No. 3/4 Baylor Cruises at Kansas, 66-7
LAWRENCE, Kan. – If ever there was a silver lining in a 66-7 loss to the No. 3-ranked team in the country and college football playoff hopeful, it would be two true freshmen leading one of the youngest and inexperienced squads in the FBS down the field on their opening drive of Saturday afternoon’s contest at Memorial Stadium.
Through five games, the Jayhawks (0-5, 0-2 Big 12) have called upon 36 first-year players and 27 different first-time starters to carry the bulk of the load, including the first freshman duo to hookup for a touchdown pass since 2003. In his first career start, quarterback Ryan Willis lined up behind center and marched Kansas 74 yards down the field for its first points of the season on an opening possession.
The conclusion of that nine-play drive came at the hands of wide receiver Steven Sims, Jr. The rookie slipped behind one of Baylor’s cornerbacks and hauled in a 36-yard strike from Willis to tie the game up, 7-7, with 12:41 to play in the first quarter.
One would have to look back 12 years to find the last rookie duo to hook up for a receiving touchdown in quarterback Adam Barmann and running back John Randle. In the third quarter against Texas A&M, Barmann connected with Randle for 39 yards and one of his four passing scores on the day. A true freshman wouldn’t throw another touchdown until 2006 when Todd Reesing chucked one against Colorado, and then Willis Saturday.
However, that bright spot was short lived as the prolific, quick-strike Baylor offense lived up to its hype and went on to score 59-unanswered points for the victory. A contender to make the College Football Playoff, the Bears (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) scored on 10 of their 15 drives, including eight-straight to start the game.
BU finished the game with a season-low 644 yards of total offense with 281 yards on the ground and 363 yards in the air. Quarterback Seth Russell connected on 18-of-27 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns, while back-up Jarrett Stidham completed 9-of-10 for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman caught a pair of 11-yard scores and finished the day with seven grabs for 108 yards. Big 12 leading rusher Shock Linwood ran for 135 yards on 13 attempts and a touchdown while Johnny Jefferson rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown of his own.
Willis hit nine different receivers in his first start to complete 20-of-36 pass attempts on the day. His 36-yard strike to Sims early in the first quarter proved his longest of the day and added to his career-high 158 yards passing. Freshman wide receiver Jeremiah Booker led KU’s receiving corps with 39 yards on three catches, while sophomore Derrick Neal caught a team-high four balls.
If the opening drive wasn’t a bright enough spot on the day, then it had to be sixth-year senior Taylor Cox taking the field for the first time in 756 days. A career guy who has battled through several injuries in his tenure, Cox rushed 19 times in his return game, leading Kansas with 45 yards.
The Jayhawks wrap up a two-game homestand Saturday, Oct. 17, as they play host to Texas Tech for their annual Jayhawks for a Cure game. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m., and can be seen on Fox Sports 1.
Kansas head coach David Beaty
Just a couple of things to get started with. First of all, I take my hat off to art and his team. They’re a good football team. We knew that coming in. We knew to be able to get after these guys, they were going to have to have a fast start on both sides of the ball in the kicking game, and I thought we did that offensively, which was good to see. It was one of those deals where those guys kind of got going.
When you play a team like that you kind of get to the point where they’re coming on their first road game out here to come see us up in orange, and you’re hoping they’re not on their game, but they were on their game. Their quarterback played well. Seth (Russell) played really well. I thought his receivers made plays, and then their running game is pretty good, man. Their offensive line is really good. They do a good job of moving you around. They created some holes and got that offense rolling early.
I thought we got them to third downs several times early in the game, and I think when you get to those situations, you’ve got to capitalize on it and get them off the field a couple times. We stopped them a couple times and got on the kick field goals, but some of those happened a little bit late in the game. But you’ve got to stop those guys when you get a chance. I think they had 34 first downs in the game, and we’ve got to do better than that. They’re a good football team, but I think we made some things easier on them at times and that’s something we control. We lost the game of field position today. That’s an offense, defense, and special teams thing. We’ve got to do a better job in our punt game and we’ve got to switch the field a lot better than we have here lately. That will continue to be a thorn in our side unless we get that fixed.
