Archive for the KU Football Category

2014 KU Football Prediction (September Ed.)

Posted on: September 2nd, 2014 by jayhawktalk No Comments

[Editor's Note: The following is brought to you by Jayhawk Talk contributor and pal, @TheLachmanTest. Give him a follow on Twitter and look forward to more of his work in the future. Also, he's a KU Football optimist.  -Kevin]

A year ago, I attempted this prognostication exercise for the first time.  The actual results on the field (3-9) were worse the worst case scenario I predicted (4-8).  Sigh.

In my defense, 3 of my 4 “lock” wins actually happened, including the one against West Virginia, Dana, and his sugar free red bulls. My fourth “lock” win was ISU, and had it not been for ISU icing the field the night before the game poor field conditions which seemed to only affect KU, we could have pulled it off.

But enough about the past. Let’s take a brief look at this year’s KU squad.

Coaching: Improved from last year.  The addition of John Reagan and his spread offense will be a better fit for starting QB Montell Cozart.  The new WR coach Eric Kiesau is an upgrade over what I assume was a vacant position on the coaching staff last year.  He has more talent to work with as well.  Defensively, year 2 under DC Clint Bowen means continued progression, instead of learning a new scheme.

Offense: Improved at wide receiver, but big questions remain with the offensive line.  I expect Cozart to flourish under the new offensive scheme.  RBs took a dramatic hit with the losses of Bourbon and Cox, but there’s enough talent there to keep the ball moving.

Defense:  Clint Bowen has compared this secondary to the Orange Bowl unit. That’s high praise.  We know the linebackers will be fine with Heeney and company roaming around.  I think the defensive line is underrated and should surprise us in a positive way.

Special Teams:  We have punting and kickoffs covered with Pardula.  The return game should be decent with the addition of several newcomers.  As for field goals… well, how about we just score TDs, and not worry about kicking FGs.  It will be interesting.

Predictions:

A couple of reminders:

1)     These predictions won’t be objective or unbiased. I am a KU fan, after all. I am going to look for any and all reasons why KU could win a game, no matter how small of a chance.

2)     At a recent prep rally, the always quotable Weis spoke about the upcoming season.  One of his quotes was “You give me September and I’m gonna give you a reason to come in October and November. Fair enough?”

Fair enough, Coach.

In that spirit, the predictions will be split into 3 months, starting with the September games.

9/6/14 vs Southeast Missouri State:  When I first saw the school name, I thought this marked the return of Terry Allen to Lawrence.  Not so, as Allen is the head coach at THE Missouri State University, not SEMO.  The Redhawks have a first year coach in Tom Matukewicz and have already beaten Missouri Baptist 77-0 in their first game of the season.  It was Missouri Baptist’s first ever football game, so I’m not sure what we can really glean from that score.  This better be a tune-up game where the result is not in doubt, with new OC John Reagan getting the KU offense moving in the right direction.

Prediction: WIN

9/13/14 at Duke:  The Blue Devils had, perhaps, the best season in school history last year when they finished 10-3 and were ACC coastal division champs.  Since then, their starting QB graduated and transferred out, their leading rusher was dismissed from the team due to academics, and their all ACC linebacker and tight end were lost to season-ending injuries. Duke does return one of the top wide receivers in the country in Jamison Crowder, who is also a threat as a returner on special teams.  Throwing him the ball will be senior QB Anthony Boone, who was the starter for two games prior to a season ending injury.  Their head coach David Cutliffe is known as a “QB whisperer” so I expect Boone to perform well.  They certainly started out on the right foot with a lopsided win over Elon College.

I’m not sold on Duke. I mean, its Duke. Would any self-respecting Power 5 conference team play in a stadium with a track in it?  (Thanks anonymous KU booster for paying to have the track removed, thus allowing me to make that joke).  Half their campus is now thinking they are about to turn into the eastern version of Stanford, while the other half is already camping out at Krzyzewski-ville.

Side note:  Did you know they have a Lemur Center on campus?  It houses the world’s largest and most diverse collection of lemurs outside of Madagascar.

During the spring football preview tour, I had a chance to ask Coach Weis which road game he would recommend KU fans attend.  His summarized answer: “The first one, the research triangle.  There should be plenty of seats; it’s just KU coming to town.” I believe the coaching staff has circled this game as a barometer for the season and prepared accordingly.  I think KU keeps it close, eating up clock on offense and our secondary (the strongest component of our defense) keeps Crowder and Boone in check.

Prediction: TOSS UP

9/20/14 vs Central Michigan:  The Chippewas return 16 starters from last year’s 6-6 squad.  They started off the year beating Chattanooga 20-16, in a game where they trailed 16-7 at halftime.  Prior to playing KU, they play Purdue and Syracuse, which will give us a better idea of where they stand.  Regardless, this is a must win for KU and the coaching staff will treat is as such.  Either KU will be going for a 3 game winning streak or looking to rebound from a loss. They will get it done.

Prediction: WIN

9/27/14 vs Texas:  The Charlie Strong era is underway in Austin, with all the usual talk of new expectations, new rules, and a side of dismissed players.  I have no idea how good Texas will be, but I don’t see them challenging for the league title this year.  I think there will be a lot of growing pains this year.   While Texas started off with a drubbing of North Texas, there are still question marks about the health and ability of their QB, and the defense still needs to be re-shaped to Strong’s preferences.

