Saturday evening the Kansas Jayhawks pulled out an opening day victory over FCS level South Dakota in Lawrence. While the game didn't necessarily quiet skeptics, Kansas did get a victory and heads into a fairly challenging week two road matchup with Rice sitting at 1-0. The eyeball test is usually the best way to judge a team and by that measure it appears that the large majority of Kansas fans were left wanting to see something more. But what about if we take a snapshot of the good and bad by the numbers?
289 - South Dakota Offensive Production
In all reality this is a pretty strong performance for the Kansas defense. Unfortunately it came against a team that plays at the FCS level and it's against a team that almost mirrored that exact performance against UC Davis just a week ago. So as a Kansas fan the hope is that South Dakota took that giant week one to week two improvement leap that we always hear about and that Kansas did a nice job defensively. The fear would be that this is just a pretty average South Dakota offense and Kansas was no better than UC Davis on the defensive side of the ball. Here's the good news, in each of the last two openers Kansas has given up over 400 yards so we've definitely done at least something right.
5.1 YPC Average for South Dakota on the Ground
Kansas struggled with the read option yielding nearly 100 yards to South Dakota's quarterback. As a whole the Coyote ground game averaged over 5 per carry and the Kansas defensive front didn't look all that capable outside of a couple select players who showed some promise.
3 of 13 - South Dakota 3rd Down Conversions
This is a positive. When Kansas took the Coyote's to 3rd down they were able to get off the field at a solid rate.
3 Touchbacks, 1 Punt inside the 20, 1 for 1 on Field Goals
9 for 71 yards - Kansas Penalties
A concern if this continues but this was the first game and the Jayhawks are incorporating a host of new players so there were bound to be some growing pains and mental hiccups. Last year Kansas was decent in this area and hopefully Weis can move the needle back in the positive direction making sure this doesn't become a trend.
5 - Number of Kansas running backs averaging over 5 yards per carry
This group is just as advertised and maybe better. Brandon Boubon held the highest per carry average a 16 on his 2 carries. James Sims was a workhorse again and we're all going to be very happy that Darrian Miller is back in a Kansas uniform. Pierson still has that explosion and Taylor Cox stepped up with some nice contributions as well. If the offensive line can get in sync with this running back crew, Kansas could be more dangerous on the ground this year.
1 TD by a WR
We've been waiting on this and as underwhelming as the passing game was, at least we have one of these now. The receiving corps has a long way to go and it was certainly one of the chief concerns that seems to have risen after this game. As the competition picks up this group will have to be better or Jake Heaps is going to find himself fighting an uphill battle.
0 snaps recorded by Combs, Bolton, Short and Jenkins-Moore
Some of this is due to injury, apparent eligibility concerns and some of it remains a bit of an unknown. Either way these were four players who were expected to make a pretty solid impact on the defensive side of the ball. Instead not one of these players saw the field on Saturday. For some that isn't going to change this year and hopefully they will help Kansas in the future. For Combs and Short, it would be disappointing if whatever is holding them back isn't able to be sorted out so that these two might contribute.