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Kansas football 2018 season-opener shapes up as compelling matchup

Nicholls head coach Tim Rebowe looks on in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Athens, Ga. Georgia won 26-24. (AP Photo/Brett Davis)

Nicholls head coach Tim Rebowe looks on in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Athens, Ga. Georgia won 26-24. (AP Photo/Brett Davis)

Nicholls State and Kansas were in the market for football coaches at the end of their disappointing 2014 seasons. Kansas hired David Beaty, receivers coach from Texas A&M. Nicholls State opted for Tim Rebowe, safeties coach at Louisiana Lafayette.

Beaty inherited a program coming off a 3-9 record, a seven-year bowl drought and a roster sorely lacking in offensive linemen.

Rebowe inherited an 0-12 squad located in Thibodaux, Louisiana, that had finished last in the Southland Conference for four consecutive seasons.

Three years into the job, Beaty has a 3-33 record. He hasn’t been able to establish a strong recruiting footprint in either his native Texas or Kansas, which led to an aggressive turn toward Louisiana. At the moment, 2 of 6 verbal commitments from The Boot still list Kansas as their top choices, but cornerback Coe Harris and running back Pooka Williams are being aggressively pursued by big-time college football programs.

Rebowe is 16-18, including 8-4 this past season when his team lost to South Dakota in the first round of the 16-team FCS playoffs.

Obviously, Louisiana produces far more football prospects than Kansas. Even so, it’s impressive how disciplined Rebowe has been in sticking to his hyper-local recruiting approach. In his first three recruiting classes, 58 of 64 signees came from Louisiana.

Why should anybody in Kansas care about what's happening with an FCS school from Louisiana? KU opens its 2018 football season Sept. 1 vs. Nicholls State in Memorial Stadium.

Curious as to whether Rebowe had the good fortune of inheriting a strong class that as seniors led the Colonels to an 8-4 record in 2017, I did some research on geauxcolonels.com.

Unfortunately for Kansas, not the case.

Nicholls State returns 89 percent of its rushing yards and 95 percent of its rushing touchdowns, 95 percent of its passing yards, 100 percent of its passing touchdowns, 79 percent of its receiving yards, 86 percent of its receiving touchdowns.

But will the blocks be there to free the quarterback and running backs to do their work?

Yes.

The Colonels bring back 4 of 5 starting offensive linemen from the team that lost to Texas A&M by 10 points, an impressive showing, although not as shocking as the previous year’s outcome vs. an FBS opponent. Georgia defeated Nicholls State by two points in 2016.

Oddsmakers don’t always post lines for games pitting FBS schools vs. FCS ones. If there is a line for this one, it’s worth wondering which school will be favored. I wonder if an FCS road team ever has been favored against an FBS school. I’ll try to find out before the day is over.

On one hand, Beaty has a 2-1 record vs. FCS opponents and will finally have a full roster of scholarship players. On the other hand, look at the comparative records from 2014, the year before the coaches took over, through 2017.

Kansas: 3-9, 0-12, 2-10, 1-11.

Nicholls State: 0-12, 3-8, 5-6, 8-4.

The Colonels’ growth curve points steadily up. For the Jayhawks, it’s been down, up, down. It's reasonable to expect it to head back up in 2018, provided defensive linemen Dorance Armstrong return, rather than declare for the NFL draft.

Fascinating matchup between coaches who inherited similar situations, although at different levels of competition, and three years in have had starkly different results.

Reply 22 comments from Spk15 Chriss Hawkfan9675 John Brazelton Jeff Coffman Bryson  Stricker Brett McCabe Eric Bernauer Layne Pierce John Sheppard and 3 others

No easy fix for Kansas basketball team’s defensive woes

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) sends a shot from Arizona State guard Tra Holder (0) sailing during the second half, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) sends a shot from Arizona State guard Tra Holder (0) sailing during the second half, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

No easy solutions exist for the Kansas basketball team’s defensive problems exposed in back-to-back losses to Pac-12 schools.

The flaws extend from the perimeter, where the guards don’t force a ton of turnovers, to the interior, where center Udoka Azubuike hasn’t yet developed great timing as a shot-blocker.

“We have less margin for error than a lot of teams that we’ve had in here in the past,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “But I would say our toughness, to be able to get stops or keep a guy in front of you for 30 seconds, being able to defend the entire shot clock, those things are disappointing. And it’s everybody. It’s not just one or two people. We have no rim protection.”

