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Saturday, July 19, 2008

10 questions for KU’s follow-up to magical season

Kansas University quarterback Todd Reesing takes off on a 53-yard run during the first half against the University of Colorado on Oct. 20, 2007, at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo. If Reesing puts up stats similar to last season, helps KU win a conference championship and gets the team back to a BCS bowl game, he might be invited to the Heisman award show.

Kansas University quarterback Todd Reesing takes off on a 53-yard run during the first half against the University of Colorado on Oct. 20, 2007, at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo. If Reesing puts up stats similar to last season, helps KU win a conference championship and gets the team back to a BCS bowl game, he might be invited to the Heisman award show.

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Three Kansas University football players will be made available Tuesday to answer questions at the Big 12 Conference's annual media day. In the meantime, here are 10 pressing questions already being asked by KU football fans counting the days until the Jayhawks open their season against Florida International on Aug. 30 in Memorial Stadium:

1: What does Todd Reesing have to do to make a legitimate run at the Heisman Trophy?

Just win, baby.

Last season, Reesing threw for 3,486 yards and 33 touchdowns and was intercepted just seven times while leading the Jayhawks to a 12-1 record, and the sophomore from Austin, Texas, still didn't get invited to the Heisman award show.

His stats, most likely, will be less impressive this season, when the Jayhawks face a tougher schedule and Reesing will be protected by less experienced blockers. But similar stats, along with a conference championship and return trip to a BCS bowl, might be enough to earn himself a trip to New York.

2: How much of a concern is it that KU couldn't run the ball in the spring game?

It's a concern, but a mild one. For one thing, the defense always has the advantage in the spring game because the defensive players are familiar with the line calls and tend to know what play is coming. Also, creative ways of blasting open rushing lanes aren't shown in spring games because to do so would be to run the risk of those blocking schemes winding up in the hands of one of the 12 enemies on the schedule.

But with both tackles, tight end Derek Fine and running back Brandon McAnderson gone, the rebuilding of the running game represents a challenge. Junior college recruit Jocques Crawford, provided he displays a Big 12 work ethic, has a chance to lead the team in rushing. After watching KU's failed attempts to run the ball at the spring game, Crawford said, "I really like my chances."

He showed up for summer conditioning, basically dropped his bags and ran a 4.6 40-yard dash. Not bad for a 220-pound back.

3: Just how much tougher is this season's schedule compared to last season's?

For comparison purposes, slice the schedule into three groups: Nonconference (four games), Big 12 North (five games) and Big 12 South (three games).

Nonconference: All four games last season were at home and none came against a foe as tough as South Florida. The nonconference season is one game tougher this year.

Big 12 North: Nebraska should be better under a new coach and the game will be played in Lincoln this year. So, figure this portion of the schedule to be about a half-game tougher.

Big 12 South: Look at it this way: Playing Texas and Texas Tech at home is tougher, however slightly, than facing Oklahoma State and Texas A&M; on the road. Facing Oklahoma on the road is far tougher than playing Baylor at home. Call this portion 1-1/2 games tougher.

In all, the schedule is three games tougher than last season, which translates to an 8-4 finish if the Jayhawks play as well this year as last.

4: What is the scariest game on the schedule?

Oklahoma isn't so much scary as incredibly tough. Same goes for Texas. And Missouri. And Texas Tech. The scariest game on Kansas' '08 schedule will take place Sept. 12 against South Florida in Tampa.

The Bulls are a rising national power and went 5-1 at home in '07, including victories over West Virginia, Louisville and Central Florida. They also return 17 starters from a team that, before a late-season collapse, ascended to No. 2 in the national polls.

Last season, the Jayhawks didn't lose their first game until the 12th game of the year. How might a Week 3 loss set the tone for the '08 season?

5: Until getting injured late in the season, left tackle Anthony Collins did a terrific job of protecting Todd Reesing's blind side. Now that Collins is in training camp with the Cincinnati Bengals, whose task will that become?

