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Notebook: Kick-catch interference proves pivotal in narrow loss

Kansas wide receiver Jamahl Horne (88) falls on an onside kick during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Interference was called on the play and the ball was awarded to West Virginia.

It appeared the man known affectionately in college football circles as “The Mad Hatter” had just pulled a quick one in the third quarter of his Kansas football team’s Big 12 opener against West Virginia.

An onside kick designed for redshirt freshman Jamahl Horne to track down out of the air ended with the ball in Horne’s hands.

The only problem for head coach Les Miles and the Jayhawks was the flag on the field.

Horne, officials determined, didn’t give the would-be WVU returner the space he needed to complete the catch. The kick-catch interference call proved to be an unpopular one at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, in a 29-24 WVU road win.

“It would’ve changed the whole outcome of the game,” Horne said afterward of the penalty, which occurred with KU trailing 17-10.

Because the onside attempt from KU’s Jacob Borcila didn’t bounce off the turf, any Mountaineer trying to field it, by rule, had to be given at least a yard of space from any Jayhawk headed his direction.

Miles made clear after the home loss his feelings about the rule.

“The only thing I would tell you is if they want to eliminate an exciting play from college football, they need to come up with a rule and just ban the play. OK,” Miles said. “But when you say if you give them the opportunity to catch it and then you kick a ball like that and very probably — and again, without seeing it, you know, in slow motion, they may have gotten there first. But if they didn't get there first, we should have every right as the having arrived on the scene first, to have the ball. And I didn't — and the reason that you call a play like that is because you don't think he can get to it. And frankly, that was the reason why we called the play.”

Tale of two Koennings

Saturday’s Big 12 opener for KU featured a showdown of sorts between two distant relatives.

KU offensive coordinator Les Koenning ultimately lost to WVU defensive coordinator Vic Koenning.

The Mountaineers’ D.C. explained their connection earlier in the week, during a media session.

“Well, he says it Kenn-ing,” the WVU assistant was quick to point out when asked about how he was related to KU’s Koenning.

“Yeah, he’s a second cousin. That’s kind of a long story,” the defensive coordinator began. “I’ve got three sons and as most everybody who’s got boys knows, they tend to fight a little bit when they get a little older.

“So how the story goes — I’ll make it real short — back a long time in east Texas there was a couple of brothers on this farm and either one of them pulled a knife in a fist fight or one of them pulled a gun in a knife fight or whatever. They got in a big fight. One of them said, ‘Hey, I’m out of here.’ So I’m sure that was my relative. Most of my relatives are from San Antonio. And it’s Kone-ing on my side of the family.”

Vic said he first became aware of Les when the now KU O.C. played receiver at Texas.

“But I ran into him at a coaches convention in New Orleans years later,” Vic explained. “I said ‘You’ve got to be related to me.’ I didn’t even know who it was. So it was Les.”

Vic said the two have spoken “a bunch” since then, but not recently.

“So we’ve got to be acquaintances,” the WVU D.C. added. “I talked to his dad and he said, ‘Yeah, I heard that story. It was the same one my dad had told me.’ So it must be true.”

KU does not make any of its coordinators or assistants available for interviews during the season.

Manny Miles cameo

After KU quarterback Carter Stanley got hit on a run early in the third quarter, Manny Miles briefly replaced him.

Stanley’s helmet came off and he had to sub out for one play as a result.

Manny Miles pitched to Pooka Williams for a 12-yard gain before returning to the sideline.

Related document

Box score: West Virginia 29, Kansas 24 ( .PDF )

Sosinski out again

KU played without senior tight end James Sosinski for the second week in a row. Sosinski remained unavailable due to an undisclosed injury.

'The Booth’

Section 20 on the east side of the stadium featured a banner at the front of it, at field level.

With a crowded student section behind it, the sign read, “The Booth,” referencing the new popular nickname for KU’s home stadium.

Big week for Dearmon family

A week after the RPO plays he helped the KU coaching staff install this past offseason played a large part in the Jayhawks’ victory at Boston College, senior offensive consultant Brent Dearmon had even more reason to celebrate as his wife, Amanda, gave birth to the couple’s third child on Friday.


Max Ledom

Both calls, in my opinion, are horrible. I try to be balanced with my criticism of refs. But never in my entire life have I seen that call on an onside kick. Ever. And if that rule exists, that the player must have a chance to field the ball, then that player had as much of a chance as any player in the history of onside kicks. That is the most horrific call I have ever seen. And also, I’m totally ok with Les making that decision. He trusts his guys. They did what they needed to do. The refs robbed them.

