Well that was not great.
With Preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Jalon Daniels a late, late scratch from lineup, Kansas struggled to get anything going on Saturday and fell to the University of Texas at Austin 40-14.
Now, we’ve had a couple of games already this year where the scoreboard doesn’t tell the full story, and dare I say, this is yet another example. “But Mike, the Jayhawks lost by four touchdowns. And it was a close game at the half, they were only down 6!” Yes, but, Kansas is insanely fortunate that the score wasn’t 28 or 35-7 at halftime, and that the final wasn’t 63-14 or some ridiculousness.
You see, the UT-Austin offense was nearly unstoppable on Saturday. (And guess what, Jalon Daniels doesn’t play defense anyway.) For the most part, the Longhorns got whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted it. UT-A averaged 7.7 yards per play on their way to 661 yards of total offense. The Longhorns dominated the ball, holding possession for 86 plays that ate up 39:41 off the clock, while KU managed just 46 plays for 260 yards, a 5.5 ypp average.
Oh, and another fun stat: UT-Austin had 33 first downs, while KU managed 11.
The ‘Horns were 9-15 (60.0%) on third down, 2-2 on fourth down, and scored on every trip in the red zone. The only reason the score stayed close in the first half was because when UT-A stalled out, they opted for short field goals. Additionally, the Longhorns also missed two long-range field goals of 47 and 50 yards.
Meanwhile, KU put up a goose egg on third downs, going 0-8, and followed that up by going 0-2 on fourth down as well. Kansas was top-3 in the country in third down conversion percentage coming into this game; the Jayhawks are now outside the top 10 (but still a respectable 51.0% on the year).
Kansas got some decent pressure on the Longhorn quarterback, although he did get off a few decent scrambles, including UT-A’s first touchdown, a 30-yard scramble on 3rd-and-9. But, KU was still credited with 6 TFL, 2 sacks, and 2 QBH. On the flip side, the Kansas offensive line did not allow a sack and KU took just 3 TFL, but, when your defense records 84 tackles and the opponent just 41? Yeah, that’s an issue.
Despite the way UT-A was moving the ball, KU still had a chance late in the third quarter. The Jayhawks found themselves trailing 20-14, with the ball on their own 29-yard line with 6:31 to play in the quarter and a rested offense (surely full of halftime adjustments) ready to take the field.
But that’s about where “The Good” ends. After getting stuffed on 3rd-and-1, Kansas went shotgun on 4th-and-inches from its own 38, fumbled, and UT-A recovered. Of course the Longhorns scored almost immediately. The Jayhawks would proceed to fail to pick up a first down on either of their next two drives, while UT-Austin built up the deficit to the final margin.
Despite the unfortunate news pregame regarding its starting quarterback, KU actually started the game off pretty well, with a 26-yard run by Devin Neal on its first play of the game. Neal would get a grand total of three more touches the rest of the first half, one of which was wiped out by a holding penalty.
How much of the gameplan was adjusted prior to the game once it was determined that Jason Bean was playing? How much of the playcalling was adjusted? Because it sure didn’t seem like much. Bean was asked to make decisions and throws that were pretty clearly designed for Daniels.
Additionally, the folks over at (the now-defunct) Bull Run warned us that Leipold would make some questionable decisions on gamedays, and we saw that in full against UT-Austin. No first quarter playcalling adjustments to get Bean comfortable, no QB sneak on 4th-and-inches, accepting penalties when declining appeared to be the better option, and probably some other things that I’m just blanking on at the moment because despite everything, despite EVERYTHING, this was a winnable game for the Jayhawks and yes I’m rambling now because I’m once again upset that we didn’t hang with the #3 team in the country. My my, how far we’ve come in just two years!
Jalon Daniels was a late scratch, but wasn’t officially declared “Out” until just after halftime.
Jason Bean started and played the duration. His receivers suffered a couple of drops early (including one that may have been a TD), and his final line read 9-21 for 136 yards with 1 TD and 0 INT. Bean added 42 rush yards on 7 carries.
Devin Neal got 26 yards on the first carry of the game, and then wasn’t seen again. My bad, it just seemed like it. Neal finished with 8 carries for 45 yards. He added 10 yards on 2 receptions as well.
Daniel Hishaw went for 49 yards on 8 carries with a TD.
Trevor Wilson led KU receivers with 58 yards on just one catch, but at least it went for a TD.
Mason Fairchild had 30 yards on two receptions.
OJ Burroughs was credited with 13 tackles, including a TFL.
JB Brown got in the box score with 9 tackles and a QBH.
Kenny Logan added 8 tackles with a TFL.
Austin Booker and Craig Young were credited with 7 tackles each.
Michigan transfer Cornell Wheeler had 5 tackles and picked up an INT that effectively ended the first half.
Seth Keller nailed two PATs, but did not get a chance to extend his field goal streak.
Damon Greaves booted 6 punts (!) for a 45.3 average.