When it comes to weather delays, the Cowboys are old pros, having endured a three-hour plus delay before popping Tulsa 59-33 in a game that lasted into the early morning hours last September.
So when lightning near KU's Memorial Stadium sent players and fans running for cover Saturday, OSU was somewhat prepared. During a halt in play that lasted 1:19, the Cowboys used the time to make adjustments to the Jayhawks running game.
The Cowboys went on to win 20-14 after the delay.
“It helped us today, because they had a nice running scheme,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy. “We made that adjustment and when we came back out, we were really effective stopping the run.”
Gundy said the defense used the time to make their adjustments, while the offense talked game plan and what direction to take when the game resumed.
The Cowboys had even anticipated the potential for a delay, based on forecasts.
“So we prepared our minds for that,” said quarterback J.W. Walsh. “When we had the delay, we came in and we made sure that we never relaxed. We stayed focused on the game.”
Gundy said he had only one regret.
“Driving to the game today, I thought one thing we should do when we have a good indication there could be strong storms – we've known this since Tuesday or Wednesday – we should pack food,” he said. “And we didn't do that.
“It's one of those things, you know you should do it and you don't do it. Well, I'm sitting here today going, ‘That wasn't very smart.' Because this delay could have gone on for a long time.”
GUNDY TIES JONES AT NO. 1
With Saturday's win, Gundy moved into a tie with Pat Jones as the program's all-time winningest coach.
Gundy is now 62-32, while Jones was 62-60 in a career that stretched from 1984-94.
“Just glad to win,” said Gundy, who gets the chance to move ahead of Jones Saturday when Iowa State visits for homecoming.
SHARP SHINES IN MANY WAYS
When the Cowboys go handing out game balls, punter/kicker Quinn Sharp will surely be at the front of the line.
Sharp averaged 53 yards on five punts, with a 73-yarder spinning momentum in the second quarter, eventually resulting in a short field leading to the Cowboys' first score.
He also kicked field goals of 49 and 42 yards and produced touchbacks on four of five kickoffs, making the tackle on the only return.
“The punting was big for us today,” Sharp said. “I got a couple with the wind. I thought I did a good job of limiting return yardage and our coverage units did very, very well. But it helped us to flip the field like that and make it harder for them to get scores.”
Sharp was proud of his tackle, too, stopping Tre' Parmalee from breaking into the clear following a 33-yard return.
“We take pride in it,” Sharp said. “You want to make a statement. You don't want to be that guy who they just run right by you. It's our kickoff squad, it's our team, we don't want anybody to score on us. And that's how we've always approached it.
“I've said the same thing. If I'm kicking, I don't want anybody to score on me.”
FOURTH DOWN FOLLIES
The game's first four possessions – two for each team – all featured fourth-down gambles in enemy territory.
All four failed.
The Cowboys started the fourth-down follies on the game's initial drive. They marched 12 plays to the KU 31, facing fourth-and-7. Apparently too close to punt and too far for a field goal try (into the wind and rain).
Walsh's pass for Charlie Moore sailed high, turning the ball over and beginning a back and forth of fourth downs.
Shamiel Gary halted a fourth-and-1 run by the Jayhawks' James Sims at the Cowboys 35.
OSU's Joseph Randle was stopped on a fourth-and-1 rush up the middle at the KU 16.
Then Nigel Nicholas foiled a fake field goal try, on fourth-and7, corralling the Jayhawks Blake Jablonski at the Cowboys 16.
OSU ended the streak on its next possession, but not in a good way – Walsh was picked off.
Still, KU played along, going again on fourth down on its next series.
The Jayhawks, featuring a new kicker and punter Saturday, eventually finished 0-of-5 on fourth down tries.
“We felt like they disrespected us, not punting the ball or not kicking the field goal,” said Cowboys safety Daytawion Lowe. “We just took it as a challenge and I think we did a good job.”
OSU's tight win over the Jayhawks was difficult in many ways.
The Cowboys absorbed several injuries, some that may prove severe.
The newly wounded: receiver Tracy Moore (ankle); receiver Isaiah Anderson (finger); running back Jeremy Smith (ankle); linebacker Caleb Lavey (leg/knee).
KU GAMBLE BACKFIRES
Trailing 20-14 in the waning minutes, Kansas was poised to get the ball back, forcing OSU to punt with from its own 43 with 1:46 remaining.
Instead, the Jayhawks rushed and roughed Sharp, resulting in a 15-yard personal foul penalty that allowed OSU to retain possession and run out the clock.
“You're not going to get much in return in a ball punted from the 50-yard line,” said KU coach Charlie Weis. “So I didn't think it was that risky.
“You're trying to make a play and I think that if you're going to block a punt, it gives you an opportunity to have a short field and go win the game.”
Said Jayhawks linebacker Huldon Tharpe: “It's tough. I'm not a coach, so it's hard to even put myself in a situation like that. It's a really hard decision, but we took a chance. You play the game to win, so I am perfectly OK with that decision.”
* The Cowboys improved to 14-3 in its last 17 road games; 13-2 in conference play.
* OSU was held scoreless in the first quarter of a game for the first time this season.
* When Randle was stopped on fourth-and-1 in the first quarter, it marked the first time this season that the Cowboys didn't score on a trip into the red zone. OSU had been 25-for-25 previously.
* Randle's 29 carries (for 80 yards) were a career high.
* Freshman receiver Austin Hays made his first start, becoming the 15th Cowboy – and fifth freshman – to make his first start this season.