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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Keegan

Don’t get hopes too high

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All spring, the most frequently asked question of new Kansas University football coach Turner Gill was some variation of, “Which unit has stood out the most?”

Depending on the day, the answer changed. He mentioned the secondary more than once, the offensive line a time or two, the receivers once, the tight ends a couple of times, the linebackers Saturday.

It’s difficult not to infer that no unit has stood out, not such a good thing for a program trying to replace the most productive passer in school history and a safety and two wide receivers selected Saturday during the final day of the NFL Draft.

On paper, in terms of talented experience, Kansas shapes up as below average by Big 12 standards both offensively and defensively.

Which side has more talent?

“Right now, I’d have to say I might lean more toward the offense because on the offensive line we have five, six guys we feel pretty good about,” Gill said after Saturday’s spring game. “We’ve got a good corps of receivers, the receivers and the tight ends have played pretty well both blocking and receiving. I feel good about quite a few positions.”

The longer Saturday’s spring game rolled along, the more a projected 2010 record seemed like the right call. Kansas looked very much like a 4-8 football team.

That’s not an indictment of the new coaching staff and not a slam on the old one either. All but the elite college football programs that stock their rosters two-deep with starting-caliber players go through cycles. When the most talented players on the roster also happen to the be the most experienced, that’s when magical years such as 2007 for KU happen. When the majority of the talent comes from the younger classes, that’s when it’s tough to field a winner.

For KU, no position better exemplifies young and talented than the most important one. Quarterback Kale Pick, a red-shirt sophomore from Dodge City, showcased an accurate arm, but with no meaningful experience, he’ll suffer growing pains. Red-shirt freshman Jordan Webb also looked solid, but he hasn’t taken a snap in a college game.

“It’s the youngest group on the football field for us, as far as experience,” offensive coordinator Chuck Long said. “At the same time, we at least have three years with all of them, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how that develops.”

Red-shirt freshman receiver Chris Omigie, long and graceful, showed he has enough speed to get behind the defense and scored on a 72-yard pass play from Pick, who also hit red-shirt freshman quarterback-turned-receiver Christian Matthews for a 37-yard touchdown pass.

“Christian, he’s a name for the future,” Long said. “He’s a young guy who’s going to be a big playmaker for us.”

Hoping for better than a 4-8 season is the only way to go, but expecting better means setting oneself up for disappointment.

The run-oriented offense will take pressure off the inexperienced quarterback and will make offensive linemen happy. But will Kansas be able to own the line of scrimmage well enough to keep the punter off the field?

The immediate future doesn’t look too bright, but that’s no indication of the extended forecast.

Comments

escaped_labrat 4 years, 4 months ago

I'd have to say that it wasn't that impressive of a game, but that could also mean that there is a good balance overall. The only true judge of their mettle will be against 'other' competition. Last year we started 5-0 and we all know what happened after.... It's too premature to condemn given the wholesale changes

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Jonathan Briles 4 years, 4 months ago

Okay I am almost always on your side Keegan and I respect most of your articles, but this one I just can't. To make a story about predicting a losing record in the midst of all the excitement that has been going around is just idiotic. I understand your saying that we are young and that the future is bright, but there is no reason to throw a huge damper on this season. While it is important for there to be experience you can have great success without huge abbundances of it.

Some noteable things about the 07 team that could have pointed to a not so great season and a few things that are very similar to this season.

Secondary - Great lock down CB in Aqib Talib, but starting opposite, Freshman Chris Harris. Out there with them was a Sophomore Stuckey, Sophomore Thornton and a redshirt freshman Strozier. Outside of Talib there was not a lot of experience or known talent.

Offensive line - Extremely experienced with NFL type talent. Anthony Collins was experienced and a future draft choice. Hawkinson who plays the same position has all the talent and a season under his belt while everyone on the line has some experience and great talent.

WR - Marcus Henry was our main threat with Dexton Fields being good also. Under them were freshly turned WR Meire, and true freshman Briscoe. This year we have an experienced Wilson with future stars in McDougald, Omigie, and in an interesting story a freshly turned WR from QB in Christian Matthews.

QB - We were breaking in a brand new QB fresh off of a huge battle to earn the right to be on the field. He was inexperienced and ready to hit the field. This year we are fielding a very tight QB battle and can be sure that whoever wins will hit the field and competition with everything they have.