The pass interference call was also atrocious. The on air commentary saying he got there “early” is so dumb. If he is there early, it’s by a half second. And you need to let that go. That’s a 50/50 call at the very least and a no call at most. This crew was pitiful. And I would dare say robbed us of a win.

Most years, the refs were the least of our worries in terms of things that went wrong. This was awful, however. Just a horrible job all around.

Still, this game is completely different if Carter doesn’t turn the ball over twice. The pick came on a pass that had his TE wide open with 10 yards of separation on the DB and NO ONE behind him yet Carter under throws him 5 yards and allows the DB to close the gap and pick it. That’s inexcusable. And that was I believe the third time Carter fumbled the ball in that manner. He has improved tremendously as a player but he needs to focus on pocket presence and when to protect the ball in the pocket. He has to feel that pressure by the D but he is too focused on making a play. Which, amongst all sins as a QB is the least concerning fault to have, but it did help WVU to win.

As I said in an earlier comment:

We belonged. And that’s a start.


3 years, 2 months ago


Jeff Kallmeyer

Agree, the onsides play was a terrible referee call. The WVU receiver misjudged his leap for the ball and that's our fault and penalty?

3 years, 2 months ago


Jeff Foster

Another bad no-call was that helmet-to-helmet they didn't call on the D when Pooka ran up the middle and got stopped. I think Stanley threw an interception the next play. They didn't even review it and the announcers were talking about it. They give KU the 15 yrds and maybe that changes the outcome too.

3 years, 2 months ago


David Robinett

I thought we DO have the right to the ball if it travels 10 yards...

3 years, 2 months ago


Micky Baker

I went to find that rule. What I have been able to find so far, there is no rule that applies to what was penalized. If the ball touches anything past the receiving team's restraining line, an official, the air, the ground, any player from either team, any player from any team can go for the ball. It was a bad call. Once it goes past 10 yards, nothing the receiving team can do to prevent the kicking team from going for the ball. It was rip off call. But that isn't why we lost. Two crucial mistakes that led to points for WVU. Had Carter Stanley not thrown the INT, which was the most crucial, we win this game.

3 years, 2 months ago


Al Martin

Also, from the replay, it looks like the ball came off the kicker's foot, then hit the ground, which is why it popped up. The announcers said that if the ball hit the ground, it was fair game for both teams. Horrible call, even if the rule is what they said it was.

3 years, 2 months ago


Dane Pratt

What's the point of an onside kick if you have to give the receiving team an opportunity to catch it?

3 years, 2 months ago


Ray Winger

Shane Jackson, you have different, but valuable input and are a very welcome addition to the sports formula. Please tell Benton Smith to stop, pulling back on his positive thoughts, i.e. we are a better, more competitive team, but alas Oklahoma is coming to town, and we know how good they are...

3 years, 2 months ago


Randy Bombardier

It may be the rule but it's a misapplication of the rule. It's that simple. Our guy was going for the ball, not the hit. Contact was minimal and incidental. It was a major officiating flaw.

3 years, 2 months ago


Joseph Bullock

My thoughts on the Rule is this-If the receiving team player would have his hand for a ‘Fair Catch’, then there is a penalty. He did not do that-he went for the ball, trying to out jump our guy, so he wasn’t even stationary, waiting for the ball to come to him-so their should not have been a penalty: Period! 😡

3 years, 2 months ago


Michael Sillman

What is the reason for not allowing assistant coaches and coordinators to be interviewed?

3 years, 2 months ago


Joe Black

The rule is if a kick ball doesn't touch the ground then the receiving team has to be given space to catch the ball. That is why onside kicks are kicked into the ground so when the ball bounces high either team has a right to the ball.

3 years, 2 months ago


Stuart Corder

The flag on the onside kick was a joke, but Kansas played a competitive football game nonetheless.

It’s clear that the program is trending upwards, which is a claim we haven’t been able to make for years. Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Les Miles is already worth the money.

3 years, 2 months ago


Kit Duncan

The officials got it right. I didn’t like the call (or the rule) any less than any other Jayhawk fan, but Horne was within “shoulder width” distance (the ref used the one-yard reference).

Since the Big XII has made no comment, one can reasonably assume they agree with the call.

3 years, 2 months ago


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