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Three takeaways from Travis Goff’s introductory press conference

Newly named University of Kansas Athletic Director Travis Goff, is shown at his former school, Northwestern, where he served as the Wildcats' Deputy AD since 2012. Goff graduated from KU in 2002 and was hired by KU Chancellor Douglas Girod on April 5, 2021.

Newly named University of Kansas Athletic Director Travis Goff, is shown at his former school, Northwestern, where he served as the Wildcats' Deputy AD since 2012. Goff graduated from KU in 2002 and was hired by KU Chancellor Douglas Girod on April 5, 2021. by Photo courtesy of Kansas Athletics

Travis Goff was formally introduced as the new athletic director at Kansas Wednesday morning at the Lied Center.

Goff, who is a 2002 graduate of the University of Kansas and native of Dodge City, is the fifth AD hired by Kansas since the late Bob Frederick retired in 2001. He takes over this position at KU after nine years as the Deputy AD at Northwestern.

This hire was made 26 days after Kansas and former AD Jeff Long agreed to part ways on March 10.

Following a nine-minute introduction speech from Goff, there was a Q&A session that lasted about 20-plus minutes with members of the media who were in attendance.

As someone who watched from home, here are a few takeaways from Goff’s introductory press conference:

This presser felt different because Goff was sincere

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on introductory AD press conferences, because this is only the second one I’ve seen since joining the Journal-World.

That said, this one felt different from when Long was introduced because Goff appeared authentic. His passion for KU was obvious, which makes sense because he graduated from this place nearly 20 years ago.

It is easy to see how a candidate like Goff would have emerged as a frontrunner. He was deliberate with his answers, using hand motions to help get his point across. Goff’s emotion was especially evident when he was thanking everyone who helped him get to this position.

The quote that will stand out — and will probably lead most stories about this presser — is when Goff called this exact position his destination job. And it certainly felt genuine when he said that.

“This is my destination job,” Goff said. “This is where I received an incredible education, where I started my career and where I fell in love with college athletics. It is an absolute honor of my professional lifetime to come back and serve my alma mater, a place that has done so much for me.”

Goff stressed the importance of student-athletes first

Rather than use some catchy buzzwords, it was noticeable that Goff mentioned his passion for student-athletes throughout his time on the stage. He acknowledged that is why the athletics department exists in the first place, and pointed out how fitting it was that he started the new job on National Student-Athlete Day on Tuesday, April 6.

“To those nearly 500 student-athletes, you are why we are here,” Goff said. “You are why this career exists. And I'm going to remind myself of that daily when you can get lost in the emotions or energy or the distractions of college athletics.”

Goff also cited the importance of making sure student-athletes are happy when he was asked about possible facility upgrades. He notably played a big role in Northwestern’s fundraising efforts of raising over $440 million in his time there.

Goff admitted facilities were important because student-athletes spend so much of their time there.

Not ready to commit to football coach plans — and that’s reasonable

Goff was asked a few different ways about his thoughts on the next football coach at KU, but he was not ready to commit to a plan as of Wednesday morning. Goff did admit to meeting interim coach Emmett Jones on Tuesday during his first day in Lawrence.

“I come in open-minded,” Goff said. “I come in wanting to listen, learn, absorb, understand where we're at with this football program. There's a plan, and it's more about the when and the understanding of how to go forward in that plan.”

That could come across as Goff just ducking those questions, but it seems perfectly reasonable to not have all have the answers on Day 2 of a new job. It is understandable why Goff is being patient, and he appears to be willing to entertain all options.

Goff has to do his due diligence here, especially since this is all so new for him. It would make sense to first see if Jones is the right person to lead KU football moving forward before looking for potential outside candidates.

I’m not saying either move is necessarily right or wrong. I just think it is fair to give Goff time to figure out what is best for the program. Ultimately, that is what he’s going to be judged on during his time here. So there is definitely no reason to rush it.

Reply 9 comments from Rodney Crain John Strayer Dirk Medema Layne Pierce Buck Bukaty Kenneth Johnson Brett McCabe Jeff Coffman Patrick Bryant

Film room: Initial impression of Jason Bean based on his performance against Louisiana Tech

North Texas quarterback Jason Bean (5) scrambles past Middle Tennessee cornerback Kenneth Major (21) in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

North Texas quarterback Jason Bean (5) scrambles past Middle Tennessee cornerback Kenneth Major (21) in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

The starting quarterback competition has practically become an annual tradition with the Kansas football program, but an unexpected candidate entered the mix last week when former North Texas signal caller Jason Bean decided to transfer to KU.

Bean has already demonstrated what he can do at the collegiate level after playing in 15 games for the Mean Green over the past two seasons. Bean even started in seven of 10 games in 2020 as a redshirt sophomore.

Due to his level of experience compared to the rest of the quarterback room, Bean has a real shot to be the Week 1 starter for the Jayhawks even though he won’t be joining the team until the summer.

Since Bean won’t be ready to show what he’s got this spring, let’s look back on some of his college tape to see what kind of player the Jayhawks could be getting. I wanted to start with the Louisiana Tech game, since Benton Smith mentioned that it was one of Bean’s better statistical games in his story.

This will just be my initial impression based on that one game on Dec. 3, 2020, so it certainly won’t tell the whole story of what Bean has to offer. I’ll just share a few things that stood out to me, and hopefully it helps provide a better idea of what KU’s newest quarterback can do.

Stats from the Louisiana Tech game: Let’s provide necessary context first. Bean went 17-for-30 through the air in a 42-31 home loss to Louisiana Tech. He threw for 231 yards to go along with three touchdowns and one interception.

Per NCAA premium stats over at Pro Football Focus, Bean had a season-best 92.2 passing grade in that game and a season-worst 51.5 rushing grade. Here is his passing chart for that particular contest via PFF:

Screenshot of Jason Bean's passing chart during his game against Louisiana Tech. Bean transferred to KU from North Texas. Data and chart via NCAA Premium Stats at Pro Football Focus.

Screenshot of Jason Bean's passing chart during his game against Louisiana Tech. Bean transferred to KU from North Texas. Data and chart via NCAA Premium Stats at Pro Football Focus. by Pro Football Focus

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Two of Bean’s touchdowns came on screen passes

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Right away, the chart tells us that the number of passing touchdowns in this game might be inflated a bit because two of them came on screen passes. While there is certainly nothing wrong with that, it just wasn’t what I was expecting when I sat down to watch this game.