The Longhorns next have BYU at home then a match up at Jerry’s World vs UCLA.  After that comes their first true road game of the year in Lawrence.  After KU, they play Baylor at home and Oklahoma in Dallas for the Red River rivalry.  It is so easy to look over KU when you have BYU, UCLA, Baylor, and OU on the schedule in a five-week span.  I can see this game being scheduled for 11 am, with the Longhorns sleepwalking through the first half.  Oh, it’s also Homecoming for KU, which should provide some extra motivation for the team.  I see this game as having all the makings of a perfect trap game for Texas.

Prediction: WIN

So those are my picks for the first month of the season.  Call me crazy [Editor’s Note: You’re crazy], but I’m willing to give Weis the month of September like he asked.  Let’s see if he can deliver on his promise.

Rock Chalk!

Photo Credit: ESPN

Jayhawk Talk Podcast – Episode 30 (La Tech, GWFGs, Weis, Combs, The Hawk, Predictions)

Posted on: September 24th, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

The guys get together over a beer to discuss La and Texas Tech, game winning celebrations, birthdays at the Hawk, Charlie Weis play calling, Pierson/Bourbon love, Marquel Combs, and what wins are left on the schedule. A realization is made that winning is kind of fun and we should endeavor to do it more often.

Come on in, grab a beer, and enjoy Episode 30 of the Jayhawk Talk podcast. As always, please subscribe, rate, and review on iTunes if you like what you hear.

FIND ON ITUNES HERE (note: if you subscribe, the episode will be available right away on your smart phone and other devices)

FIND ON PODBEAN HERE (for all non-Apple mobile devices)

ROCK CHALK!

Photos from the game can be found HERE.

 

Episode 29 – KU-Rice Recap, Weis Concerns, Cliff Alexander

Posted on: September 17th, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

The guys get together to recap Andrew’s on-sight reporting of the Rice game. We also voice our grievances with Charlie Weis and ask whether he really is the guy to lead this program to the next level. We close with some basketball recruiting talk, including Cliff Alexander and JaQuan Lyle.

Come on in, have a beer, and enjoy the Jayhawk Talk Podcast. If you like what you hear, please subscribe on iTunes and give us a rating/review on iTunes.

Find the Podcast on iTunes HERE (all computers, iPads, iPhones)

Find the Podcast on Podbean HERE (non-iPhone users)

Rock Chalk!

Episode 28 – KU v USD, Rice Preview, Football Stuff

Posted on: September 10th, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

UDK

The guys get together to talk about the UNDEFEATED JAYHAWKS!!! We talk through some KU football news, reflect on fat guy touchdowns, recap the whole KU-SD game, and preview the Rice game. Come on in, grab a beer, and enjoy some time with the Jayhawk Talk Podcast.

Find the podcast on iTunes HERE (be sure to subscribe to get it right away on your iPhone or iPad)

Find the podcast on Podbean HERE (non-Apple mobile devices)

ROCK CHALK.
(Please remember to rate and review on iTunes if you like what you hear!)

Take your KU tailgate from “awesome” to “super awesome”

Posted on: September 6th, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Photo: Lawrence.com

By @pay_heed, (contributor and Jayhawk Talk Cabana owner)

It is now September. We are only days from the beginning of football season. And with football season comes tailgating. You probably think your tailgate is awesome. You’re probably right because all tailgates are generally awesome. However, I’m here to help you try to make it even more awesome this season.

At the University of Kansas, we have to make the best of our unique tailgating situation. Finding your spot is the first key to a successful tailgating season. I’m a proponent of always tailgating in the same spot, so find that special place and make it your own. It’s good to have familiar surroundings on Game Day, and your buddies will always be able to find you. Also, if you have too many adult beverages, you always know where to stumble back to find your ride home.

Now that you have your spot on lock, let’s talk supplies. If you want to look like a boss (who am I kidding you want to look like a boss) get team-themed gear for your tailgate.

If you already have gear and it’s not team themed, no sweat; just get some of those Jayhawk stickers and put them on your cooler. The more Jayhawks, the better. People need to know.

Having a portable grill is crucial to the success of any tailgate. If you don’t own a portable grill, the end of summer is a good time to buy one as grills will be going on sale everywhere at the end of August/early September. Coleman and Weber each make portable propane grills for under $200. Both are perfect for your tailgating experience. I suggest propane over charcoal because you don’t want to wait 20 minutes for the coals to get hot. On the same note, ALWAYS have an extra propane bottle, because no one wants to eat raw food. However, if you’re a college student (or anyone) on a budget, charcoal grills are cheaper, so go with what suits you best.

Having a folding table is also a good idea. Give yourself some space to set up and lay all your food and gear out. Otherwise you’ll always be rooting around in the back of your car to find things.

Being prepared for weather conditions is also key. As the Jayhawk Talk tailgating crew found out last year against Oklahoma State on “Get wet with Weis” day, having a tent could be very beneficial (we didn’t).

