Here are grades for all three Kansas units, a highlight from Saturday’s 35-23 loss to Oklahoma and a look ahead to Oklahoma State.
Play of the game
Power football: No play better encapsulated KU’s toughness Saturday than Devin Neal’s 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
— 247Sports (@247Sports) October 23, 2021
Oklahoma had all 11 players at the line of scrimmage, yet Neal was still able to plow in for the score on the critical fourth-and-1 thanks in part to excellent blocks from tight ends Mason Fairchild and Spencer Roe.
The TD helped give KU a 17-7 and was the moment when the upset seemed most possible.
Offense: A. Last week, it was reasonable to wonder if Jason Bean the long-term answer at quarterback for KU after he’d averaged just 86 passing yards in three Big 12 games. On Saturday, though? He was sensational. Bean had his completed 17 of 23 passes for 246 yards against a soft Oklahoma defense while also making many accurate throws on third downs. Neal seems to get better by the week — and always seems to fall forward for a couple extra yards — while the offensive line continued its season-long progression and the tight ends blocked much better than a week ago when they were a glaring weakness against Texas Tech. Receiver Kwamie Lassiter also went over 100 receiving yards for one of his best career days.
Defense: B-. This is a tough one to grade. On the one hand, KU’s defense shut Oklahoma out in the first half for the first time since 2014. The Jayhawks also played with noticeable physicality and created some havoc with three sacks, which included more exotic pressures for defensive end Kyron Johnson. Then again ... Oklahoma had the ball eight times and scored 35 points. The Sooners also went 5-for-5 on TD drives in the second half, which included three possessions where they needed four plays or fewer and barely burned any clock. KU was able to get to a couple of crucial fourth downs in the second half, which is a bit of progress compared to previous weeks. Either way, safety Kenny Logan played his heart out, and Johnson continues to flash on a weekly basis.
Special teams: D. Can’t really blame Jacob Borcila for missing a 57-yard field goal; it had the distance, which made the long field-goal decision seem at least somewhat reasonable. Not sure if punter Reis Vernon is playing through injury, but he hasn’t been himself in recent weeks. His only punt went for only 36 yards, and it had almost no hang time, which allowed for a 16-yard return. In a close game like Saturday’s, that was critical yardage that KU couldn’t afford to give up.
KU will play at Oklahoma State at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The game will be televised on FS1.