Azubuike blocked just two shots Sunday against the much shorter Sun Devils.

Arizona State’s guards stung Kansas from the perimeter and on drives to the hoop. “I don’t know how tall they list (Tra) Holder and (Shannon) Evans and (Remy) Martin, but they all have to be under 5-11 and to have three guys score 72 points who are basically really, really quick and really good with the ball, but still yet, that’s just ridiculous to allow them to have that type of output.”

Arizona State (9-0) moved all the way to fifth in the Associated Press top 25 poll, eight spots ahead of Kansas.

Reply 5 comments from Allan Olson Jaylark Surrealku Alan Dickey Pius Waldman

Early signing period cranks up pressure for college football coaches

Kansas University's new head football coach, David Beaty, speaks at an introductory press conference Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, at the Anderson Family Football Complex. Beaty, the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Texas A&M, was hired by KU Friday.

Kansas University's new head football coach, David Beaty, speaks at an introductory press conference Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, at the Anderson Family Football Complex. Beaty, the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Texas A&M, was hired by KU Friday.

Twelve days removed from college football’s first December signing period, Kansas ranks next-to-last in the Big 12 with 12 verbal commitments. Only Kansas State, which never does as well in recruiting on paper as on the football field, has fewer (11) verbals.

The rest of the Big 12 members' numbers: West Virginia (22), Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU (20), Texas Tech (19), Iowa State and Texas (18), according to Rivals, which ranks Texas slightly ahead of Oklahoma in its team recruiting rankings, followed by West Virginia, TCU, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State.

Eight of KU’s 12 commitments are high school players and four are prospects from junior colleges.

KU head coach David Beaty shared his thoughts during Big 12 Media Days in July on the addition of the early signing period.

“One of the most interesting things for me is when kids are committed and that first period comes around how many of them actually sign and how many don’t, because if they don’t sign then, they’re not committed,” Beaty said.

Tough to argue that point, so it's now or never for KU's most celebrated recruits.

Kansas lost another commitment Wednesday when three-star defensive end Josh Smith of Landry-Walker High in New Orleans, announcement on Twitter that he will “explore other options.”

KU has four remaining commitments who have been pursued by big programs and will be recruited aggressively by schools trying to pry them from their Kansas commitments before early signing day.

Cornerback Corione Harris and receiver Devonta Jason of Landry-Walker High in New Orleans, running back Anthony Williams from Boutte, Louisiana, and quarterback Clayton Tune of Hebron, Texas, all have SEC offers.

Harris announced on Twitter he would choose between Kansas and Mississippi State. Jason tweeted that former Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullens’ still is recruiting him at his new job at Florida. This might mean nothing, but it’s somewhat interesting that Harris just started following new Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt on Twitter.

LSU, Mississippi State, TCU and UCLA have offered Williams at various stages of his recruitment, per Rivals.

Quarterback Clayton Tune from Hebron, Texas, tweeted that Ole Miss offered him a scholarship.

These are nervous times for college football coaches. The early signing period cranks up the pressure because the guess by most is that the majority of prospects will sign now, rather than wait until February.

Reply 20 comments from Shorte3355 Jeff Coffman Brett McCabe Gerry Butler Hawkfan9675 John Brazelton Pius Waldman Bryson  Stricker Hawktalker5 Jmfitz85

Lindsey Scott Jr., brings exciting possibilities at quarterback

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting

The first thing I liked reading about Lindsey Scott Jr., quarterback of national-champion East Mississippi Community College, was his height.

He’s listed at 5-foot-11, which means schools that can afford to be picky about such things decided not to recruit him for fear he would have trouble seeing over offensive linemen.

The smaller the pool of interested schools, the better shot Kansas has of landing him.

Mark Mangino had two terrific quarterbacks at Kansas and both could play in 6-foot-and-under basketball leagues without cheating by bending their knees at the official measurement, a tactic that allowed our 6-2 center Joe Trivisonno to play on the Marquette 1978 intramural champions, “The Eraserheads.”

Back to Mangino’s two best quarterbacks.

Bill Whittemore was listed at 6-0, Todd Reesing at 5-11. KU beat out New Mexico to land Whittemore, Duke and Kansas State to land Reesing.

Underdogs can’t get hung up on physical prototypes or they’ll end up with a roster full of players who look good coming off the bus, warming up and posing for photographs for the media guide, but can’t play a lick.

