If you have not clawed your eyes out after Kansas State’s 55-14 victory over Kansas today, then you’re probably here for one of two reasons.
- You watched the game and are looking to vent.
- You didn’t watch the game and you’re curious who is to blame for this blowout defeat.
Lucky for you, there are no shortage of options for either.
We’ll get to all that, but let’s start with whose fault this wasn’t. This wasn’t the defense’s fault. Out of KSU’s 34 halftime points, only one of those came from an offensive touchdown, and even that was because of a KU special teams error. The defense also held the KSU offense to 150 yards and five first downs in the first half (39 rushing yards) and 381 for the game.
The second half wasn’t the same story. KSU scored touchdowns on each of its first three second-half possessions. But by that point the damage was already done. And at least that’s where the bleeding stopped.
This also wasn’t on Jalon Daniels. Coming back from injury, Daniels fought for yards on the ground—running for his life due to his offensive line (we’ll get to that later)—and had some plays that reminded you that he is the Jayhawks’ best chance of success moving forward. He somehow scrambled for a first down on a fourth-and-two play that looked like it was going to be blown up, the pass to Andrew Parchment in the back of the end zone (where Parchment’s foot was just out of bounds) was impressive and the following eight-yard touchdown run on the next play for KU’s first points showed the potential of Daniels. Remember, he’s only 17.
He also had a bad pick-six and some misses some open receivers, but still showed as much or more promise than any QB we’ve seen this year.
Being Jalon Daniels today had to feel like being Jon Snow at The Battle of the Bastards. He was outnumbered and surrounded by opposition on all sides, and that included many of his own teammates outside of the defense. The only difference was Daniels didn’t have any allies coming to his rescue.
So, about everyone else. Let’s start with the special teams. The punt team gave up two returns for touchdowns in the first half—KSU’s first points of the game and last points of the half—Kwamie Lassiter fumbled a punt at the end of the half after KU had scored and the defense got a stop (it was 20-7 at the time) that led to the Wildcats’ only offensive touchdown of the half, and KU’s first chance at points failed when a 40-yard field goal hit off the upright.
That’s...uh…pretty terrible. The KC Star’s Jesse Newell summed it up pretty well in this tweet.
Another way to look at it: Phillip Brooks tied the Big 12 record this decade for 40+yard punt returns in a season (4) ... in one game against KU ... today.— Jesse Newell (@jessenewell) October 24, 2020
The offense was less atrocious—the bar was set high by the special teams—but the offensive line looked outmatched and the play calling once again made you want to bang your head against the wall. Maybe it’s just me, but running on 3rd and 13 behind a line that can’t block and throwing it to the line of scrimmage or in front of the first-down sticks more than not seems questionable. Especially when good things (or no worse things) happened when Daniels was able to take some shots downfield.
Kansas’ first time inside Wildcat territory came because of a defensive pass interference after Daniels took a shot downfield, but then the Jayhawks completely went away from that approach. The Wildcats tried to help them out, committing seven penalties in the first quarter alone and 10 for 81 yards for the game, but it didn’t matter. Any fight was hit out of the Jayhawks with that punt return for a touchdown right before half.
The Jayhawks did get on the board again late in the game thanks to the defense and Daniels. A forced fumble and recovery by the KU defense deep in Wildcat territory led to Daniels’ second rushing touchdown of the game. So there’s that.
Daniels led the offense going 22/39 for 207 yards and an interception, along with 17 rushes for 27 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Velton Gardner, in the first game without Pooka Williams, rushed for 72 yards on 16 carries, and Lassiter led all Jayhawk receivers with seven catches for 58 yards.
Next up is a home matchup against Iowa State on Halloween.