Grades from KU Jayhawks’ 47-27 loss to Kansas State in Sunflower Showdown

Colin E Braley/AP

Here are our letter grades for all three Kansas units, plus our play of the game from Saturday night’s 47-27 loss to Kansas State in Manhattan.

Play of the game: Once again, the Jayhawks had a plethora of big plays, mostly on offense. However, there was a key play on defense that kept KU firmly in the game right before halftime.

Kansas State, up 30-21, had possession of the ball and a first-and-10 at the KU 29 with less than two minutes left before halftime. A touchdown would have kept the Wildcats firmly in command at halftime especially on a rainy evening.

KU defensive end Lonnie Phelps hit K-State quarterback Will Howard’s throwing arm and the ball popped loose. It was recovered by KU defensive lineman Caleb Sampson at the 32 with just 1:25 left before halftime.

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Thanks to that play, the Jayhawks, who were down by 16 points after one quarter, trailed by just nine points at the break.

A close second in the “play of the game” category was an amazing diving catch by KU tight end Jared Casey in which he completely extended to snag a Jalon Daniels TD pass on a first-and-goal from the 7 with KU down 37-21. It would have sliced the deficit to nine points with 14:15 left. However, the replay wiped out the remarkable catch, with the officials indicating the ball grazed the turf as Casey was pulling it in.

Also in the consolation category … Devin Neal scored on an 11-yard run to cut the deficit to 23-14 in the second quarter. And running back Torry Locklin had a sensational 12-yard run for a score to tie the game at 7 early.

Grades

Offense: C

KU, which rolled to 211 yards the first half and 21 points, totaled just 307 yards by game’s end. Jalon Daniels completed 20 of 32 passes for 168 yards with no passing TDs or interceptions. He looked as healthy as he has all season in rushing for 51 yards on eight carries, including a 1-yard run for a TD.

The Jayhawks’ running game accounted for 127 yards off 30 carries and TDs from Locklin (12 yards), Neal (11 yards and 3 yards) and Daniels (1 yard).

The fact KU only put up six points the final half is the reason for the average grade.

Defense: C-

KU’s defense was victimized for 270 yards in the first half while allowing 30 points. It was a bit misleading, however, as the Jayhawks gave up two points on a safety while the Wildcats needed to go just five yards for their first score following a muffed KU punt. The Wildcats finished with a healthy 443 yards.

K-State quarterback Will Howard completed 11 of 21 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns. Deuce Vaughn burned KU for 147 rushing yards on 25 carries and one TD. He caught two passes for 82 yards, with a long gain of 80 yards. Malik Knowles made his three runs for 38 yards count. He had two TDs.

The Wildcats finished with 230 rushing yards on 42 carries. They were 6 of 12 on third down.

Special teams: D

KU kicker Owen Piepergerdes, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound redshirt freshman out of Rockhurst High School, drilled three extra points in as many tries in the rain.

Punter Reis Vernon had five punts for a 38.0 average. His long punt was 41 yards. K-State punter Ty Zentner meanwhile had three punts for a 62.7 yard average.

A muffed punt by KU’s O.J. Burroughs led to seven early K-State points. Also Knowles had a 69-yard kick return after KU cut the gap to 10 points that led to a field goal.