Kansas Rally Falls Short Against SDSU, 41-38
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart was the last Jayhawk to walk off the field Saturday, but had he completed an un-probable comeback, he likely would’ve been carried off of it. Cozart and a Kansas defensive adjustment helped the Jayhawks rally from a 24-point deficit, but it was too little, too late as KU fell to South Dakota State, 41-38, at Memorial Stadium.
Kansas (0-1) fell behind 31-7 in the first 17:22 of head coach David Beaty’s tenure, but showed the type of toughness and fight that the new leader of the Jayhawks is looking to build with. Cozart threw for 291 yards and rushed for another 94 but Kansas was stopped 34-yards short of the end zone on a final scoring drive and ran out of time to try a field goal. Junior running back Ke’aun Kinner scored two touchdowns for Kansas and led all players with 157 yards on the ground in the loss.
South Dakota State quarterback Zach Lujan edged Cozart with 293 yards in the air and threw for three touchdowns, thanks in part by a 160-yard performance from 2014 FCS All-American receiver Jake Wieneke, who was on the receiving end of two of those scores.
In the first season-opening day game for the Jayhawks in nearly two decades (1998), the Jackrabbits struck first on their opening drive. Lujan connected with Wieneke for a 60-yard strike down the far sideline to set up a 28-yard kick for Jay Carlson, 3-0.
KU looked to answer right back on its first possession of the game, but the drive came to a halt after SDSU linebacker Jesse Bobbit jumped a route and picked off a pass attempt from. Bobbit continued down field 53 yards after that interception, setting up a 25-yard touchdown run by Brady Mengarelli for the early 10-0 lead.
No hole seemed too big for the Jayhawks to climb out of and running back-turned kick return specialist Ryan Schadler proved that on the ensuing kickoff by South Dakota State. The freshman found a seam on the far sideline and returned it 91 yards for his first-career touchdown; a feat that hadn’t been done since 2010 when D.J. Beshears returned a kick for 96 yards against New Mexico State. That score cut the Jackrabbits lead to three, 10-7.
SDSU followed with two more scores and found itself with a 13-point lead midway into the second quarter. Just when it looked like the Jayhawks found their stride, Cozart slipped up on a keeper and fumbled the ball on KU’s own 29-yard line. The Jackrabbits took advantage and punched in another touchdown by way of a 16-yard strike from Lujan to Wieneke, 31-7 – the last of five straight scoring drives to open the game.
Down 24 points with 7:14 to play in the first half, Kansas offensive coordinator Rob Likens dialed in and called a reverse to jump start his offense. Senior wide receiver Tre’ Parmalee received the reverse toss and marched 19 yards into the end zone for the first touchdown of his career and cut into the SDSU lead, 31-14.
The intent to rev up the offense worked, as the Jayhawks scored another 14 points to open the third quarter and pulled within three points of South Dakota State, 31-28. Kinner carried the scoring load with 28 yards and two touchdowns during the streak while the KU defense forced four-straight South Dakota State punts to aid in the effort.
A late Jackrabbit field goal in the third quarter gave the ball back to Kansas trailing 34-28 to open the fourth. Cozart led the Jayhawks down to the SDSU 32-yard line, where they were faced with a crucial fourth and one situation. Much like the rest of the game, Kansas went for it and converted for the fourth time on the day. However, SDSU tightened up and kept KU to a field goal with 11:18 to play, 34-31.
SDSU added another touchdown to surge ahead and left Kansas with five minutes to erase a 10-point deficit. Cozart and Kinner pieced together a 74-yard scoring drive to pull back within three, 41-38, with 3:56 left to play. In order for the comeback to work, the Jayhawks needed a big defensive stop and good time management to pave way for a game-tying field goal attempt.