Both screen passes went to North Texas wide receiver Jaelon Darden, who is a NFL prospect in this year’s draft class and the real reason video of this game is made available. The first score came on the left side, capping off the second drive of the game.

North Texas then ended the next possession with another screen touchdown pass, this time on the other side of the field.

Again, there is nothing wrong with converting on a screen pass. It was just worth pointing out right away. And While Mike DeBord’s offense remains a mystery entering 2021, it is probably safe to assume screen passes will be a part of his game plan.

If anything, these two plays should be considered promising because Bean did manage to get the ball out quickly and on target. That is something Jalon Daniels struggled to consistently do at times during his freshman campaign.

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Concerning sequence on Bean’s first drive

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The first drive of the game was somewhat of a rude awakening.

After picking up a first down on a deep curl, North Texas went back to the air on first down. We obviously don’t know the play, but it looked to be a simple passing concept that consisted of three different options.

Here’s the play:

None by Shane Jackson

First off, Bean has no reason to leave the pocket in this instance. There was no immediate pressure, and it feels like he’s making this more difficult than it has to be by rolling right after his internal clock ran out.

More importantly, Bean misses a wide-open Darden on a seam over the middle. The ball should have been out of Bean’s hand as soon as the safety turned his hips to the opposite side of the field.

I don’t even think the video does it justice, here’s a screenshot:

Screen shot of North Texas wide receiver Jaelon Darden waving his hand to signal he's open during a game against Louisiana Tech this past season. Jason Bean, who was the quarterback on this play, has decided to transfer to KU.

Screen shot of North Texas wide receiver Jaelon Darden waving his hand to signal he's open during a game against Louisiana Tech this past season. Jason Bean, who was the quarterback on this play, has decided to transfer to KU. by Pro Football Focus

So it’s bad all around. Sure, it’s just one play. Bean throws an interception almost immediately after, demonstrating how fickle this game can be. Had Bean hit his future pro WR, the Mean Green would have had points on the board instead of giving their defense a short field.

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Showed ability to learn from early mistake in game

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All that said, North Texas went back to the seam over the middle based on how the Louisiana Tech safety played it the first time.

During the third drive of the game, Bean connected with Darden on a big chunk play over the middle. Even on this play, I thought Bean could have thrown the ball a tad sooner instead of moving to his right.

But it demonstrated his ability to make an in-game adjustment nonetheless.

None by Shane Jackson

On the first drive of the second half, with the score 35-17 in the opposition’s favor, Bean connected on a touchdown over the middle on 2nd-and-2. It wasn't identical to the original play, but the concept of the slot seam was similar.

This time, Bean drilled Darden for a 33-yard touchdown. Bean does a good job of getting the ball out quickly, even with pressure looming in his face.

None by Shane Jackson

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Bean’s feet can be a blessing and a curse

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Bean didn’t actually use his legs as often as usual, so I won’t share any videos. It is obviously Bean’s biggest strength, as he has the ability to extend plays with his feet or pick up big yardage on keepers. He’s fast, which is obvious on tape.

Still, especially in this game, I thought Bean got too used to the idea of extending plays. He left clean pockets. He rolled out when it wasn’t always necessary. And sometimes he was too quick to tuck the ball and run, rather than letting the play develop.

Considering KU’s offensive line struggles last year, a mobile quarterback could be ideal this fall. But trusting your receivers to get open is important, and being comfortable to make a throw before it is there is just as necessary.

Young quarterbacks with good legs can get too used to just making plays out structure or picking up yardages with their feet. It can create bad habits, but it also puts them in bad situations sometimes. In fact, Bean was injured on a late hit in the bowl game against Appalachian State on a quarterback keeper.

It is good that Bean can improvise, but he also shouldn’t get used to trying to make something happen when he doesn't have to.

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Final thoughts

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This is just one game, but it is easy to see why KU wanted him. He’s a mobile quarterback that could be a serious contender to start right away, especially given how young and inexperienced the current quarterback room is at Kansas.

I noticed some inconsistencies within Bean’s base throughout this game, which might explain some of his struggles as a passer at times. He doesn’t seem to always follow through on his throwing motion, and that leads to the ball not always being on target. It is only worth noting, in case these problems persist in other games where Bean has less success.

Overall, Bean has a lot to offer based on the one game I watched closely. I’m not certain Bean is the starting quarterback in Week 1, but I think he is firmly in the mix based on his strengths shown in this game. Maybe that opinion changes based on more information, but I thought this was a strong first impression.

Reply 1 comment from Dale Rogers Njjayhawk

Getting to know: USC basketball, Round 2 NCAA Tournament

USC forward Max Agbonkpolo (23) and Evan Mobley (4) defend Drake guard D.J. Wilkins (0) during the second half of a men's college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

USC forward Max Agbonkpolo (23) and Evan Mobley (4) defend Drake guard D.J. Wilkins (0) during the second half of a men's college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

This isn’t your typical second-round matchup, when third-seeded Kansas faces six-seeded USC tonight for a spot in the Sweet 16.

For one, the Trojans are actually favored even though they are the lower seed. The spread is -1.5 in USC’s direction, while KenPom gives Kansas a 41% chance of victory in this one. His model projects a 68-65 win for the Trojans.

It all means the Jayhawks, who consistently make it past the first weekend in March, are a slight underdog in this matchup. That has a lot to do with KU’s roster situation because of COVID-19 issues, but USC is also very capable in its own right.

The Trojans (23-7) have won four of their last five entering this matchup, including a 72-56 victory over Drake in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Tonight’s game inside Hinkle Fieldhouse will begin at 8:40 p.m. and be televised on CBS.

As a reminder, log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @bentonasmith & @SJacksonLJW

BREAKING DOWN USC

TOP PLAYER

No. 4 — F Evan Mobley | 7-0, 215, fr.

Even with a complete roster, the Jayhawks would have their hands full with the 7-foot, 215-pound freshman forward.

Mobley, who is the first-ever No. 1-ranked recruit to sign with USC, is a dominant scorer and excellent defender in the post. He leads the Trojans with an average of 16.8 points per game, while also pacing the team with 8.7 rebounds per outing.

