man,” said red-shirt freshman Brandon Bourbon, who tallied 37 yards on seven carries. “I just remember last year, standing around on the sideline, watching us get beat so bad. It was the worst feeling I’ve ever felt. And then turn to this year, when everybody’s doubting us. To go out and prove people wrong, it’s the greatest feeling I’ve ever felt.”

Added Johnson: “That ‘Sports Illustrated’ thing where were supposed to only win one game … that’s out the window. But it feels great. We’re looking forward to next week, and we want to get another one.”

Comments

misfire 2 years, 7 months ago

Come on, Turner! Please put the names on the jerseys!

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Randy Bombardier 2 years, 7 months ago

One big reason the Defense is going to improve...It practices against our Offense.

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kckmedic 2 years, 7 months ago

I have a couple of comments.

First, I bashed Gill pretty bad when he got here and I'm still not sure he will be successful here. We have scored a lot of points, and allowed a lot of points, against teams that we should handle. That being said, I see improvement. I said that I would come on here and eat crow if Gill proves me wrong. I'm not quite ready for that but I am willing to say that I feel better now than I did a year and a half ago.

Second, I still don't know why you guys continue to bash ahpers. The guy has an opinion. It is no better or no worse than yours. I love my alma mater and I'm always looking for positives. (Did anyone else see that our Cross Country teams swept the Missouri Invitational and our Volleyball team beat the number 6 team this weekend?) But I appreciate someone who is able to take off their crimson and blue glasses and call things how they really see it. Isn't that a problem that you guys have with K State and Missouri fans in basketball? They refuse to take off their purple/yellow glasses. K State fans still brag about beating us in 2008 even though we went on to win the title. The funny thing is that a lot of you were all rosey when we were getting pounded last year and you bashed people who were critical? Most objective people would have looked at you guys like you were drinking the kool-aid. Stop acting like a guy hates KU just because he can see things from a different perspective. It would be one thing if we won 44-7 and he was complaining about a few missed tackles. But you guys are acting like he's wrong for pointing out the fact that our defense couldn't stop my kid's fifth grade team. Get over yourselves.

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Jim Pendleton 2 years, 7 months ago

As someone who is usually at just about every game, I not only have to give it up for the team, but also the fans for last night's great win. It was painful for me to have to be at an out of town wedding, and miss a great win.

However, I was doing my best to track the game on my phone, and as soon as the game was over, I got about five text's and a phone call from friends at the game just going off about the win! One of my friends said the students even stayed the whole game.

Congrats to the Hawks on a great win. Yes, it appears it is going to be a challenge all year for the defense, but if the offense continues to play like this, who knows? Things could be better than many of us thought. Great job by the fans also (according to my sources)! Just reading the Star after getting back today, and it sounded like crowd was close to a full house.

As I have said many times, we must have this for all games in the future. You can have issues with how we play, be frustrated with how we play, and even compliment how we play. We must always have crowds like last night, and not sell out to other school's fans when they come to town. Let's do it again for the Tech game in a few weeks. Rock Chalk!!

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chalky 2 years, 7 months ago

We are going the right direction, that is all that matters..Go Hawks!!!

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longtimehawk 2 years, 7 months ago

That was one heck of a game last night.

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jayhawkinnebr 2 years, 7 months ago

I bet KU doesn't get another win all year.

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Scut Farkus 2 years, 7 months ago

Long has done a tremendous job with the offense. He has them playing to their strengths, including Webb. It's still hard to say what's ailing the defense. All positions look good at times and others it looks like a HS unit. He has to figure a way to get the best players on the field and that might be with the LB's. GT will be a challenge and hopefully the defense can keep KU in the game.

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yovoy 2 years, 7 months ago

I loved the management of the game toward the end. When you're down, all you want is a chance to win it at the end. We got that chance. We looked like we'd prepared for it and we acted like we were going to pull it out. I wouldn't say I was confident that we'd get it on 4th, but I wasn't surprised when we did.

I'm just glad that we weren't so blown out that our Coaches didn't get a chance to do their job. When the game is close, and all other factors are nearly the same, many times it's the coaching and decisions that make the difference. We might not win another game all year, but if our kids can keep it close enough, I'll feel better about our chances to win it at the end. That's what I took from last night's game.