The defensive stop came easy, but not without penalty; Kansas burned all its timeouts. Trailing by three with 39 seconds left and the ball on their own 41-yard line, the Jayhawks needed to show off the time management skills. When it looked like it was over, Cozart connected with sophomore wide receiver Derrick Neal for 20 yards over the middle down to the SDSU 33-yard line with seven seconds left on the clock. Kansas scrambled to get to the line of scrimmage and spike the ball in a timely fashion, but Kansas’ quarterback fell on the ball and was ruled down before clocking the ball. The final seconds ticked off the clock and Kansas’ chance of a comeback-win fell short, 41-38.
KU continues its two-game homestand to open the 2015 campaign as it plays host to Memphis, Saturday, Sept. 12, at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. and will be broadcasted live on the Jayhawk Television Network.
Kansas head coach David Beaty
Q. Coach, there are kind of strange endings. What did you see at the end of that one? That’s one of those things you don’t see very often.
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, that’s one I tell I don’t know that I’ve ever been involved in one that ended like that to be honest with you. But we practice those unusual situations and we always talk about those things not being a big deal until they’re a big deal. That’s why we always talk about we focus on the next play being the most important play, and that play gives you an opportunity to play the next play. And we weren’t able to get that done just with the down the ball got played. But.
I’ll say this, without Montell Cozart we wouldn’t have been in that game at the very end of it, so there’s give and take there.
Q. Just a mishandle? Couldn’t come up with the snap?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, I think it’s one of those deals where you’ll have to take a look at the tape. But most of the time when there’s a snap situation, both guys are involved in it. But you know what? I’ve got to do a better job getting them coached up on that.
We have to do a much better job of preparing for that situation, even more than we have, obviously. And we do. We work that, but honestly, that one’s a tough one to swallow for our team and our staff. But you know what? Hey, we’re going to keep moving forward and we’re going to learn from it.
Q. Down, but then rallied. You guys had 21-straight points. Was it the defense being fueled by the offense moving? Was it the defense getting stops that fueled the offense? It looked like the momentum certainly swung for you guys for a spell there?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, I think it was a little bit of both. I think both sides played off each other, I think the offense got it going there. In that second quarter we started moving the ball a little bit, and then we came out in the third quarter and kind of had some ideas of what we could do to them heading out of the break. And we got the ball back and said we need a fast start and we were able to do that.
I think that really ignited the defense, and we got a couple stops there against a very good executing football team. I said it before. I take my hat off to Coach Stiegelmeier. Those guys do a great job. There is a reason they won a bunch of games. I talked to him before the game. He’s a great dude and a really good man. I know why they won a bunch of games.
Q. Defense kind of took its lumps early and everything kind of settled in during that key stretch when you guys were making the come back?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, they did. They got after us early. I was proud of Clint (Bowen) and his staff. They regrouped and found some ways to be able to create some stops there, which was difficult, because No. 19 was playing well. Quarterback was getting the ball to him. When you start putting guys in the box, you start giving that guy one-on-ones, and he’s a good player. I said it before, he’s a good player, but we’ve got to do a better job of being able to are neutralize good players like that, because we’re going to see good players like that every week.
Q. You got a good play from special teams which I know you pride yourselves on?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, absolutely. That was great to see. Seeing (Ryan) Schadler take off and score on the kickoff return and that was certainly great to see. And really Tre’ Parmalee there at the end gave us a great opportunity to get in position to kick that thing. It would have been nice. If we could have gotten that thing killed, you know, Wyman’s got a really good leg. It would have been fun to see how it played out.
Q. You said early in the week, win or lose you wanted to take some things from this game. Anything at the moment that you think you can take out of this one?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, I think the big thing is that we’ve talked about the three things that we wanted to focus on to get better faster was turnover margin, which we did not win today. We gave the ball away twice and it turned into, I believe, 14 points. We did not play a clean game. And we’ve talked all week about making sure that we were playing penalty-free, and we had some penalties that cost us throughout the night that made a difference in the end of the game. We’ve got to keep learning from that.
Obviously, it came to fruition. Those things will hurt you. Don’t give your opponents anything. As good as they were, we gave them some things that made their job a lot easier. But in addition, we also played pretty good on special teams. So we’ve got one of the three going in the right direction. We just need to make sure we maintain that and really continue to work on getting better at those other two, and I think we can get closer to where we want to be.
