‘That’s what we show our younger kids’: The hustle play that stood out against K-State
In the box score, it’ll go down as a tackle and forced fumble in the Kansas football team’s 30-20 loss to Kansas State last weekend.
But it’s a play that will be replayed by KU coaches for a long time and another highlight to add to the college careers of star defensive linemen Dorance Armstrong Jr. and Daniel Wise.
During K-State’s first drive, quarterback Alex Delton rolled out to his right and completed a pass to speedy receiver Byron Pringle along the right sideline. With good footwork, Pringle juked past KU cornerback Hasan Defense and started to run in open field. Pringle was looking toward defenders on his left when Armstrong delivered a strong hit from behind to jar the ball loose. The ball rolled ahead another 10 yards before Wise was the first one to dive on the ball, eventually recovered by Tyrone Miller.
“That’s what we show our younger kids,” KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said. “There’s reason everyone talks about these two, it ain’t just because they have talent. It’s because they play harder than you other guys with less talent and they do. They set the bar. Those two are pretty special.”
When Delton released the pass, Armstrong was running parallel to him at the line of scrimmage, likely responsible if he tried to scramble. Wise was about five yards downfield because Delton rolled out to the opposite side of KU’s pass pressure, which shifted to the left side of the field on a fake run play.
Once Pringle secured the catch at the 35-yard line, Armstrong was about 10 yards behind him. Armstrong’s tackle was more than 20 yards from the line of scrimmage and Wise sprinted nearly 35 yards for the fumble recovery, outracing several players to the ball.
“If I feel like I can catch them, I’m going to get them,” Armstrong said. “When I turned to see them where the ball was at, I felt like he was right there so I went and got him and made the play.”
Wise added of Armstrong: “That’s just what he does. He’s a guy with a high motor and always running to the ball. I just tried to be there to pick it up.”
Watching the play during film sessions afterward, Armstrong said it was a little different than how he saw it on the field. He didn’t think he ran as far as he did.
“It felt like a big play,” Armstrong said. “The moment I felt the ball come out and I saw my team get it, it was just a change of energy throughout the entire game.”
The turnover on K-State’s first possession wasn’t enough to help the Jayhawks earn their first Big 12 win of the season. But Armstrong and Wise both said they felt a different vibe on the sideline during the game, one week after Wise gave a speech in the locker room following a blowout loss to TCU.
“I wasn’t so much thinking about I have to back up what I say,” Wise said. “Just playing my heart out and that’s kind of what I told the guys, ‘Play your heart out, play hard, play tough and do what you’ve got to do.’”