Heart - That team was so tight and ready for that season. They had everything they needed to win psychologically and made up for small lack of talent with heart. They had few problems and off field issues. This year we are entering a fresh start with clean slates and a very focused team

Expectations - That season just felt like it was going to be magical about a week after the 06 season ended. This season we have had a lot of expectations and hope as well. A lot of people have got behind this team and gotten excited about a new chapter in KU football.

I'm not saying that we are going to go 12 and 1, but I'm saying that you cannot look at this team and say that it has no shot. To post an article that says to expect disappointment if you hope for more than 4-8 is horrible. We are still a few months away from kick off. We have not even gotten all of our players yet. Who knows what diamonds Gill and the previous staff uncovered with this class. This team while I admit has the potential for 4-8 or less also has just as much potential to do something incredible.

It may be too late and this post may not be top notch, and I appologize for the rant, but I had to say something about this one.

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drum1984 4 years, 4 months ago

The QB situation this year is actually pretty similar to what we thought we had going into 2007. You don't have to have talented seniors at every position to be good.

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KURocksChalk 4 years, 4 months ago

This article is like one's wife asking, "Honey, do I look fat?" and you answer, "Well, to be honest, yes, you do. In fact, you look very fat." Keeg, for someone that is supposed to be in a position to help generate interest in KU Sports, you dropped the ball. It was bad form to come up with a prediction based merely on the Spring Game for the fortunes of KU Football in 2010. Right or not, it does not matter. This is not reporting. It IS editorializing, but without a purpose.

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d_prowess 4 years, 4 months ago

Wow, so Keegan is "supposed to... generate interest in KU Sports?" I didn't know he worked for the KU Marketing Department. I thought he WAS supposed to editorialize on sports topics. Maybe I don't understand the job of a columnist then...

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DCJayhawk0208 4 years, 4 months ago

I hate to pile on here, but d_prowess has a point. Plus, this isn't Keegan "reporting" a story...this is his "opinion" column.

When Keegan "reports," he doesn't use the first person. Or make predictions.

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Brennan Keller 4 years, 4 months ago

Keegan, You talking as if we played a different team yesterday. The article recapping the scrimmage said Gill used only about 30-40 percent of his plays in his playbook. Two key linebackers were injured too. With them back, the defense surely will be more solid. I agree we may not have a lot of experience, but 4-8 sounds a little low to me. 6-6 sounds like a realistic record for me. I hope KU sets high standards for themselves this year and proves everybody that Gill and the Jayhawks are for real!!!

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Ryan Gerstner 4 years, 4 months ago

What do you expect to see on a spring game where the teams are divided up? I don't remember the team lighting the world on fire in the spring game before the 07 season and that was 1s vs. 2s although I think it was more lopsided than a lot of KU spring games. Anyone that tries to read too much into 1 practice is a fool. We don't even have our full roster there.

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KURocksChalk 4 years, 4 months ago

Reasons why I think KU can do 6-6 or better:

  1. I trust Turner Gill's judgment. I think he is a foundation-building kind of coach that knows that sound practices (schemes, strategies, approaches) will pay off in the long-haul. Example? Practicing special teams every day of practice. I believe that his judgment will also be sound in game situations. I think that like KSU last year, abilities will be maximized and strategies employed to keep the other team off the field with an occassional break-out (of that strategy) during key times of opportunity during a game.

  2. Our defense will be better than last year. Any argument?

  3. Special teams will be better.

  4. We have several very talented QBs. I believe that Pick will win out, not only giving us a dual-threat QB, but a guy who can see the field without being 8 yards behind the line of scrimmage. This is a serious improvement in being able to compete where the other team has had our number. I see our biggest problem could be taking too long to name the next starting QB. Hope we see that early in the fall.

  5. Our guys will play looser with this group of coaches. The defense will especially play better.

  6. I expect Gill to also have another intangible...luck. All this being said, I believe we could be 6-6 or better. If we don't get too hung up on W's and L's and steadily improve I think we will surprise a few people.

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KU08 4 years, 4 months ago

Agreed. Well done. I especially like number 6. We had so much bad luck last year, it's bound to come around.

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jhawklifer 4 years, 4 months ago

Notice how Gill doesn't talk about his RB situation much. That cannot be good. Otherwise, we seem to have potential everywhere. Don't be such a Debbie Downer, Keegan.

