Another game of Big 12 football is officially in the books as the Kansas Jayhawks kicked off their 2023 season with a 48-17 win over the Missouri State Bears. Kansas fans showed up in numbers to David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in hopes of seeing head coach Lance Leipold kick off their fall campaign, and deliver on the program’s offseason hype. Leipold’s squad started slow in the first half leading 17-10 at the halftime break, before opening up the throttle and handling business in the second half. With that said, here are my three thoughts on the game.
1. BRAND NEW PLAYS
Kansas offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki put his playbook on full display on Friday night despite playing without his starting quarterback under center. Kotelnicki showcased plays reminiscent of the Kansas City Chiefs offense including a would-be fourth down conversion where junior tight end Jared Casey took the snap under center on 4th-and-1 and trudged ahead for a tight end, quarterback sneak.
The Jayhawks play caller also showed off some complex designs like busting out a variation of the wishbone offense allowing Jason Bean to get out in space on multiple different occasions. While Kotelnicki is entering his third year calling plays in Lawrence, with Lance Leipold continuing to develop the roster through the transfer portal and through the addition of several talented high school recruits, Kansas’ offense has a chance to really dazzle in 2023.
2. BEAR DOWN
I know that the final score may not reflect the fight that the Bears showed on Friday night, but they gave the Jayhawks a run for their money in a scrappy contest. Former Kansas State running back Jacardia Wright set the tone early with some tough running on the ground and through the screen game, mixed with an impressive performance from Sophomore quarterback Jacob Clark until the final ten minutes of the fourth quarter. Clark finished his day going 14-21 for 179 total yards, one passing touchdown, and two late picks.
Kansas put the game out of reach on multiple occasions in the second half, but credit to Missouri State head coach Ryan Beard, the Bears continued to drive down the field and found ways to attack the Jayhawks’ defense. Player of the game for the Bears came in the shape of redshirt freshman, Jmariyae Robinson, who found the end zone twice on three total touches.
3. DANIELS INJURY WOES
While it has been well documented at this point that the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, Jalon Daniels, has been dealing with some lingering back soreness, many fans were shocked to see Jason Bean take the field in game one. Daniels suited up and made it on the field for warm-ups, but when the game was set to kick off, Daniels was seen on the sideline wearing a headset.
Redshirt senior quarterback Jason Bean stepped in for the Jayhawks and put together a solid outing. Bean went 22-28 for 276 passing yards and two passing touchdowns while adding five carries for 41 yards on the ground. While Jason Bean is more than comfortable stepping in as the starter in Lawrence, if Jalon Daniels remains on the sidelines for the Jayhawks’ week two matchup against Illinois, Kansas could find themselves in a pinch for the rest of the non-conference schedule.