Les Miles has his first win as coach of the Kansas Jayhawks. It wasn't pretty. At all. But for KU, a win is a win.
After much speculation, Carter Stanley led the Jayhawk offense on the opening drive, and never came out of the game. The drive started well enough with a long run down the left side by Khalil Herbert, but it would end in disappointment with a missed field goal from 49 yards out. the first defensive possession would end much better, as senior corner Hassan Defense put the first points of the season on the board with a pick six.
The remainder of the first quarter was a stalemate. Indiana State put together a couple of decent drives, but couldn't get into scoring position. Kansas struggled to move the ball behind weak line play. The Sycamores were able to attempt a field goal early in the 2nd, but missed wide right. Kansas then looked to have a drive going, but an incomplete backward pass was recovered by ISU. Fortunately, they could only turn it into another missed field goal.
Kansas ended the parade of missed kicks on the next drive. KU lined up in the I formation and moved the ball downfield via the power running game. They couldn't finish the drive in the end zone, but Liam Jones was good on the kick to make it 10-0. Indiana State would then put together a nice drive that maybe should have ended in a touchdown, but a fantastic catch was ruled out bounds in the endzone and there wasn't enough evidence to overturn it. The Sycamores hit a field goal and Kansas took a 10-3 lead into halftime.
Things looked like they might fall apart right away in the second half. Indiana State promptly drove the ball down the field for a second consecutive drive, but an interception in the endzone kept ISU off the board. KU would successfully take it the other way, as former KU basketball great James Sosinski caught a TD pass to go on top 16-3. The extra point was missed because we're still Kansas.
Indiana State would answer. After another sustained drive, they were finally able to score a touchdown. On 4th and 7 from the 26.
Kansas suffered from predictable playcalling and poor offensive line play for much of the second half. After a number of failed runs up the middle and poorly set screen passes, Indiana State would ultimately take a 17-16 lead after Carter Stanley fumbled in the endzone.
Despite their struggles, the Jayhawks would respond. Big plays by Andrew Parchment and Daylon Charlot helped Stanley lead the team down the field for six, followed by some trickeration that led to the 2 point conversion on an end around pass. The Kansas defense would step up and stop ISU on 4 plays, allowing the Jayhawks to run out the clock. Kansas 24, Indiana State 17.
While it's great to get the win, there were serious problems evident in this one. First, it's hard to feel like Indiana State didn't give away a winnable game. They missed two field goals, threw an easy pick in the endzone, and gifted Kansas a pick six. They also dropped an easy interception of their own, which landed in the hands of Andrew Parchment for a KU first down. The offense is reason for concern as well. The Kansas receivers were able to reel in several jump balls that likely would not all have been receptions against a better defense. The line play doesn't seem particularly improved, and a number of LSU types have commented that Kansas seems to be running the same offense that got Miles run out of Baton Rouge.
But hey, Kansas football won a game. Celebrate. They play again next Saturday at 6:00pm Jayhawk Time, as they host Coastal Carolina and try to start the season 2-0.