The Game That got Away: Jayhawks Can’t Hang on Against Iowa State

Looking for a spark, the Jayhawks turned to freshman quarterback Carter Stanley in hopes of getting back into the win column. Stanley comes from Vero Beach High School in Vero Beach, Florida, where he was labeled as a two-star athlete by most. As a junior, he threw for over 3,000 yards while compiling over 40 touchdowns.

With nothing to lose but everything to gain in Carter Stanley’s first start as a Jayhawk, even though the outcome was not favorable, today was the first day in a very long time where the offense, for the most part, looked like an actual offense.

The first five minutes of today’s ballgame was a special teams nightmare. The opening kickoff was booted out-of-bounds, and Iowa State’s first punt of the day was muffed by LaQuvionte Gonzalez inside of Kansas’ own 10 yard-line.  Luckily, Iowa State’s offense is about as atrocious as it gets, and the Cyclones were only able to grab three points from that near-costly mistake.

On Kansas’ second drive of the day, Carter Stanley led his team right down the field, ending with a Steven Sims Jr. 7-yard touchdown reception. The Jayhawks scored a touchdown in the first three quarters, with the other two coming on a 1-yard touchdown run from Taylor Martin and a 39-yard scamper from Ke’aun Kinner.

Offensively, the Jayhawks moved the ball pretty well for most of the first half. They’d been averaging over five yards per carry on offense, and were 6-for-9 on third and fourth down conversions. With a bit over ten minutes left in the second quarter, Kansas faced a 4th and 2 situation. Wanting to talk things over with his team, David Beaty called a timeout, and what happened after that timeout was a monumental game-changer that might have been the worst call of Beaty’s career at Kansas.

Out of the timeout, Beaty sent his starting quarterback out onto the field at the ISU 37, where he…. punted. In a game that was absolutely winnable for the Jayhawks, and in a situation that absolutely did not call for a punt, David Beaty had his quarterback boot the football, which soared into the endzone for a touchback. That’s a net of 17 yards. After that punt, the Jayhawks were outscored 28-10 to lose a game in which they had a fourth quarter lead. To make matters worse, Carter Stanley threw an interception to end all hope for the Jayhawks at the Iowa State 38 when KU was down six. There was no Jayhawk within 20 yards of the pass attempt.

What happens if Beaty doesn’t call for that unnecessary punt? Well, there are two outcomes: Iowa State gets the ball at its 37 rather than its 20, and it drives down the field, scoring either a touchdown or kicking a field goal. The Cyclones scored a touchdown on the following drive, so that 17-yard difference really didn’t matter. The second, and I don’t want to say most likely, but most likely outcome is that the Jayhawks convert on fourth down, as they’d been doing for most of the game, and end up with, at the very least, a field goal.

You can call it a swing in momentum for the Cyclones, you can call it dumb luck, or whatever you want. The fact of the matter is that this was the most winnable Big 12 game in David Beaty’s career, and his boneheaded decision to play conservative football in this type of situation cost him that game.

Stats:

  • Stanley was 26/38 for 171 yards and one touchdown to match his one interception. He played pretty well, especially in the early going, but his yards-per-attempt was a terrible 4.5.
  • Ke’aun Kinner was fantastic. He turned 18 carries into 152 yards and a score.
  • Also good was Taylor Martin, who took 17 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown.
  • As a team, the Jayhawks had 244 yards on the ground. But Iowa State did most of its damage in the rushing game as well, as the Cyclones had 238 yards on the ground.
  • Steven Sims Jr. led Kansas with nine catches. He had 37 yards and a touchdown.
  • The Jayhawks had two more turnovers. They’ve had multiple giveaways in each game this year.
  • Up next: just two more games remain for Kansas. Next week is Senior Day, the home finale for KU against the Texas Longhorns.