Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tom Keegan: Newcomers bring hope to Kansas football offense

Kansas sophomore quarterback Miles Kendrick pulls back to throw during practice on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

Kansas sophomore quarterback Miles Kendrick pulls back to throw during practice on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.


Three and out after three and out. The quarterback seeing stars, but not open stars slipping behind the secondary, stars in his eyes from getting slammed to the turf yet again. Bubble screens bursting, blown up by a lack of blocking, the ball floating in the air too long or both.

Those are the lasting memories of the Kansas football offense in recent seasons. KU’s scoring offense ranked 123rd of 128 FBS schools with 15.3 points per game in 2015, 120th of 128 in 2016 (20.3) and 120th of 130 in 2017 (18.7).

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but there is reason to believe this season’s offense can be better both at grinding out first downs and at producing explosive plays.

But that only will be the case if four or five newcomers can play significant roles and upgrade their positions.

A look at five key offensive newcomers whose work could result in the Kansas offense generating, dare I say it, excitement, a victory on the road and a 3-0 start:

1. Miles Kendrick, quarterback: He spent one semester in junior college and his winning ways were enough to convince the Kansas coaching staff to offer the dual threat a scholarship before any other school did.

As a runner, Kendrick is strong and shifty. As a leader, he’s strong, direct and energetic. As a candidate for the starting job, he represents hope that the recent tradition of short quarterbacks beating out taller ones and upgrading the position continues. Think: Bill Whittemore, Jason Swanson, Todd Reesing.

A serious running threat at quarterback gives the defense one more helmet about which to worry, opening opportunities for the running backs.

“I love getting involved with the running game, for sure,” Kendrick said. “I feel like I can make every throw, every throw in the playbook, I’ve always taken pride in that.”

2. Pooka Williams, running back: The explosive freshman running back from Louisiana has teammates buzzing already.

Running backs coach Tony Hull, the man who recruited Williams to Kansas, is trying to remain low key about him, but it’s difficult.

“Be ready,” Hull said. “Be ready. Beeee ready. We just have to make sure we don’t put too much on him at one time, which we haven’t. He’s smart. He’s a very smart football player. He’ll be something special.”

3. Alex Fontana, center: He played two years at junior college, one at Houston and missed last season with an injury. His presence eases the blow of concussions forcing Mesa Ribordy into early retirement.

“Obviously, he’s a good player, but all his other intangibles and assets he brings to our room, with his maturity and work ethic and all that, has been huge,” offensive line coach A.J. Ricker said. “Other guys feed off that because this is a guy who has done it at other places.”

4. Dwayne Wallace, right guard: Offered scholarships by Arkansas, Kansas State, Louisville, UCF and others out of junior college, he chose California and started nine games there last season and was listed No. 1 at right guard on Cal’s postspring depth chart. Then, without any public explanation as to why from the player or the school, Wallace headed to Kansas as a graduate transfer. At 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds, he has a chance to blow open holes for KU’s talented stable of running backs.

5. Kevin Feder, right tackle: Maybe it’s a reach to think that a player who never made it onto the depth chart at Ohio State can instantly become a difference maker at Kansas. Or maybe the foot injury that prevented him from getting cleared until last season has healed and he’s fresh and ready to make up for lost time.


Mike Bennett 3 years, 5 months ago

Newcomers always bring hope. I'm not much on Kendrick because if he comes for a non-descript JUCO and wins the job in his first year, then we have problems. San Mateo is not Butler, Coffeyville, Blinn... Further, as I've said many times, I don't think QB has been the problem. As for the other 4, especially the 3 linemen, they do bring hope. It's really hard to explain just how bad our O-line has been. They have 22 of them on the roster now which tells how bad KU coaches have been at identifying, signing and developing O-linemen.

Andy Tweedy 3 years, 5 months ago

I love the coverage from Tom, but I'll reserve judgment on his quarterback assessment, since we already have his difference maker on the squad from last year!!!

Doug Roberts 3 years, 5 months ago

I keep seeing Kendrick's name popping up in these articles especially from Keegan. The longer they go without naming a starter the more I think Kendrick is the guy.

David Kemp 3 years, 5 months ago

What happened to the scrimmage that was supposed to narrow the qb starter.

John Fitzgerald 3 years, 5 months ago

We'll hear about that tomorrow during Beaty's presser. Hopefully.

[''] 3 years, 5 months ago

What's up with the RB Dom from Texas high school - a player who Beaty called the "anchor" to the recruiting class last year. Another player lost to obscurity because of the poor OC play.

Bryson Stricker 3 years, 5 months ago

are you implying that Dom Williams is getting mishandled? He scored multiple TD's before getting hurt last year and is without a doubt expected to be RB2 and more than likely surpass Khalil Herbert at some point.

My god you are ignorant and quick to try and blame the staff.

[''] 3 years, 5 months ago

Oh that's right -- Beaty whispered this to you in your fever dream....

