University of Kansas

Grades from KU’s 48-24 win over Boston College and looking ahead to West Virginia

Call it the “Keep and Leap.” And Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley swears he knew it was coming.

On a third-and-4 in the first half, Stanley kept the ball on a zone-read play, then found himself face to face with Boston College’s Nolan Borgersen.

When Borgersen dipped his head for the tackle, Stanley went right over him.

“Honestly, I had a dream about it last night,” Stanley said with a laugh. “But I also saw on film that that safety, he kind of likes to tackle low. (Hurdling) is something I did my senior year of high school, and the moment was right. I did it.”

The play energized Stanley’s teammates and was one of the signature moments of KU’s 48-24 upset win.

Stanley said he prepared so much for Friday’s game that visualizing KU’s plays against Boston College’s specific defense — and players — must have crept into his subconscious.

“I’m not kidding when I say I dreamed about that moment,” Stanley said. “It was literally on the left hash as well in my dream.

“I’m just so proud of our team and how we went out.”

Here are grades for all three KU units, a highlight from Friday’s win over Boston College and a look ahead.

Play of the game

Juice is loose: The biggest play of the game for KU was right before halftime. With poor field position and less than a minute left, the Jayhawks looked like they were going to run out the clock ... until Khalil Herbert broke free for an 82-yard run.

It all started with Stanley, who sealed off a Boston College unblocked run blitzer. KU’s offensive line came through with solid blocks, then Herbert — nicknamed “Juice” — had the vision to cut back while squeezing through a small crease.

From there, the Jayhawks received great effort from receivers Andrew Parchment and Stephon Robinson, who continued battling more than 70 yards downfield while trying to spring Herbert all the way to the end zone.

Herbert didn’t quite make it, but three plays after that, Stanley found Parchment for a short touchdown pass, which helped give KU a 28-24 lead it would never relinquish.


Offense: A+. Credit to KU coach Les Miles. His offensive style didn’t work against Coastal Carolina in a 12-7 loss last week, so the Jayhawks shifted to more shotgun spread while also utilizing more elements of analyst Brent Dearmon’s run-pass option offense.

If Friday is any indication, the Jayhawks won’t be going back to their old ways anytime soon.

KU’s numbers were outstanding everywhere. The Jayhawks averaged 7.9 yards per play with two 100-yard rushers, a 100-yard receiver and a quarterback in Stanley who looked more comfortable with decision-making than he had all season.

The first step to fixing a problem is admitting there is one. Miles — in a short week — analyzed some of his offense’s limitations then went about fixing them. This drastic one-week turnaround doesn’t happen without Miles displaying both humility and flexibility.

Defense: A: It wasn’t perfect early, but KU’s defense improved as the game went on and held a typically overpowering Boston College offense scoreless on seven second-half possessions. Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot had barely played linebacker Jay Dineen this season before Friday, but he adjusted to use him in a primary role while trying to add some strength to the middle of KU’s defense to counter Boston College’s power run game. It worked.

The Eagles averaged less than five yards per rush, and they didn’t find success in the pass game late when trying to make a comeback. It wasn’t supposed to be this easy for KU to replace six starters in the front seven while also changing defensive schemes, but Eliot and his assistants appear to have spearheaded a seamless transition. The defense — through three games — has been the best story of the Jayhawks’ season.

Special teams: B. Kicker Liam Jones made a couple of chip-shot field goals that KU had struggled with in earlier weeks, and returner Jahmal Horne set up a short field with a long kickoff return. Kyle Thompson, meanwhile, continues to look like the frontrunner for all-Big 12 first team at punter.

Next up

KU will start Big 12 play with a home game against West Virginia at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21. The contest will be streamed on ESPN+.

The Mountaineers opened the season 1-1 with a win over James Madison and a loss at Missouri.

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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.