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A (Semi) Statistical Recap of Missouri State

Daaaaaaa Bears da Bears da Bears da Bears da Bears da Bears da Bears

Missouri State v Kansas Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

As far as season openers go, this is the best one we’ve seen out of KU since... 2016 Rhode Island? (Although that URI team still put up 170 rushing yards that night.) And sure KU beat SE Missouri a year later in 2017, dominating the stat lines but only winning by two scores.

Since 2017, however, KU has: lost to Nicholls State (2018), squeaked past Indiana State (2019), been pounded by Coastal Carolina (2020), squeaked past South Dakota (2021), and stomped Tennessee Tech (2022).

So, Year Three of Lance Leipold begins much the same way as Year Two did - with a huge win over an FCS school. I think it’s safe to say that the times - they are a-changin’.

That’s not to say there wasn’t some concern early on. Missouri State tied the game late in the first quarter following a KU fumble, and then took the lead after KU turned it over on downs. The Jayhawks would end the half on a bit of a run, taking a 7-point lead into the break, before dominating the second half of the game, really piling it on in the 4th quarter as MSU chased points.

Despite the close score at halftime, the stats tell a bit of a different story. At the break, KU had 238 yards of total offense compared to MSU’s 135. KU had the aforementioned turnovers, which kept MSU’s offense on the field, and kept the Bears in the game.

The yardage trends continued in the second half; the turnovers did not. KU ended up outgaining the Bears 521 yards to 217, and 27 first downs to 10. Kansas ran 18 more plays than Missouri State did; the Jayhawks finished at 7.9 yards per play, while MSU mustered just 4.5 ypp.

MSU converted just 1-9 (11.1%) on third down, while KU hit on 6-11 (54.5%). Each team converted one 4th down attempt, and both teams were perfect in the red zone.

The Good

Honestly, a lot of options to talk about here, but I’m going to go with the running backs slash offensive line (because if the line struggles, generally the RBs will as well). Kansas had 4 backs get in the end zone while averaging 6.4 yards per rush as a team. That’s a good show.

The Bad

The turnovers in the first half were definitely concerning. Not being able to pick up a 4th-and-1 deep in plus territory brought flashbacks of the Miles and Beaty eras. There was a period of time there where everything seemed to be going Missouri State’s way - scoop up a fumble, recover their own fumble, convert a long third down, etc. But to their credit, Kansas weathered the storm and eventually turned the tide, so it’s hard to say it was THAT bad.

The Ugly

In the past, this spot has been reserved for the kicking game, or the offensive line, or the defensive line, or coaching clock management. But this time, it’s something completely out of KU’s control. Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Jalon Daniels suited up but did not take a snap, and one of his favorite targets, WR Luke Grimm, went down with some kind of apparent leg injury during the second quarter. KU will need both of those guys at 100% next week if they want to give Illinois what-for.

The Stats

Jalon Daniels suited up, was announced as the starter, and then - didn’t play. Bummer.

Jason Bean had only three incompletions in each half on his way to a line of 22-28, 276 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs. To be fair, he did have one ball thrown into triple coverage that absolutely should have been picked off. He also added 41 rush yards on just 5 carries.

Devin Neal picked up right where he left off last year, picking up 94 yards on 13 carries with a TD. Neal also had 3 receptions for 25 yards, one of which went for a TD.

Sevion Morrison added 8 carries for 41 yards and a TD.

Dylan McDuffie got in on the TD train as well, with 6 carries for 40 yards.

Daniel Hishaw had just 4 carries, losing a fumble on his second attempt. However, he still finished with 29 yards and a TD.

It seemed like we heard Quentin Skinner’s name all night long, but he had just 4 receptions for 77 yards.

Lawrence Arnold also had 4 receptions for 77 yards.

Luke Grimm had just 33 yards on his 4 receptions, one of which went for a TD.

Trevor Wilson, Trevor Kardell, and Mason Fairchild all added two receptions as well.

Rich Miller was credited with 7 tackles.

Hayden Hatcher was also credited with 7 tackles, two of which went in the TFL column.

Jereme Robinson had the only sack of the night for KU, which happened to come on Missouri State’s opening possession.

Cobee Bryant had two tackles, one TFL, and an INT.

Kwinton Lassiter had two takles as well, also with an INT.

Surprisingly - concerningly? - Kenny Logan was in on just two tackles.