Kansas comes up short in Dillons Sunflower Showdown, 30-20
LAWRENCE, Kan. – An impressive offensive day that saw sophomore quarterback Carter Stanley throw for 418 yards and junior wide receiver Steven Sims Jr., haul in nine passes for 233 yards, paired with a strong defensive effort that registered 12.0 tackles for loss and held Kansas State to its third-lowest offensive total of 2017 wasn’t quite enough, as Kansas fell to the Wildcats 30-20 in the Dillons Sunflower Showdown.
Kansas (1-7, 0-5 Big 12) picked up early momentum when junior defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., forced a fumble as Kansas State (4-4, 2-3 Big 12) was threatening to score on its opening drive. Armstrong’s strip was recovered by junior safety Tyrone Miller Jr., at the KU 16-yard line.
Making his first start of the season and the fourth of his career, Stanley’s career-best day marked the fifth-most passing yards in Kansas single-game history, surpassing Todd Reesing’s 412 against Louisiana Tech in 2008.
KU’s opening drive gave Stanley early confidence, as he completed three passes, including a 16-yard first down to Sims on third-and-7 at the KU 19-yard line. Another big third down conversion, this time a 47-yard completion to junior wide receiver Tyler Patrick, moved the Jayhawks into the red zone at the 18-yard line.
Kansas was unable to fully capitalize, but kicker Gabriel Rui drove home a 28-yard field goal to take the 3-0 lead. The field goal snapped a nine-quarter scoring drought for the Jayhawks.
The game’s momentum quickly turned however, as Kansas State’s DJ Reed returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards to give the Wildcats a 7-3 lead.
Rui stepped up big again, bringing the game within one by hitting a career-long 42-yard field goal with 5:18 remaining in the first quarter.
K-State drove down the field the following drive, moving into the red zone on the third play – a 38-yard completion by KSU sophomore quarterback Alex Delton to junior wide receiver Byron Pringle. After giving up the big play, however, the Kansas defense held tough and junior defensive end Josh Ehambe came up with TFL for a two-yard loss on first-and-10 from the KU 14. An 11-yard completion on the following play gave K-State a third-and-1, but stops by junior defensive tackle J.J. Holmes and sophomore safety Mike Lee on the next two plays made for a big stop for the Kansas defense at the 5-yard line.
Three-straight drives that ended in punts gave K-State the ball at the KU 39-yard line with 8:04 remaining in the first half. The Wildcats looked to take advantage of the short field position, but the KU defense was able to limit the damage to just a field goal, thanks to TFLs from Lee and Ehambe on back-to-back plays.
Kansas was unable to drive down the field and score before halftime, despite Stanley picking up a first down with his legs on third-and-1 and connecting with Sims for a 10-yard completion to move the chains again.
At the break, KU had outgained the Wildcats 213 to 197 and trailed by just four, thanks to the Kansas defense allowing just six yards on seven K-State red zone plays.
The Jayhawks were hurt by a turnover to start the second half, as Stanley lost a fumble and Kansas State took over at the KU 18. K-State needed just three plays and 1:24 to extend the lead to 17-6 after a three-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore running back Alex Barnes.
Kansas State was given favorable field position yet again and was able to extend the lead to 14 on a 36-yard field goal. The Wildcats started their drive at their own 46-yard line after a big punt return, but harm was limited thanks to a tackle for a two-yard loss from sophomore safety Bryce Torneden on third-and-5.
On KU’s next drive, Stanley connected with Sims on a big play yet again, a 37-yard completion. The momentum seemed to turn back towards the Jayhawks, but they were unable to come up with any points and were forced to punt.
The Jayhawk defense was able to make a stop, highlighted by a Keyshaun Simmons sack for a loss of 10 on second-and-10. The sack gave the home crowd energy that gave K-State a difficult time getting its next play called and they were hit with a delay of game penalty to make it third-and-25 and ultimately had to punt.
Kansas took over on its own 3-yard line and drove the ball down field in nine plays and 3:25 seconds to bring the score within one touchdown at 20-13 with 13:26 remaining in the game.
