Last season, in a 70-28 loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., the Kansas University football team marched down the field on its opening drive, took a 7-0 lead, blinked and found itself trailing by 49 points at halftime.
Yes, there were still 15 minutes in each quarter, but the Oklahoma State offense chose not to use much of that time while racking up touchdown after touchdown against KU’s overmatched and out-of-breath defense.
Consider this: The eight straight OSU touchdown drives that followed KU’s initial score took an average of five plays and 1:44. Four of them took less than a minute and the longest was a 12-play drive that took just 3:14 off the clock.
Although a few key pieces of OSU’s crazy-paced offense are gone, the Cowboys still utilize the same fastbreak style and the Jayhawks are expecting to see plenty of it this weekend when they play host to OSU at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
“As soon as you finish the play, it’s get right back to the ball, get lined up and get the call because there’s no time for any wasted movement or any wasted time,” senior safety Bradley McDougald recalled.
While most of the OSU tempo comes from its no-huddle, quick-throw attack, the Cowboys also prominently feature tailback Joseph Randle — he leads the Big 12 in rushing and is sixth nationally — and are not afraid to take whatever the defense gives them.
“They attack all areas of the football field,” defensive coordinator Dave Campo said. “And I think, No. 1, we gotta make sure we don’t give up the big play in the passing game. That’s first.”
To that end, the Jayhawks have been preparing all week for the faster pace. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be ready.
“It’s something you can’t simulate at practice,” senior Toben Opurum said. “You kind of have to mentally prepare for it and get yourself ready for what they’re gonna do.”
Although the Cowboy way almost always shifts the advantage to Oklahoma State’s side of the field, several KU defenders said there were ways to flip the script.
“The good thing about that is you don’t have too many plays that they’re gonna spin off of that,” McDougald said. “Of course, they’ll add motion to try to confuse you, but usually when teams are going that fast they’re running the same two or three plays.”
Added senior linebacker Tunde Bakare, who said the OSU game last year was one of the more unbelievable experiences of his life: “What you have to do to stop that, is make a big play, get a turnover, something like that. Because once you get them off track it’s hard for them to keep speeding up the tempo.”
Doing that is certainly easier said than done, and that’s why Bakare began preparing for this week’s game long before it arrived on the schedule.
“Actually, this offseason, that was one of the games I got in shape because of,” Bakare said. “I didn’t feel like I was in good shape that game and I’ve just really tried to get more prepared for games like that.”