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MitchumMan 4 years, 4 months ago

I saw a video with Reggie Mitchell a few weeks ago with him saying that he was hoping that one of the freshman could come in here and contribute immediately. So that told me he wasn't confident in the RBs we have. I guess time will tell though.

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troutsee 4 years, 4 months ago

Making a prediction based on the spring game is a little presumptuous. I, too, was disappointed in the run game but maybe our defense is better than expected. Over all I think we have the players to have a winning season. I don't think there is any question that Pick looked much better than the other QBs. He seemed much calmer in the pocket and set up well. He's pretty fast, too. I think he will give opposing teams fits. He just has to remember to slide so he can stay on the field.

I also liked the tight coverage by Calvin Rubles. Where in the heck has he been for 4 years?

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rolo2383 4 years, 4 months ago

Rubles was a JUCO transfer last year.

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Jaminrawk 4 years, 4 months ago

Keegan is the same guy that said Texas had the best basketball team in the nation last year as well, oops. Look, this team is probably a team that could indeed lose 8 games. I personally think they will win at least 6 games though. I really expect to have a much better running game this year, and I like Pick at QB. He's very mobile and judging from yesterday, his arm is much stronger than Reesing's was. We can only hope that he is as saavy as Reesing.

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MitchumMan 4 years, 4 months ago

"6-6 is the tops for this team"?

Really? You came to that conclusion from watching a Spring Game when some of our starters couldn't even play due to injuries? You and Tom are just plain silly!

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Rivethead 4 years, 4 months ago

Mitchum:

You don't think some of our starters will be injured this fall?

Really?

Injuries are part of the game. The lack of depth on this team, except WR and CB is glaring.

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MrPilot 4 years, 4 months ago

"Kansas looked very much like a 4-8 football team."

Way to project some confidence in your team, champ.

I, personally, am looking forward to playing in a bowl game at the end of the season. Why even watch if you can't think positively and expect great things from your team?

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Sparko 4 years, 4 months ago

Wow. I thought the team looked very balanced and disciplined for once. I am excited by the prospect that KU has several great athletes at QB. Pick did a great job, especially with the long ball. And he protected the ball. Reesing gave away several games last year. Reesing had the most productive year and a half in Kansas' history. But he flamed out. Anyone who saw Kansas last year self-destruct should be pretty jazzed about this team. And Keegan? What the heck was this? You need therapy dude.

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Clarence Haynes 4 years, 4 months ago

I don't think that Keegan is good for KU sports and for that matter, the LJW. His supposition article Friday probably disuaded a few thousand folks from coming to the game yesterday. Moreover, I have not read anything that this dude could tell a good team from a bad team (Texas)!

Time for a regime change at the LJW!

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KU08 4 years, 4 months ago

I respectfully disagree. I didn't read the Friday article, but it couldn't have been as significant as you describe. In the past, Keegan has usually been one of, if not the most, positive writers following KU football. I'll miss the way he campaigned for several years to have Todd Reesing considered for the Heisman, often saluting with his outstretched hand showing five fingers for Reesing's number. Remember how he implored all KU fans, especially students, to see for the last time the greatness that was Todd Reesing? If the guy has affected game attendance, which I doubt, he has put fans in the stands, not the other way around as you describe.

Also, I think people need to give up on the "Texas as the no.1 basketball team" criticism. Texas was voted the number 1 team for several weeks! Obviously, most voting journalists and coaches made the same mistake. Give it up already.

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MitchumMan 4 years, 4 months ago

Keegan writes to get people to the site and read his stuff. Sometimes it's great, sometimes it's retarded. This one was retarded! But guess what? It has tons of people interacting on this site and in the end, that's what he truly gets paid to do.

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Ben Kane 4 years, 4 months ago

Go somewhere else Keegan. What right do you have to tell people not to get their hopes up. You work for the local paper and you should no better than that for many reasons. Worst of all is you are trying to destroy the best thing that the football team has going for it in its new-found excitement, motivation, and commitment. And i'm referring to the players not the fans. We are not a national power Keegs and this is an exciting time for our fans as well, why would you write an article trying to destroy it. If it's going to be destroyed let it happen on the field. Plus this is just the first year, Gill seems more than capable of bringing in a monster recruiting class (from a KU perspective) next. year.

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Ben Kane 4 years, 4 months ago

i should have read my post before hitting the button... i apologize for writing 'no' when i meant 'know'. then again i don't claim to be a professional writer keegan and this article stinks. maybe you should transfer to whatever weekly publication the cows in aggieburgh put out.

