Jayhawks hope to duplicate strong offensive showing in Week 2
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Everything that Kansas coach David Beaty envisioned when he landed junior college transfer Peyton Bender and plucked offensive coordinator Doug Meacham from TCU manifested itself in the first quarter of the Jayhawks’ season-opening rout of Southeast Missouri State.
There was the 77-yard touchdown pass to Steven Sims Jr. that set the tone in the opening minutes, then the short touchdown pass to Chase Harrell that proved the first score was no fluke.
Bender proceeded to throw two more touchdown passes and finished with 364 yards through the air in the kind of performance not seen at Kansas since Todd Reesing was running the show.
“Coach Meacham did a great job with the game plan, getting everybody involved. I just went through my reads, and went through my progressions,” said Bender, who won a tight race with Carter Stanley for the starting job in fall camp. “You know, that’s how the offense is supposed to work.”
It just hasn’t worked that way in quite a while.
The Jayhawks, who hope to duplicate the effort against Central Michigan on Saturday, have struggled the past couple of years to fully implement Beaty’s “Air Raid” offense. But with Meacham barking at guys on the sideline, the Jayhawks finally showed some offensive explosiveness in a 38-16 victory.
“I mean, worth every penny,” Beaty said of his new assistant. “The guy’s really good. He’s really good. I was talking to some people about that, just watching his poise on game day and how he manages.”
Bender and Meacham could have their work cut out for them this Saturday. The Chippewas picked off six passes — and needed every one of them — in a season-opening, triple-overtime victory over Rhode Island. Justin Cox and Amari Coleman each had two picks.
“All around I thought our defense played amazing, they did really well with (the offense) not getting into the end zone as many times as we wanted to,” Central Michigan quarterback Shane Morris said. “They did a great job. Six picks. Unbelievable. I’ve never been part of a game like that.”
As the Jayhawks and Chippewas meet Saturday, here are some things to watch:
GROUND GAME, PART I: Central Michigan’s Jonathan Ward ran for 147 yards and a touchdown, and Devon Spaulding added 70 yards on 20 carries and the winning score in the final overtime. But the 246 yards on the ground by Central Michigan were offset by four fumbles, three of which were lost.
GROUND GAME, PART II: Kansas managed only 73 yards rushing against the Redhawks, despite trying out five different running backs.
“You know, we’re going to need them all,” Beaty said. “We’re pretty blessed right now, if we can keep them healthy and keep them upright, that we’ve got some talented guys.”
MULTIPLE PASSERS: Morris, a graduate transfer from Michigan, gave way to Central Michigan freshman Tony Poljan for a couple series. Chippewas coach John Bonamego said that was by design.
“The plan was to use Tony more,” Bonamego said. “I thought Tony did a decent job when he was in there.”
NOT ANOTHER JOE: After missing most of last season with an injury, Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. returned to pile up 15 tackles last weekend. That earned him the Big 12’s defensive player of the week award.
“I’m sure it means a lot to him,” fellow linebacker Keith Loneker Jr. said. “He’s the type of guy that doesn’t think about that type of stuff. He just expects it. That’s what I love about Joe.”
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: Kansas allowed 264 yards to Southeast Missouri State last week, or 3.4 per play. That’s the lowest average for a Jayhawks defense since the 2010 opener against North Dakota State.
“I thought our defense was on the field way too much last week. And the good thing is, as we look at it, almost every bit of it was self-imposed,” Beaty said. “It wasn’t like we were necessarily just overmatched. There wasn’t much we could do. It was pretty much all of us, right?”