Q. I couldn’t tell on the final play if Montell fumbled the snap or if that counts as a spike?
DAVID BEATY: Honestly, I was a little bit confused too. I wasn’t sure if he had it and lifted it to be honest with you. It all happened pretty fast. It looked to me like as he was going up it kind of came out of his hands, but I really don’t know. I’d have to watch the tape. It is what it is.
Q. And then his knee hit the ground when he was picking it up, was that considered the down?
DAVID BEATY: Well, I mean, it wasn’t fourth down, was it?
DAVID BEATY: It was first down, I believe. So, I mean, it would have been second down. The thing that, I think I’ll tell you this, I’ve got to do a much better job of doing a better job coaching those guys. That’s a situation that honestly we put them in that previous situation quite a bit of how to down the football. We talk about that, those type of things not being a big deal until they’re a big deal.
Well, that came to fruition today, but you know where Coach Beaty let them down? What if you fumble it and you need to get back on it and get it done again and you don’t get up there fast enough? So this one goes on me, not on those kids. I didn’t have them prepared to get it done right. So that’s a situation you don’t think about it very much, but I promise you I’ll be thinking about it moving forward. I’ve got to get better for those guys than I was today.
Q. Have you talked to Montell much yet?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, and what I told him was hey, listen, we wouldn’t have been in that game without you, bro’. I tell you what. I was proud of that guy coming back, being resilient. He turned the ball over twice, he fumbled one, turned into a touchdown. He threw an interception that turned into some points for those guys.
We put our defense in a bad spot a couple times early, and boy they answered the bell pretty quickly there and left us in the game, which was good. But he came back. I was proud of him because he got hurt, got the wind knocked out of him pretty good and he came back and continued to help us move the ball down the field with his arm, which is something I’m not sure we knew he could consistently do going into it. But he did a nice job of it today as he finished up.
Q. Was it emotions or tactics or a combination that enabled you to come out in the third quarter so strong?
DAVID BEATY: We knew going in at halftime there were some things that obviously you get a half’s worth of information on a team, and they came out and did some of the same things. So we kind of had some answers to the test, so to speak. And so we got into some situations where he knew where he could get the ball out quick. I think he was confident because he knew what he was seeing, which helped him a lot. That, and then I think our guys started playing with a heck of a lot more tempo. When we started utilizing tempo and going fast and getting lined up at the rate that we want to, then we were pretty decent today at times. When we weren’t using that tempo, we gave them the advantage back.
They were stemming, moving, it was kind of hard to see what they were doing. They were doing what all smart teams do. But when we started utilizing that tempo, it helped us a little bit, and I think we got a little better in that regard today.
Q. When it was 31-7, do you have to put blinders on and not worry about where you are?
DAVID BEATY: I tell you this, the thing that I was most encouraged by was although there wasn’t a lot of rah-rah going on the sideline, I didn’t see deflated kids over there. And that is a huge — that’s a huge shout out to our staff for that. I thought they did a really nice job over there.
One of our guys who is not a coach. It’s Troy (Kema), that dude is wringing wet right now because he worked his tail off up-and-down that sideline making sure they stayed in it. You know, one of the things that I’m — you know what? The game went the way it went, but for us, we wanted to know how they were going to fight when they got in an adverse situation. We happened to get in that adverse situation pretty quick.
The great thing is we’ve been talking to them about the good thing about what we do, we can score fast. We’re really never out of a game. We’re really never out of a game. We don’t even need timeouts. I’m listening to Rob on that last drive, Coach Likens, and I said, hey, listen, how much time do you need? He said, give me 14, 15 seconds, I’ll get you there.
So there’s guys that believe they know how to get them where they need to get them. So that was a positive. The negative, obviously, is that we didn’t finish the job, and we’ve got to learn how to do that around here.
Q. You talked this week about making decisions on offense. There were a lot of fourth downs that you went for. Are you pretty much set in stone with what you’re going to do in situations?
