Mac Stevenson
Kansas football has come a long way since David Beaty became head coach in 2015. That doesn’t mean KU is where they want to be, but they’re moving forward. The Jayhawks are no longer a substandard team.
In the 38-16 season-opening win against Southeast Missouri State, there was much for Kansas fans to be pleased about and also areas of concern. Most encouraging was the play of QB Peyton Bender: he completed 23 of 37 passes for 364 yards and four TDs. But Bender also threw two interceptions.
Bender has one potential problem with his long passes; even though he hit some nice long balls, his throws were high and hanging. That might work against SEMO, but the Big 12 defensive backs will be all over high, drifting passes.
KU’s overall team speed is the biggest single upgrade in the football program and it’s particularly evident on the defensive unit. If the Jayhawks can avoid serious injuries to their key players, they will have a very competitive defense throughout the season.
A second major advancement is the offensive line; it’s not in the same class as the top 25 teams in the nation, but KU’s OL is slowly but surely coming together. And the depth is much improved.
KU will get their second win when they play Central Michigan this coming Saturday, September 9. The game will be televised by FSN with a 3:00 p.m. start. The Chippewas had to come from behind last Thursday to beat Rhode Island (30-27) in three OTs and KU will improve after their first-game win. And don’t forget the coaching staff; they have more confidence and that filters down to the players.
Kansas State crushed Central Arkansas 55-19 in their season opener. The Wildcats offense was led by the passing of Jesse Ertz who had the best game of his K-State career, completing 10 of 16 passes for 333 yards and 4 TDs. Ertz threw no interceptions.
Central Arkansas stacked their defense to stop K-State’s vaunted running attack, but Coach Bill Snyder quickly took advantage of that strategy by going to the air. After the game, Snyder said, “We want him [Ertz] to throw, whether it’s a deep ball or underneath ball . . . we went in with the idea to be balanced. It became obvious after awhile that we weren’t running the ball well and we had to throw it. You try to take what they give you.”
Kansas State’s defense didn’t play as well as the offense. The Wildcats gave up 421 yards of total offense to Central Arkansas, 223 rushing yards and 198 passing. In his postgame comments, K-State’s players thought and hoped Snyder was joking when he said, “We will practice tonight at midnight on playing the option, which we’ve yet to defend in the course of this ballgame. For somebody to be able to continually run the same play over and over and get positive yardage, that tells a bad story—that’s my concern.”
After a satisfying opening win, K-State plays Charlotte this Saturday (Sept. 9) at Snyder Family Stadium at 11:00 a.m. The game will be televised by FSN. Kansas State will win in their last easy game; Charlotte lost their opener (24-7) to Eastern Michigan. All is well in Wildcat land.
This Thursday night’s opening NFL game for the Kansas City Chiefs against the New England Patriots at Foxboro offers the Chiefs a great challenge, but also a great opportunity to get the season off to a terrific start.
New England has been consistently formidable under Coach Bill Belichick and iconic QB Tom Brady; this season will be no exception. And playing the Patriots on their home field in the season opener is about as tough as it gets.
Kansas City had an excellent training camp and the Chiefs are a veteran team that won’t rattle against New England. One of the main factors in the game will be the pass-catching performance of KC’s receivers—they were up and down in the exhibition games.
WR Tyreek Hill showed exceptional talent in 2016 and he’s being counted on as the Chiefs’ main deep threat. Nonetheless, he dropped three passes in the third preseason game and Hill will have to better against New England. TE Travis Kelce is a big-time receiver who will combine with Hill for a one-two receiving punch.
RB Spencer Ware suffered a preseason knee injury and he’s out for the time being. That puts the burden on rookie RB Kareem Hunt, who had an excellent preseason. Much depends on how he performs in his first NFL game.
If Kansas City loses (NE is a seven-point favorite), it won’t be catastrophic; however, if the Chiefs win they’ll be off to a sensational start.