Saturday, October 20, 2012
Kansas football coach Charlie Weis talks following KU's 52-7 loss to Oklahoma on Oct. 20, 2012.
Norman, Okla. If you had to pick one series to recap the failed experiment that was Kansas University's two-quarterback approach on Saturday night against No. 10 Oklahoma, the only option came late in the first quarter of the Sooners' 52-7 domination of the Jayhawks at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
Trailing 10-0, KU was gifted with early life after OU's Justin Brown fumbled a punt around his own 10-yard line with 1:46 to play in the first quarter. Credit Josh Ford with the hit, Victor Simmons with the recovery and KU quarterbacks Michael Cummings and Dayne Crist for messing up the golden opportunity.
Although Cummings, a red-shirt freshman and the near-hero of last week's close-call loss to Oklahoma State, started and played fairly well early on, both guys were to blame for blowing KU's best chance to stay in the game.
On first down, Crist threw badly behind a wide-open Tre' Parmalee in the flat on what looked to be an easy touchdown. On came Cummings.
On second down, Cummings lobbed an ill-advised pass to Kale Pick into triple-coverage. Had it not been for a solid defensive play by Pick, the toss likely would have been intercepted.
On third down, it was back to Crist, who fled from the pocket, spun around until he coughed up the football and laid face-down on the Memorial Stadium turf in front of 84,532 OU fans as defensive tackle Casey Walker rumbled with the fumble 45 yards to the Kansas 28-yard line.
"I wasn't looking to play musical quarterbacks," Weis said of the failed series that summed up KU's rough night. "It was just that three-play sequence fit the guys who had practiced those plays from that field position."
Weis said KU's gameplan centered on Cummings handling the "bunched up" plays and Crist handling the "opened up" plays.
"There were two totally separate sets of things we were doing," he said. "On every one of those (Cummings) plays there's a potential quarterback run and that's certainly not what we want Dayne to be doing."
As the game went on, it mattered little who took the snaps for KU or what he did with them. The Sooners were simply too much in all aspects.
After settling for a 37-yard Mike Hunnicutt field goal on its opening drive, OU scored six consecutive touchdowns, and watched seven different players score its seven touchdowns.
Kenny Stills caught a 44-yard touchdown pass. Wichita native, Blake Bell, "The Belldozer," plowed in for a one-yard TD run. Tailback Damien Williams scored from four yards out. And Sterling Shepard (nine yards) and Trey Millard (25) caught touchdowns from OU quarterback Landry Jones, who finished 19-of-28 for 291 yards and three touchdowns.
"It was all just bombs away," Weis said of the first half in which the Sooners rolled to 286 yards, 38 points and five straight touchdowns. "The Catch-22 when you get Landry is you blitz him and he gets one-on-one and he has a chance of exposing you. You sit back and you rush just four, he has more time and has a chance of exposing you."
Of course, it was not just bizarre offense or bad defense that cost the Jayhawks in this one. KU's special teams - both for and against - struggled throughout the night.
"I mean, this isn't Barry Sanders out there that we're talking about now," Weis said while critiquing his special teams. "The problem I have is we played a lot of first- and second-teamers on special teams."
The 90-yard punt return touchdown by Brown - remember him? - in the first half and 100-yard kickoff return touchdown by Roy Finch to open the second half marked the first time in OU history that the Sooners had returned a punt and kickoff all the way in the same game.
Even for the most optimistic KU fans, such a stat had an all-too-familiar and troublesome ring to it.
"It kind of reminded me of Texas A&M last year," said McDougald, comparing Saturday's loss to the 61-7 embarrassment at A&M in 2011. "The only difference is, in that game, we didn't turn it around in the second half, they just kept scoring and scoring and scoring."
That Jayhawks' second-half success was something Weis talked a lot about following the game. But it wasn't as if he was trying to spin it that the Jayhawks deserved a pat on the back for hanging tougher in the final two quarters, more that he saw it as a positive sign that his team answered the only challenge left for them after trailing 38-0 at the half.
"At halftime, it wasn't about trying to win the game," Weis said. "At halftime, it was about, 'Let's see what you got in ya.' At least they answered that question, but the game was decided in the first half, not the second half."
The five Jayhawks made available to the media following Saturday's loss all carried the same look on their faces and pushed the same words across their lips.
"I just don't know," McDougald said. "It just hurts and we just gotta get better."
Added KU tailback James Sims, who ran for 102 yards on 28 carries and scored KU's only touchdown: "Congrats to Oklahoma, they came out and played and we didn't show up at all."
As for Cummings, who finished 10-of-21 for 111 yards and ran 12 times for 21 yards, even though he made his first career start, he seemed like an old veteran of talking about these types of losses.
"Frustration, yes," Cummings said. "Because we expected to come out here and put on a better performance and any competitor is gonna be frustrated with what we put out there."