With a loss to Central Michigan, Kansas football looks to have more of the same in store for 2017.
Week two always seems to be extra important for KU football, especially when the Jayhawks open the season with a win. Last year it was a Rhode Island tromping, this season it was a meaningful win against Southeast Missouri State. That second game becomes so important because it becomes a gauge to fans that tells you if this year’s team is going to string together a few more W’s than they did in the last disappointing season. The Jayhawks were trounced on their home turf to Central Michigan leaving KU fans puzzled, wondering if this program has made any turnaround at all.
Things started off exactly as planned. Kansas forced Central Michigan to punt on its first two possessions, and held the Chippewas off the scoreboard the duration of the first quarter. The Jayhawks were fairly successful on the offensive end, tacking on a field goal that would become the only score of the first quarter.
As we would come to find out, the second quarter would be way different. Another KU field goal would be on tap, but score after score would ensue from the Chippewa offense, and it would suddenly put the Jayhawks 18 points in the hole. Peyton Bender was throwing it to the defense, and the KU defense was letting anything get past them.
Kansas wouldn’t let the second quarter define the outcome. Peyton Bender was cool and collected, and that would show when Kansas put the ball in the end zone from a Ryan Schadler 33-yard rush. Dom Williams would do the same thing on the Jayhawks next possession, this time from one yard out. Peyton Bender was making something good happen after something bad happened. He showed up in week one against SEMO, throwing four TD passes, the first KU quarterback to do so since Todd Reesing. After throwing two interceptions in the first half, Bender was finally looking like a Division-I quarterback, connecting with his teammates down the field, and getting the Jayhawks within striking distance of CMU.
Kansas would never regain the lead. Shane Morris was just too explosive. The Central Michigan senior quarterback showed poise, and precision when his team had their back to the wall after Kansas’ back-to-back touchdowns. He’d waste no time connecting to his targets, and just minutes after Dom Williams’ score, CMU found a touchdown of their own. The Jayhawks would go on to score another touchdown, but it wouldn’t matter. A stinging 45-27 loss was exactly what the Jayhawks couldn’t do – take a step backward.
It’s not easy to watch Kansas football. That’s not to say they are terrible all the time, or to suggest the team just isn’t good. It’s the consistency that is the issue. Kansas can play like the worst team in the country, but they can play well too, making you wonder if the program rebuilding is actually making progress. Successful football teams find a happy medium. Things might not always go well, but a team that can win football games should be able to hold their ground, not fall off of a cliff. David Beaty’s squad might not be the best in the conference, or let alone good, but they should still be able to stay consistent throughout the game. Two years ago, Kansas football was a trainwreck. Last season, it was still a trainwreck, but less severe. What can David Beaty do to avoid making this season another disaster?