The drive’s second play took up a big chunk of the 97-yard attack, a 57-yard completion from Stanley to Sims, moving the Jayhawks into Wildcat territory. Stanley picked up the second first down of the drive with his legs two plays later and found an open Sims two plays after that to move the chains for the third time.
Stanley was seeing the field well on the drive and hit Patrick in-stride for a 19-yard completion to give the Jayhawks a first down at the 5-yard line, before junior running back Taylor Martin scored his third touchdown of the season on the next play.
Two empty drives, one from each team, followed the Kansas touchdown. K-State was gifted friendly field position once again after a 35-yard punt from Kansas senior punter Cole Moos and a 10-yard return from Pringle. The Wildcats took over at the KU 26 and used just three plays on the drive, capped with a nine-yard run from Barnes.
Down 27-13, Kansas answered in resounding fashion, as the Stanley/Sims connection kept working. On the drive’s second play, Sims caught a pass in stride down the middle of the field from Stanley and took it 60 yards to the house for his fourth touchdown of the season, making it 27-20 after a Rui PAT.
The Kansas defense needed a stop and did its job, forcing a K-State punt, but the Jayhawk offense came up empty and was also forced to punt.
Kansas State took over after the punt at the KU 45 with 4:13 remaining in the game and the defense was unable to blank the visiting offense, but held the Wildcats to a field goal to make the score 30-20.
Getting the ball down 10 with just 1:21 remaining in the game, the KU offense needed to move quickly, and began to do so with a 39-yard catch by junior wide receiver Jeremiah Booker. On the next play, Stanley found sophomore wide receiver Evan Fairs in one-on-one coverage in the end zone and threw a jump ball to his receiver in the end zone.
Fairs was able to get both hands on it but the K-State defender made an impressive play and punched the ball out as Fairs came down with it and ultimately sealed the Kansas State win.
The Jayhawks ended the day with 482 yards of total offense, outgaining the Wildcats by 142 yards. Sims’ 233 receiving yards marked the third-most in Kansas single game history.
Redshirt junior linebacker Joe Dineen Jr., racked up nine tackles, including eight solo stops and 1.5 TFLs to lead the Kansas defense. Junior defensive tackle Daniel Wise didn’t tally a large number of tackles, but his 2.5 TFLs including one sack were monumental in the game. Ehambe and Lee each recorded 2.0 TFLs, with Lee making seven total stops.
The Jayhawks will return to the gridiron on November 4 as they host Baylor at Memorial Stadium. The game, which will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net, is scheduled to kickoff at 11 a.m. CT.
Kansas head coach David Beaty
DAVID BEATY: First of all, got to give Coach Snyder credit, his team. They did exactly what they have to do to win, which is exactly kind of the MO of their ball club. I thought they did a really nice job today of controlling field position. That’s obviously a big, big factor in games, particularly when you’re factoring in wins and losses. But there were some really good things on our side, as well.
I’m really proud of our guys, very unsatisfied, but really proud of the way our guys responded. Offensively coming back, being able to respond off of a couple weeks that were unacceptable, defensively seeing that unit continue to improve, and those guys were in an average starting field position of 46, and man, that’s a big deal. Those guys being able to get off the field three times giving up a field goal with those type of odds makes it difficult.
I thought Clint Bowen and his staff continue to do a good job of building that defense and getting those guys better each week. Coach Meacham, I think he did a terrific job of putting a game plan together and making sure that we got our playmakers the ability to get the ball in their hands.
There were some good things today. I thought Carter (Stanley) did a great job in his first start for us this season. He did some of the things that we really thought he could do, and I was really proud of him, I’ll go ahead and answer some questions for you.
Q. What went into the decision to go with Carter?
DAVID BEATY: You know, basically what we do each week is we look at the opponents and we look at what gives us the best chance to win. The good thing is both those guys, him and Peyton (Bender), are very, very good friends. They’re roommates, and there for one another. When that decision was made, it was a very nice, smooth transition and Peyton did a nice job of being there for him.
Carter gives us a little bit more of an element to move around, and you’ve got to extend plays in this league to be able to do that. I think that really helped us today.
