Film Room: Breaking down key plays from KU’s loss to CMU
Throughout all of last season, the defense was the strength of the Kansas football team, usually by a large margin over the offense.
But when the offense scored two touchdowns at the beginning of the third quarter, giving the Jayhawks some life on their comeback bid, the defense gave up scores on CMU’s next three possessions.
As I introduced last week, this will be a weekly breakdown where we’ll take a look at a few plays that might not be included in the main highlights, but they had a big impact on the outcome of the game:
Shane Morris remains calm under pressure
The tide of momentum was starting to shift at the beginning of the third quarter Saturday, when the Jayhawks scored touchdowns on their first two possessions.
After watching their lead drop and a three-and-out punt to open the second half, the Chippewas needed a response. On 2nd-and-6 from their own 31-yard line, Central Michigan senior quarterback Shane Morris dropped back and immediately felt pressure from KU defensive tackle Isi Holani, who blew past sophomore offensive lineman Logan Slaughter.
Morris moved up in the pocket, slipping a potential sack from Holani, and kept his eyes downfield. With only a split-second to release the ball ahead of a charging Daniel Wise, Morris fired a pass toward his left and connected with senior receiver Corey Willis for a first down. Willis broke a tackle after his catch, pushing the ball all the way up to the 50-yard line.
If Holani or Wise complete the sack against Morris, the Chippewas are starting at 3rd-and-very-long deep into their own territory. If the Jayhawks force a punt, they have the ball with a chance to retake the lead.
Instead, Morris helps CMU finish the drive with a touchdown and the Jayhawks never were closer than 11 points for the remainder of the night.
CMU finds success on the same play
It was immediately noticed by Fox Sports Net’s broadcast crew of Brendan Burke and David Anderson, but the Chippewas scored two of their touchdowns in the second quarter on virtually the same play.
The play design was out of a four-receiver set. The inside slot receivers on both sides zag to the outside, while the outside receivers run to the inside, creating a twist. Many NFL teams use the play to set up picks, freeing a receiver if the referees don’t call offensive pass interference.
On the first touchdown, Morris finds Mark Chapman wide open for a 14-yard score once KU cornerback Derrick Neal is caught over the top of his coverage.
The second score was at the end of the first half, with only 11 seconds remaining at the 6-yard line. Neal takes a much quicker route to the ball, but he’s about one second late in trying to break up the pass to Willis, who reached out over the goal line.
“I don't think we did a very good job handling those twist routes down by the goal line,” Beaty said afterward. “Seems like they were making those throws fairly easy. We weren't jumping through those pick plays down there. Their credit, they didn't pick us. They played the way they were supposed to and executed. We didn't get coverage on it.”
Offensive line has trouble protecting Peyton Bender
During a Week 1 victory against Southeast Missouri State, Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender operated in a mostly-clean pocket throughout the game and it was a big reason why Bender had so much success through the air.
Against Central Michigan, Bender didn’t have the same level of protection and it showed in a couple of his wild throws. Bender was sacked twice and the Chippewas recorded three quarterback hurries.
When he threw his first interception, Bender was blitzed off of the left edge and hurried a pass over the middle that was easily picked off.
Two drives later, Bender looked over the middle and his first option wasn’t open. By the time Bender looked for his next option, he was brought down by a pair of CMU defenders from both sides of the offensive line.
Beaty said Bender didn’t help the offensive line by holding the ball too long in some situations, but on plays like the clip above, he wasn’t afforded much time at all to run either.