This season we opted for a tent. No more raining on our parade. But if you’re tough and badass and don’t care about a little rain, you can do without.

Now that we have our spot and our gear, it’s time to talk food and beverage. In this regard, preparation is critical. I recommend procuring all your necessary items before the day of the game, especially if it’s an early kick off. Nothing says amateur hour like showing up late because you had to run to Hy-Vee. Planning ahead will also provide you the opportunity to do some prep work in the kitchen instead of a back yard. This is especially handy if you need to cut stuff up or need to do something ahead of time like brown meat so all you need to do is reheat it.

Here are some Dos and Don’ts for your tailgate food this season:

Do:

  • Sometimes have a theme for your tailgate like “Bloody Mary’s and Bacon.” What? Themes are cool!
  • Make something unconventional for your main course (We made pizzas last year and it was awesome).
  • Have extra food. Running out of stuff is lame. If you have too much, share. People will like you for it.
  • Have options, not everyone likes the same things.

Photo: Lawrence.com

Side note: Please do not have a theme for a tailgate like ‘Kegs and Eggs’ if you will not being having both kegs and eggs.

Don’ts

  • Make the same food every week.
  • Run out of beer.
  • Share with opposing fans. Tell those losers where to go (Hell).
  • Forget to turn off your grill. That’s how fires start.

Here are some ideas for less conventional tailgating fare:

  • Beermosas- Like a mimosa, just replace champagne with beer (trust me, it’s good).
  • Pancakes- definitely a solid 11am kickoff choice
  • Stuffed Peppers (I recommend browning the meat beforehand)
  • Skewers- nothing says America like meat on a stick
  • Tacos- again, prepping ahead of time so all you have to do is reheat the meat is your best bet
  • Meatballs –no explanation necessary
  • Anything that involves bacon

Obviously this list is not exhaustive, but it should get you well on your way to impressing your friends this season with your tailgating skills. Just don’t be the guy who only shows up with one tiny deal of macaroni salad. No one likes that guy.

Rock Chalk.

 

JHT Podcast Episode 27 – KU FOOTBALL PREVIEW (with KC Star’s Rustin Dodd)

Posted on: September 3rd, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Kevin and Andrew are BACK for the real KU football preview podcast. The DEFINITIVE KU football preview podcast. The ONLY KU football preview podcast made by KU fans in existence on the entire internet, at least that we know of (we haven’t looked). We talk recap of 2012 (briefly) and get into 2013 newcomers, schedule and season preview, and why both of us accidentally picked us to make it to bowl eligibility. We are then joined by Rustin to talk some Over/Unders, position battles, and expectations for the season. Come on in, grab a beer, and enjoy the 27th episode of the Jayhawk Talk Podcast. ROCK CHALK.

Find us on iTunes HERE (pretty much any device except Droid platform phones).

Find us on Podbean HERE (non-iPhone users).

(Please remember to rate and review on iTunes if you like what you hear! Also be sure to subscribe on iTunes if you are listening on your phone or computer. Thanks!)

 

KU Football (game by game) Season Prediction

Posted on: September 2nd, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Editor’s Note: The following comes to you from a good buddy of mine and JHT Contributor, @TheLachmanTest. Give him a follow on Twitter for some solid KU Football discussion.

It was a cool December night when a few friends and I exited Milan Puskar Stadium, with John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” still ringing in our ears.  The kind hill folk of Morgantown thanked us for visiting and apologized for the lopsided scoreboard.  The 2012 KU football season was finally at an end.

Nine months after that night, we’re finally a few days away from the start of the 2013 season.  A lot has changed since last year: a new QB, new uniforms, an influx of JUCO talent, and a new defensive scheme are all part of the excitement as we get ready for the new season.

Year 1 of the Weis era involved 6 close losses. If 2 or 3 of those had gone our way, fans, media members and prognosticators would all have a different view on the upcoming season.  Arguably, KU has upgraded several positions including QB, WR, DL, the secondary, and perhaps most importantly, kicker.  Add a second season under S&C coach Scott Holsopple, and I feel KU is ready for a big jump in Year 2.

Here is my take at a season long prediction, as a way to get warmed up for September 7th.

Couple of things:

1)    These predictions won’t be objective or unbiased; I am a KU fan, after all.  At the same time, I’m not going to predict a Big XII or national championship either.  I mean, what are the odds of that happening?

2)    I had most of the following written up a little while ago, so the Addendum will contain a few notes following the games on opening weekend.

Sept 7th vs. South Dakota: I wasn’t even going to bother looking up any information on the Coyotes, but curiosity won out.  They have a couple of bad things in common with KU:  They finished last in their conference last year, going winless in their league, and are predicted to finish last this year as well.  No matter, this better be a tune-up game where the result isn’t in question after the first quarter.

Prediction: WIN

Addendum: I’m sure the KU coaching staff will emphasize KSU and ISU’s losses to FCS teams over the weekend to make sure the team doesn’t take the win for granted.  The Coyotes, meanwhile, won a 10-7 showdown against UC Davis.

