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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Pilfer party: KU’s 6 takeaways power blowout win over Rutgers

Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. (29) celebrates an interception by Kansas cornerback Corione Harris (2) during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. (29) celebrates an interception by Kansas cornerback Corione Harris (2) during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.

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Rutgers freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski chose a bad time to throw in the direction of University of Kansas safety Mike Lee.

On the second snap of the second quarter, Lee already had witnessed enough Saturday at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium to commence scheming.

KU’s takeaway-happy defense left the field with possession of the ball three times in the first quarter alone. Then, during the timeout leading up to the second quarter, former KU star quarterback Todd Reesing capped his Ring of Honor ceremony by leaping and delivering one of his signature fiery fist pumps.

The stage, Lee felt, was set for his big moment. And he pounced with an interception that he doggedly returned 31 yards for a touchdown, further inciting the Jayhawks to drub visiting Rutgers, 55-14.

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Kansas safety Mike Lee (11) celebrates before the cameras after returning an interception for a touchdown during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.

“He pumped me up,” Lee said of Reesing’s crowd- and sideline-pleasing antics. “Also Bryce (Torneden) had pumped me up, too. He caught his pick six (in the first quarter) and I felt like I was the only DB out there without an interception. So I felt like my time’s gonna come and my time came. I felt like I had to make a play and I did.”

Lee juked to avoid at least four different Scarlet Knights while following a group of KU defenders to the goal line, setting up an early 17-point lead.

“I tried to tell them I’ve got running back skills,” a grinning Lee said of previous joking conversations with KU’s coaching staff. “But they don’t listen to me. They see now.”

By the conclusion of the biggest Kansas rout of a Power Five opponent since, appropriately enough, Reesing and the Jayhawks dismantled Baylor, 58-10, in 2007, the defense had six takeaways, replicating the blueprint for an easy victory that they discovered just a week earlier. Seven days after six KU takeaways keyed a win at Central Michigan, the Jayhawks somehow pulled it off again in front of a home crowd of 28,044.

“Obviously it gives our offense more opportunities to score, which is huge,” redshirt senior linebacker Joe Dineen said of the improbable takeaway feat. “But for the defense, just in general, it’s building momentum and keeping that spark alive. It really helps when you’re taking the ball away. Guys start having more fun, you start playing better together. It’s a huge part of our defense and that’s a credit to (defensive coordinator Clint) Bowen for getting us in the right spot at the right time.”

The enjoyment began for the defense early in the first quarter, when junior nickelback Torneden secured the first of KU’s three interceptions on the day. In the midst of trying to disrupt a receiver’s route with his hands, Torneden turned back toward the line of scrimmage, remembering one of Bowen’s points of emphasis, to keep his eyes on the QB.

“The ball was in the air and he threw it right to me. Just green grass,” Torneden said of a 39-yard TD return that gave KU a 10-0 lead less than five minutes in. “I took a couple looks around me, but I wanted to be sure. I got kind of paranoid.”

Dineen, a high school teammate of Torneden at Free State, as well, said his teammate “better have” scored on the play.

“I’m just kidding. Bryce has been all over the field for us,” Dineen went on, after Torneden finished with six total tackles and a fumble recovery against RU (1-2). “He’s really stepped up for us this year and he’s a leader on the field. Obviously he’s a hell of a football player,” the captain added, mentioning Torneden’s three takeaways in the past two KU wins. “That’s not too bad for a nickel back. That’s not too bad at all.”

The KU defense added a Corione Harris interception, a Dineen fumble recovery and a Willie McCaleb fumble recovery to its afternoon joy ride. Shak Taylor and Kyron Johnson received credit for forcing fumbles, as well.

Rutgers left with 274 total yards in the loss, compared to KU’s 544, a number boosted by a 400-yard day for the rushing attack — freshman Pooka Williams took off for 158 yards on 18 carries, with a 52-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Head coach David Beaty praised both sides of the ball following his third victory against an FBS program in 35 games.

“Now we got a couple of pick sixes which was great and the byproduct sometimes is you got to go back on the field a few times quick. And they played a lot of plays in the first half. That first quarter felt like it took forever. I'm not sure how long it lasted, but there was a time in there right there towards the end of the first half that we had to find, we had to get a gut check going and make sure that we hunkered down and we went and answered offensively,” Beaty said.

