Saturday, November 17, 2018

Pooka Williams’ prolific night not enough in KU’s loss to No. 6 Oklahoma

Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr. (1) runs ahead of Oklahoma defenders during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr. (1) runs ahead of Oklahoma defenders during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)


Norman, Okla. — One freshman’s transcendent night on a national stage only went so far for the Kansas football team Saturday night, what with No. 6 Oklahoma and one of the nation’s top players, quarterback Kyler Murray, lining up across from the Jayhawks.

KU’s star running back, Pooka Williams, accounted for 321 yards overall, scored two rushing touchdowns and even threw for another score. All of that, plus a pair of takeaways from the Jayhawks’ defense, though, only added up to a 55-40 defeat at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, in front of an announced crowd of 86,371.

Was it the primetime game under the lights that fueled Williams’ latest wizardry? Not according to his coach, David Beaty.

“I think he plays as hard as he can every day. Here’s the deal: that kid just gets better every week because he works at it,” Beaty said. “He loves the game and he continues to work at it. … He’s a special player.”

After OU went up 18 points in the final minute of the third quarter, the Jayhawks relied on their dependable freshman running back to do even more than they typically ask of him.

Following Williams’ 45-yard burst to end the third, KU opened the final quarter 11 yards from the end zone. On the second snap of the fourth, following a bit of KU confusion and a timeout, the offense returned to the field with Carter Stanley at quarterback instead of starter Peyton Bender (19-for-27 passing, 167 yards).

But it was Williams who would be doing the passing on the play. After taking the handoff, Williams kept moving right as he eyed senior receiver Jeremiah Booker, headed for the back right corner of the end zone. Williams may have led Booker a bit too far with his throw, but the veteran still got one foot down in bounds to complete the touchdown and give KU one last sense of hope.

“He’s so much fun to be around,” Beaty said of the freshman from Louisiana. “He brings so much energy to that team. He surprised me with that pass. That was the best throw he’s made, even in practice. It never looked like that and he made a terrific throw and I thought Book made a terrific catch. Proud of them for continuing to fight.”

And even though Williams wasn’t done there, OU put the game out of reach within the next two minutes of play.

Heisman Trophy candidate Murray (272 passing yards, 99 rushing yards, five total TDs) beat KU junior safety Bryce Torneden in the open field, then sprinted away from everyone wearing a white jersey for a 75-yard rushing score.

With OU up 41-24, KU’s chances of rallying took a fatal blow at the conclusion of the Jayhawks’ next offensive possession. After an unsuccessful series meant the visitors would punt, the Sooners’ Brayden Willis blocked Kyle Thompson’s kick and Curtis Bolton picked it up off the grass to run 9 yards for a TD and, following an extra point, OU had itself a 48-24 cushion.

The near impossibility of a comeback didn’t seem to faze Williams, though. His masterpiece continued on the very next series, as his patience, cutting, and speed allowed him to deliver a 42-yard touchdown run.

"Man, he's a freak,” Beaty said. “He's as good a player as I've ever been around for sure.”

Kansas scored more points than it ever had before in Big 12 play under Beaty, the outgoing fourth-year coach. And the visitors even scored 14 points off OU turnovers.

They didn’t have the final piece of a winning formula, though, because the Jayhawks didn’t make nearly enough defensive stops.

Oklahoma (566 yards) went 9-for-10 on third downs and scored eight TDs on 11 possessions.

“A lot of that is Kyler Murray,” Beaty said. “He is a talented guy. How many plays did he make in broke down and 3rd and long situations?”

Redshirt senior linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. (14 total tackles) explained what went wrong for KU’s defense.

“Honestly, the offense did everything they needed to do. They held onto the ball. They maintained possession and obviously they scored a lot of points. The defense just needs to come up and make more plays.” Dineen began, adding that OU’s playmakers exploited KU defenders in wrong positions. “Credit to them. Obviously they’ve got some guys and Kyler, he was fast, man. He was a different animal.”

A rare bad decision from Murray on OU’s opening series of the second half fueled the Jayhawks’ dreams of delivering a truly special night. Senior KU cornerback Shak Taylor skied to pick off a Murray pass toward the left sideline.

And for the second time on the night, KU’s offense made sure the Sooners paid for their giveaway.

Williams should have been tackled who knows how many times on a wild, meandering run that highlighted the ensuing series. And Khalil Herbert’s 3-yard TD run a few plays later allowed KU to cut it to 21-17.

Of course, a 77-yard Sooners scoring drive in response, which concluded with one of Murray’s five total touchdowns got the top-10 team back on track.

KU led 10-7 thanks to a 45-yard field goal by Oklahoma native Gabriel Rui but the lead didn’t stand a full three minutes.

Murray made his easiest throw of the night to put OU back on top for good with a 20-yard pass to a wide-open Carson Meier.

KU junior safety Mike Lee (nine total tackles) assured the massive underdogs of a hot start when he robbed OU’s Kennedy Brooks on 1st and goal on the Sooners’ opening drive.

