5 takeaways from Kansas football’s 31-28 loss on the road against TCU
Kansas football’s 2021 regular season continued Saturday with a 31-28 loss on the road in Big 12 Conference play against TCU.
Here are five takeaways from the Jayhawks (2-9, 1-7 in Big 12) defeat against the Horned Frogs (5-6, 3-5 in Big 12):
Jared Casey isn’t a one-catch wonder
With all the attention that redshirt freshman walk-on Jared Casey was getting after his catch against Texas, one may have forgotten there’s more to Casey’s role on the team than catching a two-point conversion in overtime. Considering junior tight end Mason Fairchild was out Saturday, Casey would need to be a key part of plays that’d have their respective significance in the contest. And Casey did not disappoint, giving Kansas fans more plays to talk about.
Casey made key blocks on the rushing touchdowns sophomore quarterback Jalon Daniels and freshman running back Devin Neal had in the first half. Casey had a one-handed grab early, and a 10-yard touchdown catch late.
Kansas provides a glimpse of what Jason Bean’s role could be moving forward
Redshirt junior quarterback Jason Bean had started Kansas’ first nine games this season, before suffering an injury during the loss against Kansas State. That injury against the Wildcats played a part in why Bean did not start last week against Texas. And then Daniels, who started against the Longhorns, shed his redshirt to start again in Bean’s place against TCU.
But this time, just because Bean didn’t start at quarterback didn’t mean he didn’t take a snap at all. Bean entered the game multiple times, and finished with a run for one yard and a reception for negative one yard. It brings up the possibility that, should Daniels be the starter in 2022 and Bean still be with the team, Bean will move to another position in order to still see consistent playing time.
Explosive plays create issues for Kansas’ defense
The Jayhawks benefited from multiple TCU turnovers in this game. There was the fumble on a punt return that was recovered by Kansas redshirt junior linebacker Nick Channel, and the interception in the end zone by freshman cornerback Jacobee Bryant. But while those plays limited opportunities to score by the Horned Frogs’ offense, TCU still enjoyed a lot of success and did so in large part thanks to explosive plays.
There were Horned Frogs passes of 48 and 49 yards. There were runs of 42, 43 and 56 yards, with the 43- and 56-yard carries going for touchdowns. Those big plays, as well as others, helped TCU amass 492 total yards on 65 plays for an average of 7.6 yards-per-play.
Most of the damage the Horned Frogs did came on the ground, as they averaged 6.7 yards-per-carry and rushed for 326 overall. Kendre Miller led the way in that regard for TCU with 112 yards and a score on 12 carries.
Kansas did see junior safety Kenny Logan Jr. collect 15 tackles and a couple tackles for loss, while super-senior defensive end Kyron Johnson, sophomore defensive lineman Jereme Robinson and super-senior linebacker Nate Betts each had a sack.
Kansas’ offense has success, just not enough
Daniels went 22-for-30 through the air for 255 yards and two touchdowns . The Jayhawks went for over 100 yards on the ground and finished with 124, averaging four yards per carry. Super-senior wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter II came up with multiple key catches and had 101 yards receiving on eight receptions.
Those efforts and more just weren’t enough, with sophomore wide receiver Luke Grimm catching the other touchdown pass.
It didn’t help that Neal suffered an injury in the first half, and that limited him. Neal finished with 59 yards rushing and a score on 14 carries, with one catch for 13 yards. It also didn’t help that Daniels threw an interception.
Kansas nearly ends more droughts
The Jayhawks’ win last week at Texas ended multiple droughts. A win Saturday at TCU could have done the same.
Beating the Horned Frogs would have given the Jayhawks back-to-back wins in Big 12 play in the same season for the first time since 2008, when they topped Iowa State and then Colorado. Beating the Horned Frogs would have given the Jayhawks back-to-back road wins in Big 12 play in the same season for the first time since 2007, when they topped Texas A&M and then Oklahoma State.
The momentum Kansas gained from its upset of Texas won’t fizzle due to this defeat. Jayhawks head coach Lance Leipold and company will just have to beat West Virginia next weekend if they’re going to match the program’s win total from 2019 after going winless in 2020.
A missed field goal for Kansas, in this loss against TCU, looms large.
Jordan Guskey covers University of Kansas Athletics at The Topeka Capital-Journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @JordanGuskey.