‘We’re just not there yet’: KU football ravaged by visiting Central Michigan, 45-27

Chippewa quarterback Shane Morris shreds Jayhawk defense in five-touchdown effort

LAWRENCE — Jonathon Warriner may have been the loneliest man left inside Memorial Stadium.

 

Warriner, a Kansas student, sat slouched with his arms hanging over the first-row guardrail near the stadium’s south end zone, soaking in the aftermath of the Jayhawks’ alarming 45-27 defeat Saturday to Central Michigan.

Seated about 10 feet away from the nearest Chippewa fan among the dozens dotting the CMU section, Warriner watched as the visitors mobbed one another on their sideline, leading the few traveling faithful in raucous chants.

Still hanging over the guardrail, though, was a sign Warriner displayed from kickoff to final whistle, with three words he still carries true even after the Jayhawks’ latest gut-punching disappointment:

“Trust the process,” the sign reads.

He elaborated.

“Trust the process means we’re going to see the David Beaty era through,” Warriner said, “and hopefully, we become good again.”

That goal must wait at least one more weekend.

Saturday’s defeat was the same old story for a Jayhawk squad supposedly on an uptick, run out of their own home stadium in the second game in Year 3 of the Beaty era. KU, three-point favorites in the affair, stumbled and staggered through nearly all facets of its clash with the Chippewas.

“You don’t live on perception. You live on reality,” Beaty said following the defeat. “And we’re just not there yet.”

CMU quarterback Shane Morris eviscerated the KU defense, completing 28 of 37 passes for 467 yards and five touchdowns. Playing the role of stationary to Morris and the Chippewa offense’s paper shredder, the KU defense surrendered its most passing yards in a game since 2010.

Beaty said he thought Morris played “really well,” but added “we made it awfully easy on him at times,” particularly the KU secondary, which blew several assignments that left Chippewa receivers wide open.

“They did a nice job, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of the things that were problems were self-inflicted,” Beaty said. “You’ve got guys in the wrong spot, and hey, the ball always finds that. When you have two guys in the gap and one gap is exposed, the ball will find it, and it found it — a lot.”

Morris’ KU counterpart, junior quarterback Peyton Bender, battled inaccuracy, inconsistency and, though he was surely unaware, social media angst from a fan base believing last week’s performance signaled a step forward at signal-caller and elsewhere.

Bender completed 32 of 62 pass attempts for 323 yards and two interceptions.

“Inconsistency and accuracy,” Beaty said of Bender’s biggest issues. “There were times when he made some really good throws. I thought our guys made some great catches at times. I mean, it was a little tough. They got pressure on him, but a lot of times it was late. It wasn’t early. He wasn’t getting hit early. He was holding it, holding it, and we’ve just got to do a better job of knowing they’re dropping eight, there’s nobody on you, so take off running and get five yards like Shane Morris did a couple times today.”

Trailing by 18 at the break, the Jayhawks (1-1) rallied to cut the deficit to four with two quick third-quarter touchdowns — 33- and 1-yard rushes by Ryan Schadler and Dom Williams, respectively. But Morris and the Chippewas (2-0) responded with a pair of long touchdown drives, with the two series combining to take 18 plays and nearly eight minutes off the clock.

The second touchdown again made it a three-score game with 13:29 to play, which proved to be an insurmountable margin even for first-year offensive coordinator Doug Meacham’s up-tempo offense.

Beaty said he was most disappointed by the Jayhawk defense’s inability to get off the field when the margin was cut to four.

“That, that was probably as big a back-breaker as anything,” Beaty said. “And then we weren’t able to go answer the bell offensively and get it back to four. We just didn’t play good collectively today, but there is a lot of football left and we’ll be ready to go next week. We’ll be ready to go. Not a very good game by us today.”

Williams’ 2-yard touchdown run with just over 10 minutes left gave the Jayhawks hope, but on the first play of CMU’s ensuing drive, Morris found wideout Mark Chapman for the latter’s third touchdown of the game, a 75-yard catch-and-run up the KU sideline.

Gabriel Rui missed a 37-yard field goal with 6:58 to play, slamming the door on any hopes of an improbable KU rally.

“I still like our team,” Beaty said. “Unfortunately, you’ve got to learn lessons when you win and lose, and we learned a tough one today.”

The Jayhawks hobbled into the half trailing 24-6 after a ghastly second quarter.

