On Saturday afternoon, the Kansas Jayhawks fell to 0-5 this season after a 66-7 loss to No. 3 Baylor. The Bears’ juggernaut offense piled up 644 total yards — while possessing the ball for just more than 24 minutes — and Baylor dominated in expected fashion. One day later, here are three thoughts on Kansas’ latest performance under first-year coach David Beaty:
1. It appears Kansas freshman quarterback Ryan Willis is going to get a chance to grow this season. First off, what can you really say about Saturday’s loss? The Jayhawks were expected to get trounced by one of the nation’s best teams, and that’s what happened. But if you squinted hard on Saturday, you could see a possible answer at quarterback. Willis, a Bishop Miege graduate, was 20 of 36 for 158 yards, one touchdown and one interception. His line was not pretty, but Willis is a young quarterback playing behind a shaky offensive line. His touchdown throw to Steven Sims was a thing of beauty. And he showed flashes of the arm strength and accuracy that made him one of the top-20 pro-style quarterbacks in the class of 2015.
Willis is going to learn some hard lessons this season. The Jayhawks have protection issues that won’t go away. The running game has disappeared in recent weeks. Pass-rushers from across the Big 12 will set Willis in their crosshairs. But with nothing to lose, the KU staff can afford to use this season as a test-run of sorts for a young and talented quarterback.
2. Kansas has been pretty good at limiting penalties. Not great. But solid. The Jayhawks committed just four penalties for 50 yards against Baylor, and with 27 penalties in five games, they now rank 22nd in the country in fewest penalties. At times, KU’s penalties have been costly, keeping drives alive and leading to points. So perhaps it’s seemed like KU hasn’t been too disciplined. But on the whole, the Jayhawks have followed David Beaty’s stated goal about being one of the smartest teams in the country, at least when it comes to penalties. In the short term, limiting penalties is not really going to help KU close the talent gap and win games. But for the long term, it could be a good sign.
3. OK, the projections are not getting any better. The last few weeks, we’ve relayed the projections from ESPN’s Football Power Index, which uses advanced metrics to predict each college football game. After Saturday’s loss, Kansas now ranks 112th out of 128 FBS teams in the rankings.
According to the numbers, the Jayhawks’ best chance for a victory will come at K-State on Nov. 28, and FPI’s system only gives KU a 4.0 percent in that game. Here are the rest of the projections:
Texas Tech, Oct. 17: 3.5 percent
at Oklahoma State, Oct. 24: 1.2 percent
Oklahoma, Oct. 31: 1.6 percent
at Texas, Nov. 7: 3.5 percent
at TCU, Nov. 14: 0.5 percent
West Virginia, Nov. 21: 3.1 percent
Kansas State, Nov. 28: 4.0 percent