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Sunday, September 15, 2019

Kansas defense shows off resilience, depth in victory at Boston College

(Boston, MA, 09/13/19) Kansas Jayhawks defensive end Darrius Moragne (97) pressured Boston College Eagles quarterback Anthony Brown (13) during the first half of an NCAA football game at Boston College in Boston, Mass., on Friday, September 13, 2019.

(Boston, MA, 09/13/19) Kansas Jayhawks defensive end Darrius Moragne (97) pressured Boston College Eagles quarterback Anthony Brown (13) during the first half of an NCAA football game at Boston College in Boston, Mass., on Friday, September 13, 2019.

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With the Kansas football team’s offense playing so relatively out of character in a 48-24 victory at Boston College on Friday night, the performance of the Jayhawks’ defense may have gone overlooked by some.

It wasn’t by KU quarterback Carter Stanley, who referenced multiple times during his postgame interview the job well done by his teammates on that side of the ball.

Nor, of course, was the importance of the group disregarded by head coach Les Miles.

“D.J. Eliot did a great job with the defense,” Miles said of his coordinator and outside linebackers coach. “Absolutely great.”

Though the Jayhawks didn’t create any takeaways or sack Eagles QB Anthony Brown more than once — Azur Kamara and Malcolm Lee shared credit for that one — their most impressive feat might have been their collective resiliency.

Boston College (2-1) scored three times on its first four drives to take a 17-7 lead late in the first quarter. Jumbo junior running back A.J. Dillon eclipsed 100 rushing yards two minutes into the second quarter.

But by the second half it was KU’s defense that was on a roll. The Eagles failed to score on each of their seven possessions after halftime, a string that included three separate three-and-outs.

“We kept our composure,” said KU junior linebacker Dru Prox, who led the defense with 10 total tackles. “When they got that lead a lot of guys on their side were talking mess — that comes with football — but I think they already had it in their head that they were going to win, that they were just going to run over us. I think that’s where they messed up. Just thinking that we were going to lay down and die.”

The KU defense had the bodies to make sure that didn’t happen. By the end of the nonconference victory that washed away the stink of a Coastal Carolina home loss six days earlier, 11 different Jayhawks had four or more tackles.

The defense also involved more linebackers than usual as a way to handle Dillon, David Bailey and the BC rushing attack. Instead of Prox and Kyron Johnson playing exclusively inside, Eliot subbed in Jay Dineen and Gavin Potter at times, keeping the inside linebackers fresh.

“Yeah, they had two backs — 240 or 250 or something — big old guys,” sophomore linebacker Dineen said. “So we knew if we could stop the run, stop A.J. Dillon and the other guy (Bailey), we had a really good chance. And that’s what we did.”

Though Dillon finished with 151 yards on 27 rushes, he only carried the ball 12 times for 43 yards after surpassing the 100-yard barrier early in the second quarter. BC’s drives were too brief throughout the second half to really get the star rusher involved.

“We knew coming into the game that they were going to try and be a more physical team than us,” said Dineen, who had four tackles and one tackle for loss, plus a forced fumble that BC recovered. “That was our big thing during practice all week. We’ve got to come out and be the physical team.”

Whether it was Prox, Dineen, safeties Bryce Torneden (nine tackles) and Mike Lee (seven), linebackers Johnson (seven), Najee Stevens-McKenzie (five), Potter (five) and Kamara (four), cornerback Kyle Mayberry (four), safety Jeremiah McCullough (four), nose tackle Jelani Brown (four) or someone else making the stops, the KU defense often had a solution for the Eagles’ offense.

“Our D-line played really well, kept those big guys off of us,” Dineen said, “and with that, having us roam freely and being able to see the holes and being able to hit it helped a lot.”

Hardly anyone expected KU (2-1) to win at Boston College, let alone do so convincingly.

But less than a week removed from KU’s home loss to Coastal Carolina, Prox was able to laugh while describing the polar opposite performance.

“We were really low,” he said of the Week 2 result, “but we emphasized on the things that set us back last week and that gave us the confidence boost we needed. We all knew how good a team we are and how good a team we can be. It really just comes down to communication and being where we are supposed to be and we did a really good job with executing.”

Miles thought the defense and offense and special teams all complemented each other for KU in one of the program’s most potent victories in recent memory.

“I think it tells everybody that the Jayhawks are coming,” KU’s head coach said of what the win means. “And I think it’s very realistic that we can be a great program and have real quality football teams year after year. Not today, not tomorrow, but really short in the future.”

Comments

Dirk Medema 1 month ago

Glad to see a good article for the exceptional play of the D. That being said I was also scratching my head about their play calling. Their QB is only a 50% passer while the RB has 100 yds in the first quarter but for some reason they went completely away from the run. Kinda the opposite of us a week ago when we seemed to completely abandon the forward pass even though Carter is completing almost 70% and the running game was going nowhere.

Really looking forward to WVU. They also have been similarly hot and cold under a new head coach.

Kit Duncan 1 month ago

KU’s defense played well under Beaty but would run out of energy when the offense couldn’t stay on the field. It makes a big difference even when the offense can make a couple first downs and let the defense catch its breath, as well as scheme for its next time on the field.

Regarding BC running the ball less in the second half, KU’s offense put them in a hole that forced them away from their “ground and pound” run game. Kudos to Carter Stanley and the offense for shrugging off the miscues!

Curtis Blankenship 1 month ago

It looked pretty bleak with the graphic of 6' 1" 240lbs RB vs our 6' 1" 215lbs LB, esp when he was running all over the D. They showed a ton of heart mixed with a good scheme and showed what they can do when they are on the field for only 28 min. The best part by far was the loss of words of the announcer (a former BC LB). He was confident, to questioning, to deflated, it was fantastic!

W Keith Swinehart II 1 month ago

Overall effort for defense and offense. Will Ratings be forthcoming?

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