LAWRENCE (TNS) — Key player: D.J. Reed. The junior defensive back returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and intercepted a pass on the final play of the game. His score on special teams was one of the biggest plays of the game, and he continues to be one of K-State’s few dependable defenders in pass coverage.
Key moment: K-State linebacker Jayd Kirby forced and recovered a fumble on the opening play of the second half, setting the Wildcats up with excellent position. They scored three plays later and took a 17-6 lead.
Offense: B-. It’s hard to grade the offense, considering the Wildcats were down to their third-string quarterback for the entire second half, but they scraped together enough points to win. Using Alex Barnes out of the wildcat formation was a nice choice, and enabled them to control clock. The unit continues to have issues in the red zone, though. K-State crossed the 20 twice in the first half, but walked away without a single point, thanks to a Byron Pringle fumble and a turnover on downs.
Defense: F. Baker Mayfield throwing for 400-plus yards is one thing. Carter Stanley is another. That he piled up that much yardage while only completing 23 of 48 passes further shows how poor K-State has been in coverage of late. Defensive coordinator Tom Hayes would be wise to alter his schemes in future games and cut down on so much man.
Special Teams: A. D.J. Reed returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and Matthew McCrane was perfect on his three attempts.
Coaching: D+. It was surprising to see Kansas begin Saturday’s game with more energy and enthusiasm than K-State. Bill Snyder typically is usually the master motivator when it comes to the Sunflower Showdown. But the Wildcats allowed the Jayhawks to build confidence and make this a close game.