Austin, TX — In the days leading up to Kansas’ matchup on the road at Texas, few pondered the thought of the Jayhawks taking down the Longhorns on their own turf. And who could blame them? Dating back to 1997, Kansas had been outscored 125-400 and was winless in eight tries in Austin. The smallest margin of defeat came on the first meeting in 1997, in which the Jayhawks fell, 45-31. But on this night, the “run and gun” offense was born, and its fury would take one of the most historic programs to the brink of an upset.
At least, that’s what junior wide receiver Andrew Parchment says the Brent Dearmon-led group is called.
“Run and gun,” Parchment said on the name of the offense with a smile. “We’re going to pound the ball and also throw it over the top.”
Before new offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon was handed the keys to the offense, the Jayhawks scuffled mightily in terms of their production. Averaging 19.3 points per game during its three-game losing streak, the choice was made to let Dearmon incorporate his style of running an offense — the style that put up 55 points and 540.3 yards per game at Bethel University in 2018.
In the trying times since former KU running back Khalil Herbert left the program, things had been far from a well-oiled machine — until tonight, that was. Attempting to crawl out of a 14-point hole the Jayhawks had dug themselves into, the offense suddenly synced up its timing and rhythm.
Whether it was sophomore running back Pooka Williams Jr. busting it out into open space or senior quarterback Carter Stanley hitting his receiving core in stride, this new-aged Kansas offense was proving its worth in front of a crowd of 97,000 plus.
“We showed everybody in the country we can compete with anybody,” Williams Jr. said.
In the midst of the chaotic score after score, there wasn’t a more invigorating drive than on the Jayhawks’ final possession. Trailing 47-40 with 2:47 to go, Kansas had 75 yards to work with. In years past, when it seemed like the Jayhawks needed a score the most, it ended up taking a negative turn. But on Saturday, the newly dubbed “run and gun” would be put on full display at its finest.
After converting the first fourth-down conversion of 2019 on the previous drive, in which senior wide receiver Daylon Charlot hauled in the catch of the year, Dearmon’s offense faced another pivotal fourth down. A failed try this time and it would effectively cut the cord on the comeback. On fourth and five from its own 42, with the crowd roaring in full-throat, Stanley dropped back to pass.
Within seconds, he fired it to junior wideout Kwamie Lassiter II who turned upfield and picked up 36 yards. Before Texas had a chance to catch its breath, the Jayhawks were already up to the line and barking orders. A few plays later, Stanley would drop a well-thrown ball to junior wide receiver Stephon Robinson Jr. for his second receiving touchdown of the game.
The one minute, 36-second drive sent the Kansas bench into pandemonium and the Longhorn faithful into utter disbelief. As most underdogs do, the decision was made to go out and win the game on a two-point conversion. With as poignant as the offense proved to be in game one under Dearmon, it felt as good of a time as any to go for the throat on the Texas defense.
“When we went to the sideline, coach Miles was all in for it,” Stanley said on the choice to go for two. “There was a lot of confidence that we received when we went to the sideline, and we executed the play.”
Positioning two receivers to his left and two to his right with Williams Jr. beside him, Stanley dropped back to throw. On first glance, Lassiter II ran to the goal line on the left and turned for an out route towards the sideline. This appeared to be option one. However, anticipating this, three Longhorn defenders funneled towards Lassiter II. In doing so, the back of the end zone became vacant.
In response to that, an unguarded Charlot snuck behind the coverage and turned towards Stanley. Seeing him immediately, the senior quarterback whipped it to the New Orleans product for the two points and the lead.
“In that moment, we thought we won,” Williams Jr. said. “We go for two and get the lead in the fourth quarter. I just really thought we had won.”
Ultimately, tying the season-high of 48 points would not be enough to best the no. 15 ranked team in the nation. Suddenly, though, sitting at 2-5, optimism has inched its way back over the head of a program searching for its identity in the gauntlet of the Big 12. Perhaps the run and gun will do just that.