Sept 14th @ Rice: We all remember last year where KU missed a couple of field goals, Dayne Crist threw a late interception, and the Owls kicked a field goal to pull out the win. This year, they have most of their team back, including a senior QB, while KU travels to Houston for the first road game of the year.  This will be a tough road test.  Rice gets two weeks to prepare following their opening week game against #JFF, and they’ll be ready.  Having said that, KU still has a chance to pull off its first road win since the 2009 season.  The result of this game will impact the rest of the season.

Prediction: TOSS UP (leaning towards loss)

Addendum: The Owls’ offense looked dynamic, at least in the first half.  No idea if their defense has improved because A&M is going to put up points on almost every team they play.  Rice showed enough to make me really uneasy about this game.  Here is hoping Rice did “this” against A&M, and comes down to earth in a couple of weeks.

Sept 21st vs. La Tech: The Bulldogs had a pretty good year last year, finishing at 9-3. But what followed was a series of unfortunate events. It started with declining a bowl bid (that’s right), losing their head coach to Cal-Berkeley, and an exodus of talented seniors, leaving at most 7 returning starters.  The cherry on top: In comes Skip Holtz, recently fired from USF.   I think they are in for a big rebuilding year which is good news for KU.

Prediction: WIN

Addendum: La Tech lost on the road to NC State, while committing several turnovers and playing at a slightly slower pace than last year’s breakneck offense.

Oct 5th vs. Texas Tech: Last year, KU took Tech to double OT, while almost exclusively running option plays on offense.  This year, Tech’s prodigal son returns home as former QB Kliff Kingsbury takes over as head coach.   His most recent achievement is coaching up #JFF last year as A&M’s offensive coordinator.  He believes in playing without thinking and not issuing playbooks.  We’ll soon find out if that particular approach works.  Tech’s biggest question is who will play QB, which is good news for KU.  How does it end?  Tech sleep walks into its first Big XII road game under Kingsbury, KU is rested and prepared after a bye week, and the crowd is fired up for Homecoming. Enough to give us a fighting chance to pull off a squeaker.

Prediction: TOSS UP (leaning towards win)

Addendum: Tech started a true freshmen walk-on QB and rolled SMU on the road.  So much for uncertainty at the QB position.  I still think KU’s change in defensive scheme, along with Weis’ plan of keeping KU’s offense at a slower pace to keep the other teams’ fast paced offenses on the sidelines will give us a chance.  Also, Tech’s defense is still AWOL, not seen since prior to the Mike Leach days.

Oct 12th @ TCU: TCU was a young team last year, and kept getting better as the year went on.  Last year KU kept it close with an opportunistic defense, but turnovers and poor special teams play led to a loss.  This year I expect TCU to challenge for the league title.  Looking at the schedule, TCU has road trips to Norman and Stillwater with the KU game sandwiched in between.  Can KU catch them looking ahead?  KU will keep it close, but will fall on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

Prediction: LOSS

Addendum: TCU lost to LSU on Saturday night.  There is no shame in losing to the Madhatter and the ultra talented tigers.  TCU showed a lot of speed/athleticism on the field, and unveiled their 2 QB system.  No change in my prediction, but the slight chance for an upset special still looms.

Oct 19th vs. OU:  Last year, this game marked Michael Cummings’ first start, which quickly turned into rotating QBs between him and Crist.  It didn’t go well, and the game was a blowout.  I really don’t have anything else to say about that game.  Fast forward to this year, OU plays Notre Dame, TCU, and Texas 3 weeks in a row prior to arriving in Lawrence.  How healthy are they going to be after that 3 week stretch? How hungry are they going to be to win in Lawrence after 3 straight “national spotlight” games? Either they are going to be on a serious roll and brush KU aside, or beat up and tired enough to keep KU in the ball game.  I think KU keeps it closer than last year but gets out matched at the end.

Prediction: LOSS

Addendum: Trevor Knight looks like another true dual-threat at QB, and the defense posted a shutout against UL-Monroe.  Nice way to start the season.

Oct 26th vs. Baylor: KU hung around for a half last year, and then our WRs’ season-long case of the “dropsies” went from severe to life-threatening.  Heck, two years ago, even ol’ Turner had RGIII and Co. down 21 points going into the 4th quarter (until an epic collapse and OT loss).  This Baylor team should come into Lawrence at 6-0; however, this will only be their second road game of the year.  Their schedule is back-loaded starting with a home game against OU after the KU game.  Will they get caught looking ahead? Can they handle the cool, crisp late October weather in Kansas?  How much Jayhawk Kool-Aid have I ingested at this point?  All I’m saying is that we have a chance to pull this off.

Prediction: TOSS UP (leaning towards loss)

Addendum: Baylor beat up on Wofford 69-3, which doesn’t really tell us much.  Essentially, they were padding stats on both sides of the ball, which will help their season averages.

Nov 2nd @ Texas:  KU was so close to pulling out the win last year, it almost makes me sick enough to regurgitate some of that Jayhawk Kool-Aid I just had.  Almost everyone is expecting big things out of Mack Brown’s crew this year, but I’m not.  I expect them to have an 8-9 win season, with a close home win over KU as one of them.

Side note: As this, the last year of the BCS, how about a quick look back at the classic Texas/BCS rant? I miss that guy.

