Grades from Kansas Jayhawks’ 35-27 victory over Duke and looking ahead to Iowa State

Charlie Riedel/AP

Here are our letter grades for all three Kansas units, plus our play of the game, from Saturday’s 35-27 victory over Duke at Booth Memorial Stadium and a look ahead to next weekend’s game against Iowa State.

Play of the game

Sophomore running back Daniel Hishaw scored on one of the most exciting plays of this or any season during the second quarter of Saturday’s victory.

Hishaw, 5-10, 215 from Moore, Oklahoma, caught a swing pass from Jalon Daniels on a second-and-7 call at the 27.

Hishaw headed to the middle of the field where he spun and ultimately broke four tackles, racing all the way for a TD with 12 minutes, 35 seconds left before halftime. It was Hishaw’s first receiving TD in his career.

A linebacker, two safeties and a corner had a chance to tackle Hishaw on the play, which gave KU a 14-7 lead.

“I’ve been seeing him since my freshman year. Being able to see him finally get his mojo back, being back to 100 percent, to be able to make a lot of people miss, being able to run people over … it’s just exciting to be able to see him back 100 percent,” Daniels said.

Hishaw missed the 2021 season because of injury.

“I feel when he does that it gives the rest of the offense the mentality, ‘We see Daniel doing it, now let’s keep doing it,’’’ Daniels said. “Physicality is football. At the end of the day we are going to try to keep going out and play physical football,” Daniels added.

Grades

Offense: A

Kansas, which gained 502 yards in its season-opener against Tennessee Tech, 419 yards at West Virginia and 438 yards at Houston, gained a season-high 528 yards of total offense vs. Duke. KU rushed for 204 yards on 39 carries Saturday for its fourth-straight 200-yard rushing effort.

Daniels again was superb, completing 19 of 23 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 83 yards on 11 carries.

Daniels spread the wealth again, hitting eight different receivers. KU in fact has had at least eight different pass catchers in every game this season.

KU’s leading receiver was Luke Grimm with five catches for 63 yards and a TD. Grimm has caught five or more passes two times this season and four times in his career. His 2022 season-high is six receptions at West Virginia. Lawrence Arnold set a career-high with four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.

Overall, Daniels has been a part of 15 touchdowns this season — 11 passing and four rushing.

Daniels’ four touchdown passes vs. Duke marked a new career high. He’s thrown for three TDs against West Virginia and Houston this season and Texas a year ago. Over the last three games, Daniels has thrown 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Defense: B.

The sellout crowd of 47,233 that attended Saturday’s game was treated to one of the finest tackles one will ever see in college football.

KU defensive back Marvin Grant, a transfer from Purdue, leveled a bone-crunching hit on Duke’s Jaylen Coleman after Coleman carried the ball for 6 yards to the Duke 47.

Grant plowed into Coleman, who somehow kept possession of the ball. The refs checked for targeting, but no foul was called on the play.

KU lineman Lonnie Phelps, who had six tackles including a sack, was impressed by defensive back Grant’s punishing hit.

“I saw it,” Phelps said with a smile. “One of the plays earlier, he (Grant) almost got run over by the running back. I told him, ‘That’s not you.’ I’ve seen him lay people out. That’s what he did. He laid him out when he got another chance,” Phelps added of Grant, a 6-2 junior from Detroit.

Phelps, a transfer from Miami of Ohio, has at least one tackle for loss in three of four games this season and 6.0 for the year. He had one TFL on Saturday.

Another big play on defense came In the third quarter. On 4th and 1 from KU’s 37 with KU leading by eight, senior Eddie Wilson tackled Duke running back Jordan Waters for a loss of 1. The tackle-for-loss was Wilson’s first of his career at Kansas. He is a 6-4, 315 super senior defensive lineman from Jersey City, New Jersey.

Also defensive back Mello Dotson recorded two pass breakups, a new career high. Dotson, a 6-1 sophomore from Daytona Beach, Florida, recorded a career-high nine tackles, eight solo, surpassing his previous high of four at West Virginia.

Special teams: B

Reis Vernon had one punt for 45 yards. QB Daniels had an effective pooch punt of 33 yards that pinned Duke at its own 7-yard-line.

“We had a play in for me to do that my freshman year,” Daniels said. “I was waiting for us to call it again. I’m happy to show I can do other things,” he added smiling.

Kansas sophomore OJ Burroughs fielded his first punt return of his career in the first quarter, which he returned for 16 yards. He had two returns for 20 yards. On defense, sophomore safety Burroughs had five tackles.

Jacob Borcila converted five extra points in as many tries.

Next up

KU (4-0) will play host to Iowa State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, at Booth Memorial Stadium. The game will be shown on ESPN2 or ESPNU. Iowa State (3-1) lost to Baylor 31-24 on Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa. The Cyclones defeated Southeast Missouri 42-10 in the opener in Ames, then won at Iowa 10-7. ISU returned home to beat Ohio 43-10.