The Kansas Jayhawks kicked off Week 4 of the college football season by taking on the BYU Cougars in their first official game of Big 12 play as a member of their new conference. The Cougars made the long trip from Provo to Lawrence in hopes of leaving Kansas with a perfect 4-0 record, and while Kalani Sitake’s squad showed some major fight at times, Lance Leipold and the Jayhawks got the last laugh sending the Cougars home with a 38-27 loss. Kansas advances to 4-0 on the season while BYU drops to 3-1, and with that said, here are my three thoughts on the game.
DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE
While Kansas’ defense has shown some major signs of improvement from last year’s squad during the first three weeks of the season, Brian Borland’s squad was incredible against BYU, keeping the Cougars in check while finding the end zone twice.
The Jayhawks’ defense set the tone early by recording a scoop-and-score touchdown on the first defensive snap with junior cornerback Cobee Bryant laying the wood on BYU receiver Parker Kingston to force a fumble before picking it up and taking it 22 yards for the score. The Jayhawks’ defense came up big in the third quarter as well returning the second interception of the day for Kedon Slovis 30 yards for a score to take the lead 21-17. While BYU’s offense wasn’t incredible in Lawrence, the Jayhawks unit deserves a ton of credit for their Week 4 win.
While Kansas’ defensive line was solid on Saturday afternoon, BYU had zero idea of what to do with their rushing attack. True freshman running back LJ Martin was the most productive member of the backfield with 11 carries for 28 yards which resulted in a subpar 2.5 yards per carry.
The struggle to advance the ball in the ground game is nothing new for Kalani Sitake’s squad as they have yet to record more than 90 rushing yards in a game from one player this season. LJ Martin has shown some moments of upside for the group this season as he is averaging just over four yards per carry, but with the Cougars set to face off against a better defensive line unit in Week 5 against Cincinnati and Dontay Corleone, the rushing game has to get figured soon.
THERE IS HOPE
When the four additions of UCF, Cincinnati, Houston, and BYU joined the Big 12 Conference back in July, the Cougars seemed to be the squad that left the most to be desired in terms of the on-the-field product heading into a new season. While they weren’t able to come away with a win against Kansas on Saturday afternoon, BYU’s performance proved that there is light ahead for one of the newest members of the Big 12 Conference.
Senior quarterback Kedon Slovis was impressive against Kansas, and while he did finish his day off with two questionable interceptions, he also added 357 yards passing and two touchdowns on the day. The former Pittsburgh Panther showed poise and confidence in the pocket leading the Cougars to the end zone on three drives alongside two drives that ended with field goals. If the Cougars can clean up some of their turnover issues in next week’s outing against Cincinnati, BYU could make some real noise and surprise folks in Big 12 play.