Jeff Spikes, a 6-foot-6, 312-pound redshirt freshman from Painesville, Ohio, could be counted on to serve as Reesing's body guard. Ranked as the seventh-best lineman in the state of Ohio by Rivals.com, Spikes also lettered in basketball and track. He averaged 12 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots for Harvey High, a strong indication that he moves his feet well.

6: What player-on-player matchup, if it goes as well for KU as the Cole Aldrich-Tyler Hansbrough one did, could mean the Jayhawks are in for a banner season?

South Florida defensive end George Selvie, an All-American, led the nation in tackles for loss (31.5) and finished second in the nation with 14.5 sacks. If Spikes, in just the third game of his college career, can keep Selvie off of Reesing's back, that would bode well for the chances of a second consecutive BCS bowl bid.

7: Who could become this year's Chris Harris?

Last year, the true freshman defensive back came out of nowhere to earn freshman all-American honors after totaling 65 tackles (sixth on team) and two interceptions. Kansas didn't have any reason to count on such an immediate contribution. Based on whispers about his improved play during the spring, Maxwell Onyegbule could be the player who surprises this season. He might even call to mind Brandon Perkins from the 2005 season, harassing quarterbacks on third down.

8: Might Kerry Meier return punts this season?

There is about as much chance of that happening as there is of Mark Mangino leaving the team to become Pope. Meier will remain the backup quarterback and work as a first-team receiver. His sure hands and good speed make him well-suited for the job but it also would spread him thin in practice and expose him to injury.

9: Is there anyone on the roster capable of turning punt returning from a weakness into a strength?

Daymond Patterson, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound freshman out of Mesquite, Texas, averaged 21.6 yards per punt return as a senior. He'll be given a shot at winning the job. An amazing athlete, Patterson set school records in the triple jump and as a member of the 4X200 relay team.

10: Can this season's Border War matchup live up to the hype of last year's version?

Absolutely, positively, no-question-about-it: No. Remember, Kansas was No. 2 and Missouri No. 3. That won't happen again, but it will mean just as much to players and fans from both sides of college football's oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi.

Comments

KU 11 years, 3 months ago

As our Offensive Tackles go, so goes our team. I really think it's that simple.The defense could be better than last year. Talib was an amazing talent, but KU has become "Defensive Back U". They keep churning the underrated Texas HS DBs out at an impressive rate. Max O looked like an animal in the Spring Game.

killabees 11 years, 3 months ago

Good article. Good questions and answers. I definitely agree that Max O. could be a breakout star. Can't wait for the new season

rhino11 11 years, 3 months ago

We need two tackles, not one. What about Wolfe, Darton or D'Cunha?

sevenyearhawk 11 years, 3 months ago

Honestly, this is one of the best written pieces I've seen on KUSports.com ... EVER!Kudos to the writers!!***8-4 should be the least the team accomplishes, but I don't think 10 wins would be a surprise.Let's hope this is the last time we hear about Kerry Meier returning punts ... the is the most insanely idiotic and grotesquely ludicrous idea that has ever even been suggested in the history of Kansas athletics!!What's next, Coach Mangino on the cover of Playgirl?

teejhawk00 11 years, 3 months ago

First of all, thank you very much for a football article. Being that we are only 2 weeks out of reporting for the season it is nice that we finally don't have to read about a D. Jackson and R. Robinson love fest, or how many points incoming frosh Relaford scores in an exibition game overseas.Gotta love the loser football mentality of our writers (we sucked for so long that we will just revert to sucking forever). Why do you just assume that because we play OU (lost a BCS game last year to team with a brand new coach), Texas (lost at home to KSU last year and on the road to A&M as well), and Texas Tech (can not play defense), and USF (play in a lesser BCS conference and did not fare well late in the season against quality competition) that we will automatically lose 3 or 4 more games. Thank God Coach Mangino and the players don't have the same mindset as the newbie football beat writer and the opinion column guy have.Also, why must you make stupid basketball to football comparisons? Most of us understand and have football knowledge and don't need unneccesary oranges to apples matchup examples.I live in Fayetteville, AR and almost every day there are 2 or more articles in the paper here regarding the upcoming U of A season, or the SEC teams, or incoming players, or future recruits, and their new football coach is just as restricted with the media as Coach Mangino is. They also are coming off a very disappointing season that saw them lose 2 first round draft pick RB's and you never sence a hint of "we will suck this year" by the way their writers put together stories.Anyway, I know I shouldn't complain because I don't pay for this service (I do the AR Dem-Gazzette), but I do come on here everyday and have actually purchased merchandise from advertisements on here. I would just love to get alot more free information on my Jayhawk football team.