DAVID BEATY: I think that’s always a fluid deal. I don’t care if you’ve been coaching one year or 40 years. It has to do with flow of the game and what you feel like you’ve got as far as answers to what they’re doing defensively. We felt good about our fourth downs. I think we were pretty decent on fourth down today. We had some decent calls against them. And even the one right before the half we felt good about the call. We were just a hair’s breathe from being able to go in with the touchdown there.
So we really felt good about it. Like I told you, we are a team that when we get into situations like that, we are going to attack you. So they rolled up in man, they were basically four across in man and we did what we said we were going to do, which we go after you, and we did that today. It didn’t work out. But we’re going to keep working it to where it can.
Q. How hard did you think about going for it on fourth down at the end of the second quarter?
DAVID BEATY: Pretty hard, because it was a little further away than a normal fourth down. I think we were three and a half, four or something like that. You know, I was thinking about it, but we were a little bit a ways away. I wasn’t sure that we didn’t need that momentum going in to halftime, because our guys were believing and they wanted to go. I could see it in their eyes, but that’s on me. That’s on me.
Do I wish I had it back now? Absolutely. Rear view mirror you look back at it and you’re like you’d love that opportunity. But I’d like that opportunity that just happened at the very end here too. But you don’t get to guess like that.
But I think our kids liked the fact that we were aggressive, I think, today on those downs.
Q. Beyond being able to score quickly, do you think your offensive tempo tired them out and was that a factor coming in?
DAVID BEATY: No doubt. No doubt. There is still a lot that we as coaches saw today that we’ve got to get a lot better at with regard to that. I mean, utilizing the tempo is something you’ve got to do, but you’ve got to use it. If they’re standing up, you need to snap the ball while they’re standing up, and we weren’t able to get it done quickly enough. But to Montell’s credit, he did a great job of managing it throughout that time, and I wanted him to be sure about what he was seeing.
Q. Ke’aun Kinner showed a lot of great things, great focus and vision.
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, going into the game, we knew he was a talented guy. The one thing I wasn’t really quite sure of was his top-end speed. But he showed some things today that I thought were pretty good. We’re going to continue working with him on trying to just keep them shoulders squared and get going and trust his speed a little bit more. But he’s a talented guy. I thought De’Andre Mann played really well. That guy played really good while he was in there.
Ryan Schadler went in and played at running back a little bit. We used a lot of guys today. We were in and out, in and out, in and out on both sides of the ball, which was somewhat by design. But there were some guys I’m not sure we thought were going to get in the game that actually got in there and were able to contribute. Whether they touched the ball or not, they contributed in the role that they played.
Q. Did you get Ke’aun Kinner got more work than you anticipated it or was that about what you thought?
DAVID BEATY: Honestly, I don’t know if I know the answer to that.
Q. 27 carries.
DAVID BEATY: We feel like he’s go to touch it. I’m not sure we’re not going to put a number on it, but we feel he has to touch it because he’s a talented guy.
Q. Bringing Ryan Willis into the game following Montell’s injury, was that already a situation that if the situation presented itself that he would be the guy?
DAVID BEATY: Yes, this week at least. He’s still going to have to continue to earn it. He and De’Andre were both kind of neck and neck, and we got to a point where we thought Montell was ready to go, and right at the last second he wasn’t, and Ryan just like he prepared for was ready to go in.
Man, I would have loved to have seen him step up and make those throws and get those completions in there. Because he made the right reads, he’s just got to be able to put them in. He’s a talented guy, and I think that was really good for him. I think he’ll learn a lot from it. He’s such a talented guy, I was kind of shocked that those balls didn’t get into the receiver’s hands a little bit better. But he’ll get better from it, from this, no doubt.
Q. What exactly did you see from Jake Wieneke?
DAVID BEATY: He’s actually a lot faster than you think he is. I’m not saying that he’s maybe the biggest breakaway speed guy, but man he’s a crafty receiver. It’s hard to get your hands on him at the line of scrimmage. He does a great job catching the ball away from his body. He’s a big man who does a great job receiving the ball away from his body. That touchdown catch in the corner down there was phenomenal.
