The Jayhawks came into Memphis as 21 point underdogs to the Tigers, and this game showed why. Memphis initiated the onslaught early by executing an 84 yard touchdown pass from Riley Ferguson to Anthony Miller. Things only went downhill from there.
Once again, the key struggle for the Jayhawks was the offense. Junior quarterback Montell Cozart just could not get into a rhythm at any point of the game, finishing 13-22 for 87 yards and 2 interceptions. Sophomore quarterback Ryan Willis and even freshman quarterback Carter Stanley got some playing time, as the two went 9-13 for 80 yards and 4-6 for 26 yards respectively.
The running game was the lone offensive bright spot for the Jayhawks as they rushed for 121 yards on 31 carries as a team. While not great, it was a vast improvement over last week’s abysmal performance of 26 yards on 15 carries. Freshman running back Khalil Herbert led the way with 74 yards on the ground, though most came on a 66 yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Junior back Ke’aun Kinner rebounded to have a decent day on the ground, rushing 12 times for 49 yards.
Overall, it was turnovers that doomed the Jayhawks, as they fumbled the ball 4 times and had 2 interceptions for a total of 6 turnovers compared to 0 for the Tigers.
The defense once again had some issues but overall looked quite solid against Memphis. For the third straight game, the Jayhawks were able to contain the opposition’s passing attack as Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson went 15-24 for 189 yards and 2 touchdown passes. Sadly, the rush defense was once again the sore spot for KU. After giving up 329 yards on 57 carries to Ohio last week, KU gave up 205 yards on 47 carries and 2 touchdowns to the Memphis Tigers.
The Jayhawks do appear to be showing some slow signs of improvement, mainly on the defensive side of the ball, but took a step back on offense today. Fortunately, KU has a bye week upcoming and will look to iron out a few of these issues.
The Jayhawks kick off conference play in their next matchup on a Thursday night, September 29th, at 7:30 p.m. in Lubbock against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.