prairie_dog 11 years, 3 months ago

Two predictions: after a short apprenticeship (the noncon schedule), Crawford tears up the Big 12 and KU has a league-leading, or nearly so, running game;Patterson electrifies as a punt returner and becomes a feared weapon like Herford.

hawk_bred20 11 years, 3 months ago

KGphoto- Good pointsWe are not sneaking up on anybody this year and that is going to make for some tough games against EVERY team, not just the ones that are ranked.I don't think the writer was predicting we'd be 8-4, he was just saying that when you look at it with the increased schedule difference, then it would translate to 8-4. Anyways, don't be so arrogant KU fans, we could definitely be 10-2, and we could slip up and be 8-4, it's not ludicrous by any means to say that.I personally think, with this schedule, 8-4 would be kind of a dissapointment, 9-3 would be acceptable, and 10-2 would be another great season. I'm getting psyched, go Hawks!

William James 11 years, 3 months ago

teejhawk00-Great comment. Its nice to know Im not going insane. Usually, when I check this website in the summer, I feel like Im taking crazy pills!

Pbbut 11 years, 3 months ago

SevenYr..."most insanely idiotic and grotesquely ludicrous idea that has ever even been suggested in the history of Kansas athletics!!" The suggestion of Meyer returning punts is close, but remember, this is a program that hired Mike Gottfried, Terry Allen, and Bob Valesente. Reesing will be the key. While I don't expect him to repeat the numbers, the number of wins will still be double digit, if we don't throw prayers, fumble, and commit penalties. Also, I expect our improved defense to give us a short field at least once a week.

Ben Kane 11 years, 3 months ago

anybody have tickets to the USF game they can't use? I'd much rather sit in the KU section if possible.

hawk316 11 years, 3 months ago

My prediction: 8-4 and that will not be a disappointment in the least, considering our strength of schedule. Remember, last year was indeed a magical season. 12-1 seasons do not come along every year. I think we'll have a very strong team, an exciting team to watch, and 8-4 will be a season to be proud of. Go Hawks!

Clarence Haynes 11 years, 3 months ago

9-3. Anything better is truly a bonus (for Mangino)!

okjhok 11 years, 3 months ago

"In all, the schedule is three games tougher than last season, which translates to an 8-4 finish if the Jayhawks play as well this year as last."So, let me get this straight. Just because KU's schedule is 3 games tougher (based on the obscure logic), it automatically will lose 3 more games, even if it plays as well as last year? I don't buy that for one second. If KU plays as well as last year, this is a 2-loss season, IMO. I'll give you OU and MU, but KU doesn't lose at home to perennially overrated UT, TTU, or at NU, provided they play at last year's level, with few penalties, huge turnover margin, and minimal injuries.

actorman 11 years, 3 months ago

You're right, fabio. So according to your logic, because the world is a soccer world, we should have much more coverage of soccer than we do. Who cares that the U.S. is more interested in football; it's soccer that's the most popular sport in the world. That's what you're saying, right, that because football is the most popular sport in the country that supersedes what's the most popular sport at KU?