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Andy Tweedy 2 years, 7 months ago

So it's true we beat an FCS team and a MAC team, albeit a very good MAC team! I realize this might not impress too many people (that's for you, ahperse)! BUT...this time last year, we could NOT beat an FCS team and probably couldn't have beaten a bad MAC team on most days. So progress is progress. It might get ugly from here on out, but I doubt it. This team will certainly be able to play with the Iowa States and Kansas States of the world and should be able to keep other games close, something they couldn't do last year. There's plenty reason to be optimistic that this team will be more competitive and more fun to watch, and that's a step in the right direction! Go 'Hawks!!!

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Ben Kane 2 years, 7 months ago

I only got to listen to audio play by play, but I must say that was one of the most exciting jayhawk games i've ever listened to. (the mizery one with meyer scoring the late td was better, but that was against mizery so it automatically gets a boost).

it does look like our D is going to get beat up every game and that means we will have to rely on our offense offensive to put up a lot of points, but it should make for a lot of exciting games.

My only complaint from the game goes against Gill who changed his mind and decided not to go for that 4th down conversion early and instead attempt a long fg. on the other hand i am so proud of our boys for hanging in that game despite all the momentum killers and I credit Gill's coaching style for that.

Let the boys take a day off and then let's get ready to go shock the world, beat GT and go 3-0! Let's go Hawks!

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tical523 2 years, 7 months ago

Even though this was a MAC Team, they are very good. Anytime a team has a solid quarterback and offensive line they have a chance, and Northern Illinois has a very solid offensive line and great quarterback. Obviously it was not a win against Georgia Tech or Oklahoma State but all I am saying is that was no cupcake win by any stretch.

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daverinoku 2 years, 7 months ago

This is why KU football is exciting -- to watch the growth, and seeing the kids (and fans) get the reward.

I admit to being a spoiled KU baskeball fan (ho-hum, beat Colorado again...).

When you don't know whether you can win, and you pull it out, the feeling is FANtastic.

Another post-er mentioned jumping around in his living room like an idiot last night. I have done that much more often for KU football (once TR arrived) than I have for bball.

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William Blake 2 years, 7 months ago

Great game, Hawks! Beshears... well done!

Keep up the momentum... and work on defense. We may surprise some people this year!

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oldalum 2 years, 7 months ago

There were some injuries on the defense last night. Has anyone heard how serious they are? Apologize in advance if that is covered in another of the football articles on the first page. This is the only one I've read.

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kranny 2 years, 7 months ago

Whether it's the MAC, the WAC, the Mountain West, Conference USA or whatever, discrediting victories because of the conference is an overrated oversight in this day and age. Gone are the days of across the board "tally-ups" for victories over these supposed cupcakes. The James Madisons and others have proven that on any given Saturday if you don't strap 'em on you're going to get beat regardless of the tradition. Whether we like or not, KU talent-wise although much more improved is still not in the same league as the big-boys, so my question is why are some still trying to compare. We beat a team last night that for all practical purposes matched up well against the Hawks position by position(except for the defense). It was a great win with no turnovers and great effort against a team with a QB who is up for just about every award out there save the Heisman. NO it wasn't USC, Texas, Florida, or Auburn, but the Jayhawks have shown a great amount of improvement and commitment. I still think the Hawks are realistically only going to win 3 maybe 4 games unless the defense shows up but I'm going to enjoy the moment as much as my blood pressure allows.

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HAWKTOPIA 2 years, 7 months ago

Hawk fans, the offence has arrived. Don't be confused, it is the offensive line.

The difference between an OK quarterback and a great one is about 1 second in the pocket. The difference between a 3 yard loss, a 5 yard gain, and a 15 yard scamper, is 1,2,or 3 solid blocks. Three cheers for the guys in the trenches, creating the opportunity to let players play. and coaches coach.

maybe they could play both sides?

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 7 months ago

Woody Hayes summed up football quite nicely..." the ugliest victory is still 100 times better than the prettiest win."

Moral victories are for losers. I'll take a game like this every week.

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haydenhawkco 2 years, 7 months ago

The one thing that stuck out for me on the winning TD play was how composed the offense was while listening to Gill on the sideline and before the snap. They looked like it was just another play.

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actorman 2 years, 7 months ago

I'll give you credit for a funny line, ahp... But I'll also point out that the play that was overturned was a defensive stop. Since it was clearly the right call (with the ball touching the ground, which can cause an incompletion, not a fumble, as the idiot announcer kept saying), the defense did stop them on that drive. And it was huge.

