This game was an emotional roller coaster, and I still haven’t fully recovered.
Kansas made some big defensive plays in the first half. Hasan Defense (yes, his last name is Defense) opened the scoring midway through the first quarter with an interception returned 57 yards for a touchdown.
The scoring was sparse in this one. Both teams traded field goals in the second quarter and Kansas headed to the locker room up 10-3.
Out of the break, Kansas added to their lead. Jeremiah McCullough intercepted a Ryan Boyle pass in the end zone, and Kansas went up 16-3 on a James Sosinski 10-yard touchdown reception. Kansas appeared to be fully in control, but the momentum quickly shifted.
It started with a fumble from Carter Stanley who was the surprise starter at quarterback for the Jayhawks. The fumbled snap on a 4th and 2 changed the momentum as the Sycamores marched down the field to pull within a score. Then with about four and a half minutes left, Stanley was stripped as he went to throw, and the ball was recovered by Indiana State in the end zone.
All of a sudden, it looked like the missed extra points and field goals were going to come back to haunt the Jayhawks.
However, Stanley wasn’t done. He led an extremely efficient 2-minute drive down the field and capped it off with a 22-yard touchdown to Daylon Charlot. The Jayhawks defense held on for a crucial victory to start the Les Miles era.
Hasan Defense Pick 6 with 8:43 to go in the 1st. This play opened the scoring, and helped set the tone early from the defensive secondary.
Jeremiah McCullough Interception with 11:56 to go in the 3rd. This play prevented a TD, and momentarily stifled the momentum for the Sycamores.
James Sosinski TD catch with 8:40 to go in the 3rd. This play extended the lead, and built up Stanley’s confidence, which would be crucial in the final drive.
Daylon Charlot game-winning TD catch. I think this one is obvious, but it was a spectacular catch on a perfect throw.
241 yards and 2 TDs – Surprise starter Carter Stanley put up a decent performance for the Jayhawks.
5.2 Yard Per Carry – The Jayhawks had a hard time getting the run game going without Pooka Williams in the rotation, but Khalil Herbert still put up 88 yards on just 17 carries.
4-12 on 3rd Down – This isn’t a key stat for a good reason. The Jayhawks struggled on third down, and if they want any chance at sniffing bowl eligibility, they are going to have to do better.
3 Key Players for Kansas
Andrew Parchment – The junior had 8 receptions for 121 yards. I easily could have picked senior Daylon Charlot, but Parchment had 5 receptions of 10 yards or more, and routinely extended drives with his receptions.
Khalil Herbert – The senior running back had 17 carries for 88 yards, doing a bulk of his work in the scoring drives for the Jayhawks. He was the only competent runner for the team, and was huge in bringing home the victory.
Dru Prox and Darrius Moragne – The LB and DE combined to harass the Indiana State lines and QB Ryan Boyle all day long. They combined for 16 tackles and 2 sacks, and were crucial to keeping the Sycamores off balance most of the game.
5 Remaining Thoughts
Turnovers – The defense did a great job with turnovers in key spots, but the offense had more, and they were the results of careless play. Miles and company will really need to tighten this up in practice this week.
Miles Shows His Defensive Chops – The defense was much better prepared than even I anticipated. Except for the touchdown pass in the 4th quarter, they were rarely out of position.
Kicking Woes – The Jayhawks are really going to miss Gabriel Rui, as kicker Liam Jones was 1-2 on field goals and 1-2 on extra points. This team can’t afford to be leaving points out on the field like that.
We Have A Quarterback – Stanley was the surprise winner of the starting job. Despite his struggles, he showed strong command of the offense. He flashed some arm strength, and as long as he stays within the offense, he should be able to do enough to make this team successful.
Hurry Back Pooka – While Herbert was fairly effective, the running game was missing a dynamic element that would have served them well. They’ll need that moving forward.