Disgruntled fans showered their boos down on the field at Memorial Stadium. For some, the sense of optimism that coated the team in being led by a former National Champion coach was now dashed in an instant. Again? It happened again.
Kansas football was upended on its home turf in the non-conference against a lesser opponent on paper. A game in Kansas was favored by a touchdown altered into another gut punch to those who withhold faith in the program’s ability to right the ship. But after a 12-7 loss to a team that just began its third year at the FBS level, this game can do nothing other than leave a lasting sting.
Heading into the matchup, it had been eight seasons since the Jayhawks started their season 2-0. It hadn’t been since 1997 when a coach at Kansas, Terry Allen, won his first two games at the helm. But neither milestones would be broken on this September evening.
Not much came right of the demoralizing loss to Coastal Carolina, but one series of events stood out more than the rest. Trailing by five in the fourth quarter with the ball deep into the Chanticleers' territory, the Jayhawk offense faced a pivotal fourth and four. Trotting the unit back onto the field, senior quarterback Carter Stanley lined up under center. However, unhappy with the way Coastal Carolina’s defense countered with its scheme, coach Les Miles burned his second timeout of the half.
“They had an alignment that would not have benefited us, so we immediately took a timeout,” Miles said. “We felt like we had a good call, a better call, so we went with it. It didn’t turn out that way.”
Looking to regroup on a play call that would have lasting implications at the conclusion of the game, the offense returned to the field after the full timeout. Only, more confusion ensued but from the other side of the ball. This time, it was the Chanticleers calling a timeout as they were not pleased with the defensive package stacked up against Kansas.
“Once they called timeout, they kind of flipped it, so we had to call another timeout,” senior running back Khalil Herbert said on Coastal Carolina’s scheme. “We were just trying to find the right call there.”
Returning to the sideline for a 30-second break, the Chanticleers irritated Kansas fans with the stunted pace of play. However, the antics weren’t quite finished. For the third time without any time running off the clock, the Jayhawks lined up for the fourth down play. But something didn’t sit well with Miles. The whistle pierced the air. A third consecutive timeout. Only this would be the last remaining for Kansas, closing the door on its opportunity to stop the clock late in the game.
“We liked the look we had but they called a timeout,” Stanley said. “We kept the same play call, and they had a bunch of guys to the side we were trying to run to, and it wasn’t a good look.”
As frustration boiled over among those in the stands, the Jayhawks finally readied for the everlasting fourth down play. With Stanley rolling out to his right, the play appeared to be designed for sophomore running back Pooka Williams Jr. But as Williams was grabbed on the play, Stanley was left no choice other than to tuck it and run. Running into a wall of Chanticleer defenders, the Florida-native dove but came up well short of the marker.
“We can’t use that as an excuse,” Williams said on getting bumped. “We can’t go back and redo it.”
Lasting what felt like an eternity, Kansas came away empty handed. Of course, more than a handful of mistakes led to the eventual downfall to Coastal Carolina. But in the end, the Chanticleers were able to eventually run out the clock on the Jayhawks and stun all of those in attendance.
“This is a game we should’ve won. It’s just that simple,” Miles said.