It was about that time that junior running back Khalil Herbert took off for a 59-yard rushing touchdown, providing the Jayhawks (2-1) with a 31-14 halftime lead.

Starting quarterback Peyton Bender, who shared repetitions with Miles Kendrick in the first half before watching the whole second half from the sideline, said KU’s knack for defensive touchdowns — it has three in the past two weeks — made the offense’s job much easier.

“Man, it is awesome. It’s great to see them have another incredible game,” Bender said. “I feel like it carried over from last week. And it gives you a little bit of relief for the offensive side. They scored two pick sixes today and set us up in great field position off multiple turnovers. Makes it easier for us. It’s definitely awesome to see that. Hopefully they can continue to play like that.”

Torneden, who came up with his first career interception, said pressure up front form KU’s defense linemen and linebackers made the secondary’s interceptions possible.

Takeaways, he added, were an emphasis for the defense in 2017, too.

“It’s just we’re playing better. We’re playing collectively as a unit more so than we did last year,” Torneden said. “We need to continue to maintain this going into conference play.”

Before Beaty even made it to KU’s locker room after the program’s first back-to-back wins since 2011, the captains were addressing their teammates about the 2-1 showing in nonconference play.

Daniel Wise, fellow captain Dineen shared, drove the message home.

“Don’t get complacent. We haven’t arrived yet. And there’s a lot of room for us to get better and grow,” the linebacker shared of the subject addressed. “Obviously enjoy the win, because it’s a good feeling for sure. But keep in mind that we have a lot of football left to play and we’ve still got to get better.”

Sophomore Kendrick, who completed 6 of 11 passes for 66 yards and a TD and rushed for 28 yards and another score, reiterated that sentiment.

“It’s an awesome feeling coming off the field. And dominating today was great,” Kendrick said. “This is what we work for. And we want more, so we’re going to keep going.”

KU plays at Baylor this coming Saturday.

SCORING PLAYS

FIRST QUARTER

11:22 — Gabriel Rui 49 field goal. Six-play drive for 41 yards, in 1:57. (KU 3, RU 0.)

10:30 — Bryce Torneden 39 interception return. Rui kick. (KU 10, RU 0.)

9:06 — Deonte Roberts 64 return of blocked field goal. (KU 10, RU 7.)

4:46 — Jeremiah Booker 6 pass from Miles Kendrick. Rui kick. Ten-play drive for 75 yards, in 4:20. (KU 17, RU 7.)

SECOND QUARTER

14:10 — Mike Lee 33 interception return. Rui kick. (KU 24, RU 7.)

3:07 — Jonathan Hilliman 2 run. Justin Davidovicz kick. Nine-play drive for 86 yards, in 2:58. (KU 24, RU 14.)

2:29 — Khalil Herbert 59 run. Rui kick. Two-play drive for 75 yards, in 0:38. (KU 31, RU 14.)

THIRD QUARTER

6:08 — Kendrick 8 run. Rui kick. Five-play drive for 25 yards, in 1:34. (KU 38, RU 14.)

3:38 — Rui 34 field goal. Five-play drive for 19 yards, in 1:21. (KU 41, RU 14.)

FOURTH QUARTER

14:51 — Pooka Williams 52 run. Liam Jones kick. Five-play drive for 66 yards, in 2:09. (KU 48, RU 14.)

9:28 — Deron Thompson 55 run. Jones kick. Six-play drive for 82 yards, in 2:59. (KU 55, RU 14.)

Comments

Joe Ross 2 months ago

Q: Which quarterback will start vs. Baylor? If the nod goes to Kendrick, should they use both quarterbacks in a game?

Q: In the Beaty era, the Baylor Bears have never been more beatable than this year. But can Kansas actually pull off an upset?

Q: The Nicholl's State game could have gone in Kansas' favor (and would have if Pooka Williams was available). Every game Pooka has played in, we've won. Is he a conference POY candidate?

Q: Where can wins come on Kansas' remaining schedule? Baylor? ISU? TT? Kansas State?

Q: Is it possible that Kansas will miss a 5-game win tally (the total I think is necessary to keep Beaty around) because of Pooka's "ineligibility" for game 1? Could they miss a bowl because of it?

Q: How good is Kansas? It's two wins were against terrible teams. We are heading into the meat of the schedule now. But you have to like the improvement in performance on the field.

