Instant Takeaways From BYU’s Conference-Opening Loss To Kansas

Sep 23, 2023, 5:04 PM | Updated: Sep 25, 2023, 2:27 pm

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The BYU Cougars dropped their first league game as a member of the Big 12 Conference.

The Jayhawks hosted the Cougars at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium (Capacity: 47,233) in Lawrence, Kansas on Saturday, September 23.

BYU lost to Kansas, 38-27.

Here are my instant takeaways from the Cougars’ loss:

Where is the BYU football ground attack?

BYU’s ground game is missing, will the Cougars ever find it? If Kedon Slovis is asked to throw 50 times a game this season, BYU isn’t going to win many games in Big 12 play this season.

The spark that LJ Martin provided in week one for BYU seems to be missing. Last week, Martin had a big 45-yard run against Arkansas. But outside of that, there wasn’t much to write home about.

The production was worse on Saturday against Kansas. At one point in the second half, BYU as a team had (-2) rushing yards. BYU was a complete one-dimensional team and Kansas had the Cougar offense completely rattled.

BYU didn’t have Aidan Robbins on the trip. He stayed in Provo. Suddenly, the Cougars ground attack looks to be a concern moving forward.

Touchdowns to the defense are costly

BYU’s offense gave up two touchdowns to the Kansas defense. The tone-setter from Kansas DB Cobee Bryant after a hard hit on Parker Kingston that jarred the ball loose seemed to be one that could sink BYU early in the game, but the Cougars bounced back.

BYU went into the halftime locker room with a 17-14 lead. But that didn’t last long. Three offensive plays into the second half, Kedon Slovis tossed a pass that bounced around and landed in the hands of Kenny Logan Jr. for a pick-six.

That play swung all of the momentum in the game. Also, credit to Kansas for the halftime adjustments, their defensive backs were breaking hard on routes BYU typically has success.

Injuries mount up in loss at Kansas

During non-conference play, BYU kept injuries to a minimum. That wasn’t the case coming out of Saturday.

BYU’s offensive line was hit hard with injuries as starting guard Weylin Lapuaho suffered a setback to his left arm. He was in a sling during the second half.

Then after the first possession of the third quarter, BYU star Kingsley Suamataia left the game and a team trainer was looking at Suamataia’s right leg.

BYU wide receiver Parker Kingston was done after the hard hit he took from Cobee Bryant. Fellow receiver, Kody Epps never played despite going through pregame warmups.

Team trainers looked at linebacker Ben Bywater and he had to go into the medical tent. While he was sidelined, BYU rolled with a 4-2-5 scheme.

The depth of BYU’s team is going to be tested moving forward into a short week against Cincinnati.

Illegal touching happened again

For the fourth consecutive week, BYU committed an illegal touching penalty that took away a big gain from tight end Isaac Rex. Kalani Sitake has said it would get fixed, it hasn’t happened. Those types of penalties have proven to be costly and put BYU behind the sticks when they don’t need to be.

Should Kansas be viewed as a Big 12 title contender?

The Jayhawks offense was as explosive as advertised and the defense is much improved. Kansas was the preseason 9th-place pick in the Big 12. Early returns would suggest that’s a mistake as the Jayhawks are off to a 4-0 start in back-to-back years for the first time since 1912.

Next week, Kansas travels down to the Forty Acres to face Kansas. Two years ago, a Lance Leipold Kansas squad stunned the Longhorns. Kansas won’t be afraid. And it could be a preview of a Big 12 Championship Game as the league looks to be weaker than expected this season.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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Instant Takeaways From BYU’s Conference-Opening Loss To Kansas