Whittemore played in the Tangerine Bowl, which interestingly was played in a stadium called the Citrus Bowl.

Reesing led KU to victory in the Orange Bowl and the Insight Bowl.

Jason Swanson, listed at 6-foot, led KU to victory in the Fort Worth Bowl.

The next thing to like about Scott is that he has only burned one year of eligibility and will have three remaining seasons after selecting a school from among Kansas, Texas-San Antonio, Tulane and Western Michigan. He red-shirted during his one year at LSU.

My guess is that Scott has thick skin because he excelled under EMCC coach Buddy Stephens the central figure in the popular Netflix series that followed two Lions seasons.

Stephens is a yeller and a screamer, a cusser and a fusser, despite trying to tame his act in Season 2.

Scott’s dual-threat capabilities count as another plus.

If KU can land Scott and Clayton Tune, who intends to graduate early and participate in spring football drills, David Beaty would have four quarterbacks, including holdovers Peyton Bender and Carter Stanley, competing for the starting job heading into spring football.

That’s a good thing, as long as Beaty names a starter by the end of spring football.

Tune originally made a verbal commitment to Kansas, then opened up his recruitment the night KU produced 21 yards in total offense in a 43-0 loss at TCU. He verbally recommitted to Kansas last week, but doubts arose to the strength of that commitment when he tweeted on Thursday: “Thankful to have received a scholarship offer from Ole Miss!”

Kansas had been recruiting dual-threat QB Victor Viramontes, but he committed to Minnesota.

Reply 40 comments from Sam Allen Jerry Walker Dkennedy Gunnarhays Matt Lindaman Hawkfanatic Dirk Medema Slick50 Spk15 Robert  Brock and 14 others

Sam Cunliffe soon will be more than just a practice player for Kansas

Blue Team guard Sam Cunliffe dishes a pass beyond defender Tyshawn Taylor during a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

Blue Team guard Sam Cunliffe dishes a pass beyond defender Tyshawn Taylor during a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. by Nick Krug

By the time Sam Cunliffe is eligible to play in his first game for Kansas, which will be at Nebraska on Dec. 16, barring one of his professors spacing out and not getting his first-semester grade in on time, the Seattle native will have played in practice for Kansas coach Bill Self for a full year.

So what type of player are the Jayhawks adding?

“He’s an athlete,” senior guard Devonte’ Graham said.

The internet is loaded with examples of Cunliffe’s acrobatic dunks.

What else?

“He can steal extra possessions and you know coach loves guys like that who can go offensive rebound, get out in the passing lanes,” Graham said. “He can shoot the ball really well too. He’s been shooting well in practice. And he also can be another defensive stopper.”

It wasn’t dissatisfaction with playing time that caused Cunliffe to transfer from Arizona State. He started all 10 of his games there and averaged 25.4 minutes per game. he also averaged 9.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.8 turnovers. Cunliffe shot .314 on 2-point shots and .405 on 3-pointers.

Coming out of high school he was ranked No. 36 in his class by Rivals.

Search for "Sam I Am" on youtube and you'll find a three-episode series on Cunliffe. Each one is roughly 30 minutes.

Cunliffe won't have any trouble keeping up with the fleet Jayhawks. Speed runs in the family. His sister, Hannah, a senior at Oregon, was 60-meter champion at the NCAA Indoor meet.

Running at altitude, she was clocked in a collegiate-record 7.07 in a heat. She won the final in 7.14.

She was named Pac-12 female track and field athlete of the year in 2016 and was on course to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in the 100 meters, but suffered a hamstring injury that put that dream on hold for four years.

Reply 4 comments from Andy Godwin Surrealku Brett McCabe Stupidmichael

Big 12 team in red jerseys has what it takes to compete against Jayhawks

Kansas senior guard Devonte' Graham smiles with transfers Dedric Lawson and Charlie Moore after a missed chance by Mitch Lightfoot during an exhibition game Tuesday against Pittsburg State at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas senior guard Devonte' Graham smiles with transfers Dedric Lawson and Charlie Moore after a missed chance by Mitch Lightfoot during an exhibition game Tuesday against Pittsburg State at Allen Fieldhouse.

The masses wouldn’t be so quick to treat this Kansas basketball team’s bid for a 14th consecutive Big 12 title almost as a formality if it considered the size, speed, skill and experience level of one of the teams it faces.