Q. Did he do enough for you to stick with him as the starting quarterback then?
DAVID BEATY: You know, you’re only as good as your next day around here, but I thought he had a pretty good day. I thought he took care of the ball for the most part pretty well, he made good reads, he put the ball in positions to help us be able to move the chains, which is good. I thought he used his legs really well. I thought he played a really smart game, which is what we wanted to see out of him. I would see no reason why we wouldn’t stay with him this week, but if a guy takes a couple days off, then we’re not going to tolerate that, obviously. But I know he won’t do that.
Q. You talked about the hidden third in the radio interview. Just to break it down a little more, how killer was the penalty when you guys were fair catching and he gets the personal foul?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, I think that was an opportunity to go down there and tie the game, so obviously that hurt. But hey, listen, we work on backed up all the time. We had a couple opportunities to get out down there, and we weren’t able to do it. We’ve got to make plays when that time comes, and we didn’t do that. I’m really thankful that we didn’t get sacked down there in the end zone on that first one and give up a safety, but we had our opportunity down there. That was unfortunate that that happened at that time.
You don’t see that call very much. You just don’t. I’m not sure really what happened. I’m going to have to really watch it on tape to see it, but man, that was a big call. There’s no doubt about it, big call.
But I mean, that is what it is, man. You’ve got to play the cards you’re dealt right down there, and we’ve got answers for that, we’ve just got to do a better job of finishing down there.
Q. Talk about having Mesa (Ribordy) back as a stabilizing force on that O-line.
DAVID BEATY: It sure felt like it was a stabilizing force, it really did. You know guys are big parts of your ball club and you get that and you know it, but once you are not with them and then they come back and you see things change dramatically, you know how important they are to you. I just — I’m excited that we have him back, put it that way. It really helped us.
And I thought we were able to run the ball decently today. We need to run it a little bit better than what we did, but that’s a good front now. Those guys do a really good job. I’ve watched every dadgum thing that’s on tape for them about 19 times, and I wanted them to be worse than they were. They’re pretty good up front. I knew we had our hands full, and for us to not give up just a whole bunch of sacks today was a big deal because they get to the quarterback a lot.
Q. You guys have been, especially early in the year, a lot more aggressive going for it on 4th down. I was curious what went into that decision, 4th and 3 from the 41.
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, there’s a lot of study that’s been done throughout sport, particularly in football obviously on 4th down, and the value of touchdowns. And there’s a lot of analytics that go into it, and we stay pretty close to the analytics. We stay pretty close to it. There are certain things where you have to go with your feel and situationals, but that one there was an analytic call. It was the right call based on the analytics that we had there.
Q. Are there analytics for 4th and 3?
DAVID BEATY: Like I said, what our analytics told us at that point was that was the right thing to do, and with our defense playing the way that we were playing, I thought we had a good chance to get the ball back.
Q. This had to be a tough game to come back from that TCU game. What have you seen from your team throughout the week?
DAVID BEATY: I think I’ve said it pretty much every week. I really like this team. I think if there’s one word that comes to mind for me, it’s resiliency. They are a resilient bunch. They come in on Sunday, and they block out. I know that there’s a lot of things that go on out there in that world that makes it very difficult on young men, particularly if they know or they read or they see, but our guys, they’ve done a really nice job of blocking some things out that probably would affect some other guys, and that’s really always been the key for them and for us was to be able to block those things out and know what the job is at hand and that we’re doing the work. So when we’re doing the work, we know what the issues are, and it’s up to us to fix it.
Q. You guys took the lead; what did you see on the 99-yard kickoff return, third straight week with them?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, we knew they were dangerous. We struggled in the specialist department today, placement of kicks, that we’ve got to just get better at. We’ve got really talented, capable guys there, and you know, today just wasn’t their day. I mean, the placement on that last kick was obviously not where we wanted it. They’ve got very dangerous guys back there. We knew that. Placement really is a big, big deal in college football in terms of where you put those balls, where you put the balls and where your coverage is headed, particularly when you have very explosive guys.
Now, we still have to cover it. We still have to cover it, but the ball being placed is so critical, and we didn’t do a very good job of that at all today, and that hurt. That caused a lot of the hidden yardage.
And the thing about that that I think probably hurts the most is that that’s something that you control. They really didn’t do much to be able to gain from that. It was a mistake we made. And we just have to be better than that. We have to be better than that.