[''] 3 years, 5 months ago

Considering Beaty touted him as the second coming of Christ - yes, he's being mishandled as many KU players are...Rushed for 176 yards on 51 carries ... Scored three touchdowns ... talented kids whose numbers should be much better, but hamstrung by poor play calling.

Bryson Stricker 3 years, 5 months ago

Averaged three yards per carry.. as a true freshman who was injured for multiple games and behind an upper classman running back that was putting up 290 yard performances....

The only thing mishandled here is your IQ.

[''] 3 years, 5 months ago

Swing and a miss there BryBry. Your efforts to put lipstick on this pig are failing pretty miserably dude. But keep hallucinating that Beaty is telepathically giving you roster details....if you lie to yourself long enough I guess it may seem true to you after awhile.

Bryson Stricker 3 years, 5 months ago

You find new lows for the IQ chart daily, very impressive.

Owens Smithson 3 years, 5 months ago

You just touted "three yards per carry" as something to be proud of, in the same breath as putting down the IQ of someone else.

Oh the hilarity.

Bryson Stricker 3 years, 5 months ago

Makes him a top 200 RB in the country in YPC... as a freshman... as a 2nd/3rd string back... dealing with injury.......

Owens Smithson 3 years, 5 months ago

I don't know which is lower, your football IQ, or your standards. A top 200 RB in the country in YPC, where he averaged roughly 4 attempts per game, lol.

He was mis-managed last year, but has enough talent to overcome coaching incompetence. Remind me, why didn't he play at all vs TCU in front of 30 family and friends (suited up and fully healthy), in favor of a playing-injured Herbert/Thompson, in a blowout game?

[''] 3 years, 5 months ago

Careful Owens....BryBry doesn't respond to logic. His tin foil hat that gets him on mind-meld with coach Beaty prevents any other rational thought.

John Fitzgerald 3 years, 5 months ago

All great additions that could help immediately this year. I'll be interested to hear what Beaty says about the QB race tomorrow...

Will he say, "All three still in the mix" ... "We've cut it to two" ... "We have our guy, and he is..." ... "We have our guy but we won't disclose that at this moment" ... or "We've had a 4th option step up and we're now in a 4 QB race".

Bryson Stricker 3 years, 5 months ago

QB is Miles Kendrick. Whether Beaty tells the people who don't pay his salary (fans), is a story for another day.

John Fitzgerald 3 years, 5 months ago

Nice! I would LOVE that. Sources? Or just a guess? Or unnamed source? Either way, I'd totally be down with Kendrick starting.

Bryson Stricker 3 years, 5 months ago

You'll know soon enough.

Read your most recent article. You're severely off on your evaluation of Darius Morragne. Best player on our defensive line besides Daniel Wise.. just a heads up..

Also, Kamara arrived very late.. not sure if he's going to get the nod you think he will but I do think he will be a positive impact for KU if he plays this year and moving forward.

Owens Smithson 3 years, 5 months ago

LOL. His initials aren't "BS" for nothing, folks.

Keep in mind, this is the same moron who thinks Fontana has two years of eligibility left, based on a msg board post he saw. Speaking of message board posts, the Morrange assertion is another idea he stole from a message board (one that he's not perm banned from) that he is passing off as factual.

BS has never been to a practice. He sure likes to pretend he has sources though, and actually has the time in his day to compile various message board posts (some from insiders, some not), twist the words around a bit, and attempt to pass them off as his own information.

Morrange isn't our 2nd best DL. Not even close. That honor would go to JJ Holmes easily.

Brad Avery 3 years, 5 months ago

"Maybe it’s a reach to think that a player who never made it onto the depth chart at Ohio State can instantly become a difference maker at Kansas." Not really.

Edward Daub 3 years, 5 months ago

KU's Version of Mutt and Jeff will showcase the 5' 10" Miles Kendrick throwing over the helmet of the 6' 9" Kevin Feder! Very Interesting!

Marcia Parsons 3 years, 5 months ago

It has been done. I always thought the 5'10" tagged to Reesing was possibly generous.

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 5 months ago

Bender would be the key to success, if he is named, that means the line has panned out to hold for throws. If Bender is not named, it means we need someone to move their feet.

If Kendrick wins the job, it means the offensive line isn't doing well, and he gives us a fighting chance. I don't see it as a sign that he just outplayed the other two, else he would have been named in the fall. The stats in the fall indicated his percentage completion was lower than the other two.

I wish they would make the switch, the QB battle is an indicator of a bigger issue.

Dane Pratt 3 years, 5 months ago

Every preseason poll I’ve read has us in the 100 to 130 range except for College Football which has us at 73. What do they see in us the others are missing? They are either very smart or very dumb.

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 5 months ago

So the power5 + ND and BYU is 68 teams, in the fourth year of a coaching staff is 73 even good enough? Let beaty go now.

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