Dominant defense propels Kansas past Rutgers, 55-14
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas football’s hard-nosed defense came up big for the second-straight week, forcing six turnovers in Kansas’ dominant 55-14 victory over Rutgers on Saturday afternoon inside David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
Kansas’ defense set the tempo early and often. Juniors Bryce Torneden and Mike Lee each returned an interception for a touchdown in the first half to help get the Jayhawks the early lead. The Jayhawks also finished with three different players who recovered fumbles on the afternoon, while senior Joe Dineen Jr. led the game with 10 tackles for the Jayhawks.
While the defense kept the pressure on the Rutgers offense, KU’s offense put 55 points on the scoreboard, the most since the Jayhawks’ season opener against Rhode Island in 2016.
Kansas’ offense was ignited by freshman Pooka Williams Jr. and the run game. KU finished the game with 400 total rushing yards, which included three 50-plus yard scores. Williams Jr. led both teams with 158 yards on 18 carries and had one touchdown.
— Kansas Football (@KU_Football) September 15, 2018
Kansas Head Coach David Beaty // Complete David Beaty Quotes
I just want to take my hat off to our staff, I think Clint Bowen has done a terrific job preparing our defense coming into this season. And so far the things that we have tried to develop with that, within that side of the ball, have come to fruition.
Now we are heading into a different animal here next week with a terrific opponent in our conference. So we’re going to have to continue to improve and there’s no doubt. We left a lot out there today in both areas, both sides of the ball and in the kicking game, that if we can get better we’re going to have a chance to be a decent football team. So why don’t we just take some questions.
Q. When you’re entering this week it’s not probably realistic, but did you think you can get six takeaways again and but then they go out and do it. How, what did you see out of the defense group in the past few days that allowed them to replicate that?
DAVID BEATY: Well talking about it going into the game, they’re a West Coast offense and they do a really good job. Their offensive coordinator has been around for a long time and he’s really a talented guy. We knew that we could not let those guys get going in the run game. We had to take that dimension away and make them one dimensional in the other area. If we did that we felt like we might give ourselves a better chance against a really talented good sized Big-Ten football team, I mean, and we’re fortunate that it came to pass. I thought our guys played well early in the run and that was critical. Stopping the run is key and then getting the run going. We were able to get the run going early and I thought that helped us on both sides of the ball. Now we got a couple of pick sixes which was great and the byproduct sometimes is you got to go back on the field a few times quick. And they played a lot of plays in the first half. That first quarter felt like it took forever. I’m not who sure how long it lasted, but there was a time in there right there towards the end of the first half that we had to find, we had to get a gut check going and make sure that we hunkered down and we went and answered offensively. But we had to make a decision, are we fixing to cave or are we going to be an able to be the ones that take advantage of that weather out there that we had, because we felt like it was near perfect out there. And I thought we didn’t take advantage of it on that drive, but they bounced back in the second half so I was proud of them.
Q. How proud are you of Pooka (Williams) through his first two career games?
DAVID BEATY: Very proud of him. I think the most, the thing I’m most proud about him is the maturity that I see in a young guy. Now I mean I’m going to be very careful with that because it can change as well. But he’s a lot, he’s a serious guy, very serious guy. We were talking on the bus ride up today and I asked him where did you get your football and aptitude at? And he talked about his dad made him study. When most kids were out playing, they were watching video and watching tape about where is his primary key and where is his secondary key. And that was something that we start hearing him talk about how he’s looking and what he’s looking at and for a young guy that’s not, that’s not usually normal. He plays with a lot of football aptitude.
Q. What’s the mood in the locker room? How sweet is it to go in the conference having won two games. I bet everybody in that locker room believes you guys should be 3-0.
DAVID BEATY: They believe we get what we earn and we have earned what we have. And the thing that I really enjoy about that locker room is that the sentiment is one of joy, obviously, but they have a great perspective of what they want to do. They know that there’s more out there for them. They’re going to enjoy this because we demand it. It’s hard to win college football games. Very difficult. I didn’t see this coming against these guys because they are a very talent rich football team and I’ve said so many times how good of a Coach Chris Ash is. It just didn’t work out for them today, but I’m telling you, they have got guys, there’s no doubt and they’re definitely going to bounce back. It was our day. Sometimes it becomes your day. But our guys are ready to move forward and before I even got in the locker room, the captains were already talking to them, which is good maturity that you want to see.
