Kansas gets their first win in almost 2 years as they demolish the Rhode Island Rams at home to open the season. The Jayhawks offense was firing on pretty much all cylinders, and the defense was on point, forcing multiple turnovers and really only having a single breakdown all night long.
We’ll have a full recap of the game coming up shortly and a bunch of analysis coming tomorrow, but here are some main takeaways from tonight’s game to get you going:
- Montell Cozart is your starting QB.
Cozart started the first two drives, but when Ryan Willis came out for the 3rd and 4th possession, it looked like both QBs might be splitting time. However, after Willis’ 2nd drive ended in a punt, Cozart came out and led the Jayhawks to a TD in every drive (except the one right before the half which ended in a missed FG) until the 2nd one of the 3rd quarter when he threw a pick in the endzone. While Willis came back in and threw a screen pass that turned into a Steven Sim highlight reel, he was immediately replaced by Carter Stanley on that next drive. Cozart got most of the non-garbage time snaps, and he is most likely going to be the starter against Ohio and in Memphis.
- The WR corps is markedly improved.
A lot of this probably has something to do with the fact that we were playing an FCS team, but 9 receivers caught at least 1 pass, and other than Ben Johnson (who only caught a 2 yd TD pass) and Jace Sternberger, everyone averaged at least 10 yards per reception. LaQuvionte Gonzalez was the star we were expecting, as he had 7 receptions for 78 yards and a TD. Steven Sims Jr. also had 5 receptions, including that thrilling 71-yard TD that started as a screen pass and ended with him threading through several defenders and pulling away. Even though the defenses will get better from here on out, we at least know that this receiving corps has the talent to make big plays through the rest of the year.
- The defense has the potential to be exciting.
Rhode Island didn’t really get anything going the entire night, as the Kansas defense reeled off big play after big play. The special teams caused a fumble on the first Kansas punt that set up a touchdown. Damani Mosby forced a fumble that was picked up by Dorance Armstrong Jr. on the first Rhode Island drive. Bazie Bates IV picked off a Wesley McKoy pass to stop a developing drive. Rhode Island only had 1 drive cross into Kansas territory, with a second starting there in the 4th quarter after a Sternberger fumble on a punt return during garbage time. Even though the competition wasn’t at the level we’ll see in Big 12 play, there is definitely some talent here that is making some pretty good Kool-aid.
- The special teams need a lot of work.
Matthew Wyman is kicking again, and he missed his only FG attempt on the night. While he was good on his kickoffs and was perfect on his PATs (the only missed one was a mishandled snap by the holder), he is continuing to show why he shouldn’t be the placekicker. Gonzalez is the main returner, but he wasn’t really able to get any room to run all night long. Sternberger had that fumble when he got the chance. The missed PAT was pretty bad. If this type of play continues, we will lose at least one game in Big 12 play due to the special teams.
- The first win is nice, but it didn’t really tell us much.
Look, it was great to finally get that first win for David Beaty. He’s a nice guy who has brought some enthusiasm to the program again. But a win against an overmatched FCS team doesn’t really tell us anything. All 3 QBs came in and played fairly well, so while I’m pretty sure Cozart getting the lion’s share of the playing time indicates he is the main guy, I could probably be convinced pretty easily I’m wrong. Our guys were bigger and faster at pretty much every position, so while it’s encouraging to see the potential, this is in no way going to tell us how we will match up against the rest of our opponents this year. If they can do the same thing against Ohio next week, I’ll be pretty excited. Until then, let’s just enjoy this one.