Q. Dorance’s (Armstrong) absence in the second half was noticeable, but can you explain the way the defense stuck together and kept working?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, they did, and you know, they kept playing. They kept working, trying to get to the quarterback. They kept fitting the runs, and those are difficult runs to fit against this group. They do such a great job on offense.
I thought our guys, our linebackers played terrific. I thought our D-line did a really nice job of holding gaps for the majority of the day, and you know, without Dorance in there, that’s something that you look at and you go, wow, man, that’s a lot of production that walks out the door. That very first drive, he knocks a ball out and we get a fumble there created by him.
But those guys stepped up and they kept playing. I didn’t notice a difference without him in there with the huddle, right. If you asked me if I would want to play without Dorance, hell no I wouldn’t want to play without Dorance, but I was proud of the guys that stepped in there because they looked like they stepped in and they did the job. They actually did a really nice job, got off the field several times there. That second to last 1st down, man, we were so close to getting them off, and they completed that little pass over there on the right side that was a big deal. They drilled their field goal when they needed to, and that put it out of reach, you know.
We were about to go kick a field goal there early and see if we could onside kick it and see if we could go down from there. We were trying to do a couple things to get three shots at the end zone and see if we could go ahead and get an onside kick and be ready to kick a field goal. We were just two scores out, and that made it difficult.
But the thing I really liked about it was our guys kept working. They were in it, they understood it, we prepared for those situations, and they continued to work until the very last play.
Q. Do you have a sense of the severity of Dorance’s injury?
DAVID BEATY: I don’t yet. He was just unavailable for the second half. We’ll see how he responds. I haven’t actually spoke to the trainers too much about it yet.
Q. What did you like about your guys offensively?
DAVID BEATY: Well, I like that they protected pretty well up front. I liked that our receivers did a nice job responding and getting open and making some plays that they really needed to make that were going to be contested. We knew they had good defensive backs that were going to contest catches. I thought we made some really nice contested catches.
Evan Fairs, man, he almost had that last one down there. That would have given us a really nice there. But that guy did a great job defending it. He played it all the way to the ground. Man, that’s Coach Snyder’s teams. You’ve got to take your hat off to him because that’s the difference when you play guys like that is the years of coaching that he’s put out there. I mean, he produces guys that just — they play solid, sound football. He did a nice job, that kid; give him credit.
Q. That play in the fourth quarter that was ruled initially as targeting on Mike Lee, while that play was being reviewed, what explanation were you being given by the ref on what he saw?
DAVID BEATY: You know, they did a really good job talking to us about what was going on. Basically talking about what the key things they’re going to be looking for. Obviously we saw it on the screen, and we felt like it would be overturned. But you never really can tell because it’s going to upstairs, sometimes it even goes to Dallas where they look at it, but we felt pretty comfortable that it was going to get overturned, which was good.
Q. Seems like you’re pretty happy with how the offense played, with how the defense played. Was the special teams just so many mistakes it really cost you a chance to win this game?
DAVID BEATY: Well, I mean, if you saw that football game, I think you would have a hard time not realizing where our breakdown was. And we had several of them on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, too. It never lands in one area. I’m going to go look at that tape and I’m going to say, wow, that would have been a big deal right there, right. I think it’s going to be one of those deals where we have to play complementary football through and through, all three phrases, and you’ve got to do it against Coach Snyder’s teams, against Kansas State, because they’re going to do it. They did it, and that’s how they won the game.
Q. Talking about blocking out some of the distractions, somebody flew a plane over Memorial Stadium before the game with a banner that said, fire Zenger. What’s your reaction?
DAVID BEATY: I didn’t see that, but that’s asinine. I mean, I don’t know a man that loves this university as much as he does. I don’t know anybody that thinks about it, cares about it, has done everything that we’ve asked him to do more than Dr. Zenger. That’s crazy. I mean, I don’t have any other words for it. He’s our leader, and we believe in him, and we always have, and it’s never been a question. I mean, it’s unfortunate. I think maybe is the best thing to say because all of us that are doing the work, we know the real truth.
