Friday, August 23, 2013


Opinion: A look at KU’s football fortunes


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.


mrdykes2k13 8 years, 1 month ago

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

Micky Baker 8 years, 1 month 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.

Robert Brock 8 years, 1 month 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.

WalterSobchak 8 years, 1 month ago

Did you even watch the games last year? Last year's team showed a lot of progress compared to Turner Gill's last season here.

Robert Brown 8 years, 1 month ago

Yeah I did. In our last two games we got blown out at home by ISU and humiliated at WV. We got blown out in just as many conference games last year as we did the year before.

texashawk10 8 years, 1 month ago

Those last two games were the result of having absolutely no depth last year and the players being completely exhausted by that point.

rockchalk_dpu 8 years, 1 month ago

WV was also the result of having a team playing their last game at home against a known weaker opponent and trying to right the ship after a horrible midseason slide. I always assumed that game would be a bit of a whipping since they had so much to prove and we would be holding on. Yes its a blowout and those are never fun, but you have to look at the circumstances.

The test this year will be not having any of blowouts, and making sure that those close losses are now close wins (Rice, TCU, Texas, OSU, etc.).

Andy Godwin 8 years, 1 month 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.

741hawk 8 years, 1 month ago

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

Al Martin 8 years, 1 month ago

My wife and I have our tickets already! Join us if you can...

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 1 month ago

My wife and I also have tickets. Bought them for $20 apiece through the KU Ticket Office.

Jeff Coffman 8 years, 1 month ago

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

Dirk Medema 8 years, 1 month ago

And 11 of the 12 opponents went to bowl games last year.

Jonathan Briles 8 years, 1 month 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.

mikehawk 8 years, 1 month 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.

Lawkan 8 years, 1 month ago

Worked for Auburn with Cam Newton and Nick Fairley. A good quarterback would have been worth at least two or three more wins last year.

Jay Redd 8 years, 1 month ago

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

Dirk Medema 8 years, 1 month ago


It must be a (lack of) culture thing. You're mistaking fear for apathy.

Ben Fletcher 8 years, 1 month ago

ha! same post on kicker article. no one's afraid, troll. missouri destabilized the Big12 by openly courting the big 10. then they used that destabilization as their 'reason' for leaving for what they thought were greener pastures. hell, i'd venture to say that 50% of the 'thought' process used in their decision was to stick it to Kansas by leaving. turns out they're at the bottom of their new conference (and likely to stay there for a long long time) and have lost cherished rivalries with hated, passionate fans (Kansas, in football and basketball). There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING for Kansas to gain by playing missouri. Only missouri gains. they'd gain (probably, at least for now) a non-con win in football, which would at least boost somewhat their football profile, and they'd get a shot at a top 5 basketball team on national television? forget it. there is no reason to help missouri. as for being afraid? we had missouri on our schedule indefinitely. had em once in football and at least twice in basketball every year for all of eternity. but missouri left. they cancelled every future date by leaving. who's afraid? and finally, my friends at SEC schools are already commenting to me what POS human beings missouri fans are. already making a name for yourselves. enjoy being a doormat, tonyrains.

Randy Bombardier 8 years, 1 month ago

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

Brad Farha 8 years, 1 month ago

6-6 +/- 6. Just kidding -- I have no idea how many we'll win, but I'll be at every home game and watching every road game (may travel to one or two), and cheering for a win each time.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 1 month 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.

texashawk10 8 years, 1 month ago

Look at Bill Snyder's record against KU. The man has made the KU game the most important game of the regular season for KSU no matter how bad KU has been and most of the KSU's wins haven't even been close. I wish that wasn't reality, but that has been the reality for the better part of the past 2 decades.

CrystalJones 8 years, 1 month ago

It's been really frustrating, and embarrassing. Who would ever have thought that K-State (except for the 3 Prince years) could ever become a regular national player? It's been a 20 year nightmare.

Boouk 8 years, 1 month 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.

CrystalJones 8 years, 1 month ago

They scored 56 on us, Boouk. We scored 16, and we had to fake a punt deep in our own territory and do a fake field goal to get our two touchdowns. They averaged 9 yards per play on us. By the end of that game, one wide receiver wouldn't have made much difference.

mahkmood 8 years, 1 month ago

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

texashawk10 8 years, 1 month 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.

Robert Brown 8 years, 1 month 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.

Steve Jacob 8 years, 1 month 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.

Martin Shupert 8 years, 1 month ago

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

CrystalJones 8 years, 1 month ago

Spoken like a troll. To the contrary, Charlie is a winner as evidenced by his Super Bowl rings. Hardly a "never was."

Micky Baker 8 years, 1 month 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.

Doug Cramer 8 years, 1 month 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.

WalterSobchak 8 years, 1 month ago

How have you reached this conclusion about the D-Line when KU has yet to play a game this season?

Randy Bombardier 8 years, 1 month ago

What the heck. Even without all the additions we have this year (which I imagine are a whole lot better than Rice's additions) we should have won the game last year. For some odd reason we got away from our unstoppable running game. We will win this game, close or not. We are the better team and I will wager we have dramatically improved while they may have marginally improved. We win.

Rivethead 8 years, 1 month ago

We have 2 new faces playing in the D line rotation. That's 33% of the rotation.

How can you conclude already that the D-Line has not been fixed?

Doug Cramer 8 years, 1 month ago

Rivet - doesn't the buck line up on the line most of the time ? Therefore...75% of the two deep are the same old guys that ranked 121 in FBS schools in sacks. Out line has been the worst in BCS since 2008 when McClinton left.

All this talk about beefing up the D-line this year with these stud JucO transfers...and one way or the other...not a single one is projected to start.

Tell us why we should be optimistic with the same players on the d-line ?

Adam McEwen 8 years, 1 month ago

Well, when your bench goes up 75 lbs, and you're squatting 150 higher, you've dropped 40lbs of fat and added 20lbs of muscle, not to mention speed and quickness, you start winning those battles you used to lose. This isn't baseball, playing on the lines is probably 20% skill and 80% physical. We will be much better, even with the same names out there.

Bob Bailey 8 years, 1 month 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!


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