John Myers 2 months ago

Q1- I feel like we should just stick with Kendrick. His mobility is too much of an advantage over Bender. Regardless of who we use, though, our passing game needs to pick it up, because B12 teams are gonna have a much better time stopping our run game, I have a feeling.

Q2- I think Baylor is upsettable for sure

Q3- Not Conf POY unless we win WAY more games than expected

Q4- Tech just hung 63 on Houston and I have no confidence that we can stop that. I think Baylor, Texas, ISU, KSU and Texas are beatable, probably in that order

Q5- I still feel like getting two B12 wins might be a stretch, but I'm way more confident in it after today

Q6- Definitely improved and pleased to see it. I feel like we'll probably still get knocked around pretty bad in conference play, but the kids have gotta be motivated after the past two weeks. Wins breed motivation, confidence, chemistry and all that, so who knows what'll happen.

Dane Pratt 2 months ago

Q: Where can wins come on Kansas' remaining schedule? Baylor? ISU? TT? Kansas State?

Early indications suggest these are the most likely opponents to earn a W but with the exception of Iowa State, they are all road games. Darn.

Dirk Medema 2 months ago

ISU gave a OU it's toughest game of the year.

TTech put up 60+ to beat Houston.

UT dominated USC.

But I thought the real question was who should be the interim head coach , since we've moved past the Why in h--- is Beaty even coaching another d--- wasted season. #fickle?

Jeff Coffman 2 months ago

1) I'd be concerned about accuracy for Kendrick, so far we haven't played defensive teams and the accuracy needs to be there. On the sideline quick outs you need to have arm strength to get it there. In the Rutgers game the teams were playing back. The defenders would almost stop allowing KU receivers to get 5 yards, I would think that B12 defenders are going to close the gap faster. Those likely will be 1-2 yard losses. I'd like to see Kendrick improve to be the starter, but as of right now, I think Bender still gives us the best chance in a pass happy league.

Baylor Beatable? Please review the tape from last year on a 1-11 team that came to Lawrence...we go to Waco. Let's not get to far ahead of ourselves.

"And would have" that is a bad statement. Nicholls only had 63 scholarshiped players, this also assumes that they didn't have players on the bench. If you look at the box score our running backs (both of them) ran for more than 5 yards a carry. We chose to pass the ball many times and pretty inconsistently. Our running game wasn't the problem in that game. It was the choice not to run the ball and we couldn't stop their run.

Wins from KU, in the Big XII have required 6 turnovers. We have 2 games with that total this year that have resulted in wins. Which teams in the Big XII are likely to give us a significant turnover margin to make it competitive? I would guess Baylor or Texas, but I don't think we match up well with either of those teams.

Last year Beaty set the win total at 6 wins, why lower your standards (or his) with just 5 wins? I know I'm one of the few that thinks he should be fired because he didn't finish the non-conference 3-0, but even as such I don't think 5 should save his job.

I'm not convinced KU is that good. The CMU team was decimated by senior graduation last year and the QB had had very limited reps. That team was young and is bad. They just lost to a really bad NIU team as well.

Rutgers might be the worst team of all, and win a freshman QB that has thrown 7 picks to 1 td, granted 1 game was against Ohio State, it still shows how bad that team has been. I also don't think Rutgers is geared to stop the pass. Look at the quick outs that got 5 yards every time...those will be 2-3 yard losses in Big XII play.

I've been wrong with win totals this year, but i'm still not as optimistic on the team heading into BXII play, I just don't think we are there yet and I think the B XII QBs and offenses will expose a poor running defense that will quickly dispel the gaps in our passing offense.

Micky Baker 2 months ago

400 yards on the ground! Just think if the passing game could just get 300 yards? There were opportunities but Bender just didn't make accurate throws early. That could have turned drives that resulted with 0 points into 14 more points and 7 fewer points for Rutgers. With that aside, KU cleaned things up in the 2nd half quite a bit except for the penalties. Could have probably scored another TD or 2 without them in the 2nd half. But for sure, KU left 14 points on the field in the first quarter. When we get a turnover inside the opponents 30, we need to be able to put the ball in the endzone more times than not but I think that the coaches know that already.

I agree with John on the games that are winnable above, Baylor, ISU, KSU, and Texas. I don't know what will happen with TCU, most of the time we're pretty close to them with the exception being last season.

