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Friday, August 23, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: A look at KU’s football fortunes

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It’s that time of year again. I predict the record for the Kansas University football team, get blasted for being too pessimistic, only to be proven too optimistic once the victories and losses are tabulated. So it goes on the slow rebuilding road loaded with roadblocks, the tallest being the always-tough Big 12 schedule.

The Big 12’s reduction to a 10-team league, which kicked in in 2012, makes it all the more difficult to reach the required six victories in order to qualify for bowl-eligibility because it means the nonconference portion of the schedule shrinks from four games to three.

KU’s schedule, ranked in order of the best opportunities for victory. (Note: This is not a ranking of the team’s relative strengths, just a guess as which games KU has the best shot at winning, based on the time and place it occurs):

1. South Dakota (6 p.m., Sept. 7, Lawrence): This squad is not to be confused with two-time defending Football Championship Subdivision national champion North Dakota State, which faces Kansas State this year. South Dakota did not win a game in its first season in the Missouri Valley Conference a year ago.

2. Louisiana Tech (Sept. 21, Lawrence): The prolific, pass-happy coach and quarterback are gone, but running back Kenneth Dixon, who broke several of Marshall Faulk’s NCAA freshman records, returns. Dixon rushed for 1,194 yards and 27 touchdowns, giving coach Skip Holtz a chance to win this one. Holtz named Texas Tech transfer Scotty Young the starter at quarterback.

3. Texas Tech (Oct. 5, Lawrence): First-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury, offensive coordinator for Texas A&M a year ago, won’t have Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel running his offense and not even former Red Raider Seth Doege. Kansas took Tech to overtime in Lubbock a year ago and has the revenge factor on its side.

4. West Virginia (Nov. 16, Lawrence): This could be one of those days in which KU’s high-powered running game becomes an ally to its defense by keeping the fast-paced Mountaineers’ offense off the field.

5. Iowa State (Nov. 23, Ames): Sam Richardson, then a freshman, had his way with the Kansas defense in his first start. Jake Heaps might do the same to the Cyclones this year. By the time this game arrives, KU’s offensive line should be coming together as a unit, and the young Iowa State pass rushers might have trouble getting to Heaps.

6. Rice (6:30 p.m., Sept. 14, Houston): Dual-threat quarterback Taylor McHargue and Chris Boswell, who kicks 50-yard field goals as if they’re extra points, return for the Owls, who won six of their final seven games last season for highly regarded coach David Bailiff. It’s tough to face such an experienced team so early in the season. Nine starters on offense are back, and so are nine on defense. But can the Owls stop the KU running game?

7. Baylor (Oct. 26, Lawrence): Running back Lache Seastrunk, a potential first-team All-American, isn’t the only speedy player who could exploit KU’s young defense. Wide receiver Tevin Reese has big-play potential as well.

8. Texas (2:30 p.m., Nov. 2, Austin): As always, the Longhorns are big, fast and skilled. But are there enough plow horses who enjoy swallowing dirt and picking mud out of their eyes? Too many highly recruited players can translate to a soft edge, and that so often seems to have been the case with Texas in recent years. Will the Longhorns be motivated to bring their best against KU? Regardless, running backs Joe Bergeron, Johnathan Grey and Malcolm Brown will be tough to bring down.

9. TCU (Oct. 12, Fort Worth): Quarterback Casey Pachall, who spent the final two months of the season changing his late-night ways instead of playing football, is back and plenty talented to compensate for lack of depth in other areas.

10. Oklahoma (Oct. 19, Lawrence): The Sooners have done well recruiting in Kansas in recent years, but those victories haven’t helped them, just weakened the Kansas teams. For the most part, the players from the Sunflower State don’t get much of a chance to get on the field because OU gets more than enough talent from elsewhere.

11. Oklahoma State (Nov. 9, Stillwater): The Cowboys bring too much speed, too quick a pace for the Jayhawks to handle.

12. Kansas State (Nov. 30, Lawrence): Bill Snyder always puts a premium on this game, regardless of either team’s record. Snyder will have drilled all the mistakes out of the team by Thanksgiving weekend.

What does it all mean? KU will compile a 4-8 record.

Comments

Bob Bailey 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Who taught them to tackle? So far no one.

Who taught them to cover? No one last year, and the DC called zone defense which for them was nothing.

My prediction after seeing the 2012 game was --Wins - 0; Losses 12.

That was before SDST appeared as the first game. Revise upwar about 1 game. Then try predicting after that first game!

n

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Doug Cramer 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The D-Line has not been fixed. How the hell do we win more than 3 games this year ? Rice is going to be a VERY VERY tough game to win...and the more I learn about La Tech...the more nervous I get about winning that one. We just simply don't have the studs in the trenches to get even remotely close to a bowl game yet.

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jayhawkintx1973 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Here are the teams I think we will beat.

Texas Tech Rice La Tech South Dakota West Virginia Baylor

Here are the teams I think we can beat

K-State Iowa State Baylor TCU(even though it's in Fort Worth)

I think we can stay in the game with OU at home, but fade late. I think the same thing with Texas, but it's in Austin.

It all hinges on Heaps and the wide receivers to give us options on offense as well as field goal kicking. I know it's been said a ton, but if we had good field kicking a year ago we would have won't 3 or 4 more games. Texas Tech, Texas, Oklahoma State for sure IMO. If the wide receivers can make plays on both passing and running downs, then our run offense will be set to be really successful because of that, which could get a couple of more wins than I'm predicting.

