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Kansas Football report card: Oklahoma State

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Our weekly look at the Kansas football team's most recent performance.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

One game isn't enough to call it progress, but Saturday's near comeback against Oklahoma State was at the very least a step in the right direction. Let's just hope we don't bring the wrong cleats to Lubbock and take a giant step back in them

Quarterbacks - C

I'd give Michael Cummings an A for effort, but his overall performance was still pretty pedestrian. The bright side to that is that pedestrian is way better than anything we've seen from the quarterbacks previously this year. Cummings went 20-37, not a great completion rate, but was able to average a respectable 7.8 yards per attempt, and he showed nice accuracy and touch on several big passes, compiling 288 yards. He looked tough and determined running the ball, more than willing to put his head down and charge forward like a fullback when the pitch wasn't there on the option, but it wasn't enough to avoid a net -2 yards on the day. Cummings has acceptable speed, but he's not quick enough to make something happen with limited space. The line and playcalling need to open up some room in front of him if he's going to put up solid numbers on the ground

The most positive thing I can say about Cummings is that he looked determined to put the team on his shoulders and win the game through sheer force of will. There were several times where he took a shot and I thought he might come off the field, but each time he dragged himself to his feet and lined up for the next play. It was a refreshing change after watching Cozart look scared to play the position for the first five games

Running Backs - C

It was another game where the running backs left plenty to be desired in the box score, but if you watched the game you have to wonder what else they really could have done. I continue to disagree with Reagan's playcalling (though this week looked more creative than last week), but given the O-line he's working with, I'm not sure what else he can do. We handed our best playmaker the ball 10 times, but he could only pick up 26 yards due to a total lack of space. I don't see the backs put up respectable numbers against Big 12 D-lines with blocking this poor

Receivers - B

The receivers finally got some catchable balls delivered to them this week, and they responded by showing some ability to get open and do a few things after the catch. Harwell had a huge play downfield in the first quarter, and Nigel King and Tony Pierson were able to contribute some longer plays as well. Jimmay Mundine also showed off a spin move en route to picking up a 30 yard gain, finishing with 5 catches for 88 yards. Harwell ended up with 7 catches for 91, which I honestly believe is probably the best single game a Kansas wide receiver has had since Daymond Patterson left.

Offensive Line - D-

The offense had just enough time and space to make enough plays to keep the game interesting, so I'll spare the line their typical F this week. That said, they simply aren't doing their jobs. Oklahoma State has a solid defensive line, but it isn't the Steel Curtain. If Cummings and the running backs don't get some room to work with, it will be nearly impossible to get our offense going in Big 12 play. If we had a more accurate quarterback, I'd honestly support going to a Mike Leach-style offense where we throw 50 or 60 short-to-mid range passes every week

Defensive Line - B

This was probably the most impressed I've been with the defensive line this year. For once, it seemed like our front line was actually able to occupy their blockers, allowing the BUCK and blitzing linebackers to have some success in getting into the backfield and disrupting plays. The line was able to put together 10 tackles and a sack, and perhaps more telling, the linebackers were able to do most of the tackling instead of the secondary

Linebackers - A-

We only start two true linebackers, Ben Heeney and Jake Love, and they were able to combine for 20 tackles, 3.5 TFL and a sack. Not bad. When you include Michael Reynolds' consistent presence in the OSU backfield (which led to two sacks and a forced fumble), the linebackers had an outstanding day against the Cowboys

Secondary - B

I complain about Matthew Boateng a lot, but truth be told he did a serviceable job of stepping up and playing for Dexter McDonald, who was injured early on and never returned. He's still the weak link in the secondary when he's out there, but he could have done much worse in the role he was forced to play in the defense, with Daxx Garman continuing to target his man as the game went on. Jacorey Shepherd has quietly become an All-Big 12 quality player, and hardly even saw his assignments targeted Saturday. The safeties continue to make me nervous at times, but there were no glaring mistakes this week. A solid day for the defensive backfield

Special Teams - D-

Every week, it seems special teams gives us some things to be happy about, and one or two big reasons to be upset. This week was no different, as Trevor Pardula kicked three 50+ punts, only to have his average dragged down by one he shanked in Kansas territory that led to an Okie State touchdown just before halftime. He also had a very poor squib kick that gave OSU possession near midfield before being replaced by Eric Kahn on kickoff duties. Kahn did a serviceable job of kicking short, but was let down by the coverage team on what would be a game-winning kickoff return by Tyreek Hill in the 4th quarter. Matt Wyman was able to hit a high-pressure 35 yard field goal to tie it up late, but missed a reasonably makeable 42 yarder in the 3rd. The punt coverage team continues to look solid overall

Overall - C+

There are a few different ways to look at this game. Through a wide lens, we were able to hang tight with a ranked opponent, even coming back to tie it late. That said, there were some coaching blunders (calling a timeout coming out of a timeout and getting gashed anyway, a reluctance to go for it on 4th and short, handing Okie State good field position with pooch kicks then giving up a TD return to name a few), continued poor O-line play and some adherence to predictable playcalling, and just an overall sense of disorganization and lack of discipline at times. Overall I think there was enough good to bump this up just above a straight C, but I also don't think this game was too far from being C+/D-, if that makes any sense