University of Kansas

Central Michigan 45, KU 27: Key moments, players and grades

Central Michigan wide receiver Mark Chapman was chased by Kansas cornerback Derrick Neal and safety Mike Lee (right) as Chapman ran the ball 75 yards for a touchdown during the second half on Saturday in Lawrence.
Central Michigan wide receiver Mark Chapman was chased by Kansas cornerback Derrick Neal and safety Mike Lee (right) as Chapman ran the ball 75 yards for a touchdown during the second half on Saturday in Lawrence. The Associated Press

Keys to the game

Key player

Michigan graduate transfer quarterback Shane Morris completed 28 of 37 passes for 467 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. That was after going 25 for 49 for 226 yards in Week 1 against Rhode Island.

Key moment

Central Michigan could have gone conservative at the end of the first half with a 17-6 lead, but instead the Chippewas went 90 yards in 65 seconds, scoring on a 6-yard Corey Willis touchdown reception in the final seconds of the second quarter. That tally was especially important after KU scored the first two touchdowns after halftime … which still left the Jayhawks behind.

The Grades

Offense

D+

The offensive line allowed too much pressure. Quarterback Peyton Bender wasn’t good in the first half but settled down in the second half while helping the Jayhawks to three touchdown drives. It obviously didn’t help that top receiver Steven Sims wasn’t available most of the game because of an ankle injury, but still, you can bet offensive coordinator Doug Meacham won’t be happy with this effort.

Defense

F

Worst performance in recent memory for defensive coordinator Clint Bowen’s group. The Jayhawks’ secondary was torched over and over again. KU’s defensive line had no sacks. Central Michigan’s offense finished with 8.2 yards per play with no turnovers — an unacceptable effort for KU’s defense against a non-Power Five foe.

Special Teams

B+

Don’t blame KU’s special teams for the disappointing result. The Jayhawks recovered a Central Michigan fumble, while Ryan Schadler also added a 46-yard kickoff return early in the second half. KU’s only blemish came in the fourth quarter, as Gabriel Rui missed a 38-yard field goal wide right after having made his previous two attempts.

Kansas coach David Beaty discusses his team's 45-27 loss to Central Michigan on Sept. 9, 2017.

Coaching

F

KU won’t be favored in another game this year, so this will go down as a huge missed opportunity for a staff trying to show progress in Year 3. If KU had won against Central Michigan, it would have improved to 2-0 while building some excitement in the fan base. Instead? The Jayhawks have little time to rebuild momentum before supporters are likely to turn their full attention to basketball season.

Jesse Newell: 816-234-4759, @jessenewell

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