“Football is full of clichés.”
From the game’s greatest coaches to colorful players and writers full of prose, the sayings are used so many times that they can apply to just about anything. Saturday’s 17-20 loss to Northwestern was full of the sayings.
“Football is a game of inches.”
Or sometimes, feet. Johnny Beck’s final field goal try sailed just right of the crossbar, eliminating Kansas’ chance to force overtime. At the end of the first half, Adam Barmann floated a pass just over a lunging Charles Gordon that would have been a sure touchdown.
“It’s not how you start the game, but how you finish it.”
Kansas struggled to create offense against Northwestern’s physical defense but poured it on as of late, scoring two touchdowns to move back into the lead. The offense then drove down to give a chance for the Beck try. While the efforts weren’t enough, it certainly gives the team something to build on for next week.
Conversely the defense, which played an outstanding game, gave away a quick touchdown and all of the game’s momentum by allowing Northwestern to drive 81 yards in four plays to take back the lead late in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t how the defense started, but how it finished that affected the game.
“Football is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.”
In a sloppy game that led to multiple penalties on both sides, Kansas finished the third quarter with more than four times as many penalty yards as rushing yards. Mark Mangino said that he appreciated the aggressiveness, but that the team couldn’t get by making that many mistakes. Several of the 11 penalties for 84 yards that the Jayhawks racked up were absolute killers that stole momentum or forced the Jayhawks into a hole too deep to dig out.
“It’s a long season.”
Mangino said the mood in the locker room was disappointed but upbeat.
“Hey, we haven’t even played a Big 12 game yet,” Mangino said. “We’ve still got eight games left.”
Next week the team will face Texas Tech in its conference opener at Memorial Stadium, a test for a defense that Mangino said lacked maturity.
Adam Barmann finished the game with 294 yards passing on 30-48 attempts. He started the game completing his first seven passes, but couldn’t find any receivers downfield.
John Randle couldn’t get past the first wave of Northwestern defenders and was often stacked up at the line. He finished with 18 yards on 12 carries. Clark Green provided a bit more of a spark, rushing for 25 yards on six carries and catching two passes for 62 yards, including a 49-yarder.
Brandon Rideau dropped a couple of passes and misjudged another one in the end zone in the first half. He caught a receiver screen for a first down to start off the third quarter and played like a man possessed in the second half, finishing with seven catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns where he out-leaped the defender. Lyonel Anderson chipped in five catches for 33 yards including a couple of clutch plays.
Beck missed a 43-yard try to end the first half as well as the 48-yarder at the end of the game. Scott Webb nailed his only try, a 27-yard field goal. Mangino said the reason Webb didn’t take the end of the game field goal is because he hadn’t been practicing from that distance.
Nick Reid paced the defense with 11 tackles, including two for loss, but he blamed himself for the botched assignment on a screen pass play that set up the late Northwestern score. All four rotating linebackers notched at least five tackles. Brandon Perkins and Greg Tyree added sacks.
Chris Tyrell punted well, averaging 44.3 yards per kick, but he also fumbled a snap, leading to a blocked punt for Northwestern. He was then replaced by freshman Kyle Tucker, who boomed a high 46-yard punt.
Mark Philmore and Noah Herron were the men of the day for Northwestern, with Philmore catching seven passes for 113 yards and adding a 22-yard punt return. Herron rushed for 85 yards. Terrell Jordan had 49 yards rushing on five carries.
Rotating Linemen- With the run game stifled and the offensive line struggling to create holes, Mangino moved in several players to try and mix things up. David Ochoa and Cesar Rodriguez were part of the charge. Tony Coker started the game, and played extensively, but he hobbled off the field during the second half.
Jason Swanson relieved Adam Barmann in a sticky late third down situation and threw a pop up that earned a first down on a fourth down try. Swanson was nailed when he tried to pass, resulting in a ball that hovered in the air and Simmons came back and made a play for the first down. Barmann was running with the ball the play before and suffered a shoulder stinger. After a few plays, Barmann was back in the game.
The crowd of 24,817 had quite a few Jayhawk fans. The fans took up almost three whole sections of the stadium and were scattered throughout. Before the game started, the fans began to chant “Let’s go Jayhawks,” and were louder than the home fans. Ryan Field holds just over 45,000.
Marcus Henry moved into the third wide receiver spot, previously occupied by Gary Heaggans. Henry had been the fifth wide receiver, behind Rideau, Simmons, Heaggans and Jonathan Lamb. He came up with a few catches and was the target of a fourth down pass that went awry.
Northwestern continued its streak of being a third quarter team. The Wildcats have been outscored in every quarter this year except the third. Northwestern put up 10 unanswered in the third period, breaking to a 13-3 lead after being tied 3-3 at the half.
Kansas has not beaten a non-conference BCS foe on the road since 1992. The Jayhawks topped Oregon State that year in an early game.
Mangino said that the lack of a running game might have been the difference.The Jayhawks had almost 100 fewer rushing yards than the Wildcats, who averaged 4.5 yards per carry. Kansas averaged just 1.8.