The final score won’t reflect it, but Kansas was actually in this game. Towards the middle of the third quarter, the Jayhawks kicked a field goal to get within nine, as Texas Tech’s lead was cut to 28-19. On the Red Raiders’ ensuing drive, their star QB was knocked out of the contest with a shoulder injury. However, everything fell apart after that, and the Jayhawks dropped their Big 12 opener in Lubbock in blowout fashion.
After another slow start, KU was doomed before the first quarter even ended. The Jayhawks started to gain steam towards the end of the half, but ultimately, they ran out of time and never got things going again.
The Red Raiders of Texas Tech started with quite a convincing drive, highlighted by a 26-yard pass from Patrick Mahomes II to Dylan Cantrell to put Tech deep in KU territory. Mahomes then shoveled a throw to Jonathan Giles to complete the seemingly flawless opening drive. After KU’s first possession on offense, which lasted all of a minute-and-a-half, Texas Tech found themselves back in the end zone on another touchdown pass from Mahomes. 14-0, Red Raiders.
Kansas got its scoring started on the very first play of the second quarter. Eric Baughman fumbled and recovered the ball in the end zone for a safety, cutting the Red Raider lead to only 12 points. Following another touchdown pass by Mahomes, KU’s next drive cut the deficit to 12 again when Ryan Willis threw a beautiful pass to Chase Harrell. It was Kansas’ first touchdown of the night.
The quarterback situation is even murkier than it was at the start of the week. Willis took the bulk of the snaps, throwing 26 passes against 20 for Montell Cozart. However, for the second straight week, the two QBs combined for a yards-per-attempt of under 5.2, which is abysmal. Kansas’ offensive line is terrible, so Willis was harassed by constant pressure all night. Cozart did throw a touchdown, an 11-yard strike to Steven Sims Jr. in the third quarter, but he just doesn’t take shots down the field consistently enough for the offense to move the sticks enough.
Kansas made things interesting early in the third quarter, opening the half on a 10-0 spurt to get the lead down to 28-19. The Jayhawks did a fantastic job at keeping pace with the Texas Tech offense, matching them nearly stride-for-stride in the third quarter, but they then realized that playing decent football at another opponent’s venue wasn’t exactly their style.
Coming full-circle, the Jayhawks ended right where they started. They couldn’t get a first down if their lives depended on it, and it seemed like TTU’s offensive strategy was, “Pass the controller.” Throwing seemed to be a concept was too hard for Ryan Willis, as he overthrew his target nearly every play.
The one guy who deserves loads of credit for his performance tonight is Texas Tech’s backup QB, Nic Shimonek. After Patrick Mahomes left with an injury, Shimonek stepped up during the most important time of the game. He threw for four touchdowns and almost 300 yards, all while completing 14 of his 18 passing attempts. He quickly erased any momentum Kansas had picked up by leading touchdown drive after touchdown drive.
After a little glimmer of hope in the third quarter, Nic Shimonek came in, and treated KU like the city girl in the Sate Farm commercial that goes, “Ooooh, ya gotta be quicker than that!” Kansas had a good ten minutes and then completely went silent. By the time the gun went off, the Red Raiders had put together a 27-0 run to make the final score look like a laugher.
The offensive line is a gigantic problem-with a capital “g” and a capital “-igantic.” The quarterbacks handled the ball well, but neither had much of a chance inside of a pocket that was collapsing on almost every play. There’s less to blame on the quarterbacks, but their ability to escape pressure wasn’t anything to be desired. The fourth quarter was a complete disaster for almost everyone involved, but the atrocious play from Willis really kept KU from getting back into the game.
Hey, here’s a positive: after committing 11 turnovers in their first three games, the Jayhawks only had two on Thursday night! This was one of two key points of emphasis from David Beaty during the bye week. The other emphasis was the other positive from the game: hustle and intensity. Kansas got some great blocks and hits on the Red Raiders; they’re playing very hard for their coach, and it’s clear that they’re buying into what he’s selling.
It’s only a matter of time. Strides continue to be shown. But eventually, they need to knock the door down and win one of these conference road games, because it’s been a long time:
The Jayhawks lose, 55-19. They are 1-3. The lines are bad, and KU still hasn’t won a road game in the tenure of Barack Obama’s presidency.
— Rock Chalk Blog (@RockChalkBlog) September 30, 2016
- Willis: 14/26, 142 yards, 1 TD. Cozart: 9/20, 97 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.
- Kansas on the ground: 28 carries, 46 yards. That is 1.6 yards per rush.
- Tight end Ben Johnson was the team’s leading receiver, catching five balls for 86 yards. Steven Sims Jr. and Chase Harrell caught touchdown passes.
- The Kansas defense allowed eight passing touchdowns, four for both Patrick Mahomes and Nic Shimonkey. They combined to throw for 548 yards.
- Despite winning the time-of-possession battle by just five minutes, the Red Raiders out-gained Kansas 621-296, had 34 first downs to KU’s 17, and averaged nearly double (10.0 to 5.2) yards per pass. It’s just a gigantic gap in talent, at this point.
- Turnover watch: 13 in four games. That is bad.
- Up next for Kansas: next Saturday, October 8, vs. TCU at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is at 11:00 am on ESPNU.