On defense, Mobley produces a team-high 3.0 blocks per outing. He’s averaging 34.1 minutes per game, shooting 57.9% from the floor. Per KenPom, Mobley’s block rate of 9.2% is the 31st-best clip in the nation.

This will be the second set of brothers that KU has to face, as Evan has an older brother, Isaiah, who is a sophomore on the USC basketball team. Evan Mobley is coming off a 17-point, 11-rebound performance against Drake.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 2 — G Tahj Eaddy | 6-2, 165, sr.

Eaddy enters tonight’s matchup as one of three players to average in double figures for the Trojans.

So far this season, Eaddy is second on the squad in scoring with an average of 13.5 points per game. He’s also leading the team with 2.8 assists per outing. Eaddy is shooting 44.6% from the floor, including 38.6% from long range.

The game against Drake, in which he scored 9 points, was the first time Eaddy didn’t reach double figures since Feb. 27. Per KenPom, Eaddy plays 79.4% of his team’s minutes and has an offensive rating of 116.7.

Eaddy began his career at Southeast Missouri State before transferring to Santa Clara.

No. 13 — G Drew Peterson | 6-8, 195, jr.

Coming in at third on the team in scoring is Peterson.

The junior guard is averaging exactly 10.0 points per game while shooting 42.7% from the floor. He’s also knocking down 37.3% of his 3-point baskets. In addition, Peterson is averaging 4.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per outing entering tonight.

Last time out, Peterson poured in 14 points for the Trojans in their win over Drake. He’s reached double figures in four of his last five games.

ONE THING USC DOES WELL

Given their length across the board, the Trojans naturally fare well in 2-point defense. They allow teams to shoot 41.7% on 2-point shots, which is ranked No. 2 in the nation and about 8% better than the national average.

ONE AREA USC STRUGGLES

If the game comes down to free throws, USC could be in trouble. The Trojans are shooting 64.5% from the free throw line this year. That number ranks 328th in the country and is about 7% below the average clip for a DI basketball team.

MEET THE COACH

The Trojans are coached by Andy Enfield, who is 155-109 in his eighth season at USC.

VEGAS SAYS

USC is only a slight favorite in this one, favored by a 1.5-point margin, but it is telling on the expectations for this game. It just seems difficult to predict a KU victory in this case.

There is no guarantee that David McCormack can have a similar role to the one he had two days ago, especially with a tougher matchup. And just because McCormack had a gutsy performance in his return, that doesn’t mean Jalen Wilson will do the same.

So I’m taking USC. It wouldn’t completely shock me if KU pulls this out, but I’m just not predicting it. It should be a good game either way.

My prediction: USC 73, Kansas 69

Reply 2 comments from Dirk Medema Dale Rogers

Getting to know: Eastern Washington basketball, Round 1 NCAA Tournament

Eastern Washington head coach Shantay Legans talks to his players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Eastern Washington head coach Shantay Legans talks to his players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

For the first time in 24 months, it is time to take a closer look at a team that Kansas basketball will be facing in the NCAA Tournament.

Unlike when we did our Northeastern breakdown in March of 2019, it doesn’t appear that Eastern Washington is a trendy pick to upset KU this year. Maybe I’m just not paying attention to the right bracket analysis, but it certainly feels like the discussion has been more about the Jayhawks and who they won’t have available this weekend.

But let’s turn our attention to Eastern Washington for the purpose of this blog, and see if the Big Sky champion has what it takes to knock off Kansas in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Tipoff for Saturday’s game is slated for 12:15 p.m., and will be televised on TBS.

The Eagles have only lost one game since Jan. 22, and enter the tourney on a four-game win streak. They went 12-3 during conference play after losing their first three games to start the season. One of those losses was a 70-67 defeat to Arizona, as Benton Smith wrote about earlier this week.

KenPom gives Eastern Washington a 17% chance of victory in this game, projecting a 78-67 win for Kansas. After this quick breakdown, we will decide if those numbers seem right and whether or not we should bet on a given side in this one.

As a reminder, log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @bentonasmith & @SJacksonLJW

BREAKING DOWN EASTERN WASHINGTON

TOP PLAYER

No. 35 — F Tanner Groves | 6-9, 235, jr.

Eastern Washington forward Tanner Groves shoots over Arizona forward Ira Lee (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona won 70-67. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Eastern Washington forward Tanner Groves shoots over Arizona forward Ira Lee (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona won 70-67. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

As the Big Sky MVP, Groves will play a huge part in whether or not Eastern Washington is able to earn its first-ever win in the NCAA Tournament.

This season, the EWU big man is averaging 16.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting 55.7% from the floor. He’s coming off a 14-point, 14-rebound effort against Montana State in the Big Sky championship.

According to KenPom, Groves takes 28% of Eastern Washington’s shots and has an offensive rating of 116.4. Both of those numbers rank inside the top-200 in the nation. His defensive rebound rate of 26.8% is the 27th-best mark in the country.

Groves came off the bench last year, but has been instrumental in getting the Eagles back to the NCAA tourney for the first time since 2015.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 24 — G Kim Aiken | 6-7, 215, jr.

Eastern Washington guard Kim Aiken Jr. (24) drives past Arizona forward Ira Lee (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona won 70-67. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Eastern Washington guard Kim Aiken Jr. (24) drives past Arizona forward Ira Lee (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona won 70-67. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Aiken is almost always on the floor for the Eagles, averaging a team-high 30.4 minutes per game this season.

That’s really because of how much Aiken does for Eastern Washington when he’s in the game. Not only does Aiken average 11.7 points per game, but he also produces 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per contest.

Aiken is coming off back-to-back double-digit rebound performances, and has a total of 42 rebounds over his last four outings. That is certainly something to be concerned about, considering KU will likely struggle on the glass without Jalen Wilson.

Per KenPom, Aiken’s defensive rebound rate of 23.4% ranks 87th among all individual players in college basketball.

No. 15 — G Tyler Robertson | 6-6, 200, so.

While also being one of five players to average in double figures, Robertson makes his biggest contribution as a passer.