Oklahoma was on the verge of taking an immediate lead before Lee ripped the ball free as Brooks went down, near KU’s 10-yard line. Then the defensive back from New Orleans dove onto the grass to win the loose ball in a scrum.

“It set up big momentum for both sides of the ball,” Lee said.

Even better for the Jayhawks, they actually turned the takeaway into points, even though doing so wasn’t exactly easy — KU’s running backs just made it look that way.

In what proved to be some offensive foreshadowing, the Jayhawks relied on their running game on the ensuing series. Sophomore Dom Williams accounted for 19 rushing yards, junior Khalil Herbert chipped in 5 on the ground and 7 more on a catch, and Pooka Williams introduced himself to the OU faithful with rushes of 39 and 23 yards, the second of which capped a 93-yard TD drive on the series’ seventh play, putting the Big 12’s perennial losing program up 7-0.

KU’s early lead didn’t last long, as the Sooners responded with a four-play TD drive powered by a blown coverage in KU’s secondary, leading to a 40-yard Murray pass to Lee Morris. Two snaps later, Murray spooked would-be tacklers with his stutter step and ran for a 7-yard TD.

KU’s 13 rushes for 117 yards in the first quarter — compared to just four passes for 28 yards — proved a critical aspect of its would-be upset bid.

The Kansas offense finished with 348 rushing yards and 524 yards of total offense in defeat.

The Jayhawks’ season — and the Beaty era — conclude Friday, when Texas visits David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.


Max Ledom 2 years, 2 months ago

Say what you will about Coach Beaty. That probably more than anything it is his bone headed decisions that cost his job more than anything this year.

But there is no doubt Beaty has done an admirable job making KU competitive at the very most again.

It’s easy to hate on the guy and to say he is terrible by looking at his record alone. And truthfully there isn’t much you can do to defend him from that. But he took a program that blew itself up so massively that it’s unlike anything in the history of college football. Ben Heeney tweeted this the other day. He truly believes a 30 for 30 will be made on the absolute destruction that administrators at this university allowed to happen, and even in some cases seemed to fan the flame.

None of this is Beaty’s fault, he took an impossible job. At this years end, could we say we honestly should be a 5 win team? Yes, an argument could be made, and made well, unlike many of the 10 years of disgusting KU football.

But this wasn’t Beaty’s fault, but it was his burden to bear. In the long run, he shot himself in the foot too many times. Where it became clear he is in over his head and isn’t the guy for this job. But there is no doubt he gave 100% and set the university up for future success. He just won’t be the one to see that through. In many ways he was his own pawn sacrifice. I commend him for it and wish him well.

Joe Ross 2 years, 2 months ago

I said something similar under another article:

"The final score wasn't a blowout.

"Against OU.


"I know Beaty needed to be replaced, and I argued for it. No question. Miles is the guy to take us to the next level. But in a media frenzy where the high-intensity spotlight is shining on him, standing off out of the light is a man of integrity by the name of David Beaty for whom I will be grateful because he DID improve the standing of KU football, albeit modestly and although the improvement has really only shown in his final year. Still, a couple of seasons from now I think we'll look back on Beaty more favorably, and at that point concensus will be that his real contribution was positioning Kansas for later success (even though the Win-Loss column won't show it because the record is terrible). David to me is a guy who laid the groundwork upon which his successor will build, while observable metrics eluded the man himself. Even the relative improvement in his final year had to be Beaty. Bottom line for me? Beaty is a guy who would always be improving, without ever actually achieving "success".

"But Beaty has closed the gap some, y'all.

"The blowout losses have dwindled (only 2 games with losses greater than 21 points). Kansas is scoring an average of 24.5 points to its opponents' 30.5 points, an average difference of only 6 points. That's only a one-touchdown differential per game, ON AVERAGE! In the classroom the academic ranking of the football team has improved.

"Fair-minded individuals might therefore see Zenger's tenure at Kansas in the same light. Preparatory in nearly every sense. In the Beaty coaching hire (which as above was precursory itself), the pathway for a new stadium (including tearing out the track, the building of Rock Chalk Park, and the beginning of plans for stadium renovations), facilities for the team are improving, and even in some sense preparing the fans for better days ahead in football by introducing them to Rock (Chalk) Bottom, such that we have no other place to go but positive. I have this very strong feeling that as a program we have been a slingshot stretched as far back as we can go, and when this program finally gets released we're going to rocket forward. Every success will be magnified because we are Kansas. Observable progress will produce disproportionate gains in recruiting, booster contributions, and band-wagoning fan support (Bryce Landon might even try to show his face in the football comments with positive stuff). But I digress. Zenger, like Beaty, did not actually produce results during his own time at Kansas, but his presence here may prove redemptive over the course of time.

"It'll be on Miles now to take us over the goal line."

Bryce Landon 2 years, 2 months ago

Couldn't help but chuckle at the name drop, Joe.

But yeah, I just might return to the fold if Kansas can show real signs of life. As they say, "If you build it, they will come (or, in my case, come back)."