I mean, to get his feet down, I mean, Brandon Stewart was right underneath him, and Brandon had a battle on his hands all day. That kid’s a really good player. I was telling Coach before the game, I said, man, that dude, he can play just about anywhere. He’s a really talented kid, really talented kid.
Q. Do you think the team did a good job adjusting to him?
DAVID BEATY: I thought we did better. I thought we did better. Some of that goes to Coach Bowen and those guys. I thought we did some things to be able to give him a little help over there. But the other thing is they’re running the ball well too, so when you try to too high at teams like that, they’re good to pour the run right down your throat.
So there are things that you have to give and take. I thought Clint and those guys did a good job of figuring out how to disguise and stem so they could get them in a conflict instead of us being in a conflict.
Q. Besides the four quarters of football and the loss, what kind of step was this for this program today?
DAVID BEATY: Well, I think it’s obviously unbelievably disappointing right now. That was a very tough locker room to look into for my first day as a head football coach in Division 1 football. Those kids, they battled, and I’m really proud of them for that. They kept fighting, and that’s been something that we’ve been stressing from the day we got here. And we got put in an adverse situation to a very good football team. Perception aside, they are really a good football team, and our guys came back, and I was proud of them for that.
But you know what? We also did a lot of things that we talk about all the time that we did not do. We did not take care of. Being the smartest team in the country, we weren’t that today. We’ve got to get better at that and that’s me and my coaches’ job.
Q. Talk about momentum and the turnover margin?
DAVID BEATY: We turned it over twice and we didn’t get any. We’ve got to get some turnovers. We’ve got to create turnovers and we weren’t able to do that.
Q. You talked about learning some things about your team in this game, do you guys feel like you did that?
DAVID BEATY: Some of it will be me watching the tape. But couple of guys that stood out to me, I thought really the receiving corps. There were a lot of receivers that played today, lot of guys got their hands on the football, and a lot of them had catches. Tre’ I thought played really well. Bobby played pretty well until he got knocked out of there. Steven Sims did some decent things. Josh did some decent things. We were trying to get him matched up a couple times.
They did a good job rolling coverage and we had a couple of plays called to try to get him vertical, but those guys did well. I was proud of Montell for coming back. He faced some major adversity early, early in that football game, and he really did not let it affect him. He continued to move forward and I was proud of him for that. He did a good job.
One of the groups that I’m really proud of is our O-line. I’ll be honest with you, in spring that group struggled pretty badly. So the fact that they’re getting better, that gives me some hope moving forward that we’ve got a chance to get a little bit better even than that. So Zach Yenser and those guys have done a really good job with them.
Q. Were the circumstances of Joshua (Stanford) getting catches or touches or is there something going on?
DAVID BEATY: Well, circumstances, but here’s the deal. We don’t just say this, we do it. You’re only as good as your next play and your next day. He didn’t do anything wrong. Bobby beat him out. He beat him out that day. Now Josh may beat him out tomorrow, which is one reason we did not publish a depth chart. There were some changes there all the way up until the end which I think helped us, and our kids know that we mean business about competing every day.
Q. The film is going to be maybe not a lot of fun for those guys to watch, but do you think they will take anything from the film?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, that will be something, I think, that we’ll be able to build on, being able to build on some plays like that. But the thing that we’re most disappointed in is that we didn’t get an opportunity at the end to be able to see what would have happened there. I think everybody in the stands at least on our side, would have loved to have seen what happened there. But we’ve got to earn that, and we didn’t earn it by taking care of the details, and at the very end of the game, I’ve got to do a better job of coaching them than that.
Q. How impressed were you working with Ryan Schadler today, and did you expect him to be the special teams player he was today?
