Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Kansas Jayhawks season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Kansas Jayhawks
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Kansas Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
“The only enemy more dangerous than a man with unlimited resources is one with nothing to lose.”
Forgetting that Chuck Rhoades from Billions really did have unlimited resources when he said that to Bobby Axelrod, at this point, Kansas really does have nothing to lose.
So what does it do with that? How can it turn that into a positive and actually clean up this mess?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, this is the year Kansas football is supposed to finally break through a bit, and ha ha, the program is the Big 12’s bye week, but obviously, something has to change. And it starts with one key tweak …
Relax, because no one is expecting anything.
That might be the right road to go, but head coach David Beaty doesn’t have that luxury.
The school got rid of the athletic director and kept the head football coach – further proof of how much football really is more important in the real world of big-time college athletics than having a great basketball program – and unless Beaty can show that the foundation is being built up, the new AD will want to make an impact right away with a big football coaching hire.
How bad has this been? Under Beaty, Kansas is one fourth down conversion by Texas in 2016 away from being winless against FBS teams during his era – the two over wins under him have been against FCSers. How bad is this overall? Kansas football is 9-86 against FBS teams going back all the way to 2009.
Beaty came to Kansas with a top-shelf offensive pedigree, having worked on the Texas A&M staff under Kevin Sumlin and serving for a year a Kansas as the offensive coordinator in 2010. But he never really went all in on the full-blown rebuild job.
Sometimes, there is no quick fix, and that’s the selling point. The program sinking this low was a long time in the making, and while there has to be a little bit of success, just being more competitive and more interesting might be enough.
Recruiting has been an issue, but it’s not like Iowa State and Kansas State are beating out Oklahoma and Texas for five-star talents. So what has Beaty done? He’s gone hard on JUCO transfers, and he’s doing it again with 12 more expected to fill in the gaps this year.
That’s fine to build up the depth, but unless lightning strikes, there’s no way around it. You have to find the right prep talent to fit your program, spend a few years developing them, and then in two-to-four years, bank on them being the core of what you do. Of course, that’s what Kansas has tried to do, too, and now this has to be the year that it pays off.
Beaty and offensive coordinator Doug Meacham have to lock in on a quarterback, and go with him no matter what. Beaty might be one of the lowest paid Power Five head coaches, but he’s still making a ton of dough to be able to identify not just the quarterback for right now, but the guy who’s going to be good two years from now.
There was a two-man rotation last year, three quarterbacks saw significant time in 2016, and three more worked in 2015. Injuries are one thing, but not letting one player be THE GUY to develop is another.
At the same time, experience has to translate into production. Kansas really did go young around the JUCO transfers over the last few seasons, and despite the lack of any success so far, this is an interesting team coming out to start the season.
Ten starters are back on defense – only losing star pass rusher Dorance Armstrong – and the O went really, really young in some key areas. All five starters on the line late last year were underclassmen, and outside if TE Ben Johnson, everyone of note is back among the skill guys.
The Jayhawks have a potential star in RB Khalil Herbert if he can stay healthy, Steven Sims is an All-Big 12 talent at one receiver spot, and DT Daniel Wise and LB Joe Dineen are as good as any defensive players in the conference.
The experience is ridiculous – 61 lettermen are back along with almost 100% of all the returning production in just about every main area – and while the talent might not be top-shelf across the board, there are enough good players to count on along with all the JUCO types coming in to help the cause.
So what are you going to do, Kansas, lose just about every game again? That’s what everyone expects and will predict, so the pressure is totally off.