Q. About the punting game there in the second half, you have a pretty reliable punter and he just had a bad day, was just shanking the ball off the side of his foot?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, he struggled. He just had a bad day. You know, that guy is a talented guy. I’ll tell you what, we don’t have a harder worker in our fieldhouse. I mean, him and Booker are probably the two most highly looked at kids on our football team. They care. Nobody works harder than he does. Nobody is hurting more than he’s hurting right now. I can assure you that, and we’re not going to trade him in. I love him. I wish he had a better day, but you know what, it didn’t happen. We’re going to need him down the road here, so we’re going to put our arms around him, and we’re going to move forward.
Q. Were the special teams struggles a microcosm of the game today?
DAVID BEATY: I think as you look at the hidden yardage, I think that pretty much tells the tale because both teams took care of the ball fairly decent. I mean, you’ve got to do a good job in covering kicks. This is a very — it’s college football, man, one of the most difficult things in this profession is to cover kicks. You’ve got to do a good job of it, right? We need to kick the ball out of the end zone, we’ve got guys that are capable of doing it, and we really need to get that thing out of the end zone so it doesn’t give them a chance to return it, as well. We didn’t have a great day there, but those guys will all rebound. They’ll rebound.
Thank you, guys. Y’all have a good one.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Kansas Sophomore QB Carter Stanley
On having Mesa Ribordy back under center:
“Mesa is a great player, obviously, from a physical standpoint. But (he helps with) communication with those guys as well.”
On Steven Sims Jr.’s performance:
“I think it was a combination of things. Steven is an incredible football player. He is a guy that we need to get the ball to like we did. It was a combination of him being a great player and what the defense was showing us.”
On keeping plays alive on his feet:
“It is something we work on in practice. We do the scramble drill all week. It is nice to know where the guys are going to go based on how far down the field they are. It is nice to look down and have guys who have been coached where to go.”
On pumping up the rest of the team:
“I have always been taught that is the quarterback’s job. Get everyone going from a fourth-string player who isn’t even dressed out, to the starting members of the team. Make everyone believe that you can win the game.”
Kansas Junior WR Steven Sims Jr.
On being frustrated coming into today’s game:
“I didn’t let it change any of my habits. I still came in and worked hard every day at practice. I wasn’t being selfish. They knew I was mad that I wasn’t getting the ball but as a wide receiver, you want the ball every play.”
On frustration from the entire team:
“As an offense, we were all frustrated because we weren’t scoring any points. We have a lot of playmakers on offense, so we feel like we can put up points with anyone. But we need to execute more and Kansas State came out to play today as well.”
On having a much more productive offense today as compared to last week:
“We have expected that out of ourselves since week one. We just have to chalk it up, learn from it and get better next week.”
On what situations allowed for big plays today:
“Coach (Doug) Meacham moved me around. He had me in the slot, lined up at running back, going in motion. (He) Just moved me around, using my talents and creating space for me.”
Kansas Junior DT Daniel Wise
On having to defend some short field, very short opportunities, at scoring for K-State:
“That’s right. But the defense, the linebackers the DB and the D-Line, they did a fabulous job.”
On if he feels better after the game today compared to the disappointment he felt last week:
“It was good to see everybody kind of working together. Everybody had the same fiery passion. Obviously, we didn’t come out with a win. (It) Doesn’t feel good to lose, but you see things starting to click.”
On if the energy in Memorial Stadium today was a boost for the team emotionally:
“Yeah, the Jayhawk fans were on it tonight. They were giving it the juice we needed, creating the noise in the stands. That’s what we like.”
Kansas Redshirt-Junior LB Joe Dineen Jr.
On losing Dorance Armstrong Jr., to injury for the second half; how much he was missed and how the rest of the defense was able to rally together without him:
“Yeah, losing him was tough because he brings so much to the table, obviously. But it’s kind of a ‘next man’s up’ deal and I think KeyShawn stepped in there and did pretty well. But with Dorance, there’s obviously far more defense. We need him back.”
On why both he personally, and the team together, was more competitive in this game than in past games:
“I’m not really sure why exactly, but we knew coming in that this was a huge rivalry, obviously. I think I put a little bit of extra emphasis on the game. I don’t know why necessarily, but I feel like everyone knew coming in that this was a big game, big opportunity for us.”