Robertson leads EWU with an average of 3.0 assists per contest, as no other player has more than 2.2 assists per game. Robertson has dished out 11 assists over his last three games, a stretch that also included an 18-point performance.

This season, Robertson is averaging 11.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. He’s also shooting 46.3% from the floor, which includes a 39.5% clip from long range.

In terms of KenPom numbers, Robertson’s best metric is offensive rating, where he ranks 156th in the country with an offensive rating of 117.6. Robertson is also shooting 85% from the free throw line this year.

ONE THING EASTERN WASHINGTON DOES WELL

Shooting. Eastern Washington ranks inside the top-72 in most shooting metrics, posting a 35.9% clip on 3-point attempts and a 54.2% mark on 2-point attempts. EWU’s effective field goal percentage of 54.1% ranks 37th in the nation.

ONE AREA EASTERN WASHINGTON STRUGGLES

The Eagles won’t force a lot of turnovers on the defensive end. They have posted a turnover rate of 16.5% this year, a number that ranks 301st in the nation. EWU’s steal rate of 6.8% is 316th in the country.

MEET THE COACH

The Eagles are coached by Shantay Legans, who is 75-48 in his fourth season at EWU and fourth season as a head coach.

VEGAS SAYS

Kansas a 10.5-point favorite over Eastern Washington on most sportsbooks as of Friday night. Full disclosure: I picked EWU to defeat KU in my lone bracket this year. While that has more to do with trying to find leverage in a pool, I do think Kansas could be tested in this one. So, for my official pick, I’ll take the points in a victory for the Jayhawks.

Prediction: Kansas 77, Eastern Washington 70

Reply

Getting to know: Iowa State basketball

Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm, left, greets Kansas head coach Bill Self before an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm, left, greets Kansas head coach Bill Self before an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. by AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

The Kansas men’s basketball team prepares for a rare back-to-back stretch against the same opponent, starting tonight when it welcomes Iowa State to Allen Fieldhouse.

After tonight’s battle in Lawrence, KU and Iowa State will have just one day off before both teams square off again. The rematch will then take place at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa on Saturday.

There are benefits and challenges for both teams to have to play such a stretch. Fortunately for each squad, they will be on an even playing field in that regard.

These teams are not even in terms of where they are at in the standings, however. While winning the Big 12 is probably off the table, Kansas (13-7, 7-5) is still aiming for a high finish in the conference.

Iowa State, meanwhile, is just looking to get in the win column during league play. The Cyclones are 0-9 against conference opponents after winning just two games in nonconference action. ISU is 2-12 overall on the year.

Tipoff for tonight is slated for 6 p.m., while Saturday’s game will begin at 2 p.m. The former will be televised on ESPN, while the latter will be televised on ABC.

Log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @bentonasmith & @SJacksonLJW

BREAKING DOWN IOWA STATE

TOP PLAYER

No. 45 — G Rasir Bolton | 6-3, 185, jr.

Bolton has been Iowa State’s best player during a rough season because of what he provides as a scorer.

This season, Bolton is leading the team in scoring with an average of 16.6 points per game while shooting 46.1% from the floor. Bolton has reached double figures in 13 of the 14 games this year for the Cyclones.

Bolton, who has eclipsed over 1,000 points in his career, is actually averaging 20 points per outing over the last four contests. He averaged 14.7 points per game last year after transferring from Penn State, which led to him making the All-Big 12 honorable mention team.

In addition, Bolton leads this year’s Iowa State squad in rebounds (5.3 per game), assists (4.5 per game) and steals (1.8 per game) entering this series against Kansas.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 5 — G Jalen Coleman-Lands | 6-4, 187, sr.

As one of four players to average double figures for the Cyclones, Coleman-Lands is second on the team in scoring ahead of this week’s two-game stretch.

Coleman-Lands, who has played in 13 contests this year, is averaging 11.9 points per game. It’s worth noting that two other ISU players average 11.8 points per outing and 11.7 points per game, so Coleman-Lands’ claim for second-leading scorer isn’t very strong.

The graduate transfer has scored 1,215 points in his career and ranks seventh among active players with 123 career games played. He has reached double figures in all but two games this season for the Cyclones.

Prior to coming to Iowa State, Coleman-Lands was at DePaul for a few seasons after originally starting his collegiate career at Illinois. For his career, Coleman-Lands has averaged 10.0 points per game with this season being his best scoring mark.

None by NCAA March Madness

No. 33 — F Solomon Young | 6-8, 255, sr.

Young is fourth on the team in scoring with an average of 11.7 points per contest for the Cyclones.

This year, Young has played in 12 games after missing contests against Oklahoma State and Mississippi State due to health and safety protocols. This is Young’s fifth season with the program after taking a medical redshirt in 2018-19.

Young, who has a wingspan of 7-foot-1 according to Iowa State’s game notes, is averaging 4.9 rebounds per outing to go along with nearly a block per contest.

ONE THING IOWA STATE DOES WELL

The Cyclones have done a solid job at the free throw line, shooting 75.1% from the charity stripe on the year. It is a mark that ranks 52nd in all of college basketball.

ONE AREA IOWA STATE STRUGGLES

Opposing teams have dominated the glass against the Cyclones, who have allowed opponents to record an offensive rebound rate of 36.1% this year. For comparison, the national average offensive rebound rate is 28% and ISU’s mark actually ranks 343rd in the country.

MEET THE COACH

Iowa State is coached by Steve Prohm, who is 97-85 in his sixth season at ISU and 201-114 in his 10th season overall.

VEGAS SAYS

As of Thursday morning, Kansas is a 15-point favorite over Iowa State on FanDuel’s Sportsbook. That number is a bit higher than KenPom has it, as his system projects a 78-65 win for KU. KenPom currently projects a 76-67 victory for Kansas on Saturday as well.

In terms of this game, though, the 15-point spread seems a bit too high for me. The Cyclones have been more competitive of late, suffering single-digit losses to West Virginia, Oklahoma and TCU over the last three games.

So I’m taking the points, but expecting a comfortable KU victory in the end.