Prediction: LOSS

Addendum: Texas started slow, but eventually rolled New Mexico State, as expected.  If they can win at BYU and beat Ole Miss, the national championship chatter will only get louder.

Nov 9th @ OSU:  For the few of us who stuck around after the extended rain delay last year, this was our first glimpse of hope that, just maybe, Weis can turn things around.  You could see the team fighting on each play.  Unfortunately, this year’s OSU team is better than last year and the game is in Stillwater.  I don’t see it going our way this year.  If you want to feel better, we can blame Tyler Patmon for giving them a thorough scouting report.

Prediction: LOSS

Addendum: OSU looked solid beating a mid-level SEC team at a neutral site.

Nov 16th vs. WV:  Dana and his sugar-free Red Bulls come to Lawrence for the first time.  I have a feeling West Virginia is in for a long and bad season.  What would you expect after a team loses a recording setting QB (Geno Smith), game breaking playmaker (Tavon Austin) and best receiver (Stedman Bailey) to the NFL, along with a few other guys who ran out of eligibility?  Those guys beat up on us pretty good last year, but by the time they get to Lawrence this year, there isn’t going to be much of a fight left in that team.

Prediction: WIN

Addendum: The Mountaineers came from behind to pull off a win against the Tribe of William & Mary.  Who knew William & Mary had a football team or that they’re called the Tribe?

Nov 23rd @ ISU:  These guys always play tough and they always have a card up their sleeve.  For example, breaking out their 3rd string QB against us last year, on their way to blowing us out on our senior night.  This is our best chance to win a Big XII road game since the 2007 season.  It will be their senior night, a good time to get some revenge.

Prediction: TOSS UP (leaning towards win)

Addendum:  ISU lost to Northern Iowa at home.  The Cyclones allowed 228 yards rushing, with an average of almost 7 yards a carry.  Hey, wait a minute! I know a certain team with a lot of good RBs…

Nov 30th vs. KSU: Just like WV, I think the Wildcats are also in for a bad year.  Yes, they are always under-rated; yes, they are the defending league champs, but this is not last year’s team.  Collin Klein graduated and the defense lost a majority of their starters.  We know Snyder finds gems in recruiting, but let’s face it, this isn’t ‘Bama, where the next draft pick is waiting in the wings.  This will be KU’s senior night, and we’ll send the seniors out in classic fashion.

Prediction: WIN

Bonus Prediction #1: KU breaks out the all black uniforms for this one.

Bonus Prediction #2: Both KU and KSU will be 5-6 coming into the game; Winner gets the governor’s cup, bragging rights and a bowl bid.  Loser moves on to basketball season (well, at KSU they’ll move on to equestrian or soil judging season, because it took only one offseason for Bruce Weber to gut their semi-talented roster.)

Addendum: #EPAW

Well, there you have it: 4 wins, 4 toss-ups and 4 losses.  Can we lose to Texas Tech and ISU? Of course we can.  Can we dig deep to pull off the Rice and Baylor games? I think we can.

Worst case: 4-8, Pie in the sky: 8-4

I’ll split the difference with a prediction of 6-6 and a bowl bid.

Rock Chalk!

 

Jayhawk Talk Podcast – Alex Kline (Recruit Scoop) Interview, Football Preview Preview

Posted on: August 2nd, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

The guys get back together to talk a little July recruiting period. Joining Kevin and Andrew is Alex Kline of The Recruit Scoop on Rivals. Great interview with a lot of good information about current and potentially future Jayhawks. The guys close with a KU football preview to the preview show and talk some nonsense about fantasy football. Come on in, have a beer, and Rock Chalk!

Remember to leave us a comment on iTunes and let us know what you think. Leave your twitter handle for a chance to be in the JHT fantasy football league (if you’re into that kinda thing). Cheers.

Find us on iTunes HERE. (Listen on Apple products, any computer)

Find us on Podbean HERE. (Listen on any other devices)

ROCK CHALK.

Projecting the 2013 KU football starters

Posted on: June 17th, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

(Editor’s Note: This post is brought to you by my fellow KU alum, @thelachmantest. Good buddy from college and huge KU football fan. Give him a follow on twitter and look forward to future posts from him here at JHT. Rock Chalk!)

2013 FOOTBALL STARTING LINEUP

A.K.A

HEY TURNER, THANKS FOR (ALMOST) NOTHING

With a program like KU, you would expect most starters to be in their 3rd to 5th year in school — guys who have developed through the strength and conditioning program and have some playing experience.  For 2013, these would be the recruits from the classes of 2009 up to 2013. The 2009 class were true freshmen during Mangino’s last season.  The 2010 class was a mix of Mangino/Gill guys. 2011 were all Gill guys. 2012 were a mix of Gill/Weis guys.  2013 was all Weis guys.

While putting this lineup together, I was not surprised how Charlie Weis has revamped the roster and has a lot of his guys starting or fighting for a starter’s spot.  I was surprised to see Mark Mangino still having an impact on the roster and on the flip side the lack of impact by Turner Gill.  On second thought, I’m not surprised by the lack of Gill guys in the lineup given the complete lack of discipline, accountability, and an overall lackadaisical attitude under his charge.