So we’ve got to do a better job there. With this team being as good as they are, you can’t turn the football over in their own end and you can’t give them something that creates points other than what they do offensively, and we did that. Ryan (Willis) dropped the snap, and instead of having some poise there and being able to live to play another down, he tried to make something happen, and it came out, and they scooped it up and scored there.
So those are things that we can’t do to our defense, because that just kind of compounded and made things a little bit more difficult as we move forward. So those are things that we really, we control those things and we should be able to control those controllables, and I didn’t think that we did that for the majority of the time today.
Ryan is a young guy. He made some plays today, and I thought he handled himself pretty good in there. For the most part he wasn’t rattled when he made mistakes which was good. There’s a couple other guys, Taylor Cox, I think you heard me talk about him just a second ago. With the exception of him putting the ball on the ground, I thought he played really hard. It will be hard for me to tell until I watch the tape.
But he was pressed into a lot more action because of (Ke’aun) Kinner’s injury. But it was good to have him back out there. It really was. If there’s a positive in here, it was good to have him and Jeremiah Booker back out there. Both those guys I think helped us moving forward for sure.
But Art (Briles) and them have a good football team on both sides of the ball. They did a good job. So we’ll take some questions.
Q. Talk about Taylor Cox, what was his demeanor and his leadership before this?
COACH BEATY: Great. Exactly what you thought. He picked up like he’d never been gone. The demeanor was great; he was a leader just like he’d always been. He never let those guys get down. He literally refused to let anybody look negative in that huddle which man I’m so proud of that, and we need that. From a senior, the guy’s been around a long time, and that was good to see.
Q. That first down on second drive, was that the sort of thing, we had talked earlier in the week about maybe taking some chances and you said last week they had some things in there. Did you think about going for it and trying to be aggressive there early and try to keep up with them?
COACH BEATY: Not there. We were trying to give our defense some good field position again, and we were able to do it a little bit better this week than we did last week in that regard on that particular situation. We were a little bit better. We weren’t great, but we were a little bit better. Trying to pin them down in there and help our guys at least have their — have a long way to go.
So that was the thought process. And a lot of it has to do with who you’re playing and where you think you’re going to have your opportunities to make it on those downs. They did a dad gum good job against us on fourth down today. We had fourth and short sticks and we didn’t get to first. That’s very disappointing, very disappointing. But take my hat off to them, they stopped us, but we’ve got to be better than that.
Q. Coach, to start things off, it had to be encouraging. You gave up a score really quick, but your team came out and answered with a drive right away?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, they did. That was good to see early on. It’s something when you play a good team you’ve got to get off to a good start to give yourself a chance in a game where you’re playing against a team that’s really proven over time that they’ve done it pretty well. So it was good to see that in the very beginning.
Q. Got a couple drives and short fields seemed to be a problem. Maybe somewhat self of inflicted in that regard?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, you’ve got to win the battle of field position, that’s an offense, defense and special-teams thing. That’s not just one third. We’ve got to continue to develop at special teams and continue with our punt game and try to switch the field.
When you’ve got a guy like that, it makes it a lot easier on you, because you can get decent drive starts for your opponent. We’ve got to get better in that area.
Q. Ryan Willis looks like he’s got some escapability and looks pretty poised if he’s flushed. How would you assess his game today?
COACH BEATY: Well, it’s hard to tell until we watch the tape. I know this, he’s a young guy, and he made some mistakes today. But we knew that was going to be part of the growing pains with a young guy. But you know what? I loved his approach. I loved the way he attacked each series. He was never discouraged at all. The guy was excited about going out there and playing. I love that he loves to play football. I do think he’ll continue to get better because he loves the game. He has a couple throws I think he’d like back today, but he also made some good throws in there today.
So all in all, we’ll have to look at the tape. But I was pleased with his demeanor and his approach with regard to leading our team.
Q. I was going to say, he looks like he doesn’t get rattled. Is that a quality that he has?
COACH BEATY: So far he’s been pretty good in that area, which is good, and that’s obviously a trait that you look for in a quarterback.
