Sunday, November 14, 2021

Lance Leipold wanted KU football to go for 2 — and the win — even before OT began

Kansas players including Mike Novitsky (50) celebrate their 57-56 win over Texas in overtime of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Kansas players including Mike Novitsky (50) celebrate their 57-56 win over Texas in overtime of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)


Kansas football head coach Lance Leipold didn’t wait until Saturday night’s game in Austin, Texas, was on the line to figure out how the Jayhawks would handle overtime.

“We made the decision early. If we scored, we were going for two — going for the win,” Leipold told reporters after KU’s dramatic 57-56 shootout victory at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Leipold said he resolved to take that route instead of the safer one — kicking an extra point for a tie — before the OT session even began. The head coach let offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki know ahead of time, too, that the Jayhawks would be going for two.

“I’ve got one,” Kotelnicki responded.

The play Leipold’s longtime O.C. had in mind wasn’t specifically designed for seldom-used backup fullback Jared Casey. But when quarterback Jalon Daniels was pressured and had to make a throw on the move, Daniels found Casey in the front of the end zone to complete KU’s upset bid — extinguishing the program’s 56-game Big 12 road losing streak in the process.

A redshirt freshman walk-on from Plainville, Casey was on the field due to recent injuries — Mason Fairchild got hurt during the Texas game and fullback Spencer Roe suffered a season-ending injury at a recent practice.

It was the final play on an electric night for Daniels, KU’s sophomore QB who made his first start of the season and went 21-for-30 passing, for 202 yards with four total touchdowns.

Daniels said he saw UT’s man coverage before the snap.

“I knew I had a whip route and a corner to the right side. I ended up having to get flushed out the pocket, rolled out to the right. Saw Jared waving his hands wide open in the end zone. I just had to lob it over one defender. Jared made the catch and I was able to make a throw over somebody,” Daniels said.

Casey, who grew up a KU fan, described it as an incredible moment.

“I just saw the play open up. I saw JD scramble out to the right. I was going to the right, and just popped in my hands, so it was a surreal moment,” he said.

The must-have touchdown that made the winning two-point conversion possible for KU (2-8 overall, 1-6 Big 12) came from true freshman running back Devin Neal. It was one of many impact plays for Neal, who contributed 143 rushing yards on his 24 carries, scored three rushing TDs and also caught a TD pass from Daniels.

“We had a game plan going into the game obviously, and I think we executed it perfectly,” Neal said after KU put up 420 yards of offense and converted 11 of 17 third downs.

“I give all the credit to the O-line, the big fellas up front,” Neal added. “They worked their tails off all week. I respect those guys so much, and to see there in the trenches how hard they work — the bumps, the bruises, the grinding that they face every day.”

Leipold said the night was filled with “so many gritty performances and plays” from the Jayhawks, who didn’t turn the ball over and had four defensive takeaways.

Super-senior defensive end Kyron Johnson recorded two sacks, and both of them resulted in fumbles that KU recovered, too.

Freshman cornerback Jacobee Bryant delivered a pick-six late in the second quarter, and another freshman defensive back, safety O.J. Burroughs, intercepted a fourth-quarter heave in the end zone.

“We’re David, they’re Goliath, and we go out there and play,” Leipold said of KU delivering as a massive underdog and ending his team’s eight-game losing streak.

At halftime, the head coach said, the locker room discussion involved a game the Jayhawks felt like they should’ve won three weeks earlier, at home versus Oklahoma. They didn’t finish off that upset bid after leading in the fourth quarter.

Saturday night against another traditional Big 12 power, KU came through, even after Texas forced OT and took its first lead of the game soon thereafter.

“They’ve been starving,” Leipold said of his players. “It’s one win. We’ve got to build on it. This’ll be a great 24, 48 hours, but you’ve got to keep working at it. We’ve got to get back to work and see if we can finish this thing even stronger.”

KU is right back in Texas next week for a road game at TCU (4-6, 2-5).


