When Kansas Jayhawks football coach Lance Leipold crossed the field to join K-State coach Chris Klieman after KU’s 35-10 loss on Saturday, he knew he had to take care of something. .
KU linebacker Gavin Potter in the fourth quarter broke through K-State quarterback Skylar Thompson as Thompson was close to the limit for a personal foul penalty.
Leipold said he and linebacker coach Chris Simpson spoke to Potter about the incident. But he also wanted to say something to Klieman, then relaying to reporters that he had told the K-State coach “this is not how we are going to play”.
“I think he knows that’s not how we train him,” Leipold said of Klieman. “So I think it’s frustration. I think it’s a lot of things, but we have to be better than that. I have to do a better job than that.
The timing was a small reflection of where things went wrong for KU during Saturday’s Sunflower Showdown.
All season, Leipold had focused on disciplined play and the right amount of fighting. Against K-State on a sunny afternoon at Booth Memorial Stadium, however, the Jayhawks seemed to turn things around at the most inopportune moment.
Take the first quarter. KU was hanging on as he led 7-3 when Thompson delivered a through pass to receiver Malik Knowles for a 68-yard touchdown. KU cornerback Duece Mayberry stepped him forward for a while… before Knowles escaped late to shoot him.
“It’s almost like he’s cut the accelerator a little bit,” Leipold said of Mayberry, “and the ball is still thrown.”
There have been other instances where KU has played defensively – for whatever reason – passively.
On a screen pass from K-State in the first half, KU cornerback Cam’Rom Dabney appeared to have Knowles in his sights for loss, but was unsure of himself. He stopped running towards the receiver, which allowed a K-State player to get in his way for a block as Knowles won 15 on what could have been a dead play.
“It’s not a matter of wanting or wanting,” said Leipold. “It’s a matter of trust to get there.
A host of KU’s defensive issues, meanwhile, surfaced in K-State’s first play in the second half. Deuce Vaughn took the hand, and KU followed with a comedy of bad angles, lack of physics and poor effort from the back as Vaughn pushed his way 80 yards for a shelving score.
KU is probably lucky the final score didn’t look worse. The Wildcats averaged 10 yards per game early in the fourth quarter, and their final total of 8.8 per game was the highest they have had in a conference game since 2012.
“When we blew our covers, they capitalized,” said KU linebacker Rich Miller.
Through it all, however, one of Leipold’s main disappointments must have been that his side lost their temper in the fourth quarter – something the coach hadn’t seen in the resounding losses so far. .
Thompson stayed on the ground grabbing his ribs for seconds after Potter’s kick, with his teammates later helping him on the K-State sideline. KU team manager Kenny Logan also received a personal foul penalty on the same play.
“It’s not acceptable – what we want in our schedule – or the (penalty) that followed,” Leipold said. “And that’s one thing: when things aren’t going well, the next thing anyone can start at is your poise and discipline. And we’re not going to accept that.
Miller admitted that Potter’s coup came near the end of a rocky affair. Although K-State won their 13th straight game in the series, he said both teams are feeling the intensity.
“They were playing a little chippy the whole game,” Miller said of K-State. “But they did a good job forcing us to do that (personal foul penalties), but we need to have more discipline so that we don’t fall into the trap. It was a little emotional, but we need to be able to control that a little more.
Overall, KU may not have learned much about himself on Saturday. The offense stuttered at times, although strange circumstances at least partly played into that, as KU quarterbacks Jason Bean and Miles Kendrick both suffered first-half injuries.
That brought in third die Jalon Daniels, a freshman whose plan was to redshirt this season after playing in two of four games allowed before Saturday.
He showed flashes in the third quarter – including some nice passes on KU’s 80-yard touchdown – but couldn’t generate enough for an offense that never found pace in the running game.
The decision of Leipold’s QB next week will likely depend on the injury report. The coach didn’t have any major post-game updates, although he did indicate Bean’s injury was less severe than Kendrick’s.
The bottom line from Saturday, however, was that KU behaved as most might have expected.
And it was like a team that needed more development before they could realistically compete with their rival in the State.
“As I have said for a long time, our margin for error is very small,” said Leipold. “And we have to find a way to get over the things that are wrong with us and to react a little better than we have.”
This story was originally published November 6, 2021 5:11 pm.