Q. Obviously we knew this was going to be a high-powered offense. Had you your defense put in some tough situations throughout this entire game. What do you tell that D?
COACH BEATY: Well, first of all, you’ve got to take your hat off to Baylor. Those guys are phenomenal at what they do. They’re really good. So we’ve got to do a good job of not putting our defense in bad positions, obviously, but then we’ve got to do a good job of when we get them to third down, we’ve got to really capitalize and get off the field there. We got them into third down quite a bit early, and they extended those drives.
I think they finished with 34 first downs in the game, and we’ve got to do better than that. There are a lot of things that we’ve got to do in all the other areas as well. It’s not just the defense.
Q. Saw a couple new players today. I know we asked earlier in the week about Taylor Cox. I’m not sure we thought we were going to see as much of him as we did. But to see a new receiver in Jeremiah Booker who looked like he was someone you were trying to get the ball down the field to?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, it was good to get both those guys back. I’m really happy with Taylor. He’s a senior, and he’s lost so much time with his injury. With the exception of the fumble, the kid played his tail off today. One of his biggest strengths is his leadership. He did a really nice job for us on that sideline in that huddle. And really tough situation for a guy coming back in his first game. I was proud of him there. But we’ve got to take care of the football and we can’t put it on the ground.
Jeremiah Booker coming back, that gave us some depth there, and he was able to make a couple plays in the game which only helped him move forward.
Q. I know you want to watch the film, obviously. But does Ryan — did he show you things that he can be going forward and trying to evaluate and see where he gets, but you talked a lot about having your best players out on the field (No microphone). Did you get any feeling for whether he could handle it the rest of the year?
COACH BEATY: I think we began to get a feel. I think it’s lard to make those type of assumptions on one game, as you know. I think it’s going to be a body of work as we move forward. They were fairly simple in what they did defensively today, so we got a pretty good look, and that’s what Phil does. He’s known for doing that. We knew that coming into the game, but I thought Ryan handled it pretty well. I like the kid.
I said it before, I really like him. I like his demeanor; I like the fact that he loves to play football. I mean, you’d be surprised how many people in this world sometimes play the game and they don’t love it. I mean, he loves it, and it’s refreshing to be around a guy like that.
Q. Did Ryan play older than he really is?
COACH BEATY: I think he did. Man, I’m going to have to watch the tape, because I can’t see some of those mistakes that are being made. But he did do at times, he did some things that you were proud of him for, you know? The thing is, he doesn’t get rattled. I don’t even know that he’s always completely aware of the situation, which is what a veteran does. I think that’s something that helps him a little bit, because he just continues to play. But I’m not sure he played older than he is, but he certainly played decent for a guy that is a true freshman.
It was good for us that we were able to kind of get him to this point because he needed that. A lot of guys to be able to see more offensively in the collegiate level.
Q. Watching the tape, it looked like you guys got stuck on some reads. Did you see that?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, he’s a young guy. You watch those young guys and sometimes it takes them a while to start looking and understanding structure and how those pieces are moving around. And by the way it’s Division 1 football in the Big 12. So those guys on the other side of the field, they get paid a lot of money because they’re really good at what they do, and they’re not just going to show you what they’re in.
So you’re going to have to do a good job of film study and knowing when the safeties are literally half a yard off level, that that tells you something. When you’re young, you can’t see all that. When you get to play a lot of ball, you get a lot of snaps because it’s something — you can have all the money in the world, but you can’t buy experience. He’s got to go get that. So we can’t give it to him. He’s got to go get it, and I thought today was a great start for him.
Q. Baylor was not very good when Art Briles started there. Do you see any similarities in your two programs?
COACH BEATY: I tell you this, he’s done a great job there. I’ve said that over and over again. He and I both were Texas high school football coaches so I’ve known him for a long, long time. I’m not sure it’s fair for me to put us in any category like they are right now, even in the beginning. Because they got in the bowl game pretty quick. They did a pretty good job. He’s a guy that, man, I don’t know that I’ll put myself even or us remotely close to them until we go earn that. We’ve got to go earn it, and we’re not there yet. There may have been similar circumstances. But in terms of where he’s at, man, he’s done a heck of a job. Great model for people.