To come up with lineup, I used the spring depth chart, various articles and quotes along with some educated guesses to come up with a starting lineup.  I used Jayhawk Slant to gather commitment dates and other recruiting information.

Some dates to keep in mind:

Mark Mangino fired resigned: 12/3/09

Turner Gill hired: 12/15/09 and fired: 11/27/11

Charlie Weis hired: 12/9/11

Let’s take a look the potential starting lineup.  Starters are in BOLD.

Credit: LJ World

OFFENSE

QB: Jake Heaps: a BYU transfer brought in by Weis.  This year we will go only as far as “The Mormon Cannon” will carry us. His backup is Michael Cummings, a Gill recruit. I was part of the #freemichaelcummings campaign last year, so it saddens me to say I only see him being used as part of running/option package.

RB: James Sims: committed to Dave Beaty on 7/13/09 under Mangino. Ran for over 1,000 yards in only 9 games, with most defenses knowing that we are running the ball 9 out of 10 plays.  I’m excited for his senior campaign.  Taylor Cox is JUCO transfer brought in by Coach Weis, and will be a great change of pace backup.

RB/WR: Tony Pierson:  He committed to Reggie Mitchell under Gill.  No question, the best player on the field.  We should all expect big time plays from this guy all season long.

WR: Andrew Turzilli: Turzilli has all the physical tools to be a standout at WR, showing some flashes last year.  He committed to Dave Beaty under Mangino.  His backup is most likely Christian Matthews, who is versatile enough to play QB in the “Jayhawk” formation.  During the spring game, he also filled in at CB for a couple of plays.  Matthews committed to Dave Beaty on 6/20/08.

WR: Justin McCay: McCay is a transfer from OU brought in by Weis, and is another guy with good physical tools to play the position.  Tre Parmalee is a Weis recruit who saw decent playing time as a true freshman last year, and he’ll play the slot position.

All other WRs who could see playing time are recent transfers (thus all Weis guys).

TE: Jimmay Mundine: Mundine showed flashes of his full potential and the expectations are even higher this year.  He committed on 7/31/09 under Mangino.  His backups are a JUCO transfer, Charles Brooks, and a redshirt freshman, Jordan Shelley-Smith, both Weis recruits.

LT: Pat Lewandowski: From the sound of it, there is a 3-way battle.  Lewandowski may have the upper hand over Riley Spencer and Zach Fondal.  He is a local kid who committed to KU in January 2010 under Gill.  Weis & Co. converted him from a DE to LT.  Riley Spencer committed in Jan 2009 under Mangino. Fondal is a JUCO transfer brought in by Weis this year.

LG: Ngalu Fusimalohi: Penciled to start is Fusimalohi who is a JUCO transfer under Weis.  Damon Martin is a Gill recruit, most likely the backup.

C: Dylan Admire:  Another battle for the starting spot, Admire is penciled in as the starter for now, over Mike Smithburg and Gavin Howard.  Admire is a local kid who committed to Reggie Mitchell under Gill.  Smithburg is a JUCO transfer under Weis, Howard is a Mangino commitment.

RG: Randall Dent / Mike Smithburg: Tough call between these two.  Smithburg is an incoming JUCO transfer, who has been on campus for winter conditioning and spring ball, while Randall Dent played a lot last year but could end up splitting time with Smithburg.  He originally committed to Dave Beaty under Mangino.

Credit: CJ Online

RT: Aslam Sterling: Sterling is a JUCO transfer brought in by Weis last year.  He has dropped weight and gotten in better shape and is a lock for the starting spot. Brian Beckmann, who committed to Reggie Mitchell under Gill, should be the backup.

With the offensive line we’re looking at 2 Weis guys (Fusimalohi & Sterling). Then there are 2 players connected to Gill — one of whom was recruited by Reggie Mitchell (Admire), the other a converted defensive end.  Randall Dent will be the one starter recruited by Mangino.  If Fondal (left tackle) and/or Smithburg (center) get the starting nod, Gill gets credit for only one starter on the entire offensive side of the ball.

Offense total: Mangino: 4, Weis: 4 (could be up to 6), Gill: 3 (could be 1)

DEFENSE

LE/T: Jordan Tavai / Tendarian Johnson: Both are JUCO transfers under Weis. Tavai should be the starter as he was here last year, and held up okay while under a steep learning curve. Johnson arrived in time for spring ball and should get to see the field this fall.

NT: Marquel Combs/ Ty McKinney/ Tyler Holmes:  Combs is the #1 rated JUCO recruit in the country this year, and penciled in as a starter.  Mckinney was supposed to be a JUCO transfer last year, but academic issues pushed it back to this year. Both are Weis recruits.  Holmes is a redshirt freshman, who was being recruited by Buddy Wyatt under Gill and finally committed in Jan 2012 under Weis.

RE/T: Keon Stowers/ Keba Agostinho / Kevin Young: Stowers is a JUCO transfer under Weis, and should be the starter.  Agostinho is a Gill recruit under Buddy Wyatt, while Kevin Young is a holdover from the Mangino days.

