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BYU/ University of Kansas Recap: BYU Sees Red After a Tough Second Half

Updated: Sep 28, 2023





The University of Kansas Jayhawks were the first opponent the BYU Cougars would face in their Big 12 Conference debut. In years past, this would have been seen as perhaps the easiest conference opener the Cougars could have possibly had. However, this Jayhawk squad is different from the years of Turner Gill, Charlie Weis, David Beaty, and Les Miles, these are Lance Leipold's Jayhawks. After turning their best season in over a decade last year, the Jayhawks are out to prove they are here to stay, and getting a win over arguably the most prestigious new addition to the conference would open plenty of eyes. Doing it in front of a sold-out crowd in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium would make it that much sweeter. Let's break down how Saturday's matchup went.



Game Summary:

The game started with the Jayhawks immediately taking a 14-7 lead over BYU. Kansas star cornerback Cobee Bryant delivered arguably the biggest hit of the college football season so far and scooped and scored for the first touchdown, sending the crowd into a frenzy. It wouldn't take BYU too long to answer though as quarterback Kedon Slovis found receiver Darius Lassiter, son of former Jayhawk great Kwamie Lassiter and brother of current Jayhawk cornerback Kwinton Lassiter, in the right corner of the endzone capping off a methodical 11 play, 75-yard drive. The Jayhawks would answer though as quarterback Jalon Daniels found tight end Trevor Kardell in the back of the endzone for a 15-yard score. BYU then scored 10 unanswered points to end the half, once again surgically dismantling the Kansas defense by forcing penalties and matriculating the ball down the field. Running back LJ Martin would take a short screen and score from 10 yards out tying the game, the Jayhawks and Cougars would exchange punts on the ensuing drives, and then BYU would cap off yet another double-digit play drive with a 33-yard field goal to end the half. The Cougars would take a 17-14 lead into the half. This would be the last lead BYU would have though, as the Jayhawks sprung to life right out of the gate in the second half.


On the 3rd play of the opening drive of the 3rd quarter, safety Kenny Logan, Jr. would pick off Kedon Slovis and return it 30 yards for the touchdown. The Jayhawks wouldn't look back, allowing just 10 more points from the BYU offense that was surgically whittling down this Jayhawk defense in the first half. The Jayhawks would proceed to score 17 points after this pick-six, with Jalon Daniels finding his favorite receiver Luke Grimm for 2 touchdowns and putting a field goal through after a whopping 6 minute, 30-second drive midway through the 4th quarter that took 12 plays, giving BYU a taste of their own medicine and officially putting them away. The Jayhawks showed poise, perseverance, and grit throughout this game and were able to survive BYU's balanced, systematic attack by giving it right back to them. If it weren't for undisciplined play in the first half and giving up a big play or two, this game would be a lot less close. The Jayhawks dominated the second half and set the tone at the beginning of each half of this game, giving the Cougars a warm welcome to the Big 12 by playing physical, aggressive football that seemingly caught the Cougars off guard. Plays were made when they needed to be in the face of adversity, and the Jayhawks are 4-0 back-to-back years for the first time in 110 years.


Turning Point of the GAme:

As discussed before, the opening drive of the 3rd quarter set the tone for the rest of the game. The Jayhawks were reeling after a frustrating first half that should have been much less close. The Jayhawks should have had the lead and were dominating for most of the game to that point, but a few miscues in the penalty department as well as giving up a couple of big plays set the Jayhawks back 3 to start the second half. Confidence and energy were shaky, some fans already had given up and had left the stadium after half even, but one play turned it completely around for the Jayhawks. On the 3rd play of the second half, Kedon Slovis tried to find his favorite target, tight end Isaac Rex, only to have the ball tipped up into the air by cornerback Kalon Gervin, falling right into the hands of senior safety Kenny Logan, Jr., who proceeded to run it back 30 yards for the touchdown. This play completely revitalized the entire home team and crowd, providing a motivation wave that Kansas would coast all the way to a win. The Jayhawks proceeded to put their foot on the gas, play smart and still aggressive football, and allowed the Jayhawks to put the Cougars to bed by giving them a taste of their own medicine in long, grinding drives. A huge play from a huge player, the Jayhawks needed to have a momentum shift, and they got it from one of their best in Kenny Logan, Jr.