And speaking of idiot announcers, not only did they call the end of the first quarter three minutes into the game, but they also referred to the sold-out crowd of "55,000," which would have broken the old attendance record by 3,000 and which would have been 7,000 more than the actual attendance of 48,000. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Is it too much to ask to actually hire announcers that won't drive you insane?

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Keith Hummel 2 years, 7 months ago

I share your concern, but I think our troubles are mostly attributable to the DB's. Shealy even tried using the dime package early on last night in an attempt to stop the passing game, but they got burned so often they had to abandon it. Our DB's have not been able to play man-to-man coverage very well, and our Line can't stop the run game without LB support. The only option left has been to leave huge cushions, which of course exposes us to endless bubble screens. Until our DB play improves substantially I just don't see an end to the defensive woes.

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kufanman88 2 years, 7 months ago

Brandon, good job but don't get too confident. You were only playing a MAC team. The real test begins when you start playing real competition. That will determine whether you are just better than last year or a team that can actually compete in the Big12(the place where you have to win the majority of your games to get to a bowl). Only five more wins until you are bowl eligible.

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Mark Lindrud 2 years, 7 months ago

The win showed heart and guts by a team that now has major momentum and pride. People can bash ahper all they want, but we have lots of work to do if we want to continue with our improvement, especially if we want more wins. I like our offense a lot and the fact it is very young is highly encouraging to me.

Our defense at this point can't stop a cold and that is my biggest concern. We have strong safety play and very active linebackers, which means at least some of the pieces are in place. On the other hand our defensive line is weak and doesn't apply much pressure which isn't helping our below average corners.

Overall we are making strides, which I am excited about, but we are winning against average competition. A win is a win and that is what matters, but our D needs to step up.

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Chris1955 2 years, 7 months ago

Really? That's the best you can do? I've come to expect better negative comments than this one.

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Steve Gantz 2 years, 7 months ago

Anyone know where you can get video highlights from this game?

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ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 7 months ago

It wasn't a skinny person that first dipped a tortilla chip into ranch dressing and ate it! And I'm still laughing at the person that said, "this is America, you can always get fatter,"

If the "miracle socks" company would of hired Mario Chalmers to be their spokesman and called them "Mario's Miracle Scocks" they would of sold out all of their inventory by halftime.

You can use a "slice o matic" blindfolded.

We needed every last second to beat a team from the MAC. We are one last second, fourth down, play is being reviewed touchdown catch from losing.

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Keith Hummel 2 years, 7 months ago

What a tremendous win! I just couldn't be prouder of how these guys have developed and improved in every possible way. I'm especially proud of how they never quit last night, constantly finding new ways to get yards and first downs and scores, time after time after time. Good teams find ways to win, and this team did just that when they could have easily given up. With the game on the line, Webb made a perfect throw to his third read in the progression with a blitz chasing him down. That last play epitomizes the difference between last year and this year, and the huge improvement in Webb and this team. How can you not be excited about the potential of this offense, and the competitive spirit they've demonstrated. Yes, we still have some major concerns with our "D", but no one can deny now that this offense can move the ball and score points. It's gonna be fun to watch.

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jhawkrulz 2 years, 7 months ago

I haven't been too positive, but I do expect and have expected improvement both from comptetiveness and W/L for this year.

I've said all along the first two had two be wins.

KSU/ISU need to be wins.

TTU/GT/MU (need 2 of 3)

UT/BU (Would love to be competitive, although the way UT has looked this year, it could be a potential win)

TAM/OU/OSU (I don't even expect to be comptetive)

That would be how we would get to 5-7 wins.

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Michael Maris 2 years, 7 months ago

By the way, all of you fans in favor of having Kansas in the PAC-??, how did you like staying awake the the other night when the Missouri team played Arizona State (and lost)?

I ended up falling asleep before the game was even over. Had to find out what the score was the next day. Yeah, that is what you will get if your desires come true. Late night starts (even for the Arizona games).

Webb has improved alot. Running back combinations is really a nice change to see (compared to the past few years).

Kale Pick being so wide open (for the 2nd quarter touchdown), Dave Doeren probably was wishing that Bowen was coaching the secondary for NIU.

Defense still has ALOT of work to do. Chandler Harnish appears to really be able to see the field very well and is able to make plays both through the air and on the ground.

But, I'm getting very tired of seeing the KU corners playing 10 yards off of the opponents receiving corp. (and allowing them to get so open). Course, I will say this, watching NIU game plan last night reminded me alot of Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier, Desmon Briscoe and others. Harnish is just a taller QB than Reesing.

