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Kansas football grades: Analysis from KU Jayhawks’ Game 1 win over Missouri State

The final score of KU’s 48-17 win over Missouri State on Friday at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium was deceiving.

The game was closer than necessary — KU went into halftime with a 17-10 lead but looked like a different team in the second half.

Kansas outscored Missouri State 31-7 in the second half to end up with a decisive win.

KU was without starting quarterback Jalon Daniels, who sat out due to back tightness. In his place, backup Jason Bean started.

The Jayhawks also were without defensive coordinator Brian Borland, who missed the game due to a medical procedure. In his place, Jordan Peterson, KU’s defensive backs coach and defensive pass game coordinator, took over DC duties.

Here are grades for all three KU units, plus the player of the game.

Kansas football grades

Offense: B+

KU’s offense started with a first-drive score, as Kansas running back Devin Neal had a 48-yard touchdown run with 11:11 left in the first quarter.

Then, KU went two straight drives without scoring, including a fumble by RB Daniel Hishaw, which led to a Missouri State touchdown.

Facing a 10-7 deficit, KU’s offense finally showed how good it can be.

Last season, the Jayhawks ranked top-10 nationally in multiple offensive metrics, so expectations are sky-high for this season, with 91% of the offensive production returning.

After trailing early, Bean stepped up and led Kansas on multiple scoring drives to put the game out of reach.

He went 22-of-28 passing for 276 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions — even if he nearly threw a couple of picks, including one late in the half.

Kansas’ offensive line created huge holes — leading to four of KU’s running backs (Neal, Hishaw, Sevion Morrison and senior transfer Dylan McDuffie) scoring a touchdown.

The Jayhawks’ line also allowed Bean plenty of time to throw and didn’t allow a sack. KU finished with 521 yards of offense on 66 plays and never punted.

Defense: B

KU’s defense was a bit of a mixed bag.

KU defensive lineman Jereme Robinson sacked Missouri State QB Jacob Clark on the first drive, so things started well.

But after that, KU struggled to get pressure. KU finished with just one sack and two QB hurries.

Clark looked comfortable most of the game, but when the Bears were down big, he forced two throws, leading to two interceptions.

KU’s secondary made the most of their opportunities and limited Clark to 143 passing yards despite Kansas’ D-line struggling to get pressure.

While the Jayhawks need to improve their pass rush, they did a commendable job containing the run. KU had only allowed one rushing yard in the first quarter and Missouri State finished with 74 yards on 27 rushing attempts.

Special teams: A

KU ranked No. 128 on special teams in ESPN’s SP+ last season. The Jayhawks certainly didn’t look like the 128th best special teams unit on Friday.

Kansas kick returner Trevor Wilson averaged 31 yards on his two returns, with a high of 34.

KU’s kicking game wasn’t too shabby either — as Texas State transfer Seth Keller was a perfect 2 for 2 on field goals, with a long of 35 yards. He also didn’t miss an extra point.

Last season, KU ranked dead-last in the Big 12 in field goal percentage (53.8%). A kicker like Keller, an 86% career kicker (over three years at Texas State), is a massive boon.

Player of the game: Jason Bean

When Kansas needed to put together drives to regain the lead and put the game out of reach, Bean answered the call.

He led Kansas on consecutive scoring drives and looked cool, calm and composed while doing It. It wasn’t a perfect outing for Bean, but he did a great job filling in for Daniels and was the biggest reason Kansas won.