University of Kansas

A glimpse into the revelry from KU’s road win — and what it could mean for the future

Here are the scenes from a monumental victory — and the aftermath of Kansas football’s 48-24 win over Boston College.

There’s quarterback Carter Stanley reaching into the stands to grab KU fans by the hand, thanking them for their support and for sticking with the team ... and also him.

There’s receiver Daylon Charlot sprinting across the field with an oversized Jayhawk flag flapping behind him ... with athletic director Jeff Long pointing him toward the KU section to be sure those people can enjoy the fun too.

There’s the team gathering on the field for a Rock Chalk chant singalong with spectators, and coach Les Miles holding his finger in the air to signify he wants one more verse.

Just before that, as the final seconds ticked off the clock, the KU fans who had made the trip to Alumni Stadium were in already in delirious mode.

They stood to chant “Les is More” from behind the bench. They shouted “Let’s go Jayhawks!” at full throat as Boston College fans headed to the exits.

Heck, they even got a “Jeffff Loooong” cadence going, which led to KU’s athletic director turning around to smile at those behind him.

There was good reason few knew the proper way to celebrate the occasion. It was KU’s first Power Five road triumph since Oct. 4, 2008 ... some two years before iPads existed.

The euphoria of the night will wear off eventually. But even when it does, KU fans can once again start to dream about the possibilities following one of the most encouraging performances in years.

KU, as a 20-point underdog, physically dominated Boston College. It also, in less than a week’s time, completely reinvented itself offensively, dusting off the run-pass option part of the playbook from analyst Brent Dearmon that was rarely seen in last week’s 12-7 home loss to Coastal Carolina.

“It wasn’t like we added like a whole bunch of new stuff,” Stanley said. “It was a lot of great RPO stuff that coach Dearmon mainly brought to this program. I’m really thankful for this coaching staff.”

Perhaps the best sign for KU: Miles was willing to change where he needed to (offensive philosophy) while also deftly showing the correct amount of stubbornness when it came to his starting quarterback.

Stanley, on his second pass, overthrew an open Andrew Parchment for his third interception of the season. For reference, KU’s starting quarterback last year, Peyton Bender, threw just three interceptions in 2018.

Miles didn’t waver with Stanley, though, and neither did teammates. That included safety Davon Ferguson, who grabbed Stanley as he returned to the sideline: “We’re riding with you! You’re good.”

Stanley said the words refocused him. He completed his next 11 passes, combining good decision making with accurate throws as the Jayhawks ended the first half with four straight touchdown drives.

The altered scheme also opened things up. With the run-pass option, Stanley made Boston College look silly a few occasions while faking passes on screens before throwing it deep behind defenders down the field.

With more three-receiver sets and players spread out, KU’s rushing game also found additional room to operate. Khalil Herbert rushed 11 times for 187 yards, while Pooka Williams went 22 for 121.

“It’s plays that we’ve had for a while, dating back to spring,” Stanley said. “But we we took them out this week, and, sheesh, it was fun.”

KU’s defense also shouldn’t be overlooked. Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot shifted his primary formation to include another big body — linebacker Jay Dineen — while trying to slow down Boston College’s run game.

Though it wasn’t perfect early, the Eagles failed to score on all seven of their second-half possessions.

So now, the question becomes: If this offense is the new reality — and the effective RPOs become a staple instead of an afterthought — how much can the expectations be raised for this season in Lawrence?

Some of that answer will be known by next Saturday, as KU plays host to West Virginia in the Big 12 opener. A victory there — even after that disastrous loss to Coastal Carolina — could potentially push the Jayhawks to 3-1 and send the fanbase to a different level of frenzy.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am for those kids,” Miles said. “If anybody wants to know why a guy would come back to college football, this night tells you how much fun, how important college football is.”

For a night, KU experienced the joy at someone else’s expense. A few Boston College students started a chant to fire the team’s coach — an all-too-common way for opposing fans to respond when their team falls to long-downtrodden KU.

Maybe that’ll change. Maybe Friday was the first big day in KU football’s turnaround.

Only one thing was certain: This sure felt good for Miles in the moment.

“The Jayhawks are coming,” Miles said. “It’s very realistic that we can be a great program with quality football teams year after year.”

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Jesse Newell — he’s won an EPPY for best sports blog and previously has been named top beat writer in his circulation by AP’s Sports Editors — has covered KU sports since 2008. His interest in sports analytics comes from his math teacher father, who handed out rulers to Trick-or-Treaters each year.
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