On the defense’s mentality once the opponent gets inside the red zone:
“(We) Can’t let them in. A lot of people think that when we get in the red zone, we actually gain the defender. We gain the back of the end zone and we can call different things knowing that they can’t throw the ball vertical on us. So, it actually helps us big time; being in the red zone is probably a little bit of a defensive advantage. But our mentality is just you (have) got to keep them out, got to do everything we can to keep them out (of the end zone) and I think we did a pretty good job of that tonight.”
K-State head coach Bill Snyder
On the importance of special teams:
“Well I don’t know that we really saw that there was any deficiencies in Kansas’s special teams game. There wasn’t anything we did that was abnormal – everything we did was in our realm of things that we do and have in our book. I just thought we did a nice job – with one exception when we let one kick get back on us.”
On the rivalry between K-State and Kansas:
“Well I think the significant thing, and I think the people of KU would feel the same way, it’s so much about young people. We’ve got young people in our program from the state of Kansas, KU has people in their program from the state of Kansas and it means so much to them in the fact that when you have an in-state rivalry like that… 50 percent of every community is one side or the other. So, the youngsters are brothers and sisters that go to school, they have to live with that for a period of time, parents go to work and there’s both sides there. It just has that significant value, just because of, we play North Carolina or Texas and our people never see their people and we don’t go to the same school; so, it’s not ingrained individually and throughout an entire family like it is with this rivalry. So, it becomes highly significant for the young people in our program. “
On whether or not K-State threw everything they could in defensive adjustments:
“Everything we could, well no, we still had plenty in our play book. We did everything we could to make the attempt to stop them. We had some trouble with the tempo again; they got the last touchdown pass, and we’ve got two safeties standing back there talking to each other while the ball is going over their heads because they can’t get lined up. We just have to be able to view the tempo of the team we’re going to play from here on out. There are some fast tempo teams and it gave us some trouble last week, and it gave us a little trouble today as well. It definitely cost us seven points so the best adjustment we can make is to get lined up.”
On the job of Kansas and quarterback Carter Stanley’s performance:
“I thought they did well. I thought the game plan was good. I said to our players before the ball game that defensively, they’re going to line up and play against the run and offensively they’re going to throw the ball. Obviously, the thing that’s always a big concern for me is quarterbacks flushing or scrambling with the ball and the quarterback draw that comes along with it. That got us a couple times. The rest of the stuff we were alright.”
K-State Junior WR Byron Pringle
On playing with multiple quarterbacks:
“It’s not hard. We go through them every day in practice.”
On freshman quarterback Skyler Thompson:
“Skyler did wonderful. He came in, stepped up and played a big role today. He does that every day though.”
On the importance of winning a rivalry game:
“It feels wonderful. Especially for a guy like me being from Florida and coming to Kansas and hearing about the big rivalry, everyone was pumping me up about it. I had heard about the KU-K-State rivalry before I got here.”
K-State Senior DE Tanner Wood
On sack-strip to start the second half:
“It was huge for defensive momentum. We come out, we don’t want to give up any points, we want to take the ball away as much as possible and I thought we did that.”
On Kansas’ offensive passing attack:
“We had some miscommunication on the back end and weren’t getting to the QB enough and it lead to some big plays in the throwing game.”
On win inspiring confidence:
“We needed a win bad. It’s been a long time coming without getting a win and this gets that slump out and ready for the next one.”
K-State Redshirt-freshman QB Skyler Thompson
On playing in his first game:
“First off, I think it was a great team win. It’s a next-man-up attitude, I approached every game this year like I was the starter, I prepare like it, I practice like it. I was waiting for my opportunity and when I got it I tried to capitalize on it.”
On older guys in offensive huddle:
“They treated me great, we have great leadership. All of those guys up front were encouraging me, patting me on the butt saying let’s go let’s win this game, it gave me confidence.”
On the rivalry game and beating Kansas:
“It means a lot to me, having grown up in Missouri. I never really have been a fan of the Jayhawks, but I have a lot of respect for Coach Beaty and that program. They [Kansas] were my first football offer and I have a lot of respect for them. It’s an awesome game to bring back a win for the seniors and all of the home-state boys.”