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Hear what Kansas CB Cobee Bryant was thinking during big hit vs. BYU

KU DB sought to 'make a statement' early on in Week 4 win

3 min read
KU's Cobee Bryant (2) prepares to deliver a big hit early in the Jayhawks' win over BYU on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. [Chance Parker photo]

When Kansas cornerback Cobee Bryant positioned himself to make the hit that set the tone for the Jayhawks’ 38-27, win over BYU on Saturday, he wasn’t concerned about the recent targeting penalty that cost him the first half of KU’s Week 3 win at Nevada.

You can’t worry about things like that in the heat of the moment, Bryant told R1S1 Sports after the win.

His thoughts in the aftermath, however, were totally different.

In fact, KU’s No. 1 cover corner said he had fears of seeing little yellow flags all over the field after his jarring hit on BYU’s Parker Kingston that led to a scoop-and-score fumble return for a touchdown in the first quarter of KU’s 38-27 Week 4 win.

“I told Gerv (Kalon Gervin) on the sideline I thought they were going to throw the flag, but they didn’t, so we’re good,’” Bryant told R1S1 Sports after the win.

Bryant said he felt like the hit against Illinois that was flagged and the hit against BYU that wasn’t were similar in nature. But he said his only thought in the moment, early in the first quarter, was to lower the boom.

“On this play, I was like, ‘Nah, I’m gonna make a statement,’” he told R1S1. “Rich (Miller) came up to me on the sideline after that and said, ‘Now you done changed the game around; now it’s about to be a battle.’”

Kansas coach Lance Leipold experienced similar emotions, exploding with excitement after Bryant’s big play and offering his cornerback a combination hug/chest bump when he returned to the sideline.

“Lightest guy on the field probably making the biggest hit of the day,” Leipold marveled, noting that the jarring hit which knocked Kingston from the game “set the tone” for what he believed was the most physical game played by a KU secondary since he arrived in Lawrence.

Leipold added that Bryant’s competitive nature has helped elevate the expectations of the KU defense as a whole this season.

“Cobee’s a competitor,” Leipold said, noting that he challenged Bryant to a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors before team meetings on Saturday. “He’ll compete at anything at any time. He likes to win.”

KU safety O.J. Burroughs, who finished second on the team with six tackles, including one for a loss and a pass break-up, played a big role in that added physicality, as well, getting downhill and proving to be ready to hit any time the ball came near him.

“We let them know that we’re here and we’re not going to back down,” he said of the defense’s mindset in the Big 12 opener.

Bryant, who dedicated Saturday’s game to his late aunt TT, who passed away recently, said the reaction from friends and family back home and on social media had been constant from the moment he delivered the hit to well after the game went final.

Later in the game, Bryant picked up his seventh career interception, making good on a challenge offered up by Leipold in the moments after the big hit and fumble return.

“I wanted to do a little dance in the end zone but my teammates started dragging me down,” Bryant said of his thoughts after the touchdown. “I kind of saw coach Leipold on the sideline smiling big and he did this to me (waving his hands to call him over), hugged me and said, ‘Now go make another play.’”

Bryant, a third-year sophomore, is now just one pick away from moving into the top 10 on KU’s career interceptions list and just three interceptions away from cracking the top five.

Next up, No. 24 Kansas will travel to Austin, Texas, to take on 3rd-ranked Longhorns at 2:30 p.m. central Saturday on ABC.

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