As his Kansas football team prepares for its Big 12 opener this week, head coach Lance Leipold believes some of the special teams’ bad decisions can be repaired with the loss of the Jayhawks in Coastal Carolina in Week 2.
Few games during Friday night’s Conway, SC defeat were as noticeable as a KU punt that the Chanticleers not only blocked but also turned into a special team touchdown with an end zone rebound.
Coastal Safety Alex Spillum raced untouched by the line of scrimmage to punter Reis Vernon, popped his punt out of the air, and then jumped on the loose ball in the end zone in what a one-score game into a 21-9 CCU advantage nearby of . transformed middle of the second quarter.
Leipold said on Monday during his weekly press conference before KU’s home game on Saturday against Baylor (2.30 p.m., ESPN +) that the punt protection was checked and a player made an allocation error.
“We released a guy, released a guy who was in a good position to get there,” Leipold said of Spillum.
“It’s correctable,” added the coach.
The Jayhawks also suffered a game penalty delay just before the critical special teams slip. Repeating what he said on Friday night after the 49-22 loss, Leipold said the penalty was his fault as he hoped to run an extra few seconds on the clock before the punt. If a check had to be made, the punt team could not bet on the punt until the game clock ran out.
“They are two different problems, but it looks like everything is related. We have to do a better job, ”said Leipold.
This game was the second time at CCU that the Jayhawks (1: 1) got a kick blocked in special teams. The first instance came late in the first quarter. After freshman running back Devin Neal’s short touchdown run gave KU a 9-7 lead, the lead didn’t turn 10-7 as expected.
CCU Redshirt Senior Jeffrey Gunter was already in the backcourt when he drove upstairs to beat Jacob Borcila’s extra point attempt. To make this possible, Gunter first jumped past long snapper Luke Hosford and offensive lineman Joseph Gilbertson when the ball was snapped.
Leipold said the Jayhawks had some “operational communications” in this case.
“More important was the problem, only technically, of getting too low and creating a gap,” said the coach. “We have to protect the gaps a little bigger and stay bigger. I think we will solve that too. “
Although it was undone by a penalty in the end, the Jayhawks had blocked another kick in the third quarter – this time in a long field goal attempt.
Trying to reduce the CCU lead to 10 with more than four minutes remaining in the third quarter, KU sent Borcila out onto the field for a 56-yard field goal attempt. The pressure did not come from the middle, as was the case with the blocked extra point before, but Spillum stormed over the edge to get his hands on the kick.
CCU cornerback Jacob Proche positioned himself in the neutral zone and pulled a flag that wiped the blocked kick out of the record books. But it was another case of the KU special team collapsing, as Trevor Kardell ended up trying to block Spillum and Proche at the same time.
KU’s field goal team was successful on its first appearance at CCU that night when Borcila crowned the opening move with a 46-yard field goal. Borcila also sent an additional point through the post on his only other attempt after a KU TD.
The Jayhawks only tried two punts in the road loss, both came in the second quarter. The one Vernon managed to get out covered thirty feet.
Leipold called Coastal’s blocked punt and TD a “big impetus” in the defeat, his first as head coach of KU.
“We lost 27 points, stabbed twice and didn’t turn the ball,” said Leipold of the unusual combination of events. “Think about it. I don’t know if I’ve ever been part of a game like this.”