actorman 11 years, 3 months ago

Good point, JFHawk. Unfortunately, there are only so many articles they can write; there's isn't a limitless supply of writers available. And personally, I think the balance is pretty good. As much as I love KU football, and as much as I enjoyed last season, the fact is that KU is a basketball school, has always been a basketball school, and always will be a basketball school. That doesn't mean they can't have a consistently good football team, but it will NEVER be on the level of KU basketball. To get to that level, KU would have to have the tradition of a Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, Ohio State, etc., and it would take a CENTURY of seasons like last year to get to that point. So whether or not the football fans like it, there will always be more of a focus on the basketball team. On top of everything else, we just won a freaking national championship!!! But just as we can look forward to bitching after virtually every LJW article, we can look forward to bitching every summer about the dearth of football articles. It's as predictable as death, taxes, and evil Republicans.

actorman 11 years, 3 months ago

Troutsee, I'm also an alum who yearns for a consistently winning football program. I love watching the games and reading about them. But when you have the greatest tradition in the entire country in a sport it's crazy to disavow that tradition and believe that another sport can ever be the equal of it. I'm sure Notre Dame fans yearn to have a consistently winning basketball program and they've had some good years. That still doesn't mean they'll ever not be considered a football school.

JHawk74 11 years, 3 months ago

It appears that Kerry Meier is a full time WR this year. They no longer listed him as a QB. I expect him to be a starting WR. He will probably play the slot position most of the time. Could even see him run a reverse or line up as a RB. I'm not saying he won't play QB if needed, but it appears he is not the routine back up QB this year. They have two others listed as QB this year behind Reesing.

troutsee 11 years, 3 months ago

Mangino says O line will be okay. I believe him. Once again we will play as a team. 10-2 with wins over Ut and MU. Notice I used a "little t." K-State folded big time down the stretch last year but they certainly played us well and beat Ut and OSU, both respectable teams. I hate the Huskers, but they will be better. They kept their offensive coordinator and have a returning QB, so they will have plenty of O. It'll be interesting to see how their defense fairs. And that is an away game, so is also a danger game. In spite of that, I still say 10-2.

James Horton 11 years, 3 months ago

Ok, I understand people being upset about the lack of football articles, but why does it always have to be at the expense of the basketball articles. I love KU football as much as I love KU basketball and I would love to be on here reading about both all day every day. We should not have to choose between one or the other. I think that it is great to read about the numbers Releford is putting up in the U17 and to see constant articles about our guys that are trying/have made it to the NBA. I think it sends a great message to our players that we care about them no matter where they are, and it shows recruits coming in the attention/potential for success that you can have at KU. That being said I loved the article I don't completely agree with everything (8-4), but it was educating. I also wanted to say that people thought that 10-2 was impossible last year on these boards and look what happened. I guess that's why they play the games.

rockchalk_dpu 11 years, 3 months ago

I totally agree with that okjhok. How is it that we can just assume they will drop 3 games based on the fact that they are "tougher opponents"? Shouldn't we, after last season's breakout year, assume that each game we have a legit shot to win.As long as we prepare the way that we did last year, and outwork our opponents while playing smart football, I think we can contend for the Big 12 title again and another BCS game. I know we won't "sneak up on anyone," but that just means our preparations each week are that much more important. I trust HCMM to not let this team be satisfied with mediocrity and will push them all season to continue the success from last season.RCJ

Jonathan Briles 11 years, 3 months ago

okjhok I think its fair for them to say that we go 8-4 next year. He is not saying which teams the 3 more losses will come to he is just saying that the schedule gets tougher and that we can expect our record to as well. I personally agree with you and think that we will go 10-2 or better because of how great our defense is and how good our offense is against a B12 that does not have the best defensive teams. But, I dont know who we will lose to. It could be OU and MU or it could be CU and USF pulling upsets on us. I dont really know, but one thing that I think is that we should stop thinking that we are national powers with the best team in football. Last season we went into every game thinking that we were AS good as every team we played and then we decided to work harder than all those teams and come out on top. We need to do the same thing because we are not the best team in the nation but we are capable of playing like it and winning every game.

