Here are 3 takeaways from Kansas football’s 35-27 win at home against Duke

LAWRENCE — Kansas football’s 2022 season continued Saturday with a 35-27win at home in non-conference play against Duke.

Here are a few takeaways from the Jayhawks (4-0, 1-0 in Big 12 Conference) victory against the Blue Devils (3-1):

Kansas improves to 4-0 for first time since 2009

Kansas redshirt sophomore tight end Trevor Kardell (45) celebrates the Jayhawks' first touchdown against Duke with redshirt sophomore running back Daniel Hishaw Jr. (20) during the first quarter of Saturday's game.
Kansas redshirt sophomore tight end Trevor Kardell (45) celebrates the Jayhawks' first touchdown against Duke with redshirt sophomore running back Daniel Hishaw Jr. (20) during the first quarter of Saturday's game.

It’s been more than a decade since Kansas has started a season like this. Last time this happened, Mark Mangino was the head coach. It was 2009, the season after the Jayhawks’ most recent bowl win.

Kansas is 4-0 to start this season. It’s doubled its win total from last season. The second year of head coach Lance Leipold’s tenure is off to a better start than many people might have expected and hurtling toward bowl eligibility.

It’s not out of the question that the Jayhawks can ride this momentum to a win next week against Iowa State, which lost its Big 12 opener to No. 17 Baylor. Kansas faces the Cyclones at home and could very well do so in front of a second-straight sellout crowd. And then Oct. 8 against TCU, at home again, the Jayhawks will have a chance to earn that pivotal sixth victory with weeks left to go before November comes around.

Jalon Daniels delivers, again

Kansas junior quarterback Jalon Daniels (6) runs to a first down during the first quarter of Saturday's game against Duke at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium Satuday.
Kansas junior quarterback Jalon Daniels (6) runs to a first down during the first quarter of Saturday's game against Duke at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium Satuday.

If anyone was worried how Jayhawks junior quarterback Jalon Daniels might handle all the success he’s had so far this season, he answered that early and often against Duke. In the first half alone, in addition to rushing for 62 yards on seven attempts, he threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns while going 11-for-12 through the air. By game’s end he finished 19-for-23 through the air for 324 yards and four touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 83 yards and a score on 11 attempts..

Whatever may have been expected from Daniels this season, he's exceeding those expectations. He’s playing like an all-Big 12 caliber talent behind an offensive line that deserves more attention than it’s been getting. Now that the non-conference slate is over, it’ll be interesting to see how he fares during the tougher portions of the conference schedule.

Daniels’ touchdown passes against Duke went to redshirt sophomore running back Daniel Hishaw Jr., junior wide receiver Luke Grimm, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Lawrence Arnold and redshirt sophomore tight end Trevor Kardell. Overall, Daniels’ day passing helped his team to 528 yards of total offense. Behind Hishaw’s 61 yards and sophomore running back Devin Neal’s 54, and more, Kansas rushed for 204 yards as a team.

Kansas’ defense delivers against FBS opponent

Kansas junior linebacker Taiwan Berryhill (6) stops Duke quarterback Riley Leonard (13) during the first quarter of Saturday's game at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
Kansas junior linebacker Taiwan Berryhill (6) stops Duke quarterback Riley Leonard (13) during the first quarter of Saturday's game at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Across this season and 2021, the Jayhawks’ defense has struggled to limit the scoring potential of FBS opponents it faced. Sure, two FCS opponents combined for just 24 points against Kansas in two games. But over the course of the rest of the contests, the lowest total the Jayhawks had been able to hold a team to was Houston’s 30 points last week.

Duke, though only managed 27 points. The Blue Devils were threatening to send this game to overtime late, after already scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter, but the Jayhawks managed to get the stop they needed. It’s another positive that Kansas can build upon moving forward.

Of note, redshirt junior defensive end Lonnie Phelps Jr. had another sack. Redshirt sophomore cornerback Mello Dotson led the team with nine tackles and had two pass breakups. Redshirt junior linebacker Craig Young had the team’s lone quarterback hurry.

Jordan Guskey covers University of Kansas Athletics at The Topeka Capital-Journal. Contact him at jmguskey@gannett.com or on Twitter at @JordanGuskey.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: KU football: How expectations are changing for unbeaten Kansas, Jalon Daniels