Before considering the name across the jerseys of this team’s players, because that could slant your judgment, consider that one of the starters is a freshman ranked No. 11 in his recruiting class. The other four have combined to start 141 of their 151 collegiate games, which means they were good enough to start from Day 1.

Now look at the size of the five starters, moving from point guard to center: 5-foot-11, 6-6, 6-8, 6-10, 6-9. They’re loaded with speed and sky-walkers.

Each starter, except the freshman, has averaged at least 9.5 points per game in a season and one averaged 19.2 points and 9.9 rebounds.

Meet KU’s greatest red team of all-time: Charlie Moore, Sam Cunliffe, K.J. Lawson, Billy Preston and Dedric Lawson.

In reality, of course, this team can't hurt the Jayhawks' chances of extending their Big 12 dominance, but they can help to continue the streak.

Cunliffe will be leaving the red team and joining the real Jayhawks as soon as the Nebraska game. Preston remains in limbo, hoping to join the real team and leave the red squad behind. But for the moment, Kansas faces better competition daily in practice than any team in the nation.

The 1931 Philadelphia A’s, managed by Connie Mack, enter many conversations about the greatest all-time baseball team, but one factor that contributed to their dominance never is mentioned: Hall of Famer Lefty Grove used to like to throw full-speed batting practice frequently, believing that the best way to make his arm stronger, more accurate, was to use it in between starts. It helped to ready the hitters for games, where they seldom faced a pitcher of his talent.

KU coach Bill Self has talked about shortening practices because of the team’s lack of depth, but based on the sharpness of the team’s early season play, what practices lack in quantity is more than compensated for with the quality of the daily competition.

“Sometimes in practice coach gets so mad at us because they’ll be killing us, but when you think about it, they’re Div. I basketball players too,” senior guard Devonte’ Graham said. “It’s not like we’re just playing against the walk-ons. They’ve definitely been making us better defensively and offensively.”

Graham sharpens his game playing against Cal transfer Charlie Moore, a 5-11 point guard.

“Real quick first step, can’ handle the ball really well and can shoot it, so he makes Malik and me better defenders,” Graham said. “It’s good to have another guard who is like someone you’re going to be playing against.”

Self doesn’t take the red-team players for granted either.

“The other day we played the red team for a 10-minute scrimmage and they scored 34 points on us in 10 minutes,” Self said. “It’s not uncommon for them to score 25 in 10 minutes, running clock, so that means they would score 100 on us, easily, if it’s a 40-minute game. So even though it’s enough to make me mad, it’s probably good for us.”

Dedric Lawson averaged 19.2 points and 9.9 boards for Memphis last season.

“If Billy’s on our red team along with Dedric, that’s as good a front line as we’re going to play against,” Self said. “Then you have K.J. and Sam, those are pretty good guards. I’m not saying all-league, but those are good guards. And throw Charlie in there, that’s a pretty good red team.”

Facing that sort of talent in practice keeps bad habits from developing and keeps the eligible Jayhawks competing at a high level. Good practice habits lead to good game performances and Kansas (7-0) has had plenty of those already.

Reply 6 comments from Nick Kramer Pius Waldman Rockn_chalkn_ku Burtmaclinpr David Morrison Table_rock_jayhawk

KU’s nine-year bowl drought longest by five years among power-five schools

Kansas defenders Phillip Strozier, left, and Joe Mortensen celebrate a defensive stop against Minnesota near the goal line during the third quarter of the Insight Bowl Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

Kansas defenders Phillip Strozier, left, and Joe Mortensen celebrate a defensive stop against Minnesota near the goal line during the third quarter of the Insight Bowl Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. by Nick Krug

The Big 12 has a remarkable 80 percent of its members heading to a bowl game. Baylor (1-11 overall, 1-8 in Big 12 play) and Kansas (1-11, 0-9) are the lone exceptions.

A disappointing season extended KU's bowl drought to nine years. No other school from a power-five conference has a drought of longer than four years and Oregon State and Syracuse are the lone schools to go that long without the extra game and practices that go with it.

KU's attendance dropped for the ninth consecutive year, to 25,165, despite Kansas State and Oklahoma drawing a large number of fans to Memorial Stadium.

At what point does the school's conference affiliation become jeopardized by the football program's inability to compete?

