The 2017 season was supposed to be the year, the year Kansas football put itself back on the map and in the Big 12 race. After a dismal start to the 2017 season, Kansas walked into Saturday’s game against Iowa State looking for hope. Unfortunately, Kansas would leave Ames with more questions than answers.
KU would start the game positive by sacking Kyle Kempt and forcing 4th down. However, everything went downhill for KU. On the punt, returner Steven Sims would fumble the ball. Then, on Kansas’ next drive, quarterback Peyton Bender would throw an interception on his very first pass of the game. Iowa State took the ball on Kansas’ eight-yard line and would quickly score two plays later.
Kansas would never find any momentum and would fall to Iowa State 45-0. Kansas would finish the game 2-17 on third down along with 11 3-and-outs. KU also had a mere five first downs. Kansas was never able to enter the red zone and only passed the 50-yard line once, which they would eventually turn the ball over on downs.
Kansas finished the game with only 106 total yards. Peyton Bender went 8-19 for only 18 yards. Second string quarterback Carter Stanley went 3-7 for 26 yards while rushing for 19 yards. Kansas’ leading receiver, Ryan Schadler, had only 3 receptions for 16 yards while star receiver Steven Sims had only 3 targets, which he would convert into 1 reception for 6 yards. Star running back Khalil Herbert was unable to play due to injury. Taylor Martin would take the starting position and he finished the game running 17 times for 53 yards.
Iowa State finished the game with 318 total yards while quarterback Kyle Kempt went 13-20 for 122 yards. Third string quarterback Zeb Nolan went 5-9 for 90 yards. Although running back David Montgomery had only 68 yards and averaged 3.2 yards-per-rush, he did have a career high 3 touchdowns. Second string running back Joel Lanning ran 8 times for 34 yards.
Even though Kansas was completely dominated throughout the game, there were some positive takeaways. In the preseason, Kansas’ defensive line was hyped up and once again, the defensive line stepped up with three sacks, nine tackles for a loss and an additional three quarterback hits. The defensive line also held Iowa State to a mere 2.5 average per run, however they did give up four touchdowns to running backs. One other positive takeaway was by the defensive backs as they held Iowa State’s passing game to a 60% completion rate with an additional five pass breakups.
Although it may seem Kansas’ defense was mutilated, the score does not show how well the defense played. On 5 of Iowa State’s scoring drives, they started within Kansas’ 50-yard line. On the other two scoring drives, Iowa State started on their 44 and 45-yard line.
The special teams also gave very little help as Punter Cole Moos could only average 38.1 yards on his 13 punts. Return man Steven Sims was also unable to help as he averaged 1.75 yards on his 4 returns.
Throughout the season, the offense has been Kansas’ bright spot. However, after Saturday, it seems the tables have turned as the defense has played better while the offense is only regressing. If Kansas can find a way to play well on both sides of the ball against TCU, they could have a chance to knock off the #6 team in the nation. Until Kansas can play consistent football, they will continue to be arguably the worst team in FBS.
Next week, the Jayhawks will travel to Fort Worth to battle the Horned Frogs at 7pm on Fox. Check back in with KJHK.org for a preview