By RUSTIN DODD
The Kansas City Star
Key play: South Dakota took an early 7-0 lead when quarterback Josh Vander Maten connected on a 2-yard touchdown pass to Drew Potter, a Basehor native. The score gave South Dakota a 7-0 advantage with 2:18 left in the quarter.
Key stat: 65 passing yards. While Charlie Weis tried to open up the passing game, Jake Heaps was hurt by drops
Key play: Heaps’ first touchdown pass since Nov. 19, 2011 — when he was a sophomore at BYU — was a 5-yard strike to Justin McCay with 1:28 left in the first half. The touchdown gave KU a 14-7 lead, its first of the game.
Key stat: KU had four penalties for 41 yards, helping to stifle the offense.
Key play: Senior James Sims atoned for an earlier fumble by completing a long drive with a 6-yard touchdown run. It was his second of the night.
Key stat: 12 plays. The Jayhawks sustained their longest drive of the game, resulting in Sims’ TD.
Key play: Sophomore kicker Matt Wyman, a walk-on, drilled a 45-yard field goal in his first college game, pushing KU’s lead to 24-7. It was also the first field goal of Wyman’s entire career; he’s a converted soccer player who was 0-1 on field goals in high school.
Key stat: The KU defense held an opponent under 300 yards for the first time since Sept. 25, 2010, against New Mexico State.
Player of the game: Sophomore running back Darrian Miller. Sims is a workhorse, and showed why Saturday. But Miller, who got loose for 72 yards, added a legitimate spark. He looked like the shifty, star-in-the-making that he was during his freshman year at KU in 2011.
Reason to hope: Junior nose tackle Keon Stowers added a push inside and made a game-changing interception on defense, something that has been sorely lacking on the defensive front.
Reason to mope: On the whole, this victory looked awfully similar to last year’s season-opening win. The running game was solid, the passing game shaky, and KU had to work for four quarters. Last year, KU promptly lost its last 11.
Looking ahead: The Jayhawks go on the road to play Rice, which handed KU a loss in Lawrence last year.
| Rustin Dodd, email@example.com
|c||Offense||The rushing offense looked as good as anticipated, with Sims and Miller leading a balanced attack. Heaps made some impressive throws, but the receiving corps still needs to be more consistent.|
|B-||Defense||There were some defensive lapses, certainly, but the junior college newcomers showed some flashes. Middle linebacker Ben Heeney, who suffered from cramps, also looked like an improved playmaker.|
|A||Special teams||A definite bright spot. Kicker Matthew Wyman looks like an answer on field goals, and punter Trevor Pardula knocked one kickoff through the end zone. In addition, punt returner Connor Embree, a former walk-on, looked solid in the return game.|
|C||Coaching||It was far from a complete performance. But the hope is that Kansas, with its load of newcomers, will continue to make incremental improvements. And maybe, a little experience can go a long way.|