Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas Jayhawks
This program has largely been a train wreck for the most part of the last decade. Mark Mangino was the last coach to win with any regularity at Kansas, and he has been gone for a long while now. I was very open about the hiring of David Beaty for Kansas being the wrong move, and I still stand by that statement. If he wins just one or two games again, for the third consecutive season, will those who have stood by him finally change their tune? Will they have a choice?
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Not much. This is a unit that scored just 20.3 points per game last fall, and that was in year two under Beaty. Did I see the improvement that I would expect in year two under a new head coach? Well, maybe in some ways, but not in many. The Jayhawks did manage to score five more points per game in year two than in year one, but that was not saying much.
Montell Cozart has left the program, leaving the job at QB to Carter Stanley. Stanley, a sophomore, basically took the job away in any event, and will not have to look over his shoulder much as he tries to develop into a serviceable player. That said, I am not certain as to how impactful he can be, other than the fact that he holds the job undisputed now.
Four starters return on the line, and that is where this team has to start finding an identity on offense. Hakeem Adeniji is back at LT, Jayson Rhodes at LG, Mesa Ribordy at C, and Larry Hughes at RG.
There will be some fight from the starting WRs this fall, as Steven Sims, Jr. is back along with LaQuvionte Gonzalez to lead the pack. They combined for 134 receptions last fall, and are by far the two best parts to the offense. As they go, so will the development of Stanley.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Really and truly, you have to be concerned about every aspect of this offense, as the scoring average would indicate. If this offense cannot get right in 2017, Beaty will have to be shown the door for someone who can get in there and motivate this group to find themselves and be free in the game. Right now, they cannot do that. I do know how bare the cupboard was, but you simply cannot go through three years of waning production and stick around in a conference that is fed by the fires of offense.
One area that has got to be fixed is the run game. Kansas loses their best back in Ke'aun Kinner, and there was nobody even close to his level on this football team in carries, yards per carry, or total rushing yards last season. Finding a back or a couple of backs that can get the job done in camp will be of paramount importance.
The kicking game is also a mess. Matthew Wyman is gone, and he was not great after hitting just 13/19 FGs last season. The Jayhawks need every bit of scoring they can find, and finding a competent kicker will also be a huge project in fall camp.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
I am not trying to go overtly negative, but Kansas gave up over 37 points per game last fall, 17 more than they scored each week. Losing by double digits on an average is not getting it done.
Luckily, there are building blocks for Kansas up front. Dorance Armstrong, Jr. finished last fall with 20 TFLs, 10 sacks, and 56 tackles, and is one of the best edge guys in the Big 12 conference. DT Daniel Wise is also very adept at disrupting the backfield from up the middle, as he finished with 10 TFLs from his DT spot. He finshed with 38 total tackles.
Delsaac Davis will also return at NT.
Cole Moos will be back as the Punter, and averaged 41.42 yards per punt last season on 6.1 punts per game.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The Entire back seven is in a rebuild mode right now, as only one LB, and one member of the secondary that started the season finale will return to Lawrence this fall.Keith Loneker, Jr. is that one returning starter in the 4-2-5 set. Loneker finished with just 43 tackles last season, and he is not active behind the line of scrimmage. Denzel Feaster is likely to win the open LB spot, but there is likely to be some push for him in camp from Joe Dineen, Jr.
There is only one returning starter in the entire secondary, meaning four new starters need to be found in the defensive backfield. Mike Lee, a sophomore, is that guy. Lee finished with 77 tackles, with 70 of those coming as solo jobs. Lee should be OK in run support, he lacks skills in pass coverage, and Kansas needs more in pass defense, given that they allowed 26 TD passes last fall as a team.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 SE Missouri State, 9/9 Central Michigan, 9/16 at Ohio, 9/23 West Virginia, 10/7 Texas Tech, 10/14 at Iowa State, 10/21 at TCU, 10/28 Kansas State, 11/4 Baylor, 11/11 at Texas, 11/18 Oklahoma, 11/25 at Oklahoma State
Final Overview
Kansas has won exactly one conference games in two seasons under David Beaty, and I really do not see how much better Kansas can be in 2017 than they have been over the last two seasons. The talent level is still not nearly what it needs to be, and recruiting has not exactly taken off like a rocket under the current staff. The schedule does not look bad out of conference, but I cannot say that I would favor the Jayhawks over Central Michigan or Ohio. If Kansas cannot show a major surge forward, it's hard to say how the administration can still go on about their belief in Beaty, because the record just will not be there.

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