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KU08 4 years, 4 months ago

I don't think a 6-6 pre-bowl game record is expecting too much. It seems like in any sport (or organization or business) the energy brought by new leadership results in short-term gains. The best example I can think of is Tony Pena's tenure as Royal's coach several years back. His first full season was actually a winning season, with a dominating pre-All Star break record, and the best chance the Royal's have had of making the playoffs in my lifetime. For a recent football reference, you only have to look at what happened in Manhattan with Ron Prince and Bill Snyder. Both leaders exceeded expectations and won more games than in the previous season.

I really think a return to a bowl game is not only possible but likely. With the recent addition of two more Big 12 bowls by the NCAA, it will be next-to-impossible for a 6-win season not to get KU to a bowl.

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Rivethead 4 years, 4 months ago

Terry Allen's first year at KU is the best example of what you're describing.

He took Mason's recruits and actually had a decent season.

And then.......

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mikeowens 4 years, 4 months ago

Keegan doesn't work for KU. His job is to call it like he sees it. Why doesn't everybody complaining about "negative" stories and columns just go to kuathletics.com instead? You won't get anything insightful, but you'll be happy. That's all that seems to matter to most of you.

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Clarence Haynes 4 years, 4 months ago

Then frankly, he's not seeing well!

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DevilHawk 4 years, 4 months ago

Certainly it's true that Keegan doesn't work for KU. Although if he did work for KU, then it would explain why he consistently picks against KU.

It's not so much that people complain about "negative" stories. They complain because they are tired of reading an article which provides very little depth about the situation with a conclusion of "therefore I'm betting against the home team."

Then there are those posters who read every article or nearly every article on here and have come to the conclusion that Keegan is the weak-link of authors on this site.

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jhawkshocker 4 years, 4 months ago

It's just Keegan's view. He has a right to express his views. I agree with the other poster who said Keegan has written plenty of positive articles, especially about Reesing. It's just that I don't let Keegan's views affect mine, positive or negative. There's something about the way he writes.....sorta has this underlying arrogance about it. But then, I'm sure someone could say that about the way I write. I think Keegan forgets that there are people reading his articles that have followed KU sports longer than he has been alive....I'm one of them, ugh.

But whatever, I enjoy anticipating football season, and watching KU football more and more on TV----couldn't say that 10 years ago. And, I thank the former coaching staff, the former players, the current coaching staff, and the current players, for that.

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MitchumMan 4 years, 4 months ago

...and some people think you're dumb but they usually don't tell it to your face. Just saying...

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troutsee 4 years, 4 months ago

Let's talk about KU football and not Keegan. He was merely stating his prediction after viewing the spring game. While I don't agree with his prediction, he has been around the game for a long time, so his observations need to be respected. However,I think we will be better than 4-8.

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rastameta 4 years, 4 months ago

Are you kidding me? Keegan has proved, repeatedly, that his football IQ is lacking.

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KURocksChalk 4 years, 4 months ago

I do not agree that Gill not talking about running back performance means anything. I think we have enough talent in the line and with the backs to do some things. Playing under center helps the running game immensely. Three point four yards per-carry and we are unstoppable. Amazing that that is all it takes really. Anyone remember the 21 play drive at OU during the Mason era. I loved that drive and still watch it every once in a while. Ten minutes off the clock. It broke OU and we knew at that point we would win the game. Smash mouth football ability, combined with explosiveness, a better defense, dual-threat QB, experienced O-line, better special teams, a no-panic attitude, loose-playing team. Why isn't everyone excited? If I am wrong on any of this, feel free to take issue with me. I know the biggest question is do we really have the ability to do smash-mouth grind it out football. Any of the other issues?

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KURocksChalk 4 years, 4 months ago

Oh, Prowess, yeah since Keeg works in the Sports department which covers KU and it IS a Lawrence paper, you might say he and the LJW have an interest in readership. In other words, he has an economic interest in developing a wide and faithful following. Turning off the interest of his readership to the future football season is economically self-defeating. So, yes, he does have a financial responsibility toward his reporting and editorializing. Note that I said it appeared that he was writing without purpose. Perhaps I should have just said he was writing in a self-defeating manner. But, then, Keeg could be smarter than a lot of us and maybe he is just stirring things up. In general I like his material.