University of Kansas MVP: Jalon Daniels

In what proved to be a tough choice given the performances of players like Devin Neal, Cobee Bryant, Austin Booker, and Kenny Logan, Jr., Jalon Daniels walks away with game MVP honors. Daniels was accurate, and methodical, and proved his leadership as quarterback this game, going 14/19 for 130 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air, as well as having 9 carries for 54 yards on the ground. Kansas dominated the ground game this matchup with 221 total rushing among 4 players, Jalon Daniels playing his part of dual-threat quarterback gaining 54. The story of why Jalon was picked here though is mainly through the patience and poise he observed throughout this game. Daniels didn't have the ball for relatively all that long throughout the game, but made the most of his opportunities and showed that he is the offensive field general on this team, picking apart the BYU defense and taking advantage of BYU's reliance on their front four play by running fakes and quick plays. This is something Jalon has struggled with in the past, but seemed cured of his ailments regarding his decision-making in this game. Overall, Jalon Daniels executed to borderline perfection Saturday and showed why he should be considered not only Big 12 offensive player of the year, but in the race for every watch list he's a part of.


BYU MVP: Kedon Slovis

While a bit cliche to pick the two quarterbacks as MVPs of this game, Kedon Slovis had a spectacular first half and overall, put up the best overall numbers despite his two interceptions. Slovis went 30/51 for 357 yards and 2 touchdowns, signifying BYU's reliance on the passing game in this matchup. If they were able to get their run game going, Slovis's job would have been a bit easier, but he still performed quite well in the situations he was put in. In the end, it's not his fault that Kansas controlled the line of scrimmage, was stingy on defense, brought the heat, and completely took running back LJ Martin out of the game for him. 357 yards through the air is still very impressive and he showed a lot of promise this game. If BYU can improve their run game and can win at the line offensively, games like these go very differently. Slovis can take this team to great heights so long as he gets help, the game against Arkansas showed what they can do when they are at their best. Not a bad game from the former USC quarterback, expect wins from him in the near future if BYU can figure it out and get back on track.


Conclusion:

Kansas showed out in front of a sold-out home crowd. They made plays when it mattered, allowed just 9 rushing yards, showed poised and strategic play coupled with aggression and physicality, and overall gave BYU a warm welcome to this new look Big 12. They move to 4-0 on the season and will be facing a tough test when they travel to Austin to face #4 Texas. Listed as 17.5-point underdogs as of now, the Jayhawks will go in with a chip on their shoulder and looking to build off this win, vying for yet another underdog victory over the Longhorns. They cannot come out flat like they did the first half against the Cougars, will have to clean up the penalties and play a defense that won't allow any room for error, but if they come out next week and win, the Jayhawks can realistically start looking at tickets to Arlington, Texas and could be looking at a historic season not seen by Kansas football since 2007.





BYU will move to 3-1 after a disappointing loss, but not one to hang their heads for in shame. The Cougars still played a tough game and gave one of the Big 12's best this year so far a run for their money, this is a loss they can recover from easily. The Cougars will face fellow Big 12 newcomers Cincinnati back in Provo and will look to give the home crowd a solid performance. Given how they performed against dark horse SEC contenders Arkansas, this BYU team can absolutely finish bowl eligible when all is said and done in their debut year in the Big 12. The road to recovery starts off with an easily winnable game and a game they can make another statement with, just clean up the mistakes, build cohesion, and allow themselves to play balanced, and the Cougars will be sitting pretty for bowl contention.

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