Kansas defeated Southeast Missouri State on Saturday night, 34-28. Kansas got off to a hot start, scoring 21 points in the first quarter and went up 24-0 before giving up 28 points in the second half.
It was clear Montell Cozart was the offensive player of the game for the Jayhawks after the first quarter. However, he didn’t finish strong so I unfortunately have to give it to someone else.
Offensive Co-Players of the Game — De’Andre Mann and Nick Harwell
I really had trouble awarding this to one or the other. I think if John Reagan had let De’Andre Mann rush it way more in the second half, he probably could have put up 200 yards easily. It also would have made Cozart look better than he did in the second half.
Mann finished with 121 yards on 15 carries (8.1 average). The biggest doubt on offense coming into this game was the running game because it was so unknown and Mann proved he is the man for the job.
Additionally, Corey Avery proved he can be effective, too. Avery had 91 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
Kansas lost Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox to season-ending injuries a couple weeks before the season started and both Mann and Avery let Weis and fans know that there’s nothing to worry about.
Nick Harwell had two touchdown receptions at the end of the first quarter. Kansas wide receivers combined for one touchdown reception in the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
For that alone, Harwell deserves a spot as co-player of the week.
Honorable Mentions: Montell Cozart and Tony Pierson
Defensive Player of the Game
Dexter McDonald matched his 2013 season interception total in the first game of the 2014 season. Against SEMO, McDonald had two interceptions for a total of 72-yards returned plus had two pass breakups.
The big news of the week was the departure of Kevin Short. Everyone was excited to see how Short would perform this year. Well, McDonald certainly eased the pain of losing Short by putting on an incredible performance.
Honorable Mentions: Ben Heeney (11 tackles) and Matthew Boateng (one interception)
Special Teams Player of the Week
This one is pretty easy. Trevor Pardula had four punts in the game, all four were inside the 20. Pardula had two punts of 50+ yards and he averaged 45.2 yards per punt.
Play of the Game
We gave Tony Pierson an honorable mention for player of the game. Pierson provided the play of the game with this 67-yard touchdown reception. Pierson had a fantastic spin-move to make a SEMO defender miss and then he was off. It was clear no one was going to catch up to him.