Q. How hard is it to stay positive after you’re down 52-7?
COACH BEATY: Well, I mean, from our standpoint, we as coaches and as players, we have to be able to shut the scoreboard off, whether you’re up 21 or down 21. You’ve got to play the next play. That sounds cliché’, but it’s exactly how you do it. You take everything one play at a time, and then you play the next play. It’s obviously not a comfortable situation, I’m sure.
But it’s things that we’re learning right now within our team of how to handle adversity. It is what it is. We just talked that we left that locker room about some key things in handling situations like that. Moaning, complaining, and griping is not going to do anything to get it any better. You’ve got to go out there, get to work and get better day by day.
Q. Can you talk a little on the injuries with the running backs?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, we’re banged up a little bit there, Ke’aun Kinner, like I said, he tried to go a little bit today. He got in there for a couple plays. He tried, man. He’s a tough kid. He’s been hobbled all week. He’s got some issues with that ham and that thigh, so he tried. He just couldn’t go. So it gave opportunities to Taylor Cox to get in there, De’Andre Mann is another guy that’s trying to fight through a little injury here and there. It was great to see Taylor Martin get in there. I mean, that guy wanted to get in there so bad. He was smiling and patting me on the back saying coach, give it to me. Those are the things that you leave that game going, all right, we’ve got the right guys here. You know?
We’ve got the right guys here. Plan, they really want to make these people in their state happy. They really do. But they understand it’s a process. They’ve got to get there and they’ve got to earn it. I think that hurts them more than anything.
Q. Did you plan on getting Taylor Martin reps before the game?
COACH BEATY: We wanted to, we wanted to. We’ve got a pretty good stable of backs there, but you need them in the Big 12. You really do. It’s hard to last a whole season now at running back. It really is. And we want to run the football. We’re trying to run the football.
If we can get to a point where we’re in manageable situations where you don’t have to throw it down the field a little bit, it will help your running game. I’ve had a lot of people ask me about that. When you start getting into situations where you have to start trading points a little bit, man, it forces you out of that run game a little bit. I think when we get into those situations where we are within striking distance, we’re in a lot better position to run the football. It helps your run game.
Q. How good is it for your team, your young guys to see Baylor up close, in person? And after that, what do you tell them from what they saw from an opponent like that?
COACH BEATY: Well, we haven’t talked a whole lot about them because it’s all about us, and I know that sounds cliché’, but it’s the truth. If we operate correctly and we execute correctly, then we’re going to limit the production of our opponents. But you know what? I think you make a great point. I mean, it is a great opportunity to go out there and play against some of the best in the country. And those guys have built that thing.
Baylor, I grew up in Texas, and I remember a day where they had been struggling, and now they have, for all intents and purposes, kind of led the state. It’s really good for our guys. It really is. Whether we want to give them credit or not coming out of our mouths, I know those guys are looking over there going, you know what? That’s where we want to get to.
Q. Some of the Baylor guys had their pads off in the second half. Have you noticed that? Have you ever seen that before? Was that kind of a weird thing for them?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, when the starters are done a lot of times, they’ll take their pads off. Art is a very unique coach, and I admire him because he doesn’t do things the way they’ve always been done just because they’ve always been done that way. He’s very unique. You watch him run plays, and sometimes those receivers don’t even take a step off the ball.
But there are some changes to that, because when they’re ready to go vertical, they rushed it, and they take off and they rushed it. But there are some things you don’t see very often. He’s an out of the box thinker.
Kansas junior safety Fish Smithson
On how well Baylor ran the ball:
“We’re not really surprised, of course we’ve watched highlights on ESPN, so we had only seen the big time splash, but they do a great job of running the ball. We watched them all week and we learned and were very impressed by how well they ran the ball. They do a great job of putting defenses into run-pass conflicts.”
On Baylor’s LaQuan McGowan scoring a touchdown:
“No, I’ve never seen anything like that, that was a great call and great play, but coming into this game we knew he was going to try to do something like that it.”