The Chippewas scored 24 in the period, outgaining the Jayhawks 244-86 while notching 10 first downs in the lopsided frame. Morris connected on touchdown strikes to Chapman, Logan Hessbrook and Corey Willis, the last a 6-yard completion with six seconds left in the half.

Bender was playing without his biggest weapon on offense in junior wide receiver Steven Sims, who was slowed by an ankle injury this week and shut down after playing sparingly in the opening half.

“Steven went out there for a few plays and he just couldn’t do it,” Beaty said. “I’ll take my hat off to Steven. He’s a tough sucker. He just couldn’t go. He went out there and returned a punt for us and played a few plays and it just wasn’t fair to put him out there.”

Daniel Wise, the Jayhawks’ star defensive tackle, said he wouldn’t classify Saturday’s defeat as a surprise nor a shock. “They just came out more prepared than we did today,” he said.

Asked for his message to KU fans like Warriner, Wise advised patience.

“Don’t be down,” Wise said. “We’re still headed in the right direction. We just hit a speed bump.”

The Jayhawks likely won’t have to worry about losing die-hards like Warriner. But after an offseason with arguably more buzz than any in several years, one might wonder if KU has already lost the casual fans — fans like Warriner’s friends, who attended Saturday’s game but bailed during the dire second quarter.

Warriner is only a sophomore, but he’s learned not to fight his buddies’ early exits.

“At this point,” Warriner said, “you just have to accept it.”

Cent. Michigan … 0 … 24 … 7 … 14 …— … 45

Kansas … 3 … 3 … 14 … 7 … — … 27

First Quarter

KAN — FG Rui 23, 1:29

Second Quarter

CMC — FG M.Armstrong 27, 13:00

CMC — Chapman 14 pass from S.Morris (M.Armstrong kick), 10:57

KAN — FG Rui 33, 4:35

CMC — Hessbrook 40 pass from S.Morris (M.Armstrong kick), 2:59

CMC — Willis 6 pass from S.Morris (M.Armstrong kick), :06

Third Quarter

KAN — Schadler 33 run (Rui kick), 13:54

KAN — D.Williams 1 run (Rui kick), 8:50

CMC — Spalding 1 run (M.Armstrong kick), 5:48

Fourth Quarter

CMC — Chapman 7 pass from S.Morris (M.Armstrong kick), 13:29

KAN — D.Williams 2 run (Rui kick), 10:02

CMC — Chapman 75 pass from S.Morris (M.Armstrong kick), 9:50

A — 28,531.

GAME IN FIGURES

… CMC … KAN

First downs … 26 … 29

Rushes-yards … 35-123 … 34-147

Passing … 467 … 323

Comp-Att-Int … 28-37-0 … 32-62-2

Return Yards … 69 … 72

Punts-Avg. … 5-45.0 … 4-39.0

Fumbles-Lost … 1-1 … 0-0

Penalties-Yards … 9-80 … 9-65

Time of Possession … 30:45 … 29:15

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Cent. Michigan, Ward 11-59, S.Morris 8-32, Gwilly 6-13, Ross 3-11, Spalding 7-8. Kansas, D.Williams 18-64, D.Thompson 10-48, Schadler 1-33, Hampton 1-13, Herbert 2-6, Bender 2-(minus 17).

PASSING — Cent. Michigan, S.Morris 28-37-0-467. Kansas, Bender 32-62-2-323.

RECEIVING — Cent. Michigan, Chapman 8-168, Willis 8-140, Hessbrook 4-61, Ward 3-35, Cooper 2-26, C.Cole 2-15, Childress 1-22. Kansas, B.Johnson 7-57, Hampton 6-67, Schadler 6-60, D.Williams 5-42, Harrell 3-39, Booker 2-37, Fairs 1-17, D.Thompson 1-4, Charlot 1-0.

MISSED FIELD GOALS — Kansas, Rui 37.

LEADING TACKLERS — Cent. Michigan, Briones 10 solo, 0 assists, 10 total; Kelly 6-1-7; Jamison 6-0-6; Kansas, Dineen 9-3-12; Neal 9-0-9; Lee 7-0-7.

SACKS — Cent. Michigan, Ostman, Stanitzek 1/2, Danna 1/2. Kansas, None.

INTERCEPTIONS — Cent. Michigan, Swain, Cox. Kansas, None.

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