“That’s not something that’s ever been (a concern)," KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger told me in an interview in his office last week. "We’re a strong institution in many, many, many ways, and strong in this athletic department. Granted, we don’t have the wins in football right now, but all else is going well.”

Kansas last participated in the postseason on New Year's Eve 2008, when the Jayhawks defeated Minnesota, 42-21, in the Insight Bowl in Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. That improved Mark Mangino's bowl record to 3-1. His 2006 team also was bowl eligible but was not invited to a game.

A look at the bottom 20 power-five schools in terms participation in bowl games during the length of KU's drought:

School Bowls since 2009 season
Drought
1 - Kansas None Nine years
2 - Colorado
2016 One year
3 (tie) - Virginia
2011, 2017 Zero
3 (tie) - Indiana
2015, 2016
One year
5 (tie) - Purdue
2011, 2012, 2017
Zero
5 (tie) - Wake Forest
2011, 2016, 2017
Zero
5 (tie) - Cal
2009, 2011, 2015
Two years
5 (tie) - Illinois
2010, 2011, 2014
Three years
5 (tie) - Oregon State
2009, 2012, 2013
Four years
5 (tie) - Syracuse
2010, 2012, 2013
Four years
11 (tie) - Iowa State
2009, 2011, 2012, 2017
Zero
11 (tie) - Kentucky
2009, 2010, 2016, 2017
Zero
11 (tie) - Maryland
2010, 2013, 2014, 2016
One year
11 (tie) - Vanderbilt
2011, 2012, 2013, 2016
One year
11 (tie) - Washington State
2013, 2015, 2016, 2017
Zero
16 (tie) - Duke
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
Zero
16 (tie) - Texas Tech
2009, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017
Zero
16 (tie) - Ole Miss
2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Two years
16 (tie) - Rutgers
2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Three years
16 (tie) - Tennessee
2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2016
One year
Reply 49 comments from RXDOC Layne Pierce Brian_leslie Jeff Coffman Tom Keegan Expertoneverythingduh Mike Hart Oklahomajayhawk John Brazelton Cary Ediger and 12 others

How college football programs have fared since 2014 coaching changes

Kansas head coach David Beaty  talks with punt returner Steven Sims Jr. just before a punt in the second quarter, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.

Kansas head coach David Beaty talks with punt returner Steven Sims Jr. just before a punt in the second quarter, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth. by Nick Krug

Obviously, no two situations are alike when coaching changes are made in college football. Some coaches inherit worst situations than others. David Beaty inherited a tough challenge in large part because predecessor Charlie Weis recruited too many transfers and left the cupboard bare, particularly at offensive line.

Still, I thought it would be interesting to see how other schools that made coaching changes after the 2014 season have fared.

All computer rankings have flaws, but I've always considered the Sagarin predictor to be the best in both college football and basketball.

School 2014 rec.
Sagarin ranking
2017 rec.
Sagarin ranking
Sagarin
change
Old coach
New Coach
SMU 2-10, 205
7-5, 75
+130
June Jones
Chad Morris
Troy 2-10, 170
9-2, 76
+94 Larry Blakeney
Neal Brown
Tulsa 2-10, 165
2-10, 102
+63 Bill Blakenship
Philip Montgoery
UNLV 2-11, 173
5-7, 114
+59 Bobby Hauck
Tony Sanchez
Michigan
5-7, 59
8-4, 20
+39 Brady Hoke
Jim Harbaugh
Buffalo
5-6, 135
6-6, 97
+38 Jeff Quinn
Lance Leipold
Pittsburgh 6-7, 60
6-7, 46
+14 Paul Chryst
Pat Narduzzi
Wisconsin
11-3, 20
12-0, 7
+13 Gary Andersen
Paul Chryst
Houston 8-5, 67
7-4, 55
+12
Tony Levine
Tom Herman*
Colorado State
10-3, 69
7-5, 74
-5 Jim McElwain
Mike Bobo
Kansas 3-9, 121
1-11, 157
-36 Charlie Weis
David Beaty
Florida 7-5, 23
4-8, 39
-39 Will Muschamp
Jim McElwain*
Nebraska 9-4, 27
4-8, 70
-43 Bo Pelini
Mike Riley*
Oregon State
5-7, 81
1-11, 125
-44 Mike Riley
Gary Andersen*
*Coach no longer at that school.
Reply 33 comments from Lucas Town Brjam Jeff Coffman Brett McCabe Jim Stauffer Dirk Medema Cary Ediger Jmfitz85 Rchcku71 John Brazelton and 6 others

Kansas volleyball trying to rekindle the magic

Kansas head coach Ray Bechard gives instruction to his players during the first set on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017.