On having faced Baylor last year? Was it easier to know what to expect:
“I believe facing Baylor last year helped me. Especially with last year being my first year, that was one of the best offenses I saw last year, so really coming into this game, I knew what to expect and that helped out a lot.”
On what stands out about Baylor’s offense:
“Their offensive line played like all stars, they are very well coached so they don’t miss too many blitzes, pick-ups, or anything like that—so really, they run the ball well and they can pass.”
Kansas junior tight end Kent Taylor
On how he thinks QB Ryan Willis played today?
“I thought he played well, obviously the fumble—those are things he’ll need to improve on but to be a true freshman out there, playing the number 3 team in the country, that’s no easy task. So, I think for the most part he did well and stayed composed which was really impressive, a lot of times, freshmen quarterbacks don’t know how to hold their composure very well, so I thought he did a really nice job and I’m looking forward to how he continues to progress. Willis is a competitor—he likes to compete which is a good thing to have in a quarterback.”
On the penalty on his one-handed catch:
“Scramble drill is something we work a lot, you’ve just got different roles and my role was to go deep and he threw it up and gave me a chance to make a play, and I made the play. As soon as he scrambled, I took off, so I didn’t even know, I just kind of looked up, saw the ball in the air and made the play. I didn’t know it was out at first. It was a little disheartening, but it’s a part of football—plays get called back and it’s just a part of the game.”
On RB Taylor Cox keeping guys motivated on the sideline:
“He’s seen a lot and has been here for a long time. A guy like that with experience that has seen a lot—he knows that no matter what the scoreboard says, you’ve just got to keep fighting and that’s what he believes and that’s why he’s a great team leader and a great teammate, so that’s just how he is—he’s competitive. Especially when you’ve got a lot of young guys out there who are just looking at the scoreboard and getting down, it’s nice to have someone older to look up.”
Kansas senior safety Michael Glatczak
On Baylor’s offense:
“I give them all of the credit in the world. There’s a reason why they’re the No. 3 team in the nation. We just have to go back to trusting our training and getting better every day.”
On the difference between Baylor’s hurry-up offense versus KU’s:
“Our offense runs the same tempo, but these guys have been doing it for years with (head coach Art) Briles and they’re faster.”
On trying to tackle LaQuan McGowan:
“He’s a big dude and pretty nifty for his size too.”
On what it’s like to go up against a team like Baylor:
“It’s a great opportunity, like Coach Bowen was telling us all week, ‘There’s not many people who get the opportunity to play the No. 3 team in the nation,’ so it was a great opportunity.”
On Baylor’s wide receiver corps:
“They’re a fast bunch. They rotate a lot in two’s to get them fresh and the coach does a good job over there.”
On how Ryan Willis played today:
“He’s a great kid. As a true freshman coming in, he’s very confident. He made some big plays out there too.”
On Willis’s sense of confidence:
“As a freshman, you see people get down on themselves but he goes out there every day wanting to make plays. He’s very confident in himself, a great team player and always has a smile on his face.”
Kansas senior running back Taylor Cox
On how it felt to finally get back on the field:
“It felt really good. My main thing is to play my heart out for my brothers’ right and left of me. From that standpoint, it felt really good.”
On his expectations for his heavy workload today:
“Going into it, I wasn’t really having any expectations for myself but to play hard and do what the coaches asked of me.”
On how he would evaluate his play:
“I don’t want to put a grade on it but not very well. I put the ball on the ground way too many times and that is something we stress in practices. It’s going to eat at me for a while but I am just going to move on from it and prepare for next week.”
On his overall health:
“Health wise, I feel 100 percent and I am ready to go.”
On his leadership in the huddle:
“I just try to lead by showing my heart and letting those guys know that I’m there for them, on and off of the field. I have a little bit of experience in the Big 12, so I try to rub it off to them that way.”
On how it was playing with Ryan Willis in the backfield:
“It was good. Willis has a very positive attitude and I felt like he was really comfortable back there.”
