Before the season began, Kansas football coach Les Miles indicated the Jayhawks may resort to using more than one kicker on their field goal tries and extra points.
In a Week 1 victory over Indiana State, though, Miles and special teams coordinator Mike Ekeler went with junior Liam Jones exclusively, despite one missed field goal and one extra point gone awry.
After two full seasons of handling the team’s kickoffs, Jones attempted his first in-game field goal for KU only a few minutes into the season. Trying a 49-yarder from the left hash, Jones had the distance on the try but missed wide left.
A few minutes later, Jones, a 5-foot-10 junior from Choctaw, Okla., sent his first extra point try through the uprights, just as he did the two times in 2018 that he attempted a PAT.
Jones got another crack at a field goal past the midway point of the second quarter — again from the left hash. He connected from 36 yards for his first career field goal.
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However, early in the third quarter Jones’ extra point try following a James Sosinski touchdown reception flew left of the uprights.
Asked to assess Jones’ showing, Miles said it included strengths and weaknesses.
“He missed some, but you know, after the miss (on the 49-yard field goal), he made (from 36),” the coach said.
According to Miles, he asked Jones on the sideline about what went wrong, and the kicker correctly answered that he “overswang.”
“It's never the last kick that you made; it's always the next kick you're going to make,” Miles said. “I think he gets that.”
KU’s other kicker for those situations is Jacob Borcila, a true freshman from Westerville, Ohio.
Miles didn’t have as much to worry about on KU’s punts, thanks to preseason All-Big 12 specialist Kyle Thompson.
The 6-4 junior from El Cajon, Calif., averaged 49 yards on KU’s three punts. In the fourth quarter with the Jayhawks up 16-10, Thompson’s 46-yard punt forced the Sycamores to open their drive from their own 15-yard line.
“And it looked like that ball was dropped out of a plane,” Miles said. “I’m serious.”
KU’s coach said the particular punt looked like it somehow got higher after reaching its apex and its hang time was clocked at 4.9 seconds.
“Oh my gosh. I promise you,” Miles said, “I could not have caught that ball with a net.”