It was an absolutely gorgeous fall like night in Lawrence, Kansas.
I haven't seen official attendance numbers yet, but Memorial Stadium looked and felt as if there were more people in it than week one. Now, that might have had something to do with it being Band Bay. Still, the excitement and noise in the old blue horseshoe was very much present. In spite of the disappointment with a loss to South Dakota State, Jayhawk fans believe in David Beaty.
Early on the 'Hawks were playing inspired ball, converting a fumble into a field goal, and then needing just five plays to go 73 yards for a touchdown on their third drive. The defense was stopping the Tigers' running game and getting pressure on man beast of a quarterback, Paxton Lynch.
Perhaps this was due more to the Tigers underestimating the 'Hawks at the start, because by the end of quarter one they had rather quickly wrestled control of the game back for good.
There's no reason for Jayhawk fans to feel too down though, in my opinion. If most were being honest with themselves, they knew this was a game we had no chance to win. I was surprised to see the line as low as it was. More importantly, even though the wins haven't come yet, Beaty, his staff, and this team of youngsters on the field, have returned a sense of fun and excitement to Kansas football. From the pregame video, to the coaches dancing on the sideline before 'Hawk kickoffs, to band who doesn't need dick humor to make their impact known to the crowd, the culture of Kansas football seems to be moving in the right direction.
Ke' aun Kinner - the only 'Hawk who deserves one this week. I was really looking forward to seeing how Kinner would look against a better quality opponent. He was fantastic against South Dakota State, almost single-handedly pacing the Jayhawks comeback in game one. He showed he was the real deal against the Tigers Saturday night. Kinner is strong as hell. He is able to absorb hits and keep his feet. While built with a much stockier frame, that is a quality very much like one Jamaal Charles. On Kinner's TD run he burst toward the right side of the line, was hit, bounced off the collision, and kept running right into the north endzone, giving the Jayhawks a rather shocking 10-0 lead just five minutes into the game. With 113 yards on 16 carries, Kinner was averaging a Gale Sayers like 7.1 yards a carry. I know Beaty and Likens don't want the Jayhawk offense to be predictable, but I felt the Hawks went away from the run game a tad too much early on when the contest was still competitive. Kinner is starting to demand more touches. What a great find this kid has been so far.
Rock Chalk Talk's Own Mikeville - for organizing and supplying RCT's inaugural tailgate party. The man found a fantastic spot in plenty of shade just to the west of the practice fields. Plenty of hot dogs, beer, chips and good conversation. I managed to track down Big Jay and have him come over to take a picture of Mike by our Rock Chalk signage.
Big Jay - getting whoever was inside that big foam headed costume to come over wasn't an easy task. After agreeing with a big cartoonish head nod, every kid on the hill mauled Big Jay for a picture with every step he took. It was adorable. I told him to take his time and pointed out where we were. To his credit, he still came over.
Memphis Tigers Fans - I've said it before, and I'll say again, best opposing fans I've ever met. While walking into the stadium I saw a group of Memphis fans partying in the east lot. My brother was with me and I told him we had to go over. He was afraid I was gonna go talk trash and possibly get us into a fight. Not with Memphis fans. I welcomed them to Lawrence, told them that hanging out with Memphis fans for basketball games made me realize how great they were as people who knew how to have a good time. We had a great time drinking and joking around with them. Of course the 2008 national title game came up. That's when one of them gave me the quote of the night. He told me how he was down in San Antonio for that Final Four and, "Everybody's talkin' UCLA and Carolina. Hansbrough and Love. Nobody's talkin' Memphis and Kansas. Then, the Tigers and Jayhawks, we run they ass right on up outta that Alamo Dome!" God, I love those guys. Before parting ways they told me how to find them at their normal tailgate party spot in Memphis for when the 'Hawks head over there for the other side of this home and home. That might be worth the road trip.
Due for Some Drill Work
Montell Cozart - after looking promising with his play in the first game, Cozart regressed hard in this one. He did rush for a TD in the second half, but passing wise he completed less than 50% (13-28) for just 118 yards. He missed some wide open - what very well could have been touchdowns - receivers over the middle in the first half with absolutely piss poor touch. Likens' offense is predicated on getting the ball out of the quarterback's hands quickly. In this game, Cozart looked indecisive, holding the ball way too long, and after not taking a sack in the first game he took several devastating losses in this one.
Defensive Backfield - Early in the game the Jayhawk front seven looked much better than in the contest against South Dakota State. They were shutting down the run. But the Tigers adjusted once they realized their receivers were running free like deer in an empty meadow. Lynch absolutely dissected the back end of Clint Bowen's defensive unit. In putting up 354 yards and two TDs, the kid was a damn near perfect 22-25. Brandon Stewart and Tyrone Miller Jr continue to look absolutely lost on the corners. Not wanting them to get burnt constantly had to be the reason they were off their respective assignments five to ten yards on every play. Had to be, right? Once there was no resistance in the passing game, the Tigers were able to run the Jayhawks into submission.
I almost nailed the final score in my RCT prediction. I said 55-27 Memphis. It wound up 55-23.
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