Until and unless that happens...


Al Martin 2 years, 2 months ago

There were still some Beaty-isms on display last night, but I have to agree. The players are better, and they played hard. I also wondered if being relieved of his future duties finally freed him up some in his play calling, and freed the players, too. The offensive line play was better than it's been in quite a while.

And Bryce, you're still a tool.

Doug Cramer 2 years, 2 months ago

Thanks Coach Beaty for not giving up and fighting to the end !

Very admirable.

Hire Beaty back into the program as wide receivers coach.

Andy Godwin 2 years, 2 months ago

Credit to the whole KU team. They showed heart and guts and never backed down. Pooka was the best player on the field, yet Murray still got the lion share of the praise. To win against OU everything has to go your way, but in the end KU did not make enough plays to make the Sooners sweat. I will say that the officials let OU get by with some very dirty plays, especially in the first half; however, KU responded by not backing down. Unfortunately, the special teams were a big disappointment (poor kickoffs and coverage and then the blocked punt that was return for a TD sealed the loss). The Jawkhawks showed fight and continue to prove that they did not deserve to be a 34.5 point underdog against OU nor a two TD dog against KSU (who they should have beaten if not for some questionable penalties). Hopefully, fans will show up on a Friday to honor the seniors and help send them off with a win against Texas. It is a must win for Texas to advance to the Big 12 Champion, so it will not be easy. Nothing better than preventing UT that opportunity. Rock Chalk.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 2 months ago

Pretty laughable that you pat yourselves on the back for a "moral victory" in staying within two touchdowns of OU. Did your defense even show up?

I got tired of moral victories long ago, which is why I'm a Hawkeye fan for football now. Iowa gives REAL victories. We went into Illinois' crib and shut them out 63-0! We actually have a defense. We can win more than 1 conference game a year. And we can win conference games away from our own stadium!

And I am licking my chops to see Iowa take the lumber to Nebraska next Friday!


Kevin Robert Fest 2 years, 2 months ago

Oh look the A hat Bryce Landon is back. Self professed KU hater Iowa lover but stills keeping tabs on KU. WHAT A LOSER. Go eat a pair.

David Kemp 2 years, 2 months ago

Iowa plus Ferentz = annual underachievers and boring fb

Dane Pratt 2 years, 2 months ago

Closet KU football fan. Claims he doesn't care but can't stop reading about it and and can't stop commenting on it.

Michael Maris 2 years, 2 months ago

My intuition tells me, if Beaty 2019 recruiting commitments was sitting like it was a year ago, then he may still be the captain of the ship. But, with only 1 verbal commitment on the board, and no Kansas, Texas, Louisiana or Oklahoma commitments then the writing was on the wall for him.

Robert Brock 2 years, 2 months ago

Beaty was never worthy of being hired at KU. GET OUT!

Craig Jackson 2 years, 2 months ago

The tenor of the vultures does change once there is no more meat left on the bone. Would love for all of you Nellies to take up a second hobby...writing eulogies. "Boy, we sure did hate him when he was alive but now that he is dead, he isnt such a bad guy after all." Maybe it helps make you feel better after the years of pounding the guy. It got Keegan a vine out of Larryville.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 2 months ago

Beaty fired himself on opening day. There was virtually no practical way back from that debacle vs Nichols.

Revisionist history isn’t going to create a positive legacy for six wins in four years along with gross mismanagement of scholarships. Make no mistake, the next guy has a mess to clean up.

Aaron Paisley 2 years, 2 months ago

BS, Beaty did not grossly mismanage the scholarships. That would be Charlie Weis that screwed up the scholarship situation to the point of not even having enough scholarship players for a 2 deep when Beaty took over.

That scholarship mess Charlie Weis left was an 8 year rebuild to not only get scholarship numbers in line, but also senior class sizes in line. KU is graduating 30 seniors this year because of the class imbalance Weis created. Miles will still have work to do with the scholarship situation, but it has far more to do with how Weos recruited than how Beaty recruited. Beaty wasn't perfect when it came to scholarships, but KU is in better shape now than when Beaty arrived and Miles won't have an FCS roster next season filled with walk ons.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 2 months ago

It is funny to see Bryce coming back to shine the light on the hawkeyes and their impressive win against arguably one of the 10 worst teams uofi as comparison to our game against a top 10 team. True to form there's no mention of their losing streak or pummeling by middle of the road programs. My guess is he'll also quit on them when the going gets tough.

As for the scholarships, TK wrote an article this past spring showing the team was 6 JC recruits in the next class away from having a balanced roster with about 20 scholarships per class. Unfortunately the article seems to have been removed from the site and true to form he had to come to a negative conclusion in spite of the facts.

While the overall results were not successful, Coac Beaty was absolutely successful in one of the primary tasks identified with his introduction. He had to rebuild the roster and we 100% are better off than the crater he inherited.

David Kemp 2 years, 2 months ago

Pooka and Miles recruiting and coaching will make KU relevant.

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