The team earned the fans support for the Big12 Home Opener, particularly the students. You're already on campus, why not go? It's not a long way from home like it is for many others.

Joe Ross 2 months ago

I find myself in a purgatory between two thoughts:

  1. All the teams Kansas has played have been either absolutely terrible or FCS schools.

  2. At this point in the season, it's possible to envision a scenario where Kansas could have been 4-0 if Pooka Williams had played in the opener.

I don't know what to make of this football team, honestly. It's an awkward feeling for a Kansas fan, right now: Wanting to hope. Fearing the inevitable. Afraid to hope. Seeing the progress. The cycle of emotion comes full circle and you entertain both the best and the worst possible outcomes.

...but..."Pooka Williams".

The name is synonymous with hope at this point. This single player has put some things back on the table as far as Kansas football goes. Beaty's continued employment at Kansas still looks bleak, mind you; but it's about as likely now as Frodo destroying the Ring (and they made a movie about that, so...). But Beaty or not, Kansas fans now have a legitimate reason to tune in every single Saturday, because the kid is every bit as entertaining as Todd Reesing was.

And the two were both at the same stadium on the same day. Wow...

Sometimes, good fortune smiles on you like that.

Dirk Medema 2 months ago

You sound like a girl that wants to plan her wedding and name all her kids after 2 dates. Maybe it would be more appropriate to let it grow. Not assume more than there is, and stay faithful to the moment you're in.

There are a whole bunch of plays that could have changed the first game by the players that played the game, but that's unrealistic.

As AD Long has said repeatedly, support the players, coaches, and staff. They are our team.

Joe Ross 2 months ago

I guess you find it difficult to juggle more than one thing at a time? As if somehow you can't both support the players and ask questions relative to the program? Well if you're bristling over questions and prognostications, then I suppose we'll see you soon picketing and protesting all the sports networks and radio shows because you have an aversion to not restricting onesself to "living in the moment."

Dirk Medema 2 months ago

I find the networks funny, whether it be sports or other news, twitching from flashy object to flashy object.

I totally believe in supporting the players and asking questions. I've done it consistently, without jumping off any bridges or quitting on the team.

SQUIRREL!

Joe Ross 2 months ago

I mean I understand that you've been an ardent supporter of David Beaty, and that puts you at odds with many people. But even taking your retrospective approach, Beaty hasn't given much to the fans to be happy about. You've excoriated some people for having a pessimistic view given the state of the program under Beaty, and then when we rattle off a couple of wins youre like, "Wait! Weren't you the one that said...". That's a cop out. Making no predictions keeps you safe from criticism, right? So guys like you can come in with your cowardice and criticize others when they're wrong. But the point is NOT to be right 100% of the time as you look to the future. That's why they're predictions. So why make them? One, because it's fun for non-party poopers; and two, because the prediction itself implies a line of thinking which, in itself, makes an argument or gives a perspective. I'm sorry if they bother you. People are going to be forward looking in sports for as long as sports exist. Guard your sanity, my friend. Otherwise, it's gonna be a bumpy ride...

Dirk Medema 2 months ago

Sounds like someone has a weggie or something.

I'm not sure about ardent supporter of Beaty. I'd call it realistic. When people were talking big things last year I warned about replacing the virtually entire secondary. Ooops, sorry for being accurate. I've also posted about Newell having a great article about some questionable coaching and time management - not exactly ardent supporter material. That being said, I've also wondered about the impact of the coaching staff turnover, and I think been fairly realistic about where the program has been on salaries.

When people flew off in the very beginning about losing to SD-whatever, because we are a Power 5 school, I pointed out that their scholarship numbers were better than ours. Just reality.

People have complained that the coaches haven't developed anyone, so I've pointed out that we've gone from having 0 players receiving post-season awards to 5 last year. That's coaching.

Someone loves to point that Beaty, hired to recruit, has had near last place recruiting class. I've pointed out that those last place recruiting rankings don't include an incredible number of players that are contributing and never included in the rankings. At one point in previous years it included most of the offensive line.

And yes I am absolutely going to call out people that quit on the team, whether it be gold medal winning BB or the FB team. It has nothing to do with being safe from criticism. It has to do with allowing the players determine the outcome. I don't know, so it would be ignorant of me to state what I don't know, and even more ignorant not to support the team. To be a supporter of the team isn't a copout or cowardly. It's called being faithful in good times and bad.

