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Despite Pooka Williams' return, KU's offense stagnant in loss to Coastal Carolina

Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr. makes a run against Coastal Carolina Saturday night at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Sept. 7, 2019.

The All-Big 12 running back expected by many to ignite the Kansas football team’s offense with his open field magic, Pooka Williams couldn’t turn the Jayhawks into some kind of juggernaut by simply returning to the lineup.

Though Williams proved effective in his return from a one-game suspension, the KU offense labored most of Saturday night against Coastal Carolina at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

The offense lacked rhythm, quarterback Carter Stanley threw two interceptions and Kansas lost Williams’ sophomore debut, 12-7, against the visiting Chanticleers from the Sun Belt Conference.

Williams rushed for 99 yards on 22 carries and caught two passes for 10 more yards, but the Kansas offense produced only 280 yards in defeat.

The running back downplayed his potential to impact the offense in his return.

“Khalil (Herbert, 82 rushing yards and a touchdown) was doing his job, too,” Williams said. “The line was doing their jobs, too. It was just a disappointing loss.”

So what led to the offensive struggles?

Miles said following the defeat, it “was a (CCU) secondary that led to some quality zone coverage. If we could have (thrown the ball effectively) we wouldn’t have needed to run the ball in tight quarters.”

Once Kansas (1-1) somehow dodged a small bullet in the fourth quarter with sophomore CCU kicker Massimo Biscardi missing a late field goal, the KU offense went nowhere on the ensuing series.

A large contingent of the announced 33,493 fans in attendance booed as the Jayhawks went four-and-out, having gained all of seven yards on a critical series.

The clunker of a possession gave CCU the ball with 4:01 left in the game and a five-point cushion, just 28 yards from the goal line.

With no timeouts remaining to stop the clock, the Kansas defense got somewhat of a respite with 44 seconds left, as CCU called its final timeout ahead of a 3rd and 7 play at the KU 14-yard line. But it only delayed the inevitable.

The Chanticleers (1-1) and head coach Jamey Chadwell went conservative with a QB keeper for Fred Payton, and it was all the visitors needed to run out the clock and hand Les Miles the first loss of his KU career in the head coach’s second game in charge.

“I’m unhappy. That’s not how I saw it going. That’s not how our team saw it going,” Miles said to open his postgame press conference. “We’re all, everyone in this building, in pain right now. You care that much about winning and preparing to win, it’s going to be painful.”

Although senior running back Herbert officially got the start, KU only waited one play to sub Herbert out and insert Williams, the 5-foot-10 sophomore dynamo from Louisiana.

His anticipated return came after he watched a Week 1 victory from the bleachers. Williams allegedly punched a woman in the stomach in an incident that led to his arrest on suspicion of domestic battery this past December. A diversion agreement was eventually reached in the case, and KU suspended its star running back for the season opener as part of Williams’ punishment.

“I want to start off with saying how sorry I am,” Williams began during his postgame interview, “for my poor decisions in the past. But I’m growing as a better man.”

Starting quarterback Carter Stanley tossed Williams the ball for a four-yard gain to open the star running back’s season and Williams would only improve from there.

KU’s second series included Williams leaving the field in some pain. He even retreated to the team’s blue tent on the sideline to receive attention from the training staff.

Fortunately for the Jayhawks’ offense, Williams got cleared to return by the next series. He said it was a stinger to the ribs that had him in pain momentarily.

He played throughout the game, though, and was even the last Jayhawk to touch the ball on offense, coming up short on a must-have 4th and 3 call from KU’s 27-yard line. The carry went only one yard and CCU took over with 4:01 on the clock.

The first play call of the fourth quarter went to Williams, who lost a yard on a 3rd and 3 carry inside the red zone. And the offense really stalled from there.

Miles called his second timeout facing a 4th and 4 at Coastal’s 17-yard line. And after the Jayhawks lined up to go for it, CCU head coach Jamey Chadwell countered with his first timeout of the half.

Incredibly, the extended stoppage went on as Miles used KU’s third and final timeout.

Finally, Stanley rolled out right after Williams went in motion to line up in the slot. The QB tried to jump and extend the ball as defenders closed in but only gained one yard, so the Jayhawks turned it over on downs.

“They lined up and they had an alignment that would not have benefited us,” Miles said of the last timeout, adding he thought KU’s coaches had a “better call” to keep the drive alive. “But it didn’t turn out that way.”

Not long after KU botched that 4th down opportunity on offense, CCU went for it on 4th and 1 up 12-7 with more than eight minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Following a CCU timeout, running back C.J. Marable took off down the left side on a zone read for 22 yards.

CCU had a chance to build on its 12-7 lead with what looked like a chip shot field goal. Instead, Biscardi missed a 27-yarder wide left.

The third quarter featured small victories for Kansas. Darrius Moragne sacked Bryce Carpenter late in the quarter, backing CCU inside its own 20-yard line and forcing a punt.

The second half even got off to an invigorating start for KU thanks to its defense. Safety Mike Lee nearly caused a fumble as he smacked running back Marable at the line of scrimmage on the opening snap of the third quarter. Two plays later Bryce Torneden and Azur Kamra converged to take down quarterback Fred Payton on a run, forcing a three-and-out.

However, those defensive positives couldn’t outweigh KU’s offensive woes.

Stanley threw an interception on KU’s first possession of the third quarter.

Later, KU went for it on 4th & 1, and dialed up a reverse for junior receiver Andrew Parchment. When the wideout was brought down for no gain, CCU took over at its own 40-yard line, up 12-7, with 3:57 left in the quarter.

On what had the feeling of a promising drive for the KU offense early in the second quarter, Stanley threw his first interception of the season.

