I'm back from the internet-less area where I was and have picked up some football-only notes this afternoon to get caught up on what I missed. Maybe you guys can help fill me in on just what happened in that fourth quarter.
Also, shout out to RCT member TopekaRockChalkHawk, be sure to relate your experience at the game to us! Same goes for anyone else who made it out there.
As far as early impressions go, it was just about perfect for offensive coordinator John Reagan, who debuted his college-style spread offense inside the track-less confines of Memorial Stadium. Then came the second quarter and the second half — and a large dollop of reality. Maybe Kansas isn’t that close to major progress.
What are Kansas football fans supposed to do with a game like this? KU’s 34-28 season-opening victory over Southeast Missouri was a blowout, then it wasn’t. A breath of fresh air, then a reminder of all the blunders that have made the program a laughingstock the last few years.
However you look at it, KU, which mixed a lot of young guys and newcomers in with a healthy dose of veterans, held on for the victory, improved to 1-0 and has another week of work and preparation in front of it before having to prove what it learned from the opener. Put another way: Now's when the fun starts.
KU's 457-yard performance was the most for a Kansas team since the Jayhawks tallied 441 yards against Iowa State on Nov. 17, 2012. Both offenses came to play in the game as Southeast Missouri State gained 421 yards from scrimmage - a large majority of which were produced in the second half rally – to finish with four touchdowns of its own.
KU offensive coordinator John Reagan found one way to make up for the shortage of rushers: Senior receiver Tony Pierson, a former running back, had three carries for 44 yards and emerged as a weapon in the running game.
Harwell helped make a little history in his KU debut, as his first catch — a 6-yard back-shoulder grab through traffic for a touchdown — also was the first touchdown pass of quarterback Montell Cozart’s college career.
Lots to talk about following Kansas' 34-28 victory over Southeast Missouri, so let's quickly go over a few things that stood out.
“We started off very strong, but towards the rest of the game we got out of our effort, attitude and toughness,” McDonald said. “We also have a bunch of young players who have to get their feet wet. It wasn’t the best win, but we got the win.”
So why Wyman instead of Duvic? “When Duvic was named the starting kicker this week, it didn’t go too well,” Weis said. “We’ll just leave it at that. I don’t think he was quite ready for me to say ‘You’re the guy.’”
WR Nick Harwell, Kansas: Dang, this was a good week for receivers. Harwell beat out several big-time players because, in addition to his two touchdown catches in the Miami (Ohio) transfer's Jayhawk debut, he also fell on top of an onside kick to save the day for KU in a 34-28 win over Southeast Missouri State. He made life much easier for Montell Cozart, and we're going to be hearing a lot more from Harwell as this season goes on.
10. Kansas (-1) Record 1-0 overall: The 34-28 final score wasn't indicative of Kansas' victory over Southeast Missouri State. The Jayhawks led 34-7 heading into the fourth quarter before easing off the gas. Tougher tests lie ahead, but Charlie Weis had to be pleased with the performance of sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart, who threw two touchdowns to Nick Harwell and another to Tony Pierson. Running backs De'Andre Mann and Corey Avery complemented a balanced attack with 212 combined yards on the ground. There's no reason why this shouldn't be the best offense Weis has fielded since arriving in Lawrence.