After stumbling over numerous obstacles, Jayhawks are still 3-0

photo by: AP Photo/Andy Barron

Nevada's Sean Dollars scores a touchdown as he is tackled by Kansas' Craig Young during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Reno, Nev.

Reno, Nev. — The Kansas football team looked to have sealed its road victory over Nevada late Saturday night when Taiwan Berryhill Jr. dove on an errant third-down option pitch from Brendon Lewis deep in Wolf Pack territory.

The Jayhawks could have had a golden chance to go up two scores and, at long last, put the game out of reach.

Only upon review, however, did the referees determine that defensive end Hayden Hatcher had touched the ball while partially out of bounds prior to Berryhill’s recovery, which gave possession back to Nevada with a chance to punt the ball away and get a stop.

The Wolf Pack did just that, and actually had a chance at a late game-tying drive before Kenny Logan Jr. blew up a fourth-down end around.

For head coach Lance Leipold, that fumble-recovery-that-wasn’t summed up the night.

“You think you got everything kind of where it’s supposed to be,” he said, “and (then) there’s still something else yet.”

The Jayhawks thought they had a big third-and-15 conversion to Lawrence Arnold in the first quarter, but Ar’maj Reed-Adams held a defender, then quarterback Jalon Daniels got sacked and they punted. They thought they had limited an Ashton Hayes run to 10 yards, only to get flagged for a defensive holding call on reserve lineman Caleb Taylor. (“That’s like a solar eclipse or something,” Leipold said.) They thought they could stop Nevada on fourth down to close out the third quarter, but Austin Booker, reinstated from his first-half targeting suspension, jumped offsides for the second time in the period.

“He wants to get back in the game, sits out the first half, wants to make a play, and he gets caught on fourth down,” Leipold said.

In all, KU racked up seven penalties, most of them costly. And that’s not even mentioning that — in addition to the ill-fated Lewis pitch — the Wolf Pack fumbled four other times, including twice on consecutive plays and once near the goal line (forced by Logan) — and the Jayhawks weren’t able to successfully snag even one of those loose balls.

For Logan, though, that just showed KU can create turnovers when it needs to going forward.

“One of these days, we’re going to fall on a few of them,” he said.

His teammates took a similarly sanguine approach in discussing their general takeaways from the strange Saturday night, suggesting that they now know it feels to win an ugly game and can apply that experience going forward.

“It happened early during the season, so we’ve been there before,” Daniels said. “Hopefully that time doesn’t come again this season, but when it does we’ll be able to say that we’ve been there before and we’ll be able to execute like we’ve been there before.”

And taking an even broader view, as both Leipold and running back Devin Neal did postgame, a win to go 3-0, regardless of circumstances, means more to KU than it might to just any program.

“Even though it was (that) type of game, you can’t take away 3-0,” said Neal, a Lawrence native. “That’s what’s really big for us, and it’s a long time that people were dreaming for a 3-0 start.”

Going 4-0, though, will require a dramatic leap forward, as the players acknowledged postgame, with Neal noting as much in a pair of idioms: KU has to get back to the “drawing board” and “square one.”

The Jayhawks will have to do so under adverse circumstances. They will be entering another huge home game, this time their conference opener against BYU, at something of a deficit.

Rather than traveling back to Lawrence overnight and forgoing sufficient sleep, KU elected to spend Saturday night in Reno — but this makes Sunday count as a day of team work under NCAA rules, and so KU has also elected to hold practice Sunday night after it returns to Lawrence.

Think that sounds weird? So does Neal, but he’s ready to contend with it.

“Eating good food is the key, honestly,” he said, “… We’re going to fly back and go to practice, look at the film, and after that do more treatment, just staying in the training room all week this week.”

They will do so secure in the knowledge that they emerged from a game in which so many things went sideways.

“It sure feels a lot better than talking about what got away from us,” Leipold said.


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.