As far as starting a game goes, it couldn’t have gone any worse for Kansas football in the Jayhawks' 59-23 Senior Night loss to TCU on Saturday.
Kansas found itself down 24-6 at the end of the first quarter and could never climb back. Miscues throughout the quarter led to TCU taking an early lead, and the Horned Frogs rolled to a blowout win.
To open the game, TCU ran the ball seven straight times for 53 yards. However, Kansas was able to come up with a stop on third down to hold TCU to a field goal.
“[TCU] started out and had the idea that they were going to push the ball at us, and they did and handled the ball well,” Kansas coach Les Miles said after the game.
Kansas was forced to punt on its first possession after a three-and-out, and the punt traveled just 20 yards to set TCU up with great field position at the Kansas 45-yard line. Shortly after, TCU sophomore quarterback Max Duggan found junior tight end Pro Wells wide open in the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown.
On TCU’s next drive, Kansas once again failed to cover TCU’s receivers downfield. This time, Duggan’s 26-yard pass fell in the hands of junior tight end Carter Ware — who was also wide open — and the Horned Frogs extended their lead to 17-0 with six minutes left in the first quarter.
Following the TCU touchdown, Kansas freshman center Garrett Jones snapped the ball over freshman quarterback Jalon Daniels' head for a 24-yard loss to push the Jayhawks back to their own 1-yard line.
Two plays later, Kansas was forced to punt from its own end zone, and TCU junior wide receiver Derius Davis returned the punt all the way back for another touchdown to go up 24-0.
“The mistakes that were made are significant mistakes, without any question,” Miles said.
It was a long night defensively for the Jayhawks as well — especially for Kansas' run defense. TCU finished the game with 337 rushing yards, including four players with over 50 rushing yards. The Horned Frogs also averaged 7.91 yards per play and were 2-for-2 in the red zone.
Kansas also struggled against TCU's passing attack, giving up multiple wide open touchdowns. TCU finished with just 106 passing yards, mainly because they didn’t need to throw it often. At the end of the first half, Duggan was just 3-for-9, yet TCU had scored 38 points.
“It was just miscommunication between us on the field,” senior safety Ricky Thomas said. “That’s something we've got to work on. We are going to watch film and see how we can fix the problem.”
These three things are true in the first half:• TCU's QB is 3-for-9• TCU has not completed a pass to a WR or RB• TCU has 38 points— Jesse Newell (@jessenewell) November 29, 2020
One of the few bright spots for Kansas was the play of junior quarterback Miles Kendrick, who subbed in for Daniels on the last drive of the first half. On that drive, Kendrick went a perfect 4-for-4, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Luke Grimm.
Kendrick finished the game 11-for-18 for 166 passing yards and two touchdown passes. Still, Kendrick struggled with ball security, throwing a pick-six and fumbling in the fourth quarter, which resulted in another TCU touchdown.
Kansas freshman running back Amauri Pesek Hickson also impressed and ran for 108 yards. This was the most rushing yards from a Kansas running back in a game this season, as well as the first time a Kansas player has ran for over 100 yards this season.
“I like us,” Miles said. “We just need to play better. We just need to be more efficient, pretty simple.”
Next up for Kansas is a road matchup against Texas Tech on Saturday, Dec. 5. Kickoff time is still to be determined.