After a disappointing and humiliating loss to an FCS opponent, the Jayhawks rebound in dominating fashion on the road. Yup, you read that right: KU football dominated on the road.
For the second straight week, I get to start out by saying I was wrong. KU played the way a power-conference team should against a MAC opponent and controlled the game against Central Michigan. Joe Dineen was awesome, Pooka Williams provided a huge spark, and Kansas didn’t turn the ball over once. There is a lot to celebrate, but also some issues to keep track of moving forward. However, considering that KU ended the longest road losing streak in FBS history (46 straight true road games, and 49 straight losses away from Memorial Stadium).
Where to start? KU matched Central Michigan’s physicality from start to finish. Joe Dineen dominated this game. His pass coverage skills have vastly improved each season, and Dineen was able to show that off with his first career interception. When he wasn’t baiting Poljan into throwing him the football, he was racking up tackles. Dineen deserves the praise he got all Saturday afternoon, and it’s awesome to see four-year players like Dineen get a big win.
Outside of the obvious great play from Dineen, the secondary looked really good. CMU doesn’t have great receivers and Poljan isn’t the best passer, but KU locked down CMU’s passing attack. All offseason there was talk of more competition in KU’s secondary, and it paid dividends against the Chippewas. Newcomers Ricky Thomas and Jeremiah McCullough got interceptions. While there were a few moments of miscommunication, all in all, KU’s secondary looked vastly improved.
Finally, how about Pooka Williams? He was dynamic in the open field and gave the Jayhawks a dimension they sorely missed week 1. He finished with 14 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns in his first career game. His play alongside a stronger showing from the offensive line gave KU enough to move the ball effectively against CMU.
I’m going to keep this section short. KU did a lot of things right on Saturday, but quarterback Peyton Bender still seems to lack the pocket sense that will be needed when KU takes on Big 12 pass rushers. The offense was slow getting off the ground and the offensive line committed some penalties. Bender and the offensive line looked better than they did against Nicholls State, but they have a long way to go before facing off against Big 12 competition.
Look, let’s celebrate. Kansas did what it hasn’t done since early in Barack Obama’s first term: take care of business on the road. I don’t think this win saves David Beaty’s job, but it was good to see them rebound after a tough week 1 loss.
I can’t wait to see how the Jayhawks use Pooka Williams moving forward. The question now is how will the Jayhawks respond after a big win? They haven’t had to do that much under David Beaty, and I doubt Rutgers will let KU get away with a hangover performance next Saturday.