Great win J-hawks. Now, focus on the next game at hand. G-Tech will be out for major revenge (since KU was the beginning of a terrible season for the Yellow Jackets last season).

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Blake Post 2 years, 7 months ago

Way better than last year. I notice ksu has no offense. That game will be interesting.

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4everahawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Congrats Jayhawks!!! The biggest thrill for me was watching the determination to win that was nonexistent last year. They never hung their heads after penalties and simply never gave up. They definitely played til the last second with the same intensity they had at kickoff.

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minnhawk84 2 years, 7 months ago

Five more wins to 7-5, baby. Here we go! Keep the faith.

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Kevin Studer 2 years, 7 months ago

This was an incredibly fun game, and I am excited about the outcome. On offense, we are indeed making some positive strides. But let's face it, if the defense doesn't improve substantially, we may not win another game all year.

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jhwkfan162515 2 years, 7 months ago

Who wants to feed me some crow? I said KU was going 1-11, and they've already exceeded my expectations.

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duanep5ku 2 years, 7 months ago

I have to agree with most Kansas Fan's about one thing this was a very exciting thrill ride of a game to watch and a great win,for the future of Gill and company.

I know the critics will come on here later today and point out all the negatives about KU winning this Game. I say to them bring It on because theirs a lot of good things happening with this program too. Kansas Football- early Breakdown The good, Kansas has a lot of speed on this team in some key areas, most of the logical fan's on here will know it's a start.

I just want to add on here as a long time suffering Kansas fan, who lived through the dreadful 90's with KU and the famous, no win season. The Positive about the 2011 team.
I don't remember having a Kansas team with this kind of speed and depth in all my years of watching Kansas Football.

I also want to remind all the three star recruiting critics on here, that this talent level at KU now is not the same as the other lower recruits we had back then. Those three stars or lower rated player back then were not in the same ball park. As the current 3 stars that we have now on the team. They were a different breed then our current players we have now, here's why most of those lower star player s we had were bigger maybe but they were slow.

So stop judging player's solely based on those stupid rankings, they help some maybe but their not everything, Let them play first before the judging.

The Good coach TG gets it and his staff is recruiting the speed we need, to compete at a higher level.

Kansas fans need to keep in mind the positive so far Turner Gill in year two years, has brought more speed to Kansas then anyone in a long time, and older fans who remember the 90's know what I'm talking about. Ok I really don't need to bring up the bad because everyone else will cover that later. The Defense, ouch but hey it's only year two for this regime. So it will take time but another key note about tonight for the naysayers posting on here, forget the conference they play in or who they are because Kansas was the under dog tonight. So this was a nice win.

The good- Kansas hopefully will not face to many teams this year that combine, This type of offense, running and passing. So the D has a chance to get better- minus injuries. The Best positive about this team, if the defense fails at least hopefully the offense can win in a shootout high scoring type game, which in my opinion beats the hell out of losing in a 7-3 game. Kansas fans it's already a major step up from last year and it's only season two for Gill and Company, It takes time and so far it's better.

PS- Kansas fans let's all hope for a defense to emerge soon.

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kujayhox 2 years, 7 months ago

what a white knuckle thrill ride that games was! i know we have issues, but one issue we dont have right now is a blemish on our record.

ROCK CHALK!!!

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actorman 2 years, 7 months ago

And before you post, ahpuke, let me save you the typing: "It was against a mid-major, the defense couldn't stop anyone, they still haven't forced a turnover all year, they made some dumb penalties, blah, blah, blah." Yes, all of that is true, and no, none of it matters right now. It's all about making progress and moving the program in the right direction, and even the usual negativity we can expect from ahpuke and his ilk won't change that fact.

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actorman 2 years, 7 months ago

Wow!!!!! One of the greatest games I've ever seen. It compares to that incredible game against Misuse a few years ago when Kerry Meier scored with a few seconds left to win it. Hats off to so many players who made huge plays, but more than anything else I can say this: Jayhawk Nation, we have ourselves a quarterback. What an incredible game Webb had! The stats don't even begin to do him justice for how great he played.

One small quibble about the coaching is that they should have let the clock tick down to five seconds or so before calling the last timeout, so that the last TD would have been on the last play of the game and NIU wouldn't have had even a tiny chance to come back. But that's obviously a small issue, and there's so much to be excited about. What a huge step forward for the program.

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