University of Kansas

Grades from KU’s 12-7 loss to Coastal Carolina and looking ahead to Boston College

Les Miles speaks after loss to Coastal Carolina

KU coach Les Miles spoke to the media, saying everybody involved with KU football was in 'pain' after a 12-7 loss to Coastal Carolina.
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KU coach Les Miles spoke to the media, saying everybody involved with KU football was in 'pain' after a 12-7 loss to Coastal Carolina.

Comparative scores can be misleading, but those Kansas fans thinking this might be the year to close the gap with in-state rival Kansas State couldn’t have seen a much worse scenario play out.

Consider this: Both KU and K-State have faced strikingly similar opponents in their first two games. KU opened with Indiana State (15th in FCS poll) and Coastal Carolina (116th in ESPN’s SP+ rankings), while K-State faced Nicholls (10th in FCS poll) and Bowling Green (115th in SP+).

Here are the results of the similar games:

And ...

Where these teams are now isn’t where they will be. And much can obviously change between today and the teams’ Nov. 2 matchup in Lawrence.

These early results should matter when it comes to our opinions of both squads, though. New K-State coach Chris Klieman undoubtedly inherited more talent when taking over the Wildcats this season ... but at this point, he also seems to be doing more with it.

In short: KU has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to be less than a two-touchdown underdog in its biggest rivalry game.

Here are grades for all three KU units, a highlight from Saturday’s loss to Coastal Carolina and a look ahead.

Play of the game

Early breakaway: One of KU’s only offensive highlights came on the first possession, as Khalil Herbert improvised, bouncing to the outside for a 41-yard touchdown run.

The Jayhawks would go scoreless after that on each of their final eight possessions.


Offense: F. Here were the issues: KU couldn’t throw, then coaches lost confidence in quarterback Carter Stanley, then the team continued to run the football into bad defensive looks while knowing Coastal Carolina was bringing unblocked defenders on blitzes.

The Jayhawks also had play-call communication issues for a second straight week, and too often, the offense has been inflexible, with Stanley not given the ability to check to a different call at the line when he sees a potential play isn’t going to work.

It’s a huge mess, and Les Miles’ insistence on running his old-school offense doesn’t appear to be doing KU any favors thus far. At this point, it’s probably too late for wholesale changes schematically, so the Jayhawks are in a rough spot with tougher opponents ahead.

Defense: B-: KU’s defense wasn’t as good as the score indicated. It was a low-possession game (Coastal Carolina had only eight non-end-of-half possessions), and the Chanticleers easily could have been in the 20s had kicker Massimo Biscardi not missed three chip shots.

KU didn’t force any turnovers, and for long stretches, it struggled to remain disciplined against Coastal Carolina’s spread option run game. This loss clearly was not on the defense ... but the unit could have done more to help too.

Special teams: D. Field goal kicking might just be an issue all season. Following a week when the Jayhawks almost lost because of a missed extra point, new kicker Jacob Borcila was wide left on a crucial 40-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half. The Jayhawks do have a good punter, though; Kyle Thompson boomed two more with a 49.5-yard average.

Next up

KU will play its first road game against Boston College at 6:30 p.m. Central on Friday at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

The Eagles are 2-0 following Saturday’s 45-13 home win over Richmond.

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Jesse Newell — he’s won an EPPY for best sports blog and previously has been named top beat writer in his circulation by AP’s Sports Editors — has covered KU sports since 2008. His interest in sports analytics comes from his math teacher father, who handed out rulers to Trick-or-Treaters each year.