Keys to the game
Peyton Bender wasn’t perfect, but he still provided a reason for Kansas football fans to dream after showing a strong arm and accurate deep throws. His 364 passing yards and four touchdowns were the most by a KU quarterback in a game since 2009 (Todd Reesing).
The Jayhawks led only 14-7 with 1:03 left in the second quarter before striking on a three-play, 52-yard touchdown drive. The crucial execution came on a 32-yard reception, as Bender lofted an accurate back-shoulder throw and receiver Jeremiah Booker used his athleticism to snatch the ball over the top of a Southeast Missouri defensive back.
The grade here is only brought down by a pair of interceptions. The Jayhawks received big plays from receivers, had a strong effort from the offensive line and also flashed more explosiveness in the one-game sample. KU averaged 7 yards per play — the second-best mark in a game since coach Mark Mangino’s final season in 2009.
Defensive linemen Dorance Armstrong and Daniel Wise were nearly unblockable, which created issues for SEMO quarterback Jesse Hosket from the start. Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen also was solid in his return from injury, posting a team-best 15 tackles. KU allowed 3.4 yards per play — the lowest total surrendered by the Jayhawks’ defense since 2008.
KU’s punt return issues bled into a new season, as a Tyler Patrick fumble led directly to SEMO’s first touchdown. Cole Moos did fine with punts, while Gabriel Rui was perfect in knocking through five PATs and a 25-yard field goal.
Coach David Beaty was unhappy with penalties afterward, though the Jayhawks’ numbers there weren’t too bad (five for 49 yards). He also said KU missed out on a few opportunities offensively while letting up a bit effort-wise in the fourth quarter. That’s nitpicking, though; as a whole, KU’s yards-per-play numbers on both ends spoke to a team with a solid game plan and execution.