DAVID BEATY: Very impressed but not surprised. The guy has been like that since the day we got here. He’s a sprinter, he can run. I knew when he got the in the open field I was like there is no way that guy’s going to tackle him, and he broke away and took off. I think that’s good. That really energized our team. That was a big deal.
We talked about it right before we went out. I said, look, if they kick it over here to Shad, which they’re going to sky it because they knew the other kid was fast, and if they do, we’re going to crease them. Just give him a crease and he’ll be gone, and he took off. Gary did a great job of designing that return.
Q. You guys scored with about two minutes left. Did you consider on-side kicking or what was the thought process?
DAVID BEATY: We initially I was going to go ahead and on-side kick it. The problem for me there was that if we did not get that thing, the game was completely over for sure. I mean, in our minds. And I looked down to Clint and said, can you stop him? And he said, yes, and we’re going to kick then, and I’m going to burn both timeouts. And I turned to Rob (Likens) and said, how much time do you need? He said, just give me whatever you got and we’ll get it down there.
So as soon as those guys gave me the go ahead that they felt good about it, Clint said, look, we’ll get it done. Just kick it down there and we’ll get it done. Because we knew Wyman was going to kick it out of the end zone. So that gave us a good idea of what would happen. Now the face mask, the great thing about the face mask was it happened on that first run really early and the kid went down fast. So it didn’t hurt you as bad as it could, but it hurt you. It hurt you.
But they kept playing. Our guys kept playing. Those dudes threw the ball on second down. We were able to break it up, and then they threw it on third down which helped us. Made a great return on the fourth down.
So I would love to have seen what would have happened if we gave Wyman a chance. That guy’s got a great leg, it would have been great to see it.
Q. Your first game, did you have any jitters? How much sleep did you get last night?
DAVID BEATY: I slept great. I hate to say it, and I don’t hate to say it, I’m not a nervous guy by nature. I think, I mean, I’m not into that. I’m a big believer in you get them prepared and what you prepared them for, they will do well. What you haven’t done well at preparing them for, that’s your fault. You didn’t get them prepared well enough. Today, unfortunately I didn’t get them prepared well enough to win the game.
We did just good enough to stay close, and we didn’t do good enough to win the game.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Kansas junior quarterback Montell Cozart
On the last play of the game:
“I felt like I was too relaxed. We work on clock situation all of the time. Under two minutes we have to get that field goal. We have to get Matthew Wyman out there because we know he has a boot. When the ball hit me, I never really got a good grasp on it and I fumbled. So I tried to get on it real quick and get the guys lined right back up. I knew we only had two or four seconds left so I thought we could get the snap off but we just fell short. You never think about stuff like that until it happens to you and it felt like someone just uppercut me right in the gut. Thinking about it, I know it’ll never happen again. We’ll be fine though.”
On his composure after the two early turnovers to guide the comeback:
“Those turnovers just settled me down. I just took a deep breath and said ‘Here we go, it’s time to play (football).’ We got into some great situations using our tempo against a good defense. Give credit to South Dakota though. They came out there and played great. Being able to use our tempo against those guys helped us be in the situation we were in. We scored in the third quarter 21-straight points and that lets you know we’re deadly, so that was a great sign for us.”
On converting gutsy, fourth down plays:
“It’s great because our running backs De’Andre (Mann) and Ke’aun (Kinner) – we know we have great guys back there. So being able to go option, or if the defensive ends crash we can pull it. Just knowing we have that attitude, that we know it’s fourth and one, we have to do a good job so we can stay on the field.”
Kansas senior wide receiver Tre’ Parmalee
On how he feels about his own performance and athleticism:
“I did all right. I think I could be a lot better and help this team more.”
On where he can improve:
“Getting a lot faster and helping out the younger guys. Just keeping everybody’s spirits up and playing my hardest every day.”
On where he believes the team’s ceiling is:
“I don’t think we have a ceiling. I think we can go as far as we want to go. It is just up to us to keep working every day, take the coaching, learn from this loss and keep moving forward.”