Prediction: Kansas 79, Iowa State 68

Reply 2 comments from John Strayer Robert  Brock

Recruit report: What stood out when watching film on 3-star Missouri prep QB Conrad Hawley

Raymore-Peculiar senior quarterback Conrad Hawley looks for an opening against the Liberty North defense during a Class 6 state semifinal football game on Saturday, Nov. 21 at Liberty North High School. Photo courtesy of Mac Moore of Courier Tribune

Raymore-Peculiar senior quarterback Conrad Hawley looks for an opening against the Liberty North defense during a Class 6 state semifinal football game on Saturday, Nov. 21 at Liberty North High School. Photo courtesy of Mac Moore of Courier Tribune by Photo courtesy of Mac Moore of Courier Tribune

Another first-year quarterback is expected to be in the mix this spring for the Kansas football team.

Conrad Hawley, a QB from Raymore-Peculiar High School (Missouri), announced his verbal commitment via his personal Twitter account on Jan. 12. Hawley plans to enroll early, similar to Indiana prep QB Ben Easters, who signed with KU in December.

Also like Easters, Hawley is a three-star prospect on Rivals. Both are considered pro-style quarterbacks as well. Per Rivals, Hawley is listed as the 18th-best prospect in the state of Missouri in the Class of 2021.

The purpose of this report isn’t to determine who is the better option at quarterback. That will inevitably be decided at some point in their careers. Let’s focus on understanding who Hawley is as a player instead, and what he could ultimately bring to KU.

Based on his Hudl film, here is my report on KU’s newest quarterback:

Key stats: According to MaxPreps, Hawley completed 164-of-275 passes for 2,722 passing yards during his senior season at Raymore-Peculiar High School. He threw 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Hawley secured a state title and won the Simone Award in 2020.

Body type/athletic ability: Hawley is listed at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds on Rivals. He comes in way closer to being college ready from a physical standpoint thanks to his own commitment in the weight room. Compared to his frame as a junior, Hawley put on close to 50 pounds and it really helped him take a huge leap as a signal caller.

None by Adam Hawley

Strengths: Strong arm, can make variety of throws, and ability to make plays out of structure

Hawley feels like the type of prospect that would have been a much bigger deal like a decade ago, when everyone was drooling over the strong-armed quarterback at all levels. Now, there seems to be an emphasis on landing more mobile quarterbacks and not necessarily the tall signal caller with a strong arm.

That said, Hawley’s arm strength was the first thing that popped when watching his tape. He has a segment labeled “deep balls” on his Hudl film at about the 2:20 mark. The first one really caught my eye, because Hawley put the 45-yard pass where only his receiver could make a play on the ball.

Hawley launched the ball as soon as he hit the final step of his drop back, and saw his receiver had a step on the defensive back. Hawley aimed the throw toward the sideline because there was a safety coming to provide help over the top. The receiver was able to get his hand on the ball at the goal line. It was just the perfect ball location.

Hawley had more throws like that, but that play really helps paint a picture of one of his best attributes. He really can drive the ball downfield, and he demonstrated great footwork on such throws. He had a quick release as well.

But Hawley showed the ability to make a variety of throws, as his Hudl film also had quick passes and mid-level tosses. He wasn’t afraid to throw in a tight window, which probably played a part in him tossing 12 interceptions.

My favorite play was when Hawley changed arm angles because he had two defenders in his face. Sometimes this can be a bad habit for young quarterbacks, but it didn’t seem like Hawley altered his throwing motion much outside of that specific play.

On this particular play, Hawley had to go side arm because he had a defender coming straight at him. The ball was slightly behind the receiver, who was about 10 yards upfield. Yet the pass was still on target enough to let the receiver make something happen after the catch.

The best part about the play was that Hawley threw to where the receiver had to be. At the time of the release, the receiver was directly behind a defender. Hawley threw him open, despite having to change his arm angle and having two defenders basically on top of him.

That play was a glimpse of what really made Hawley’s tape pop though. Many of Hawley’s best moments came when he had to make something happen out of structure.

Mobility will rightfully be a concern for Hawley, but he showed enough movement to extend plays during his senior season. He demonstrated solid pocket presence, and had a knack for getting in an athletic stance when he felt pressure.

Most of all, Hawley did a good job of keeping his eyes upfield whenever he ultimately had to improvise. Whether he was going left or right, Hawley was constantly looking for an open receiver when he was on the move. Sometimes young quarterbacks will just take off to gain yardage via a scramble.

I liked that Hawley's first priority was to find an open man when he had to leave the pocket.

One reason for concern: Won’t be used in the QB run game

Hawley was used as a runner at times in high school. At one point in his Hudl film, Hawley ran a QB draw to effectively ice the game. You can tell by his movement in the pocket that he has efficient footwork, and that should bode well for his future as a signal caller.

But I’d be surprised if Hawley is involved in the quarterback run game at the collegiate level. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Players are just faster and can tackle better in the Big 12, and it doesn’t seem like Hawley would have much success on designed runs.

As long as Hawley's ability to extend plays translates, though, I think that will be more than enough mobility for him to find some level of success as a collegiate quarterback.

Overall thoughts and projection: It is easy to be optimistic about Hawley’s fit after watching his highlights. He has a lot of traits that should translate. Hawley's growth as a player and a person ahead of his senior season should speak volumes to his work ethic and his commitment to getting better.

At the very least, Hawley provides depth in a quarterback room that now features three promising young signal callers. But I think there is reason to believe Hawley could push Jalon Daniels and Ben Easters for immediate playing time.

The Jayhawks should have an interesting quarterback room now with some serious potential, even if there are some growing pains at first.

Reply 5 comments from Dirk Medema Keithii Njjayhawk Gerry Butler

Getting to know: Baylor basketball

Baylor guard Jared Butler (12) gets around Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) as he heads to the bucket during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Baylor guard Jared Butler (12) gets around Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) as he heads to the bucket during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

After getting the weekend off, No. 9 Kansas is set to face No. 2 Baylor in a Big Monday matchup in Waco, Texas. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN.

The Jayhawks (10-3, 4-2 Big 12) had their home game against Iowa State postponed due to COVID-19 protocols in the ISU program. That means it has been nearly a week since KU dropped a 75-70 decision at Oklahoma State on Jan. 12.

Some extra rest could be a good thing because Baylor (12-0, 5-0 Big 12) is the last remaining undefeated Power Five program. BU is coming off a 68-60 road win over Texas Tech this past weekend. The Bears are the nation’s only team to win every game by at least eight points this season.

