LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Entering Saturday night’s matchup between Kansas and Coastal Carolina, all eyes fell to the Jayhawks’ Pooka Williams Jr. as he made his season debut following a single-game suspension, his offensive impact under new Kansas coach Les Miles eagerly anticipated.
However, a 148-yard, two-touchdown performance by Coastal Carolina’s CJ Marable quickly gleaned the spotlight, exceeding the output of Williams and leading the Chanticleers to a 12-7 victory over the Jayhawks in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
Fred Payton connected with Marable for 20 yards to pick up the Chanticleers (1-1) lone touchdown of the first half; however, a missed extra-point attempt in conjunction with a shanked 31-yard field goal by Massimo Biscardi sent the Chanticleers to the locker room facing a 7-6 deficit.
To open the second half, Chandler Kryst picked off the pass of Carter Stanley, fueling a 64-yard drive by Coastal Carolina resulting in a second touchdown for Marable and an ultimately insurmountable lead for the Chanticleers.
A third missed field goal by Biscardi, this time from 27 yards, gifted Kansas (1-1) one final offensive drive late in the fourth quarter, yet the Jayhawks were unable to convert, turning the ball over on downs after gaining only eight yards.
“At that moment I felt like I let everybody down and let the team down,” Williams said. “They trust me with fourth down and 3. They trust me, and I felt like I let them down.”
Williams rushed for 99 yards on 22 carries to lead the Jayhawks. Khalil Herbert tacked on an additional 82 yards on the ground, including a 41-yard touchdown run to cap the Jayhawks’ opening offensive drive and secure the lone Kansas touchdown. However, the efforts of the shifty Kansas running back unit were unable to make amends for two untimely interceptions and a 107-yard passing performance by Stanley.
“What led to the offensive struggles was a secondary that played some quality zone coverage and frankly we couldn’t quite beat that,” Miles said.
THE MILES ERA
The Jayhawks’ far-from-perfect performance against Indiana State followed by Saturday’s loss leaves it unclear as to whether Miles will turnaround the near decade of mediocracy fostered by David Beaty, Charlie Weis, and Turner Gill. Miles believed the matchup with the Chanticleers was a game the Jayhawks should have won.
“I’m not happy,” Miles said. “This is not how I saw it going. This is not how our team saw it going. Our guys played with their hearts on their sleeves and did everything they could possibly do to win this game.”
For the second-consecutive week, both Fred Payton and Bryce Carpenter saw action at the quarterback position for Coastal Carolina. Despite a four-interception outing last week, Payton again earned the starting nod, throwing for 98 yards and completing 6-of-9 passes. Early in the second quarter, coach Jamey Chadwell turned to Carpenter, who added 21 yards off two completions.
Coastal Carolina: In only their second season as a full-time FBS team, the Chanticleers were to overpower their first Big 12 opponent in program history for much of the evening, hanging 291 total yards of offense on Kansas compared to the Jayhawks’ 280. Cracking a five-game losing streak, Coastal Carolina showed improvements offensively following a struggle-ridden opener against Eastern Michigan last week featuring four interceptions.
Kansas: Falling to 1-1, the slim margin of victory last week paired with the loss to Coastal Carolina leaves much to be desired from the newly-renovated Kansas offense. The return of Williams appeared to provide a needed spark to the Kansas run-game, allowing the Jayhawks to pick up 68 more yards on the ground than they recorded last week.
Kansas: The Jayhawks head to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, on Friday to take on Boston College in their first matchup on the road this season.
Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers will host Norfolk State on Saturday