BUCK: Chris “Robin Hood” Martin/ Andrew Bolton/ Ben Goodman / Michael Reynolds: Bolton is a JUCO transfer this year under Weis who also had SEC offers.  I would guess his athleticism lends him some playing time.  Goodman was recruited by Buddy Wyatt under Gill, and has continued to improve every year, really coming on late last year.  Reynolds is also a Gill recruit, and should be a situational pass rusher.

The D-Line was a big focus for Weis and Co., and they have definitely built depth at that position.  No matter the starters, I expect a lot of rotation to keep fresh legs in the game.

OLB: Courtney Arnick / Marcus Jenkins-Moore: Arnick is a redshirt freshman who committed under Weis; Jenkins-Moore is a JUCO transfer, who arrived on campus in June 2013.  At this time it is a toss-up who will start.

AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann

MLB:  Ben Heeney: Heeney should/will be the starter.  Recruited by Gill, he earned 2nd team All Big 12 as a sophomore starter last year.  His backup will be Darrius Willis who followed Gill from Buffalo, redshirted and then had to prove himself again to Weis to stay on this team.

OLB:  Jake Love / Samson Faifili: Recruited by Gill and Co., Love played a lot as a redshirt freshman last year, and should be the incumbent starter. Faifili is a JUCO transfer who should be on campus as of June 2013.  He’ll compete for playing time at either of the OLB positions, similar to Jenkins-Moore.

CB: Dexter McDonald/ JaCory Shepherd: McDonald is a local kid who committed to Reggie Mitchell under Gill.  After leaving the team for one year, he was brought back by Weis.  Shepherd was recruited as a wide receiver under Gill but was converted to DB by Weis & Co. I would say whichever guy does not start will be the nickel cornerback.

SS: Isaiah Johnson: Johnson is a JUCO transfer and brings considerable hype with him.  He should be on campus at the start of July, and is penciled in as a starter. Tevin Shaw is a redshirt freshman who committed under Weis and will get a chance to prove himself.  Ray Mitchell, while listed on the spring depth chart, is not listed on the official roster on the KU athletics website.

FS:  Dexter Linton / Greg Allen / Kevin Short: Linton committed to Dave Beaty under Mangino, and brings the most experience as a senior.  Allen is a redshirt freshman who committed under Weis, while Kevin Short is a JUCO transfer, who may see time all over the defensive backfield.

CB: Cassius Sendish / Nas Moore / Tyree Williams: Sendish is a JUCO guy who has been here for spring practice and should be a starter.  Backups may include Moore, a JUCO transfer last year or Tyree Williams, a redshirt freshman. All are Weis guys.

It is a little harder to break down the defense since more positions are up for grabs, but there are at least 6 Weis guys (LE, NT, RE, OLB, SS, CB); at least 2 Gill guys (MLB, CB); 1 Mangino guy (FS) and tossups between Weis and Gill guys at the BUCK and other OLB position. Let’s assign one to each.

Defense Total: Weis: 7, Gill: 3, Mangino: 1

SPECIALISTS

Credit: LJ World

K/P: Trevor Pardula: The spring depth chart has Pardula, a JUCO transfer, listed as a starter at both positions.  Eric Kahn, a transfer from Mid America Nazarene may also get a shot at being the kicker. Both of those guys were brought in under Weis.  Either way, Ron Doherty has good competition at both positions.

Snapper: Zachary Young / Reilly Jeffers: Young is a transfer from Indiana. Jeffers played as a freshman last year. Both are Weis Guys.

Not surprisingly, Turner Gill recruits have zero impact on special teams.

COACHES

Reggie Mitchell and Buddy Wyatt:  There is a reason Weis only kept these two from the prior staff.  Almost all the Gill guys on the list above are linked to those 2 guys.  They may have been the only 2 coaches on staff who knew what to look for in a potential recruit.

Dave Beaty:  His name came up a lot as well.  The dude could and can recruit.  I wish Weis would’ve kept him.  Instead he’s at Texas A&M as an assistant coach & recruiting coordinator.  A&M’s 2012 recruiting class was ranked: #15 in the country.  2013: #11, 2014: #6 and rising.  Sigh.

What does it all mean?

Well, for one thing, Turner robbed us blind.  For his $10 million, we’re getting maybe 4 starters on this year’s team, when it should be close to half.  During his opening statements he said a lot of things, which were essentially just a lot of hot air and B.S (by the way, be careful reading that transcript, it may induce excessive eye rolling and possibly vomiting). Gill pretty much did the opposite of what he promised, running a loose program with no discipline or accountability.  There is a reason Weis had to kick out nearly a third of the team, and that is also the reason he has had to bring in so many JUCO guys, players with experience and physical development, to fill in all the gaps.

Having said all that, I think Weis has us on the right track, with a potential bowl season in 2013.

Season breakdown next?

Photo Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

 

Is the “Wildcat” here to stay?

Posted on: September 25th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Matthews certainly looked the part on Saturday afternoon

On last week’s Jayhawk Talk Podcast, we made the argument that KU’s best wide receiver may be our running back, Tony Pierson. On this week’s podcast, we argued that KU’s best wide receiver might instead be our quarterback, Dayne Crist.