Eight of the previous 10 meetings between these two teams have been decided by eight points or less, but nobody seems to believe that will be the case this time around. KenPom gives Baylor a 80% chance of victory and a projected victory of 76-66.

Kansas opened as a 10-point underdog in Vegas, but that line is down to 8.5 points on FanDuel Sportsbook as of Monday afternoon.

Log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @bentonasmith & @SJacksonLJW

BREAKING DOWN BAYLOR

TOP PLAYER

No. 12 — G Jared Butler | 6-3, 195, jr.

It is no secret that any hope of stopping Baylor should begin with a game plan against Jared Butler.

Butler is back after becoming Baylor’s first underclassman to earn All-America or All-Conference first-team honors since 1980. And he’s even better this year. Butler ranks top-8 in the Big 12 in steals (1st), assists (3rd), scoring (5th), FG% (5th) and A-T ratio (8th).

Through 12 games, Butler is averaging 15.6 points per game to go along with 5.2 assists and 2.5 steals per contest. He’s shooting 47.2% from the floor, including a clip of 41.5% from beyond the arc.

Butler has 13 career games with at least 20 points, which includes a pair of 30-point performances. According to KenPom, Butler’s steal rate (5.0) ranks 17th in the nation and his assist rate (31.1) is 76th in the country.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 31 — G MaCio Teague | 6-4, 195, sr.

The difficult thing about defending Baylor is that containing Butler is not nearly enough. MaCio Teague is averaging 15.3 points per contest during his senior season. That clip ranks sixth in the Big 12 in scoring.

Teague has earned all-conference honors in all three collegiate seasons thus far, and likely will make it four for four. He was All-Big South First Team in 2017 and 2018 at UNC Asheville and All-Big 12 Second Team last year at Baylor.

Teague is the nation’s only active player with 1,500+ career points (1,653), 400+ rebounds (479), 225+ assists (244), 125+ steals (126) and 200+ made 3-pointers (250). He has also led the Bears in scoring in 11 of his last 24 games, which includes five different outings this season.

According to KenPom, Teague has a true shooting percentage of 60.3% and he plays 76.9% of Baylor’s minutes.

No. 45 — G Davion Mitchell | 6-2, 205, jr.

Back for another year as the starting point guard, Mitchell leads the conference in assists with an average of 5.9 per game.

Mitchell, who came off the bench for Auburn in 2017-18, has started in all 42 games at Baylor since joining the program. He was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year last season, while also earning a spot on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team and the All-Big 12 third team.

Mitchell also ranks second in the league in steals with an average of 2.2 per game. He’s made a 3-pointer in 30 of his last 38 games, shooting 37% from long range over that span.

Per KenPom, Mitchell has a true shooting percentage of 63.4% and ranks 131st in the nation in that department.

ONE THING BAYLOR DOES WELL

Baylor does a lot of things well, but 3-point shooting is the lone offensive category that Baylor is in the top-five on KenPom. The Bears are hitting 42.3% of their attempts from long range, which ranks fourth in the nation.

ONE AREA BAYLOR STRUGGLES

The Bears are allowing opposing teams to post a 9.4% block rate, a number that ranks 214th in the country. For comparison, the D1 average block rate is 8.8%. Yes, it was hard to come up with a way that Baylor struggles.

MEET THE COACH

The Bears are coached by Scott Drew, who is 354-213 in his 18th season at BU and 373-224 in 19th season overall.

VEGAS SAYS

This just feels like a trap. The Jayhawks are obviously never underdogs like this, and it almost feels like you are being tricked into taking the points because of that. At the same time, Baylor is a very good basketball team and there is a reason why it has won every game by at least eight points.

All that said, I’m falling for the trap. I’m taking the points for a Bill Self-led team coming off a loss and having a few extra days to prepare. There really is no other logic behind this pick.

Prediction: Baylor 78, Kansas 72

Reply 4 comments from Surrealku Robert  Brock

Getting to know: Iowa State basketball (postponed)

Kansas forward David McCormack reacts after dunking over Iowa State forward Solomon Young, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Kansas forward David McCormack reacts after dunking over Iowa State forward Solomon Young, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) by Associated Press

KU-IOWA STATE POSTPONED

Saturday's home game between No. 6 Kansas and Iowa State was postponed Friday evening because of COVID-19 protocol issues within the ISU program. No make-up date has been announced, but the schools plan to work with the Big 12 Conference to reschedule the game. KU now will play next Monday night at No. 2 Baylor in Waco, Texas.

———

No. 6 Kansas will look to put Tuesday’s loss in the rearview mirror when it plays host to Iowa State Saturday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse.

The Jayhawks are coming off a 75-70 road loss to Oklahoma State, marking their second conference defeat this month. KU has dropped two of its last four games, and is 10-3 on the year with a 4-2 clip in Big 12 play.

Iowa State (2-7, 0-5 Big 12) is looking to end a three-game losing skid after its 91-64 loss to No. 18 Texas Tech last weekend. The Cyclones have also fallen to Baylor and Texas over this recent stretch. Those are the only three games ISU has played in during the month of January thus far.

According to KenPom, Kansas has a 87% chance of victory against Iowa State this weekend. KU is projected to earn a 77-64 win in its final game before facing Baylor on Monday.

Tipoff will begin at 1 p.m., and the game will be televised on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

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BREAKING DOWN IOWA STATE

TOP PLAYER

No. 45 — G Rasir Bolton | 6-3, 185, jr.

Kansas guard Devon Dotson, center, drives to the basket between Iowa State's Rasir Bolton, left, and Tre Jackson during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Kansas guard Devon Dotson, center, drives to the basket between Iowa State's Rasir Bolton, left, and Tre Jackson during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) by Associated Press

Bolton is off to a strong start to his junior season, leading the Cyclones in multiple statistical categories through nine games.

Entering this weekend, Bolton is averaging 14.8 points per game to go along with 4.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists per contest. He’s also averaging 1.8 steals per outing, while shooting 48.6% from the floor.

Bolton, who averaged 14.7 points per game a year ago, has scored in double figures in 20 of his last 22 appearances. He ranks among the top-10 in school history shooting 84.8 percent at the charity stripe in his Cyclone career.