On the team’s overall energy:
“That is just something the coaches have instilled into us. Coach Beaty and all of the coaches are really energetic. They are player’s coaches. They love this game and so do we. Every day we are coming out here energy and an enthusiasm to get better.”
Kansas junior safety Fish Smithson
On halftime adjustments:
“Everyone just came out and executed. We came in at half time and we talked about it. They had a lot of different things we hadn’t seen at practice or worked on for a week or two so we just got back out there and tried.”
On the last play of the game:
“Really, I had watched a game earlier, a college game, I think it was Hawaii and the same exact thing happened. Our coaches on the sideline to us and made sure we were aware of the situation and what could happen. I just had a flashback to watching that game and it’s actually happening then on the other side. It didn’t feel good.”
Kansas junior linebacker Marcquis Roberts
On today’s performance:
“We have to start faster. That’s how I feel, we just have to start faster. We dug ourselves a big hole and it was hard to get out of. The faster we start, the better off we will be.”
On improvements for next week:
“Practice, practice hard. From the beginning Monday through Thursday practice like our hair is on fire. I feel like it was the same thing we do in practice where we start off slow and then we end up picking it up for the second half of practice. If we just get it going from the jump to the finish we’ll be good.”
On the team’s energy:
“We started off slow. At the beginning we didn’t have any, what I call it juice, but sooner or later, some point in the game, we end up getting one or two stops going into halftime and we got a little juice and felt good and got into a little rhythm.”
On head coach David Beaty:
“Coach Beaty is always good. You know we might be down but we aren’t out. We take our punches as they come. You have to fight through everything, all adversity we have to fight.”
South Dakota State head coach John Stiegelmeier
“I’m extremely proud of our football team. We preach that when you’re on the field that you have a chance to win the game and we had some guys rise up with just a few big plays in this football game. I want to compliment Coach Beaty and his staff because they really turned it around in the second half and put some pressure on us. It sounds kind of funny as a FCS school but it wasn’t like that in the first half. We are excited about the win and I am proud of our football team and everyone that has been on our football team the last 12 years. They are all part of this win.”
On the significance of today’s win:
“I think it’s a feather in South Dakota State’s cap. There is more to come. (I’m) Not taking anything away from Kansas at all, I would feel the same way if we beat Nebraska four or five years ago. It’s a big win, but we have lofty goals and that is to go 1-0 every week. For these guys, this moment is a really special feeling and it should be. Our assistant coaches worked their tails off making game plans.”
On significance of the win for SDSU’s seniors:
“Without a doubt (it’s a special victory). We’re a senior-driven and a senior-honoring team, so those guys feel special and they should feel special.”
On holding off an FBS team from coming back:
“I am really proud of the way our defense rose up on the 3rd-and-goal when we kept them to a field goal, ow our offense marched the field to make it a two-score game and how Isaac Rodriguez ran down their punt returner. I wish we could have finished it with our offense on the field. We called plays and we botched it. That was probably my fault because I talked them into something I don’t think they had enough time to think about. Thank goodness the players play better than I am on the field. We handled the pressure well. We were worn out. A lot of guys had IVs, a lot of guys were cramping up, so it was a team win — definitely.”
On the good offensive start:
“Jake Wieneke is a special player. He was fresh; he wears out because he runs a lot of yards out there. Brady Mengarelli wore out. Cam Jones hardly was out there for the third quarter. He was getting an IV so we needed everybody today but we did start out really fast.”
On the team’s halftime adjustments:
“We did two things. We called two defenses specifically to allot somebody to the quarterback (Montell Cozart) because he is pretty athletic. He had all these yards in the first half. He had one rush and eight scrambles, he led the team in rushing so that was a no-brainer. Then the way they attacked us on the short side with the short passing game so we went to a Cover 2 look which is not a run defense, it’s a pass defense but it confused them a little bit. It’s a chess game, that’s our job. I thought our defensive coaches responded really well today.”
