LAWRENCE – Carter Stanley spent the two weeks prior to the Sunflower Showdown against Kansas State torching defenses and putting up offensive numbers Kansas hadn’t seen since the Todd Reesing days in Lawrence.
Stanley had over 400 yards passing and three touchdowns in a win against Texas Tech last Saturday, and 300-plus yards and four touchdowns against Texas on Oct. 19.
Limiting Stanley was a concern for Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman before the Wildcats walked into Lawrence and walloped rival Kansas 38-10 Saturday.
The Wildcats didn’t limit Stanley; they all but exterminated him.
“For starters, I have a great appreciation for Carter Stanley,” Klieman said after the game. “I think he’s a tremendous football player, he’s a great competitor. I visited with him just briefly after the game, told him how good a player I think he is. But I just think we confused him a few times with some coverage looks. The interception that Da’Quan (Patton) had, that was a look we hadn’t shown this year. And then we did a good job of putting pressure on him. We just stayed relentless after the quarterback.”
Kansas State had two interceptions in the second quarter as Stanley relinquished a pair of drives, each on the first play.
The first pick went to Jahron McPherson. The Wildcats didn’t score on the ensuing drive, but they already had a 14-3 lead and punter Devin Anctil pinned the Jayhawks on their own 9-yard line.
Stanley’s second error was a pass that had Patton looking like he was the intended receiver, but it was no accident where the defensive back ended up.
“I just executed the game plan,” Patton said. “Coach said, ‘Hit the spot.’ I met the quarterback there and caught the ball. We continued to read our keys, do our job and be in the right spots. It could be pretty frustrating (for KU).”
The Wildcats capitalized on that mistake with a field goal right before the half.
This Kansas team already surprised opponents with its shootout capability after hanging 48 on the Longhorns and 38 on the Red Raiders. The game plan, while it included closing gaps on Kansas running back Pooka Williams, was centered around limiting dynamic plays.
“They had been getting 60-, 70-yard pass and multiple ones, against everybody,” Klieman said. “You can’t just fear it and say, ‘I’m going to play soft all day.’ But it was something that we made a conscious effort of. I thought Denzel Goolsby roaming the middle of the field, he may not have made a ton of plays, but he took a lot of things away because Denzel is just such a smart player.”
With the defensive backs and linebackers executing their roles, it only made it tougher on the Jayhawks’ offensive line.
Stanley was sacked four times.
“The main thing we preached on was just getting pressure on Carter Stanley,” Kansas State defensive end Wyatt Hubert said. “He has been playing well for the previous weeks, but we understood if we get pressure on Carter Stanley, he would make bad decisions and bad throws. Coming off that, he threw two interceptions (just) like that.”
Wildcats defensive tackle Trey Dishon said it was as strong of a performance the defense had all season. Stanley’s final line was an unremarkable 13-for-23 with 123 yards and two interceptions, no touchdowns.
Dishon said this performance was meant to be.
“I know I talked to AJ Parker and some of our D-backs, and I know they felt really good about his reads and how they approached their reads, and they did a good job,” Dishon said. “That’s how you win games. It was fate. It was supposed to happen, and our guys played well. That’s the bottom line.”