Last time out, Bolton scored 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting in the loss to Texas Tech. He has scored in double figures in three consecutive contests ahead of this weekend.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 33 — F Solomon Young | 6-8, 255, r-sr.

The Iowa State big man is back for a fifth season, and he’s putting together a solid campaign in the process.

Young is averaging a career-best 12 points per game this season. He’s one of four ISU players to average double figures in scoring. Young is also providing a team-high 5.2 rebounds per contest and shooting 57.3% from the field.

During this recent stretch, Young has really seemed to get things going. He’s scored in double figures in four consecutive games, which matches the longest streak of his career. Young registered 15 points against TTU last weekend.

No. 5 — G Jalen Coleman-Lands | 6-4, 187, sr.

Ranked second on the team in scoring, Coleman-Lands is averaging 12.7 points per contest for the Cyclones this year.

In nine games, Coleman-Lands is playing 33.4 minutes per outing and contributing in more ways than one. He’s averaged 4.3 rebounds per contest, while knocking down 46.3% of his shots and 100% of his attempts at the charity stripe this season.

Coleman-Lands has been a nice addition for the Cyclones as a graduate transfer, providing experience in the backcourt. He actually ranks among the nation’s leaders in career games played and 3-pointers made.

Coleman-Lands has even drilled a 3-pointer in every game this season for ISU.

ONE THING ISU DOES WELL

The Cyclones do a good job of defending the 3-point line so far this season. Opposing teams are shooting 28.3% from three-point range, a number that ranks 26th in the nation.

ONE AREA ISU STRUGGLES

Iowa State doesn’t do well on the glass on either end of the floor. ISU has an offensive rebound rate of 23.8%, which ranks 266th in the country. ISU is also allowing an offensive rebound rate of 33.3%, and that ranks 309th in all of college basketball.

MEET THE COACH

Iowa State is coached by Steve Prohm, who is 97-80 in his sixth season at ISU and 201-109 in his 10th season overall.

VEGAS SAYS

According to FanDuel’s Sportsbook, Kansas is a 13.5-point favorite over Iowa State as of Friday evening. The Cyclones are struggling, and the Jayhawks will be looking to put their recent loss behind them. But this is too many points, even at home. I’ll take Iowa State to cover, but KU still wins by a comfortable margin.

Prediction: Kansas 77, Iowa State 68

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Getting to know: Oklahoma State basketball

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) comes out to defend against a three from Oklahoma State guard Isaac Likekele (13) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) comes out to defend against a three from Oklahoma State guard Isaac Likekele (13) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

No. 6 Kansas is back on the road Tuesday when it travels to Stillwater, Oklahoma to take on Oklahoma State inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.

This conference clash will begin at 7 p.m. and will be broadcasted on Big 12 Now over on ESPN+.

Kansas (10-2, 4-1 Big 12) has won back-to-back games since falling to Texas at home. KU defeated a shorthanded Oklahoma squad by a 63-59 margin on Saturday.

The Jayhawks would break a league record of consecutive road conference victories with a win tonight. Kansas has won 11 in a row away from home against league opponents, a stretch that matches its previous record.

Oklahoma State (8-3, 2-3 Big 12), on the other hand, is coming off a 70-54 road win over Kansas State on Saturday. OSU connected on its final 13 shots to ultimately finish off Kansas State for its second league win of the season.

KenPom gives Kansas a 56% chance of victory tonight. His model projects KU to earn a 72-71 win in Stillwater.

Log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @bentonasmith & @SJacksonLJW

BREAKING DOWN OSU

TOP PLAYER

No. 2 — G Cade Cunningham | 6-8, 220, fr.

The scouting report on Oklahoma State has to start with Cade Cunningham, who is currently projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

So far in 11 games at the collegiate level, Cunningham has been as advertised. He’s averaged 17.4 points per game to lead the way for OSU, while also posting an average of 6.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per contest. Cunningham is averaging 33.4 minutes per outing.

Cunningham can get to the rim with ease, and he’s a phenomenal passer. Cunningham’s best performance so far was when he poured in 29 points on Oral Roberts. It was the most by an OSU player since Jawun Evans scored 30 against UNC in the Maui Invitational on Nov. 22, 2016.

Cunningham was the 2020 Naismith High School Player of the Year in his final prep season.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 13 — G Isaac Likekele | 6-5, 215, jr.

The Cowboys only have two players averaging in double figures in scoring and Isaac Likekele is one of them.

Likekele is averaging 12.3 points per contest, but his rebounding as a guard is especially impressive. Likekele is third in the Big 12 in rebounds per game with an average of 8.1 rebounds per contest. He’s also dishing out 3.5 assists per game.

In addition, Likekele takes efficient shots. He’s first in the league with a 59.6% field goal percentage. He was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection as a sophomore last season, but he has taken a big leap this year.

No. 14 — G Bryce Williams | 6-2, 180, sr.

There is plenty of balance for the Cowboys after their top-two players, so let’s highlight Bryce Williams because of his defensive play.

Williams is averaging 1.4 steals per game, which ranks 11th in the Big 12. He’s a pesky defender that should create problems for members of KU’s backcourt tonight. Because of his defensive play, Williams is among the OSU leaders in plus/minus per 40 minutes with a mark of +8.3.

The Cowboys in general have had a solid defense. They force 14.4 turnover per game and are holding opponents to a 39.8% field goal percentage from the floor.

ONE THING OSU DOES WELL

The Cowboys do a good job of crashing the glass. They have a 32.2% offensive rebound rate, which ranks 67th in the nation.

ONE AREA OSU STRUGGLES

Oklahoma State is not a great 3-point shooting team, to say the least. The Cowboys are hitting 31.6% of their shots from long range, which ranks 232nd in the nation.

MEET THE COACH

The Cowboys are coached by Mike Boynton Jr., who is 59-52 in his fourth season at OSU.

VEGAS SAYS

According to FanDuel’s Sportsbook, Kansas is considered a 3.5-point favorite over Oklahoma State as of Tuesday morning. I know KenPom has this closer, but I’m going to lay the points in this one. Jalen Wilson didn’t have his best game on Saturday, and a strong bounce back by him should lead to more of a comfortable win for KU.