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Jayhawk1116 4 years, 4 months ago

It's a spring game, everybody! Spring games never look good. Relax, enjoy the summer, and we'll speculate this fall...

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Mark Lindrud 4 years, 4 months ago

It is too early to see what we have and to predict the record for next season. It sounds to me like next season will have growing pains and yes we probably won't have a great season in the wins column, but there is talent on this team. A lot of it is young, but there is some experience also. We do have new schemes that players are learning, but I see no reason we should not have a 5-6 win season at least. We do not have OU, UT or Tech on the schedule, but yes OSU, Baylor and A&M are not gimmes, but they are winnable games. We can get at least 2 non-conferences wins and I am confident we can get 3 conference wins this year so that has us at 5 wins already.

This year I have no expectations except to see a team that plays hard and can generate some excitement and hope for the future.

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rastameta 4 years, 4 months ago

Our defense should be much improved this year with Torbush. I know Keegan thought Bowen was a good DC, he wasn't. However, Torbush is a damn good one. Torbush has even said that he feels the defense will be better then people expect.

6 - 8 wins is very much with reason. That doesn't mean we will win that many, but there is not reason to think we won't at this point either.

Also, the spring game is a single practice. It isn't a real game, it is a glorified practice during the spring. We will know much more in the fall.

Trying to make a prediction about the record now is asinine and shows some form of retardation.

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Rivethead 4 years, 4 months ago

It's too early to say "Torbush is a damn good one".

We don't know which Torbush we got.

The one that had great Ds under Mack Brown at UNC.

Or the one that gave up 77 points to OU and was run out of College Station. I can guarantee you that the Aggies wouldn't agree with your statement!

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TKELuke 4 years, 4 months ago

Just adding this to a lengthing list of reasons why I don't care for Keegan. Remember when he was one of like 4 voters in the country who thought Texas was better than KU. If you want to hate on KU sports go write for the KCStar.

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Kyle Helmer 4 years, 4 months ago

6-6 and a bowl game = a successful 1st year for Coach Gill. I see it happening.

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jhawkrulz 4 years, 4 months ago

Last time we had a schedule similar to the one we have this year we were 12-1.

I have to agree with Keegan. 4-8 is positive for this group. And after reading a lot of the articles and thoughts, I think that equals 4 big hugs from the coaches.

I'm disappointed that after spring, recruiting, and seeing the transformation of the offense our sights are now set on "hopefully" getting to a bowl game. Last year our sights were at least set on the Big 12 North Championship. We failed, but at least we had high hopes.

On this site, I haven't seen anyone say 7 or 8 wins. That's how bad it looks for us.

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konzahawk 4 years, 4 months ago

We have seven home games, plus a neutral site game against the Hillbillies. Two of our three conference road games are at Iowa State and Baylor. Those are games that we shouldn't automatically write off. Four wins would be an extreme dissapointment.

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Armen Kurdian 4 years, 4 months ago

This is EXACTLY what's going to happen. KU will go 5-7, defeating Texas by 30, but losing to North Dakota State in the opener on a last second field goal. Three players will be suspended for DUIs. However, by a fortuitous set of circumstances, the offensive line will be having a Saturday breakfast at IHOP when suddenly a huge fire erupts and they carry all the patrons out safely. Kale Pick will throw for 19 touchdowns, have 25 interceptions, run for 546.7 yards, and have two pooch punts inside the opponent's 5-yd line. Also, it will be very warm for KU's first home games. At least one person (player, fan, coach, cheerleader, etc.) will vomit during one game this year, for one of a variety of reasons.

Now, I dare any of you to tell me I'm wrong and prove it!

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1977kufan 4 years, 4 months ago

Tom, this is an excellent article and is genuinely realistic in terms of an anticipated year. We have too many positions to fill with only a modicum of experience. Key positions such as quarterback, receiving corps and defensive line are just too tentative at this time (and will be in late summer and fall) to anticipate anything more than a 4-8 or at best a 5-7 year. A 3-9 year would not at all surprise me and I am very concerned that the Governor's cup will remain in the "barn". This performance could certainly change in the next two to three years and I certainly hope that it does. Otherwise, any potential ebulllient enthusiasm (that I have) is tempered by the reality of the high level of football in the B12 and our inexperience and tentativeness at many positions. Yet, RCJayhawks and please prove Keeg and me wrong!!!

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