So I'm going to say 7-5.

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Bewareofthephog Fifety-Five 7 months, 3 weeks ago

6-6. with wins over: South Dakota Louisiana Tech Texas Tech Iowa State Rice Texas

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martyks 7 months, 3 weeks ago

3 Wins max. Weis is, and always has been a snake oil salesman and a has been that never was.

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Steve Jacob 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I have heard a few experts say 4-8 too. Think that will keep the masses happy enough. Only one or two wins, and you have the potential of blowing up and rebuilding again, with a new coach (fired or quit). KU CAN NOT LOSE TO BOTH RICE AND LOUISIANA TECH. I can not stress that enough.

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Robert Brown 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The Rice game will be interesting. I will be there. Rice is pretty good. They beat us last year and then struggled but got hot down the stretch. The core of this team is back and expectations are pretty high. They will definitely be more battle tested than KU. Rice opens at A&M next week.

Interestingly, Rice and KU played in Bluebonnet Bowl in 1961 in the same stadium. I do expect a decent KU crowd but I doubt it will outnumber local supporters.

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texashawk10 7 months, 3 weeks ago

A 4-0 start for KU is not out of the question for KU and if that happens, I think we'll see their confidence increase significantly headed into the brutal middle section of the schedule and I think we would see KU upset someone like a Baylor or TCU. If KU's depth proves good enough to where Campo isn't forced to leave defenders on the field the entire game like last year, I think that makes the ISU and WVU games much more winnable than last year where the lack of depth at the end of the season took its toll and KU just didn't have the stamina on defense to do anything against ISU or WVU. In the end, I think KU gets 4 or 5 wins this year.

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mahkmood 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree with Keegan, 4-8 (S.Dakota, Rice, LA Tech, TT)

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Boouk 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I think the KSU game is one of our least difficult games. We scored TD's on our first 2 drives last year in Manhattan before Peirson got hurt.

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Dirk Medema 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Rice & KSU are both rated too highly.

Snyder is definitely the best coach out there, but not buying that they are our toughest game, nor that Rice will be tougher than ISU in particular, but any Big12 team in general.

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Randy Bombardier 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The first six on Keegs list look very winnable to me.

1

tonyrains 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Are we afraid to play mizzou? I hate them and would like nothing better than to kick their butts.

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mikehawk 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Four wins, and I say we take to the streets in Downtown Lawrence. This isn't basketball where one player is a game changer and two can get you to the Big Dance. You have to have a LOT of good horses, great coaches, experience, size, speed, no major injuries and luck, for starters. (And a great kicking game). Then, you put all of that in the Big 12 where ALL of the teams have that and more. Charlie has this program headed in the right direction, but let's get sobered and back on the wagon in our 12-Step groups off of the Blue Kool Aid. This job is a resurrection job and we are lucky to have this guy willing to coach football at KU, because he has a resurrection of reputation of his own he is try like heck to address. Five to six wins, which is not going to happen, and we are talking a parade down Mass with The Old Ball Coach in the lead convertible riding low to the ground.

1

KanFan27 7 months, 4 weeks ago

I feel like 4 is our minimum and 8 is our max. Charlie is a creative offensive mind and this season he has some players to work with. I see us being middle of the pack, but a little towards the front in the Big 12 with offense. I also think our new defensive scheme will be a big help. We will have the speed on the field to keep up and it will be a different look that other teams won't be as used to. We don't have all the pieces to be a big time winner, but we have enough to win the games we should and we are due for a break or two. I think we will be in the middle of my expectations with 6 wins, but a couple of big breaks could land us one or two more.

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jhawkrulz 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Last time I checked 9 teams from the big 12 got bowl games, the most ever.

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741hawk 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Playing at Rice is like playing on a neutral field. Been there.

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akgjenkintown 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Take it to the bank-KU will double their win total from last year. The game at Rice will be the best barometer going into the Big XII season.

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Brett McCabe 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Very interesting analysis by Keegan. I was dreaming of beating K-State this season and then Tom through a bucket of cold water on me.

I think that an away game at Rice is easier than an away game at ISU, though. If we win on the road this year, then I think that the Rice game is the one to win.

I'm with Tom. 4-8.

If we win 5 it's impressive. If we win 6, then KU football is officially back for a long list of reasons.

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Robert Brock 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Whatever the won-loss record, I just want to see progress. I want the squad to look like they understand the game and just look like a football team. Whatever that was on the field last season was not a football team - it looked more like a fire drill.

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Terran Woolley 7 months, 4 weeks ago

I don't see anything wrong with this, except....I think we take down KSU and old balls retires again.

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Janet Scott 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Tom must have received a D minus in geography in grade school, intimating even today he must stop and think which state is South Dakota and which state is North Dakota. Ummm. Notwithstanding, I sometimes confuse the University of Northern South Dakota with the University of Southern North Dakota.

As for KU football? I consider myself a realist: this year won't be a "pile of crap" but 2-10 nonetheless.

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JHWKDW 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Not going to predict squat, but what I will use a quote from ESPN's Chris Berman. And that is why they play the games.

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jayhawkintx1973 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Tom wasn't "overly pessimistic in 2003, 2006, or 2007, but you know how journalists like to forget their past just hoping they're going to be right... so they can claim it once out of every 20 seasons.

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mrdykes2k13 7 months, 4 weeks ago

6-6 with a great victory over k-state!

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Ryan Lee 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Fair enough. One victory for each lame ass helmet they have.

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