07 May 2012
EERinsider.com will be working over the next several weeks to bring you a look at the Big 12 Conference. We will preview all teams, players to watch, give a conference outlook, and early bowl projections from various outlets.
Let’s kick things off with the Kansas Jayhawks.
When you talk Jayhawk football, you start at the top. Kansas welcomed new head coach Charlie Weis to Lawrence during the off season. Weis is taking over a program that went winless last season in Big 12 play, and has only won 2 conference games during the last two seasons. Weis is coming off a stop in Gainesville where he served as Offensive Coordinator.
On offense, the Jayhawks will be searching for the endzone. In fact, the Jayhawks only scored 10 points or less in four of their last five.
Kansas welcomes Notre Dame transfer Dane Crist, who will have one year to play. Weis and Crist already have a relationship. Weis recruited Crist to Notre Dame, and in talking with people in Lawrence, Crist is the real deal. They feel he brings instant offense and leadership to the locker room.
Crist was on point during the Blue-White game throwing for 156 yards on 11 of 19 attempts.
Sophomore running back Tony Pierson stole the show earning the game’s MVP award. The speedster from St. Louis ran for 141 yards on 7 carries behind an experienced offensive line. Marquis Jackson made the move from wide receiver to running back racking up 76 yards on 10 carries and a tallied a game high three touchdowns. Don’t forget about junior back James Sims.
Leading the receivers are a trio of seniors. Kale Pick led all receivers with 82 yards on four catches and senior Daymond Patterson hauled in a game high five catches for 64 yards. D.J. Beshears scored on a reverse and a touchdown pass, but he is dangerous in special teams. He led Big 12 in kick return yards (1,014) and was third in all-purpose yards (1,587) ranking 11th in the country in kick return yards and was 38th in all-purpose yards in 2011.
Leading the way for the Jayhawks defense during the spring was sophomore defensive end Michael Reynolds totaling three sacks, five tackles, and four tackles for a loss while being selected as the defensive MVP. Senior cornerback Corrigan Powell led all tacklers with eight stops.
Kansas looks to bounce back from 2011 season that saw their defense ranked one of the worst in the country. The Jayhawks finished last in total and scoring defense.
Weis has already targeted areas of needed improvement. He knows the secondary is solid, but the defensive line needs improved, and youth will be looked upon to solidify the unit.
Opinion: Kansas fans are thirsty for a return to glory and another BCS game. It wasn’t long ago the Jayhawks defeated Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl 24-21, and finished the season 12-1. Can the Jayhawks improve from a 2-10 campaign? Can they win a conference game? Will they go bowling?
With any new system it takes time to get it down, and a chance to bring in players you need to compete in the loaded conference. If Kansas wins a conference game, it won’t come until Texas Tech or Iowa State.
The addition of former BYU quarterback Jake Heaps will add stability to a team next year that just needs time.
Prediction: No bowl game
Finish: 3-9; 1-8 in conference
Sept. 1 – South Dakota St.
Sept. 8 – Rice
Sept. 15 – TCU
Sept. 22 - @Northern Ill.
Oct. 6 - @Kansas State
Oct. 13 – Oklahoma State
Oct. 20 – @Oklahoma
Oct. 27 – Texas
Nov. 3 - @Baylor
Nov. 10- @Texas Tech
Nov. 17 – Iowa State
Dec. 1 – @West Virginia
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