Kansas got the job done. They saw a struggling opponent and took advantage to secure David Beaty’s second Big 12 win.
Sometimes, you need things to bounce your way to win a football game. Sometimes, you need a defensive back to stand right in the line of sight of a review angle that could’ve called back a touchdown, or a player to fumble the ball after running into his own lineman, or for a freshman to not know a certain kickoff rule. In years past, those breaks go the other way for KU. On Saturday, the Jayhawks got them to fall right. That’s not to take away from a good team performance, but in a sport where the ball has pointy edges, sometimes you need fluky things to happen.
Credit to the players, though. They fought hard to earn their first Big 12 win in two years.
I’ll pony up to it: I was very critical of Peyton Bender after last Saturday’s performance against Texas Tech. He bounced back nicely against the Horned Frogs. Bender did not blow anyone away, but his accuracy issues seemed to have tightened up. His posted a YPA of 8.59, which was more than two yards higher than his season average per pass. Peyton scrambled for a crucial 1st down late in the game. He showed mobility on multiple throws including the touchdown pass to Pooka Williams.
Speaking of Pooka, he continues to be the most dynamic freshman in college football not named Rondale Moore. His long go-ahead touchdown reception in the fourth quarter showcased all of his unique abilities: elusiveness, vision, and acceleration. Jeremiah Booker and Stephen Robinson deserve shout-outs as well. Both of them made fantastic catches down the sideline in timely situations. All around a good performance from an offense I questioned earlier in the week.
On defense, what more can be said about Joe Dineen? This dude is all-KU, all-the-time. If you haven’t voted for him for the Senior Class Award, go ahead and do so. Keith Loneker is another guy who deserves a shout-out. He has been criticized for his ability to cover backers in space. On Saturday, he intercepted Michael Collins and set KU up for a score in the red zone. The defense did enough and held strong at the end to give KU the win.
It’s hard to dwell too much in this area. KU still gave up over 500 yards of offense to a team playing without their starting quarterback and best playmaker. They gave up over seven yards per play and looked leaky around the edges. In the Big 12 though, holding an opponent to 26 points (and two came from the safety) will typically get the job done.
This was a nice win. The players fought hard, Beaty called an efficient game plan, and the team got a couple of great breaks. Reality is, though, there is still a lot of work to do. KU still only has one commit in the 2019 class. The brutal stretch of their schedule still looms. I still don’t see a path for Beaty to retain his position. If Athletic Director Jeff Long were to keep Beaty, he should announce it now so the black cloud following him in recruiting can be lifted. For now, let’s not loom on the darkness and focus on that winning feeling.