Joe Ross 2 months ago

Oh, so you're one of those guys who self-recognize and heap praise on themselves. Never had you pegged for that, but okay. The latest in a line. Jaybate...Jay Scott...and now Dirk Medema? Not company I'd want to be a part of but suit yourself.

Yes. You're an ardent supporter of Beaty's, judging by your past words. If you aren't then you've made comments that betray what you feel. Having said that, if you don't think 3-33 has a right--indeed an OBLIGATION to be questioned--then there's no reaching you. In your response you start mentioning a thousand things I never brought up. The secondary? Newell articles? Scholarship numbers? On and on! Quitting on the team? Who me?

Bro you need to come back to earth and somehow manage to respond within the flow of conversation. You're all over the place.

Your earlier response was a copout. And it was cowardly. You are no more "faithful in good times and bad" than I am and most other people here. You just wish to impose your definition of "faithfulness" onto others so you can have a soapbox to stand on. You just happen to think Beaty is the way. Others who want to bail on him aren't quitters. They want a new coach to move the program forward. That's not "quitting" and it's not anyone's definition of unfaithful but yours.

But feel free to revel in your self-granted nobility, your Highness...

Dirk Medema 2 months ago

Sorry that this seems to have come across as an attack. That was not my intention. While I don't always agree, you are one of the commenters that I've most appreciated over the years.

There were other comments, but they got lost in the process.

I'm sorry if my words came off as elevating my faithfulness above yours. My comment on faithfulness was meant as a contrast to what was characterized as a copout. I do agree with you that better things would have happened with a better coach. I don't know if Beaty is the way, but I know that he is the Coach. I think he deserves, and the players deserve that he be given more respect than has been shown too often. That's not aimed at you either, but all too common with others commenters and even some writers here.

While it is perfectly reasonable to want a coach to move a program forward, you might want to check the dictionary for definitions of what it means bail on someone or something. They don't use the phrase quitter, but it sure looks like synonyms to me. I think AD Long would also characterize it similarly, though he'd wouldn't be so blunt. I think that is exactly why he has repeatedly asked the University community to be supportive of the coaches, players, and entire program.

No nobility here. Just a common serf.

Joe Ross 2 months ago

Good question: RE: "At this point in the season, it's possible to envision a scenario where Kansas could have been 4-0 if Pooka Williams had played in the opener."

Work it in reverse. If Pooka Williams had played in the opener, we would have beaten Nicholls State. At this point we would have been 3-0. Now, take the first part of the sentence...."It's possible to envision a 4-0 start."

Baylor seems beatable. At least at this point, people could envision scenarios of Kansas winning.

Dirk Medema 2 months ago

It's nice that Coe got in on the action for his first collegiate pick. Any word on how Devonte is doing?

Doug Cramer 2 months ago

Kendrick doesn’t look very fast for supposedly being a dual threat QB. Big 12 defenses will eat him up.

Bender has good numbers so far this season when he’s been in the game.

I’m not so sure Bender is done and Kendrick is our number 1 QB.

What coach said made sense, Rutgers structures their defense that was more favorable for Kendrick.

Jeff Coffman 2 months ago

Interesting. I think Bender has good numbers except the sack total.

I think the arm strength and accuracy of Bender are much better than Kendrick.

The Rutgers defenders played way off the receivers on the outs and actually stopped prior to tackling. These 5 yard gains will be 2-3 yard losses in Big XII play.

I'm win you Bender is our #1 still and Kendrick I'm not convinced has the accuracy needed for BXII play. I'm also curious if like you say he has the speed to make a difference.

Dirk Medema 2 months ago

Interesting perspective on the INT's in particular is that they are all by different players. Bryce has a fumble recovery to go with his pick, but otherwise isn't it a turnover a piece for like 8 players. That would seem to indicate good coaching and a complete roster (DL, LB's, and DB's).

Brad Watson 2 months ago

BALL HAWKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stephen Johnson 2 months ago

Where have all the Bowen haters gone???? All I hear are crickets. One of the biggest issues with the defense has been our historically bad offense. Now that the offense can run the ball our defense doesn't have to be on the field continually. Really glad for these two wins, but I would warn everyone about getting overly excited. Still the O-Line and RB's (especially Pooka) have me more optimistic about getting another win this year.

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