On the offensive line’s performance:
“Other than the sacks I thought they played really well. I thought we ran the ball really well, which doesn’t happen because you have a great running back, it starts with the fat guys who take a lot of pride in it. We had a dumb penalty in the long pass, to block a guy even though the whistle was not blowing. That was by a senior who will not do that again. That was a major mistake.”
On playing a clean game:
“I think we jumped offside twice, once by a guard and once by a running back. And we had the 15-yarder. You can’t quantify the importance of playing a clean football game. Turnovers, penalties, those are things many times you can control. Especially in the heat of this game and the temperature of this game, it’s mentally tough.”
On KU’s kickoff return for a TD:
“Our three and four were pinned and number one has to contain him and our number two guys just didn’t squeeze in to make the tackle. He was unblocked, but missed the tackle. He didn’t get any help either and it’s a team play. So if he misses the tackle, somebody else has to be there, but everybody else got blocked. I thought the kick was great. It was into the wind, it was a 90-yard kick. We pinned him (Ryan Schadler) in the corner, he ran into the field, and we should have had the advantage. That’s what we wanted, and then they score. There were good athletes on the field.”
On preparing for the heat and humidity:
“We tried. We thought we were (prepared), but we weren’t. We did everything we could but the fact is it’s hotter and it seems like it’s more humid than we thought it was going to be. Thank God for the wind, or it would have been really tough conditions. We had some hot days up there. We practiced and our administration doesn’t let us turn on the air conditioning.”
“I’m so proud of our football team. It was so neat to meet Coach Beaty, he is a special guy. I’m certain to whatever degree you can take Kansas football, I believe he will take them there. Everybody has some hurdles and he seems like a guy who is going to battle through them. I looked forward to getting to know him better and visiting with him about his program and what he learned. That was a treat for me to visit with him.”
South Dakota Wide Receiver Jake Wieneke
On how the offense started the game:
“It was great; the offensive line did a great job and the offense did a good job running the ball and passing the ball.”
On if he was surprised on how well the offense started out:
“No, we were expecting that. That’s what we were expecting and hoping for.”
On if being in a close game will benefit the team later in the season:
“Yes defiantly, it was a close game and it’s good to get that experience. Last year we were in a lot of close games and we won some and lost some but this year we got off to a good start.”
South Dakota linebacker T.J Lally
On how does it feel to finally get a win over an FBS opponent:
“Pretty awesome, it really is. It could have been prettier but that doesn’t matter as long as we get the win. I am really proud of the offense, they were amazing today but the way the defense was able to keep up with the up-tempo offense, that was tough but we rose up when we had too.”
On keeping the lead after Kansas started to make a comeback:
“We have been talking about what kind of defense that we want to be and we felt that slipped away from us in this game once they scored those two touchdowns, so we kind of just all got back together and decided on what we needed to do. For the most part, we executed.”
On what adjustments the defense made after Kansas started to comeback:
“It wasn’t so much that we were doing things wrong, we were just getting worn down. The biggest difference from the FBS and the FCS is the depth you have but the game plan was great. When we were executing well, we were stopping them but we were just trying to get fresh legs and a lot of water.”
South Dakota running back Isaac Wallace
On how well the offensive line played in the first half:
“Yeah, the offensive line was working their tails off and did a great job the whole game.”
On what was it like playing his first game:
“It’s surreal, I’m really speechless honestly.”
South Dakota State quarterback Zach Lujan
On how the team started strong in the first half:
“It was huge. It’s exactly how we wanted to start the game. We had a couple of unexpected looks, so I thought we were able to do a great job adapting. We need to be a better second-half team offensively. We can’t depend on our defense that much, but they still had a great game.”
On what the win means:
“It means a lot – first FBS win in school history. That says a lot about our program and how far we have come. Individually, I’m just ecstatic, especially because my grandmother passed away about a week ago, so this is special.”
On mentally of big fourth quarter plays:
“Yeah, it’s either do or die at that point. I think our game plan was solid on fourth down. Coach (Eric) Eidsness did a good job calling the correct plays in the right situations and that makes my job easier at that point, just get the ball up the field and make plays.
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