Stay with me here.

I’m referring of course to the “Wildcat” formation package (some prefer to call it the “Jayhawk” formation) that Charlie Weis featured for a number of snaps in the Northern Illinois game last Saturday. The package was designed for Christian Matthews, a dual-threat quarterback turned wide receiver turned… quarterback.

Matthews had not been able to find the field much as a wide receiver, but that might change now that he has potentially found his niche. Recruited by Mangino back in 2009 (which seems like ages ago in KU football years), Matthews was at one time a talented high school quarterback that threw the ball for 5,042 yards his junior and senior seasons. That two-year span included a 44-16 TD:INT ratio and a completion percentage of 65%.

Let’s all reflect for a moment how nice it would be to have a 65% completion percentage from KU’s quarterback position.

I digress.

Traditionally, the Wildcat/Jayhawk formation works best when it is used as an element of surprise. Say you’re a defender and the opposing team breaks huddle with 10 seconds left on the play clock. You’re a safety that was about ready to stack the box against the run. Next thing you know, the offense sends its star quarterback (with a laser rocket arm) all the way out wide. You are forced to quickly adjust the defense because the secondary must now account for the quarterback as a wide receiver. It’s now 10 on 10 instead of 11 on 10.

For the most part, KU ran this package with the above-referenced personnel on the field. Unfortunately, the element of surprise was not all that strong since Matthews rarely sees the field as a wide receiver. In the future, savvy defenses will know that if Matthews checks in, the Wildcat will be coming.

Not that it changes a whole lot.

After all, defense is built on simple math. You always want to have one more guy than the offense can block. But when you face the Wildcat, that advantage is lost because the cornerback must give the quarterback spread out wide a cursory look – at least until the play has started.

By then, hopefully, it will have been too late.

Matthews looked very good running the Wildcat offense. He made great reads of the defense and for the most part chose the correct option. He carried the ball five times himself for 43 yards.

One thing he did not really do is pass the ball. And if Weis is going to keep this package around beyond the NIU game (which he definitely should), the threat of a pass must be there to keep the defense honest. As referenced above, Matthews has been a competent quarterback at one time in his career. The next step in employing a true Wildcat package is to threaten a pass occasionally. If it’s not there, tuck it and run. The threat is all that is needed.

The NIU game was the first game I’ve really been able to follow real-time reaction on Twitter, since there’s not really any service at Memorial Stadium.  Every indication was that KU fans loved this new offensive wrinkle. Perhaps because it was actually effective! We moved the ball well throughout the second and third quarters when the Wildcat was loose.

And then, just like that, it was caged again.

Should Cummings be running the Wildcat over Matthews?

Weis turned back to a more traditional offense throughout the 4th quarter because NIU began to stretch the perimeter of their defense. While I understand his reasoning, I disagree with it. A good read by the Wildcat quarterback will negate that adjustment by sending a few HB dives at the defense. After all, KU has the personnel to make them pay for it. After a few of those, hit the fake HB dive and play action it to Ragone. Who cares if you miss? It sets up the sweep once again and you’re back to where you started.

It sure beats 3 straight passing attempts and a punt.

Think about what defenses are doing now to KU when Crist is under center. Through four games, the Jayhawks have basically written the defensive game plan out for the opposition:

  1. With Crist in the game, do not concern yourself with game planning for any downfield threat. Single coverage will always suffice.
  2. Instead, focus solely on stacking the box against a very competent running game. Mix in a lot of blitzing because, again, your secondary will be fine (See #1).
  3. By the 4th quarter, rotate in as many blitz packages as you have on the Rolodex. By this point, the offensive line will be toast and you’ll be able to blow up most runs before they get started. And, if you’re lucky, perhaps Weis will have transitioned into calling every 7-step drop passing play he can find in his own Rolodex. It will turn into a sack party. Rinse and repeat.

I should be clear. The Wildcat does not cure these deficiencies. And I’m not arguing KU should go to a full-on Wildcat formation offense. What the Wildcat does do is force defenses to read and react instead of just barreling downfield at the quarterback every play. It allows more offensive playmakers to be on the field at the same time. It is easier for our O-Line to block. It opens up the potential for some trick plays later in the game (or in future games). Hell, if Pick is on the field, you have three competent QBs who could pass the ball to somebody.

More than anything, KU demonstrated that the Wildcat can be effective, which is more than we can say for the traditional offensive sets Weis has been throwing out there.

My last point on the Wildcat/Jayhawk is this: Does anyone else find it interesting Weis chose Christian Matthews to run it and not Michael Cummings? As many of you may know, Cummings is listed #2 on the depth chart and was recruited to KU just the same as Matthews as a dual-threat quarterback.  He has every bit of the running ability as Matthews, but with a much, much better arm.

Personally, I think Weis is scared to death to see Cummings enter the game and outshine his golden boy. You think there is quarterback controversy now… imagine if Cummings was given a package and just killed it?

We’d be looking at Jason Swanson over Barmann. At Reesing over Meier.

Cummings over Crist? Unfortunately, barring injury, we’ll never know who really is the better option for these 2013 Jayhawks.

For now, let’s at least hope the Wildcat is here to stay.