Kansas Player Quotes // Complete Kansas Player Quotes
Miles Kendrick // Sophomore // Quarterback
On emotions of team after two straight wins:
“After week one, a lot of people lost all hope for the remainder of the season and we had our backs against the wall. I’m so proud of those guys and our leaders, Joe Dineen, and Daniel Wise, they’re a big part of this team, coming out and getting two wins in a row. Today, we wanted to make a statement, it was statement week. A statement that we dropped the ball week one but we’re a different team this past couple of weeks. Putting our backs against the wall made us hungrier and more focused.”
On success of running game:
“I just saw the line working hard and getting the push, that’s the number one thing that is most important. We have guys that can make plays and make guys miss, but at the end of the day it starts on the field and in the trenches, and those guys did a great job today. I’m so proud of those guys and what they’re doing.”
Joe Dineen Jr. // Senior // Linebacker
On the defense creating turnovers:
“It has been huge for us. Getting our offense the opportunity to get the ball in good field position and the opportunity to score. It has helped us as a defense keep our momentum and the offense more opportunities to score. It is a huge part of the success we have had.”
On how the defense has been so successful:
“It is all credit to coach Bowen. Coach Bowen puts us in positions to be successful and it is up to us from there to go out make plays and be in our gap. Be in the right spot at the right time and today we did that. I am really excited about how we gelled as a defense.”
Rutgers Quotes // Complete Rutgers Quotes
Rutgers head coach Chris Ash opening statement:
“To start, I feel really bad for our players. We’ve got a bunch of really good kids in that locker room that are hurting, and rightfully so. They’ve worked really hard to help improve our football team and they work really hard to try to come out and play the best that they can play, and it didn’t happen. Whenever you have six turnovers in a game and give up over 400 yards rushing, it’s really tough to win football games. We need to find a way to get better. We need to go back and evaluate everything that we’re doing, who we’re doing it with, and find a way to keep improving during the week and working really hard to play the best game that we can play on Saturday. Some of the things we did today are just not going to win games. Good teams run the ball, stop the run. They protect the ball, they take it away, and when you look at the stats today, we just did not do that.”?
NOTABLES // Complete KU Postgame Notes
“Pooka Williams is loose!”
— Kansas Football (@KU_Football) September 15, 2018
- Running back Pooka Williams Jr. is the first freshman in Kansas football history to record back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances to start their career in the Crimson and Blue. He totaled 158 yards in his second game as a Jayhawk, marking the fifth most rushing yards in a game by a true freshman. June Henley (1993-96) holds the record with 237 yards rushing as a freshman in 1993.
- Kansas recorded two defensive touchdowns against Rutgers, marking the first time the defense has scored a pair of touchdowns since 2003 against Northwestern.
- Over the last two games, seven different Jayhawks have had interceptions (Corione Harris, Jeremiah McCollough, Joe Dineen Jr., Shakial Taylor, Bryce Torneden, Ricky Thomas, Mike Lee).
— Kansas Football (@KU_Football) September 15, 2018
- Senior kicker Gabriel Rui put KU on the scoreboard first in the opening quarter, after kicking a 49-yard field goal with 11:22 in the first period.
- Junior safety Bryce Torneden picked off Rutgers freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski and returned it 39 yards for the first touchdown of the day, giving KU the 10-0 lead with 10:30 remaining in the first quarter.
- Sophomore Miles Kendrick connected with senior wide receiver Jeremiah Booker on a fade route to the corner for KU’s first offensive score, giving KU a 17-7 lead with 4:46 to go in the first.
- Junior safety Mike Lee returned KU’s second interception for 31 yards for the second defensive touchdown, increasing the Jayhawks lead, 24-7, with 14:10 in the second quarter.
- Junior running back Khalil Herbert broke away down the sideline for a 59-yard touchdown run to give the Jayhawks the 31-14 lead with 2:29 to go in the second.
- Kendrick scampered in from eight yards out to push the KU lead to 38-14 with 6:08 to go in the third.
- Rui nailed a 34-yard field goal to give the Jayhawks the 41-14 lead with 3:38 in the third.
- Freshman Pooka Williams Jr. blew past the Scarlet Knights defense for a 52-yard touchdown to extend the KU lead to 48-14 with 14:51 to go in the fourth quarter.
- Senior Deron Thompson broke free up the middle for a 55-yard score to make it 55-14 Jayhawks with 9:28 in the fourth.
Kansas will open Big 12 Conference play on Saturday, Sept. 22 when it travels to Waco, Texas to take on the Baylor Bears. KU-BU will kick off at 2:30 p.m., at McLane Stadium, with a live broadcast on FOX Sports 1.