Baylor head coach Art Briles
On today’s game:
“Winning in this conference is hard to do. We started good on our opening drive and then Kansas came back and answered. We have to keep grinding and keep fighting. Our defense got a few turnovers late in the first half and we got out of there with a win and that is the most important thing. I feel like we have one of the freshest teams in America at this stage in the season. I think that is a positive for our program.”
On starters not playing much:
“They’re going to like playing full games in a few weeks. That is my job as a coach, to think about the longevity of our program and have the best interest for our football team. That is a good problem to have to deal with. There has been some opportunity for rest.”
On this being a complete win:
“I really feel like last week was better for us as far as a having a complete win. Our special teams gave up a big kick-off return, fumbled a punt, and they missed a field goal. We were kind of sloppy, quite honestly, not sharp. I was pretty pleased with the offense and defense.”
On Ryan Willis:
“I was really impressed. I thought he was really good. He made some really good, nice throws and he held his composure. If I was a Kansas Jayhawk, I’d be excited, because he looked real good today. The thing with quarterbacks is that the more starts and reps they get – its kind of like a guy getting ready to go into the NFL draft, they need to start with what is wrong instead of what is right. He certainly was right today. He was really, really solid.”
On preparing for a game when you’re the clear favorite:
“This is why they call us coaches and why we have competitive guys on the football team. We talked about it last night, if we are listening to what other people are saying, than we are not very smart. We understand that anything can happen on any given day and our job is to go out and perform at a championship level. There are trap games everywhere, there is one always sitting out there. We have to make sure we compete and execute. We have a lot of fourth and fifth year guys that have put us in a good position. When those guys are focused in, sharp, thinking right, and they understand what is at stake, they’re going to
compete at a high level and we have a good chance to win.”
On capitalizing from turnovers:
“We did and that is what we did last week too against Texas Tech. We were able to separate today. We had two turnovers plus a defensive touchdown. We are a good football team, don’t let us jump ahead too much.”
Baylor junior wide receiver Corey Coleman
On two early touchdowns:
“They weren’t touchdown calls, they were just normal plays. I saw what the defense was doing and took advantage of it.”
On tough game because of expectations going into today:
“It’s what we want to expect. They are a Big 12 team and a good team that’s building their program. They can win too, so we came in with the mindset that we need to put in the same work that we did when we face any other team.
Baylor junior quarterback Seth Russell
On challenges of only playing half of the game:
“You always want to play the whole game, but that was really good for our younger guys. They got a lot of experience. I was lucky enough last year to get the same opportunities also. Experience is valuable, especially at this stage of this level. Anytime you can get on the field and get in the flow of things, so if something were to happen to another player and they step in, they know what to expect. “
On the pass to LaQuan McGowan:
“It’s always in the game plan. If it wasn’t LaQuan then it would have been Gus (Penning), we are always trying to incorporate the tight ends a little more. They (coaches) show them that they can catch the ball and maybe something will happen when the catch it. We try to spread the ball out a little bit and get the big guys involved.”
On intentionally going to Corey (Coleman) early:
“No, it wasn’t my call, it was all up to the coaches and what they want to call. He’s always going to be in the game plan, we try to get him the ball early to get a feel for it.”
On team performances and chemistry:
“We are starting to come together. Each week we don’t take any game for granted. Kansas came out and got seven points on the first drive and we knew that we were going to have to start scoring. The defense made some adjustments but as long as we do what we are supposed to do we will be fine.”
Baylor senior tight end LaQuan McGowan
On misconceptions of McGowan and how he works it to his advantage:
“People think I’m slow, yeah compared to smaller guys I’m slow but, you put me next to the big guys I’m just as fast as the other guy. My thing is diet and exercise. There is no secret formula or anything. I’m just trying to be the best.”
“I told myself if he stays high, I’d run him over but if he went down low I would either hurdle him or side step him. I’m not very good at hurdling so I thought side stepping would be good.
On Kansas players approaching McGowan and wanting to meet him:
“They are just coming up to congratulate me. Some of the fans were also trying to come over and talk to me and they were calling my name from the stands. It’s fun, people enjoy seeing someone that’s not normal do stuff that normal people do. Nobody abnormal catches touchdowns.”
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.