LAWRENCE — Kwamie Lassiter II still remembers where he was standing, back when he was a junior wide receiver for Kansas in 2019, and the Jayhawks set up for a game-winning field goal attempt against Texas Tech on Homecoming.
Lassiter says he was by the 50-yard line, near alumni who used to be on the team like Steven Sims Jr. And when the Red Raiders blocked the Jayhawks’ attempt from 40 yards out, Lassiter thought the game was headed toward overtime. That is, until Texas Tech fumbled the ball away trying to return the blocked kick and Kansas had another shot at the win.
As people rushed the field after the Jayhawks’ 32-yard field goal attempt connected, giving them a 37-34 win, Lassiter ran toward his mother. He had family at the game.
But Lassiter, who had eight catches for 75 yards that October day almost exactly two years ago, said he hasn’t been talking much about that game this week. Like junior safety Kenny Logan Jr., who had three tackles that game as a freshman, Lassiter wants to create a new memory Saturday when Kansas faces Texas Tech on Homecoming once again.
“Leave that in the past,” said Lassiter, who’s now a super senior with the Jayhawks. “It was fun when it happened, but now it’s time for another one. Make it happen again.”
Kansas has yet to win another Big 12 Conference game since it topped Texas Tech in 2019. The Jayhawks (1-4, 0-2 in Big 12) lost the final four conference games of the 2019 campaign, all eight matchups they played against the Big 12 in 2020 and so far the first two that have taken place through conference play in 2021. The only Big 12 game that hasn’t been decided by at least 10 points in that time was Kansas’ 16-13 loss at Texas Tech (4-2, 1-2 in Big 12) last season.
Lassiter said there are younger players who will come up to him and talk about the 2019 Homecoming game, also the last victory of the Les Miles era at Kansas, and he’ll just tell them it’s about making the plays that are available. If they can do that, a game like that can happen again. Everyone, from the offense to the defense to special teams, whether someone’s holding a kick or punting the ball, has to do their job.
It’s efforts like those that help Lassiter have fond memories of the 2019 Homecoming game, like then-senior wide receiver Stephon Robinson Jr. and others making plays. Lassiter liked the wide receiving corps the Jayhawks had then, and Robinson finished that matchup with two touchdowns and 186 yards receiving on six catches. Lassiter said it’s fun when guys are making plays, and he laughed as he talked about how much he likes playing in games that become shootouts on the scoreboard.
Logan remembers everything about the 2019 game, too. Thinking back to it, those two field goal attempts at the end stick out to him.
“I would say that game ranks No. 1, just the excitement, just how fun it was for us to go out there and have the opportunity to win that game, just the craziness,” said Logan, comparing it to other games he’s experienced with the Jayhawks. “So, that was really exciting for that.”
Lassiter, who remembers teammates jumping around in the locker room after while listening to music, added: “That game was up there.”
So, after an open week that allowed the team to look ahead, work on the fundamentals and take a step back and recuperate, Kansas is focused on what it’ll need to do to win against Texas Tech this weekend. The way Lassiter’s position group is practicing so far, reminds him of how it was ahead of the 2019 game against the Red Raiders. Logan feels the team’s at a place where it can play with intensity at a high level.
Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Bryce Cabeldue wasn’t with the program back in 2019, when that game against Texas Tech took place. He didn’t even watch it live, although thinking back he remembers seeing what happened pop up on social media and elsewhere. He hadn’t been offered by the Jayhawks yet, and before he got to college watched NFL games far more often than he did college ones.
Like Lassiter and Logan, Cabeldue wants to create a new memory for his program on Saturday.
“Obviously, the goal is to win every single week,” Cabeldue said. “I mean, we want … them to come down here and we want to show them that we’re a good team and we’re getting better. Our record doesn’t really show exactly who we are and we want to be able to go in there and show the whole nation that we’re a good football team.”
Jordan Guskey covers University of Kansas Athletics at The Topeka Capital-Journal. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @JordanGuskey.