Following a play fake in the backfield, the senior QB had time to move and look for an open target. Stanley zeroed in on Parchment deep down the right sideline, but the Chanticleers secondary had two defenders waiting near Parchment. Senior Chandler Kryst broke on it easily, securing the pick before he fell out of bounds inside CCU’s 5-yard line.

KU’s biggest offensive play of the night came just a few minutes in, as Herbert took off for a 41-yard TD as the CCU defense keyed in on Williams, who also was in the backfield on the play.

The Jayhawks never crossed the goal line again.

“We’re going to have to get over it, and it’s not going to be easy,” Miles said. “I wish I had more for them to show for all the efforts and energy they had. This is going to be hard, because this is a game we should’ve won.”

KU now has a short week and a road trip to play Friday at Boston College (2-0).


Doug Roberts

Substitute "Beaty" for "Miles". First Time head coach vs National Championship coach. Same bone headed decisions, different tax brackets.

3 years, 3 months ago


Gary McCullough

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

3 years, 3 months ago


David Robinett

I was at the game, and we did not even try to pass the ball most of the day and not at all in the third and fourth quarter, which easily lead coastal to key on our running backs. No balance in the offense whatsoever.

3 years, 3 months ago


Dane Pratt

In spite of what had to be a disappointing loss he has the presence of mind to start the press conference apologizing for his past transgressions. Good for him.

3 years, 3 months ago


Chris Condren

The headlines tell enough of the story. You do not need to waste time reading the article. You do not need to waste time watching the games in person or on TV. Kansas Football is unentertaining or fun. All this is the fault of the Administration and the KUAD’s actions over the last ten yea4s.

3 years, 3 months ago


Armen Kurdian

Defense played hard and solid today. Gave us chances. All the offense needed to do was just cash one in. And you so wish you could just point to one thing. I know hope is not a strategy. But that's all that's left at the bottom of Pandora's Box right now.

Might sound silly...but let's all just at least hope for another win this year. Just have to leave it at that. These players are good enough to win at least a few games. Let's just hope that gets realized this year.

3 years, 3 months ago


Bee Bee

They wont win another game. This team has zero killer instinct. None.
I thought Miles would instill that in them at least. The O Line cant block a bus full of nuns. They had a big size advantage on the first two opponents and got handled and or stale mated many times. NO killer instinct.

3 years, 3 months ago


Joe Ross

Deflategate 2.0.

Someone just let the air out of Kansas football.

3 years, 3 months ago


Bryce Landon

If it's 6:48 in Conway, SC, what time is it in Lawrence, KS?

12 to 7.


Games like this are the reason I made the switch from KU to U of I for football season. And it feels like a smarter decision with each passing day. While the rest of you grouse in despair over losing to a Sun Belt team, my Hawkeyes took care of business and blanked Rutgers 30-0 to start off Big 10 play on the right foot.


3 years, 3 months ago


Al Martin

It's 12 to 7 and you're still a jackass.

3 years, 3 months ago


Max Ledom

What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

3 years, 3 months ago


Dale Rogers

There's nothing more despicable than a "fair weather fan."

3 years, 3 months ago


Brian Wilson

Hard to believe. Everyone preseason was worried about our defense and defensive line. But they look pretty good. It probably won't last long though if our offense can't keep them off the field Soon they will get all banged up.<br><br>

Carter threw two away to CC. He should have kept both but the first had he tucked it and ran he would have had the first down. Second week in a row he is showing really bad decision making and it looks like he really shouldn't throw on the run unless we have a man completely wide open and alone. <br><br>

HC Miles makes a bad statement. Yes the OL was crowded and we couldn't run the ball. But no, our passing did not make any room or open any lanes for the RB's. You have to throw the ball to do that. Further, when you put a stud returning player into the game you don't run the first to two plays to him. CC was all over him two plays in a we went three and out. What a waste of a series.
Miles....wake up! And what a waste of time outs in 2nd half to not have any at the end of the game. So ...this was not a very well coached game<br><br>

Sosinski got open big time and overthrown for what probably would have been a TD. The guy is huge and fast....why are we not throwing to this guy 5 or 6 times a game?????? If you want to open up the run game...the easiest way to do it is throw to the TE......then you force the defense to cover three. With a tandem like Parchment and Charlot there should be no excuses for not having a dozen catches between them.<br><br>

We have to have patience though......HC Miles may be a little rusty and the coaching staff is still figuring out which players can do what.

3 years, 3 months ago


Dale Rogers

I am very disappointed and stunned at how this game went but I also know that this is a team coming off a series of very bad seasons. Reading these comments you'd think they all think we should be winning every game. Yes, this one was winnable and should have been won. Yes, many mistakes were made. THAT and figuring out how to correct them is what is meant by "rebuilding" a team. I'll express my disappointment at this point at the lack of progress but I also am realistic enough to understand this will take time. If halfway into the season we're not showing significant progress, then I'll start really being concerned.

3 years, 3 months ago


Micky Baker

The first drive, the one that we scored on, there was balance on offense. After that, it was bad coaching and bad decisions by the QB. This is a game we should have and could have won by 20 or 30. We should have had 20 plus points at the half. This is on the offensive coordinator mostly. I hope they learned from it. We'll see. The strategy cannot be "give Pooka the ball every play", like we tried in the 4th quarter for the most part. If you continue this, KU may not even score at all during Big 12 play.

3 years, 3 months ago


Randy Bombardier

Too soon to give up. Adjustments needed of course. Remember last year was a dismal start be we have OU a heckuva game.

3 years, 3 months ago


Dirk Medema

They were playing a zone and we couldn’t find any openings? That seems peculiar at best.

3 years, 3 months ago


Dave Roberts

Hopefully we can replace Carter with a QB who can run with ball consistently. Given that, the Offense will become less predictable.

3 years, 3 months ago


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