Usually understated during his weekly press conferences, Kansas football coach Les Miles heard something Monday afternoon that stirred him to exuberance.
The subject material didn’t have anything to do with the Jayhawks’ performance this past weekend at Texas, either. Rather it was a matter of a procedural oversight on that Saturday night stage that appeared to go UT’s way.
A reporter asked Miles whether he or his staff noticed while watching footage after the fact that the game clock didn’t start on time on the Longhorns’ final offensive possession of a 50-48 Texas win, and whether KU might bring that to the attention of the Big 12.
“Absolutely,” Miles replied emphatically, before returning to his typically measured tone. “We’ll turn it in. We’ll see what they say.”
Miles, who of course coached at LSU and Oklahoma State before taking over at Kansas in November 2018, indicated it wasn’t the first time a clock proved helpful for a football team.
“There’s been other conferences that I’ve been involved with. It seems that the hometown clock guy can sometimes quickly move the clock along, sometimes inappropriately,” Miles said. “Or sometimes hold the clock and not get it started when the play starts. I think we’ll have a look at that, see what they say.”
On a win or lose possession, with KU up 48-47 with 1:11 to play, Texas opened the drive with two timeouts. The Longhorns appeared to benefit from a convenient pause on the series, too.
It looked like the game clock didn’t start on time after quarterback Sam Ehlinger scrambled and rushed for 8 yards and a first down, on the fifth snap of the decisive series.
KU senior outside linebacker Najee Stevens-McKenzie tackled Ehlinger near midfield, at UT’s 48-yard line. The clock showed 0:32 when it stopped, according to the rules, because UT picked up a first down and the chains and ball had to be in place before the clock began ticking again. However, the clock didn’t restart until the ball was snapped to Ehlinger, saving UT valuable seconds — at least two or three — with the game in the balance.
Stevens-McKenzie said Monday afternoon he didn’t notice the clock issue.
“I’m kind of locked into the game,” he said. “I’m not really aware of what’s really going on.”
The drama of the scene alone made the final 1:11 of the thriller seem longer to Stevens-McKenzie, though.
“I felt like every time I looked up only like four seconds had left off the clock,” Stevens-McKenzie said.
UT, of course, used both timeouts on the crucial series. The first came at the 0:43 mark, after an Ehlinger completion over the middle to Keaontay Ingram. UT coach Tom Herman used his final timeout with 0:08 to go, after KU cornerback Kyle Mayberry tackled Collin Johnson on an 11-yard catch for a first down.
The Longhorns were able to run one last offensive play after their final timeout at the 0:08 mark, a 6-yard Ehlinger completion that got them to the 15-yard line and set up Cameron Dicker’s 33-yard game-winning field goal as time expired.