Sam Meyer 1 year ago

RCJHGKU!!! Horns Down Forever!!!

Len Shaffer 1 year ago

Rock Chalk, Baby!!!!!

I thought the announcers did a good job overall, but there were a couple of things that really bugged me:

  1. They acted like Leipold was absolutely insane to go for it on fourth-and-one from KU's 34 with a few minutes to go. KU had already given up 35 POINTS in the second half to UT and hadn't shown any ability to stop them the entire half. I thought it not only wasn't insane to go for it, but it was absolutely the right choice. I don't think the choice of plays was the greatest, but we HAD to go for it there. But even if you disagree with that decision, it's one thing to think it's wrong but it's another thing entirely to act like it was a crazy decision.

  2. They kept emphasizing how KU had an 18-game conference losing streak. Of course it was great to break that streak, but that wasn't a record for the worst in history, whereas the 56-game ROAD losing streak in the Big XII was. I think they only mentioned the road streak once, while mentioning the overall streak a number of times.

Anyway, tremendous win and we're just seeing the beginning of what Leipold can do.

Andy Tweedy 1 year ago

Part of the reason Nebraska loves Tom Osborne so much is because he went for 2 against Miami, even though they lost. Always go for it when it matters most! Even if you lose, you went down swinging

Barry Weiss 1 year ago

agree with the choice of play, that one does not seem to be very successful in the few times I've seen them run it.

Tamara Khiatani 1 year ago

Yeah, I liked the idea but hated the play call. If Daniels had faked a handoff and bounced it outside, he'd still be running.

Len Shaffer 1 year ago

One other thing: how awesome was it to hear the KU fans chanting SEC, SEC .....?

OTOH, how idiotic was it to hear KU fans doing the Rock Chalk chant at various times before the game had been decided. That should never be done unless it's OBVIOUS that the game is over.

Vern Sheldon-Witter 1 year ago

We knew it was over by the end of the first half.

Tamara Khiatani 1 year ago

That was hilarious hearing the KU fans. There must have been a mic close to a group of KU people or something.

Dirk Medema 1 year ago

“A redshirt freshman walk-on from Plainville“

Gotta love this. Hopefully it will help bring others on board.

I had little doubt that Coach would go for it on fourth down and for 2. He’s been doing it all year. It’s not the safe move but why play safe in our situation.

David Robinett 1 year ago

Len, agree on your #1.

It was a chance to clinch the game on one play, versus giving the ball back to their offense.

It gave them a short field when we failed, but as we saw they didn’t score due to Burroughs interception. So not a bad decision in the end.

Same logic was used by coach in OT. Take the one play that can seal victory. Especially if you’ve never beaten them at their place in literally a century.

David Robinett 1 year ago

Fear of failure will keep you a loser. Always go for the win.

Vern Sheldon-Witter 1 year ago

Consider this: Snyder in 1989 had a one-win season (only victory against UNTexas) while Leipold has had twice this in his first season (at least) with 2 Victories. Who knows what will happen next week at Fort Worth? We seem to have found a winning quarterback, our will to win and an offense. We also found a defense. With what, 2 games to go, there is no telling what we have discovered.

Mallory Briggans 1 year ago

wouldnt have been great for the kansas fans that were there to storm the field and tear down the goal post ...........Great win guys

Brad Watson 1 year ago

Fantastic!!!...I love this coach!!!...Love the Casey kids reaction....the pure joy on his face and all involved made my day....and I had some joy on my face as well....The new members of the SEC don't look so good...Karma is coming for them....and I think this might be a turning point in the program....remember this sweet to beat Texas....Go Jayhawkers!!

Doug Roberts 1 year ago

Maybe Texas will better luck rebuilding their program in the SEC. ROCK CHALK.

Robert Brock 1 year ago

These Jayhawks remind me of the Bad News Bears: not much talent but loads of MOXIE. It works!

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