True freshman quarterback Jalon Daniels got his first career start for the Jayhawks against Baylor, and out of the gate, the early returns were good. He was 2/2 on an opening drive that ultimately led to a touchdown run by Pooka Williams. The offense looked fluid and effective on that drive as the Jayhawks took their first lead of the season, after a dismal first game against Coastal Carolina.
It initially looked like KU could really get something going after that. Baylor was held to a 3 and out, and KU had a shot at a two possession lead. Ultimately that drive ended when Kansas went for it on 4th and short near midfield (a good thing!) by running up the middle against a loaded box (a bad thing!).
From there Baylor was able to work their way downfield and tie it up 7-7. While Daniels looked ok, especially for a true freshman who was all set to play for Middle Tennessee State before a last minute switch to Kansas, he wasn't able to lead any more sustained drives. The rest of the first half Kansas was able to avoid giving up explosive plays, but ended up down 17-7 at the break despite the two teams' yardage being nearly equal (192 for Baylor, 178 for KU).
The second half got off to a much worse start, with Baylor returning the kickoff 100 yards for an immediate score. KU then went 3 and out and punted, and never threatened to get back into the game. Baylor made it 31-7 on the ensuing drive and things were generally unpleasant moving forward.
Baylor couldn't quite blow the game open in the 3rd, failing to score again, but KU would go back into meltdown mode early in the 4th. After a Baylor point was downed at the 1 yard line, Daniels found himself taken down in the endzone for a safety. Because this is KU football, they of course allowed Baylor to return the post-safety kick for a touchdown, and it was 40-7 with 12:37 remaining.
A Pooka Williams 16 yard touchdown would get KU on the board once more to push their score into double digits, but it was the last real sign of life for the team as they fell 47-14.
In his first college start, Jalon Daniels put together the kind of stat line we're used to seeing at Kansas, completing 18 of 32 passes (56%) for 158 yards. He wasn't able to throw for a touchdown, but he didn't throw any picks, which is pretty solid for a true freshman thrown to the wolves by facing legitimate Big 12 talent is in his first meaningful experience. Perhaps more importantly, the coaches gave him the keys and let him drive the whole way, opting against the quarterback carousel that failed so miserably against Coastal. Hopefully this will be his team moving forward and he can use the year to get valuable experience for his future team once he transfers to a school that can win some games.
Pooka Williams had 80 yards on 13 tries with 2 TDs, including a couple of plays where a shoestring tackle seemed to rob him of a shot at much bigger gains. Velton Gardner continues to prove his value as a formidable backup carrying 14 times for 70 yards. Kwame Lassiter had the best game of the receivers with 6 grabs and 65 yards.
In all, Baylor outgained Kansas 559 to 435, which did show some offensive improvement over what we saw two weeks ago. Still, this was a thorough beating and aside from the decent start, the game was never in doubt.
The most important takeaway has nothing to do with the outcome, and that's Jalon Daniels playing the entire game, and showing flashes of good athleticism with a strong arm. It's possible this was the first big shot of a four year starter's career, and he didn't look out of place on a Big 12 field. If you're an optimist, that's probably the focal point for an otherwise rough beating at the hands of a conference opponent.
Also, while I have your attention: Baylor should not be allowed to have an athletics program of any kind and it's disgusting that we allow them to keep playing as though there's nothing wrong with it.