Kansas Wins Big in Week 1, Eyeing Upset in Week 2
The Kansas Jayhawks dominated a football game last Friday night in their season opener at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas. It’s been a while since anyone has been able to say that.
It was a convincing 56-10 win. The Jayhawks even beat the spread that got up to -32.5 before kickoff. Yes, it was against Tennessee Tech, but coming out of the gates and taking a 21-0 lead after one quarter was impressive.
All three phases looked excellent for the most part as the game first got underway. The offensive and defensive lines needed to impress and they did just that from start to finish.
Kansas got the ground game going early and often. Touchdowns from running backs Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw got the offense going. Then it was a blocked field goal that got KU to 21 points before the end of the first quarter.
The fans were rocking “The Booth” under the lights on Friday night. It was exciting to see the student section packed and ready to get loud and support the team. This is what happens when you give a starved fan base something to cheer for.
Jalon Daniels impressed and got a rushing touchdown and his first passing touchdown of the season in the second quarter as the Jayhawks took a 35-3 lead into the half.
It was more of the same in the second half. Devin Neal kicked off the scoring in the third quarter with an electric 80-yard touchdown run which should be considered the play of the day.
The rest of the stacked running back room took over in the fourth quarter. Impressive efforts from Hishaw and Sevion Morrison stood out as the game came to a close.
There was speculation Ky Thomas, the transfer from Minnesota, would be the number two back but he was the only one that didn’t get going this game.
The backup quarterback, senior Jason Bean, even got in on the action. He made an impressive throw while also running for a touchdown to close out the 56-10 win.
Then there was the defense, headed up by transfer Lonnie Phelps, who led the team with seven tackles including three sacks and four tackles for loss. His athleticism is something the Jayhawks have missed over the last several years.
Another strong and athletic transfer, Craig Young, made an impact early in the game on a third down stop. Young is expected to be a playmaker in the middle of the field and a linebacker that can play sideline to sideline.
Transfer Eriq Gilyard had four tackles, including one tackle for loss, and had an interception.
Once again, Kenny Logan Jr looked the part and showed impressive burst in the secondary. At every level of the defense, the Jayhawks looked faster and stronger.
Now Kansas can look forward to their first big test of the season. A road game against a conference opponent in West Virginia.
The Mountaineers are coming off a devastating loss in the “Backyard Brawl” against Pitt. Transfer JT Daniels looks like he’ll be able to handle the quarterback position just fine for West Virginia.
It will be a test for the KU secondary and the Jayhawks front seven will need to get pressure on Daniels and force him to make some mistakes.
Kansas lost a heartbreaker to West Virginia in the final game of the season, 34-28. This will be the first time in a while Kansas is going into a conference road game less than a two touchdown underdog. West Virginia is favored by 13.5 and it will be interesting to see where the line ends up on Saturday.
Jalon Daniels will need to play mistake free football to give the Jayhawks a chance at the upset and their first 2-0 record since 2011 when they beat McNeese State and Northern Illinois in back-to-back games to start that season.
The last time KU started 1-0 in conference play was 2009 when they beat Iowa State. The last time they won a road opener was also against Iowa State, a year before in 2008.
If Kansas can win the turnover battle, they will give themselves a fighting chance against the Mountaineers. If they can begin the season 2-0, they’ll be the talk of college football, and that’s not something many people expected going into this season.