Kansas football grades: Analysis of KU Jayhawks’ tough loss vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas football team came close but couldn’t secure a victory on Saturday.

The Jayhawks (7-3, 4-3 Big 12) lost 16-13 to the Red Raiders (5-5, 4-3) at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Although KU football is ahead of schedule amid its best season since 2008, coach Lance Leipold discussed not skipping steps.

“This place has been starving for (success) for so long, I don’t know if we’ve gotten all the steps in line,” he said. “We want to talk about things that aren’t even possible yet. We want to make sure we’re A-B-C-D all the way through. We want to go A to D right away sometimes.”

Kansas will return to action next week at home against in-state rival K-State.

Here are grades for all three KU units against Texas Tech, plus our Kansas player of the game:

Kansas football offense: C-

KU’s offense has certainly had better days. Even before his head injury, Kansas starting QB Jason Bean had struggled. He completed just one of four passes Saturday for 13 yards.

The Jayhawks didn’t score until the fourth quarter. It’s the first time this season that KU was held scoreless in any half.

That said, third-string freshman QB Cole Ballard did an admirable job after playing ten snaps leading into the game. He wasn’t afraid to air out the ball or use his legs when needed and didn’t look like a freshman in big moments.

He completed nine of 20 pass attempts for 124 yards and one interception. His numbers would have looked even better if KU receivers didn’t drop multiple deep passes.

KU’s running backs didn’t get going until RB Devin Neal got loose for a 60-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

The biggest issue for Kansas’ offense? Play-calling in the red zone. According to Game on Paper, KU had a 29% success rate in the red zone.

The Jayhawks had multiple opportunities to score touchdowns in the red zone. They didn’t cash in their chances, costing them the game.

Kansas football defense: A-

KU’s defense did everything you could ask. The Jayhawks limited Texas Tech to 16 points (the Red Raiders averaged 25.7 coming in). Tech quarterback Behren Morton was 19 of 26 for 176 yards and one interception and KU’s defense sacked him three times.

The only blemish for KU’s defense? Texas Tech got into field goal range in 23 seconds, leading to the game-winning field goal.

Kansas special teams: B

For the most part, KU’s special teams did its job.

The only questionable choice? A squib-kick late in the game gave Texas Tech a bit better field position.

Kansas kicker Seth Keller went 2-for-2 on field goals and made all his PATs.

Meanwhile, punter Damon Greaves had a rough one: He averaged 33 yards on his four attempts.

Player of the Game: Devin Neal

Neal rushed for 137 yards on 19 carries, but his touchdown changed the game’s momentum.

If he hadn’t gotten KU’s offense going with that 60-yard TD run, the Jayhawks would have never had the chance to attempt a comeback.