It’s hard to really know what we can take away from the first game of the season, especially when it is a strong performance against a team that is projected to be much weaker than your own. But in the few flashes of the game that I got to see between technical difficulties, this is what I was able to see.
1. There is still plenty of room for improvement.
There were plenty of good to find in this performance, but the defense gave up 16 points to a rather lackluster offense, and we had almost an entire 2nd quarter where the offense couldn’t put anything together. The defense couldn’t get any of their pressure to pay off with a sack, and the offense couldn’t get the running game going (although to be fair, that appears that it might have been a conscious decision.
2. Peyton Bender is the QB for this team.
I realize that this performance was against an overmatched team, but the play I saw from Bender tonight was nothing like what I saw from Montell Cozart in last year’s opener. He progressed through his reads with ease, there were multiple times that he sidestepped pressure and delivered a strike, and he consistently passed the ball downfield. Many of his throws were in the perfect place, hitting the runner in stride in a place that only his guy could get to it.
3. Doug Meacham improves the offense.
I don’t know if this is just confirmation bias, but like Fetch mentioned on Twitter, the offense seemed to actually know what they were doing tonight. Obviously this is partly because of the level of competition, but I’m having a hard time finding errors that were the result of bad scheming as opposed to just individual failures in performance. Except for the 2nd quarter, where we couldn’t seem to get anything to work out right, this was my feeling:
Holy crap having an actual offensive coordinator is fun— RCT (@rockchalktalk) September 3, 2017
4. The defense is less experienced, but they have the potential to be much better than last year.
This may not be immediately clear how I got there, but hear me out. Obviously the loss of Fish Smithson and company from last year’s defense hurt the team tonight, but when this team did get beat, it seemed to be more from over-anticipation or bad reactions than it was from lack of athleticism. Those sorts of things will come with more experience, and I saw a lot more players flying around the field. This defense seems to be faster and stronger than last year, so their main deficiencies should be able to be corrected and the ceiling on this defense looks to be higher than last year.
5. Football is fun!
No matter how short-lived this feeling might be, it’s good to have football back again. This was obviously the best chance we have all year to have a good game, but once again there is room for optimism for this team. After seeing Baylor and Texas struggle today, it isn’t hard to imagine a scenario where the Jayhawks can stay out of the cellar of the conference and get another Big 12 win or two. And there is plenty of optimism after Central Michigan’s week 1 game as well.
So what are your big takeaways from this game? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.