Prediction: Kansas 75, OSU 69

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What former Notre Dame backup center Colin Grunhard brings to Kansas football

Colin Grunhard, formerly a walk-on at Notre Dame, announced Jan. 5, 2021, his decision to transfer to the University of Kansas and play his final two seasons with the Jayhawks.

Colin Grunhard, formerly a walk-on at Notre Dame, announced Jan. 5, 2021, his decision to transfer to the University of Kansas and play his final two seasons with the Jayhawks.

The Kansas offensive line received a much-needed boost on Tuesday, when former Notre Dame backup center Colin Grunhard announced he was transferring to the University of Kansas.

Grunhard, a former walk-on who eventually earned a scholarship, will have two years of eligibility left. Before joining the Fighting Irish, Grunhard was a four-year starter at Bishop Miege and received offers from Air Force, Colgate and South Dakota.

Grunhard probably could have gone elsewhere in the transfer portal, but playing time seems to be a big reason why he landed in Lawrence. According to NCAA Premium Stats on Pro Football Focus, Grunhard played 99 snaps at center across three seasons with Notre Dame.

As a result, there really isn’t a lot of tape on Grunhard at the collegiate level. Fortunately for the purpose of this report, Jon Kirby of Jayhawk Slant put together a 13-minute video of Grunhard’s snaps at Notre Dame that featured multiple angles on each play. I highly recommend checking it out to form your own opinion.

After watching the video multiple times myself, I have a better understanding of who Grunhard is as a player and how he will fit with the Jayhawks. So here is my full report on KU’s newest center:

Key stats: Grunhard appeared in 13 games in his career, including three in 2020. Per PFF, Grunhard had a run-blocking grade of 53.7 on 12 total snaps in 2020. He posted a run-blocking grade of 72.8 on 39 such snaps in 2019 and finished with a mark of 65.8 in 23 plays as a run blocker in 2018.

In terms of pass protection, Grunhard did not have a snap in 2020. He posted a pass-blocking grade of 79.9 on 18 plays in 2019, while finishing with a mark of 72.9 on two pass snaps in 2018.

For comparison, the highest pass-blocking grade by a KU player with more than 20 snaps this past season was Chris Hughes with a mark of 55.1. Earl Bostick Jr. paced the run-blocking unit among regular linemen with a grade of 72.2 on the year.

Body type/athletic ability: Grunhard is listed at 6 feet and one-half inch and 290 pounds, according to the Notre Dame roster. Grunhard probably won’t get much bigger, but he’s ready to play as is. His height has been viewed as a concern by some, but I actually think it helps him have great pad level and leverage in most situations.

More importantly, Grunhard has the athletic ability to be a starting center at the college level. He’s explosive after the snap, with great initial footwork to get in position. He has solid speed to get to the second level and execute blocks in space, and was even asked to be a puller on occasion for Notre Dame.

Strengths: Competitive toughness, explosiveness and pad level

There was one play all the way back in 2018 that really highlighted who Grunhard is as a player and why KU fans should be excited that he is coming to Lawrence.

It was an outside zone run to the right, in which Grunhard didn’t immediately have a player to block. After making sure his right guard didn’t need help, Grunhard picked up a crashing linebacker at the time of the handoff. Grunhard met him with good pad level and solid hands, and there was no chance of his man making the play behind the line of scrimmage.

Grunhard could have stopped there. After all, he had done his job and the play was going the other way. Instead, Grunhard maintained his block all the way through. When the Wake Forest defender spun and headed upfield, so did Grunhard.

Grunhard proceeded to stick with his block for nearly 10 yards until the final whistle. The play ended on the other hash, and Grunhard was the only player blocking by the end of the sequence.

None by Shane Jackson

It really just highlighted Grunhard’s biggest attribute, which is his competitive toughness. Grunhard has a tendency to block until the final whistle on most plays. He’s seemingly always looking to hit someone. Grunhard has a fiery style of play, which is a trait that not every lineman has.

Grunhard has even more positives from a technical standpoint, too. Grunhard has good explosiveness, and was often the first player in position after the snap. His solid initial footwork, particularly with his lead step, allows him to reach either a 0-tech or 2-tech defender to get in position to make a play.

When Grunhard does meet a defender, he is often the low man at point of attack. Grunhard has really good pad level, which allows him to have great leverage on most blocks. Grunhard might not get much push at the point of attack, but his pad level and solid use of hands should translate to success in the run game.

Grunhard also showed the ability to get to the second level and execute blocks in space against more athletic defenders.

One reason for concern: Lack of reps in pass protection

This actually isn’t a knock on Grunhard, but one thing that stood out was the lack of times he was asked to pass protect. There were very few of those reps in that 13-minute video on Jayhawk Slant, and there is a reason for that. Per PFF, Grunhard had just 20 snaps in pass protection during his Notre Dame career.

Now, let’s use some common sense here. The reason why that is the case is because Grunhard was a reserve and he typically saw action late in games when Notre Dame was just running out the clock. In fact, half of Grunhard’s pass-blocking reps came in his 18-play outing against Bowling Green in 2019.

Based on what Grunhard is good at in run blocking, though, we can make an educated guess on how well he will hold up in pass protection. I would expect a center who has really good pad level and technically sound hand placement when he is ultimately asked to pass protect for KU.

Like most centers, Grunhard won’t be asked to have too many one-on-one battles and that is good because he probably doesn’t have the play strength to overpower defenders.

Grunhard’s ability to read and pick up blitzes will determine how well he does in pass protection. But there was some of that mental processing on display in the run game, so that probably won't be an issue.

Overall thoughts and projection: It might not be saying much because KU’s offensive line was terrible in 2020, but that position group just got better by adding Grunhard to the mix.

Grunhard comes from a prestigious program like Notre Dame, which consistently has one of the better offensive line units in the country. Because of that alone, Grunhard should be able to bring a leadership aspect to this group and ultimately help turn things around up front.

As a player, Grunhard has all the tools to compete for immediate playing time. Grunhard has really good pad level and leverage to go along with solid technique on a consistent basis. He also appears to be one of the more competitive players on the football field, and that mentality should be evident as soon as he steps on campus.

A lot of things can still happen before the 2021 campaign begins, but I would expect Grunhard to be the starting center for the Jayhawks in the season opener.

Reply 2 comments from Len Shaffer Dirk Medema

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