KGphoto 11 years, 3 months ago

Other differences.This year we become a target. That's a big one! We start the season as a top 20 team. Nice that we don't have to wait to be ranked, but teams will be shooting for us, especially for Reesing.Two. We lost our defensive coordinator. I know the system isn't changing and the current coach was in line from the beginning, but this one is still up in the air. We could be better, could be worse.Last. That running game. To me it seems less about the Crawford addition, more about MacAnderson's departure. There was something about how B-Mac glued that thing together. Clicking off 1st downs. There was a synergy between he and Sharp. I hope that it was a system thing and not just a B-Mac thing, but it rarely broke down for more than one or two plays a game. And was often unstoppable. That's tough to duplicate.My bet is, Mangino has his system running now. We are going to be tough. But that system relies on the countries biggest spark plug, Reesing. We go as far as Reesing goes.Deep down, we all know that's the truth.

Nutflush21 11 years, 3 months ago

I have a question for Dugan. Why the heck is a missery grad writing for the LJ-World?

34_5_20_nbaTitle 11 years, 3 months ago

Dude why the (a lot of words would under play how mad i am that you brought up p-t) would you bring up hansbrough. Man, Roy "gosh darn it", never won a ring with my own team "i don't give a sh!t about n.c."Okay, get this though your head. WE CAN PLAY FOOTBALL. I know you can read cause you wright. WE CAN PLAY FOOTBALL.Actually it's all good if you admit it's you jaybate "playing it cool". Cause i don't know if it's right or left handed but man it spunks a lot.

actorman 11 years, 3 months ago

"I don't think the writer was predicting we'd be 8-4 ...""In all, the schedule is three games tougher than last season, which translates to an 8-4 finish if the Jayhawks play as well this year as last."That's pretty much a "prediction" in my book. In fact, he may even be predicting a worse season than 8-4 because he added the caveat "if the Jayhawks play as well this year as last." Considering that KU played PHENOMENAL football last year, that's a lot to expect.I don't have a problem with predicting that KU goes 8-4; my problem is with the "logic" behind the prediction. I agree with okjhok and rockchalk that the comment is extremely bizarre. It would be one thing if KU had barely skated by in all its games last year, but in a lot of them KU thoroughly dominated the other team. How on earth can he say that just because the schedule is three games tougher, KU would automatically lose those three games??? That's an utterly ridiculous statement; if KU thoroughly dominates a lesser team, that very well could mean that they only slightly dominate a better team, or don't dominate but barely win in a hard-fought game. Just because a game is tougher, it doesn't mean it's a gurantee that KU will lose.As for the record, I think 8-4 is a pretty fair prediction. It's not just the tougher schedule and all the other reasons given above, but the fact that KU played at a peak level in virtually every game last year; it's hard to imagine they'll be that consistent again this year. If KU does go better than 8-4, it will truly cement how great a coach MM is. One great year (even if it's the greatest in KU history) is one thing, but to do it again with all the heightened expectations and attention would be truly remarkable.

William James 11 years, 3 months ago

Regardless of how much success KU has with thier basketball program, the fact is that is that America is a football nation, has always been a football nation, and always will be a football nation. That dosent mean we cant enjoy the fun game of basketball, but lets not over do it. Because basketball will NEVER be on the same level of football. Im talking high school, on up to the pros.

troutsee 11 years, 3 months ago

Fabio...you are right on. In America football is king...especially college ball. Football games are spaced so that they are events. With BB you drive over and drive back, and the BB home schedule last year was boring....so much so that I did not get season BB tickets for the first time in years. Anyway, back to football.....we can eventually become a power...it has to start somewhere and that somewhere seems to be with Mangino. I don't want to hear, "Kansas is a basketball school." Comments like that do not make a good impression on would-be football recruits and are irritating to some of us alums who yearn for a consistently winning football program.

