Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Bilo's College Football: Kansas Jayhawks 2016 End of Year Report
Kansas Jayhawks 2016 End of Year Report
I think that it can be said at this point that the first two years of the David Beaty era have not exactly taken off like a rocket. Other than a conference win over Texas (Beaty is now just 1-17 in Big 12 play), Kansas is not demonstrating nearly enough to make me into a buyer that this program is making many strides. Texas was under a ton of turbulence the week it played Kansas, and had the game been played a couple of weeks earlier, I see no way they win that game. Overall, this had to be another huge disappointment for Kansas football fans.
As a unit, this group tossed more INTs than TDs this season, with just 16 TDs being thrown to 22 being picked off. This is awful, and is a strong reason why the Jayhawks averaged just a shade over 20 points per game. Montell Cozart was back, but played in just 8 games, passing for 1075 yards with 7 TDs and 9 INTs. He averaged just 134 yards passing per game, completing 58.6% of his passes, which is fairly pedestrian. Carter Stanley, a freshman, played in 9 games, which was one more than Cozart. He passed for 959 yards while tossing 6 TDs to 6 picks. Stanley was slightly more accurate, completing 59.6% of his throws, but only averaged 106.6 yards passing per game. Sophomore Ryan Willis also played in 7 games, passing for 811 yards, but he tossed just 3 TDs to 7 picks. Willis was the most accurate of the group at just over 61% completion rate. In short, there was no star to be found here.
The leader of the unit was senior Ke’aun Kinner, who rushed for just 738 yards on the season, averaging just 61.5 yards per game. Kinner scored just three times, but did average an impressive 5.27 yards per carry. Had Kansas given him the football more often, they could have slowed some tempos down, and taken advantage of his playmaking ability. Taylor Martin, a sophomore, ran for just 324 yards on the season, and may be the leader for the starting job next fall barring recruiting efforts. Khalil Herbert and Denzel l Evans combined to carry the ball just 61 times combined in backup roles, so nothing much can be gleaned from that.
There were two solid performers worth talking about here. Steven Sims , Junior and LaQuvionte Gonzalez were both breakouts this fall. Sims caught 72 passes for 859 yards, while Gonzalez picked up 62 grabs for 729 yards. They combined for 10 scores, which leads me to believe if any QB had developed, this could have been a dangerous group. Shakiem Barbel caught 34 passes, but nobody else caught 20 balls or more. The excellent news is that 8 Jayhawks wide receivers who caught passes this season will return in 2017, which will be awesome if Beaty can find a QB who can get the ball to this group on any reliable basis.
There is some very real, if not young, talent on this Kansas D Line. Sophomore Dorance Armstrong, Junior recorded 20 TFLs on the season for Kansas, and fellow soph Daniel Wise recorded 10. This is an attacking unit that gets after the football off the edges. Cameron Rosser and Damani Moseby combined for 14 more TFLs, while a total of 8 other Jayhawks on the line recorded TFLs as well. Armstrong was the team leader in sacks with 10 this season, so this group should be featured next fall. The bad news is that with the offense failing as it did, this unit was on the field too much, and got worn down to the point that they allowed 236.4 yards rushing per game last season. That being said, this unit played as well, or more, as could be expected under the circumstances.
This unit was not very productive in 2016, and may have been the core reason that the run yards against the defense were so high. Senior LB Courtney Arnick was the leading tackler in the LB group with just 66, a substantially low number for a Power Five unit. Keith Loneker, Junior, was second among LBs with just 43. Arnick and Marcquis Roberts also only combined for 13.5 TFLs, so LBs were not getting much rush off the edge to stop plays before they began, also indicative of giving up big numbers against the run. Depth, Experience, and productivity may be tough to come by in 2016, especially with Arnick and Roberts both being seniors, and the rest of the unit not being very productive behind them this fall.
Marnez Ogletree led the team with 8 pass breakups this fall, while Fred Smithson broke up 7 passes. Tevin Shaw and Brandon Stewart broke up a combined 10 after that. The major issue is that all were seniors, so this group has to be rebuilt next season. Smithson also picked off 4 passes to lead the secondary, and the Jayhawks only combined to pick off 10 passes all season. By comparison, the Jayhawks threw 22 INTs all season, or a 2:1 difference in the negative.
Senior Matthew Wyman was a bit of a mess this season, hitting on only 13/19 FG tries on the year. He did manage to hit all 26 of his PATs. He will have to be replaced next fall, and things can only get better. Cole Moos was dependable at Punter, averaging 41.4 yards per punt on 6.1 punts per game. Gonzalez was the primary kick return man, returning 28 kickoffs and averaging an average number of 21.46 yards per return, which was hardly stellar. The Jayhawks punt return game was pure trash this season, as they returned just 7 punts all season long.
The receivers, despite having virtually no dependable QB on the roster, had some solid gains this season, and the defensive line was a beats at times that just got worn out from over use in games.
The QB situation is a mess, with nobody really stepping up to take control. The run game was underutilized, and never gave the passing game time to develop as a result.
LBs were underproductive as any unit in the nation, and the secondary did not force nearly enough turnovers.
Other than Moos at Punter, Special Teams are a disaster.
2017 Non-Conference Opponents: SE Missouri, Central Michigan, Ohio
Kansas is going the Bill Snyder route with a cup cake non con schedule that sets up for success. CMU and Ohio are likely bowl teams, but are both teams Kansas should be able to run with next fall, and SE Missouri is an FCS bottom feeder from the Ohio Valley Conference. Kansas should have at least an even shot at winning all three. Conference play may be a different matter.