William James 11 years, 3 months ago

Interesting point about soccer. I see where your going with that. However, the United States is a very different culture than everywhere else in the world. We are bigger and stronger people than just about everybody. If you have been to Europe, then you know that Europeans are nowhere near the size of us, so they need a sport that dosent emphasize muscular strength, but endurance. Also, with the mentality of Europeans, I think American football is just too brutal of a sport to be THE major sport.

troutsee 11 years, 3 months ago

Who is disavowing? I object to KU being dubbed a basketball school. Yes, we are a perennial power in BB, but labeling KU as a BB school hurts our chances in FB, expecially in recruiting. This is not, and should not be a competition between the two sports. I love both of them. However, KU FB should not be a stepchild of its BB program. It's possible to have powerhouses in both programs. I still say, referring to KU as a BB school denigrates the FB program and has the potential to harm the FB program.

William James 11 years, 3 months ago

actorman-UCLA has 11 national titles, we have 5. Please explain to me how we have the better tradition. Im a fan of the mens and womens basketball programs myself, but with the new age of Perkins and Mangino it is simply incorrect to state that we are exclusively a basketball school. Mangino himself said that this is no longer a one dementional university. A new age of athletics has begun at KU and you can either get on board or get out of the way. A successful football program brings in more revenue and more national respect to a university than the mens and womens basketball programs combined.Being known around the country for being second rate at the major sport but being really good in the secondary sport, dosent put people in awe.Mangino and his kids have taken it to the next level, I wish the fans would do the same. Mangino has made it safe for even the biggest bandwagon fans to come on board.

CaramelMacchMan 11 years, 3 months ago

just when Tom was losing fans.He came up with the dammm good article.Nice article Keegan.

caddie733 11 years, 3 months ago

Hey idiots, the writer was not predicting an 8-4 record for this year. The word "translates" is the key. He is merely stating that the schedule is 3 to 4 games more difficult this year. He never said "I predict...8-4". Just giving an 8-4 record to compare strength of schedule from last year to this year. Learn how to read and interpret.

actorman 11 years, 3 months ago

"actorman-UCLA has 11 national titles, we have 5. Please explain to me how we have the better tradition."There are many reasons why KU has a greater tradition than UCLA. The latest championship is a big part of it, of course, but tradition is about more than just winning championships. KU's first coach was the inventor of the game. KU's winningest coach was the driving force behind the creation of the NCAA and getting basketball into the Olympics. A huge number of the top coaches in history have a direct connection to KU. The KU fan base is far more rabid than the UCLA fan base. (The atmosphere at Pauley Pavilion doesn't come close to the atmosphere at Allen.) KU has more wins overall and is only slightly behind in Final Fours. KU started playing basketball in 1899 and UCLA started in 1920. And most of UCLA's success came in one 12-year stretch. Tradition is about a long history, not just a lot of good years with one glorious decade.You guys make a good point about the recruiting factor; I think our differences are more about terminology than anything else. And I would hardly qualify as a "bandwagon" fan, given how many brutal football losses I've been through over the years.

William James 11 years, 3 months ago

actorman-I certainly wasnt referring to you as a bandwagon fan. I have noticed that KU does have its share of bandwagon fans and are being very cautious about coming on board with Mangino.Good points with the UCLA/KU comparison, The Pavilion certainly dosent have the atmosphere we have.

100 11 years, 3 months ago

I meant to say this April 8, but after Mario's shot it took awhile to arrive here: IT IS OFFICIALLY FOOTBALL SEASON! KU players, every game on this schedule is very winnable: the coaches will do their job. Be pumped for every game, and let the focus be only on that game. Do that, and you will be laughing at the 8-4 preseason prediction after the championship game: in short, hear me loud and hear me clear -- you can... And you will. Rock Chalk!

jesusisajhawk 11 years, 3 months ago

off topic I know but...does anyone know if KU is selling peices of the NCAA championship floor like they did the old Allen Fieldhouse floor? If so, when and where can it be purcased? Thanks everyone!

Kman_blue 11 years, 3 months ago

actorman: "To get to that level, KU would have to have the tradition of a Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, Ohio State, etc., and it would take a CENTURY of seasons like last year to get to that point."Let's make last year, the first year of that century of football success to rival our previous century of BB success!

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