Kansas head coach Ray Bechard gives instruction to his players during the first set on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. by Nick Krug

The magic for the Kansas volleyball program started when the Jayhawks made a thrilling run into the 2015 Final Four and continued through winning the 2016 Big 12 title, a pair of program firsts.

Kansas has a number of quality victories since then, but the magic is on hiatus.

Creighton bounced KU from the 2016 NCAA tournament in a second-round, five-set match in Horejsi that went to extra points. Kansas (22-7 overall, 11-5 in conference) finished this season’s Big 12 schedule tied with Iowa State for third, five games behind Texas and two games behind second-place Baylor.

One thing hasn’t changed from the 2015 Final Four team that advanced to Omaha with an extraordinary comeback from a 13-9 deficit in the fifth set of its match against No. 1 overall seed USC: All-Americans Ainise Havili and Kelsie Payne and fellow senior Madison Rigdon, an all-conference player, remain the key trio for the Jayhawks.

Can they rekindle the magic?

KU made the tournament field for the sixth consecutive season. In the previous five, the Jayhawks played the first two rounds at home. This time, they travel to Wichita State and have a first-round match at 6 p.m. Friday against Missouri. Wichita State faces Radford at 8 p.m. and the winners of those two matches meet at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“Last year, I just thought we were maybe a little emotionally gutted because we want to win the Big 12 so bad,” KU coach Ray Bechard said. “We played a lot of five-set matches at the end of the year, so we really backed off our training. I think it being the first time having gone through that process we could have handled that a bit better.”

The inevitable exhale after claiming the first conference title in school history put the Jayhawks at risk of not regaining their edge. It was a different feel from 2015.

“Two years ago we were on a pretty good run (heading into the tournament),” Bechard said. “We were disappointed we didn’t win the Big 12 and we had a lot to prove in the tournament. I think that would resemble this year, the fact that the regular season didn’t work out in some ways like we had hoped.”

Kansas went 30-3 overall and 15-1 in the Big 12 in 2015.

“I’m not sure people remember we didn’t win the Big 12 in 2015,” Bechard said. “They remember the great run that we went on.”

Texas won the Big 12 in 2015. In the Final Four, Nebraska defeated Kansas in four sets and then swept Texas in the national-title match.

Kansas was ranked No. 19 in the AVCA poll released Monday; Wichita State (28-3) No. 20. Missouri (20-11) and Radford (25-4) are not ranked.

The home-court advantage gives Wichita State the favorite role.

KU's refusal to play Wichita State doesn't sit well with Shockers fans, which could lead some in the crowd for Friday's Missouri-Kansas match to root against the Jayhawks.

“I would like to think they’d root for somebody from Kansas, but that’s up to them," Bechard said. "They’re good volleyball fans. We have a good relationship with Wichita State in volleyball, respect what they’ve done. We’ve met, butted heads a couple of times the last few years in the NCAA tournament. We’ve had mixed results, won one of those and lost one. Coach (Chris) Lamb has done a great job and I’m sure the city of Wichita is very excited about the opportunity to host.”

It might not take magic to survive two matches in Wichita to advance, but it will take better volleyball than Kansas played in its final regular-season match, a five-set loss to West Virginia in Horejsi.

Reply 2 comments from Onlyoneuinkansas Bryson  Stricker

Most but not all KU football numbers bad in 2017

Kansas running back Khalil Herbert (10) tries to break away from the West Virginia defense during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Khalil Herbert (10) tries to break away from the West Virginia defense during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

You hang around a sports department office long enough and you’re bound to hear some interesting numbers and not all of them have dollar signs in front of them.

Some of the more compelling statistics produced by the Kansas football team during a 1-11 2017 campaign:

Scott Chasen pointed out on the KU Sports Hour that Khalil Herbert rushed for five more yards (291) against West Virginia than any teammate gained for the entire season. Taylor Martin rushed for 286 yards.

Bobby Nightengale noted that Kansas finished 130th (last) with an opponent punt-return average of 18.3 yards.

True freshman Earl Bostick, who started the season at offensive tackle and converted to tight end, had as many catches as Alabama transfer Daylon Charlot, who started the season at receiver and converted to safety.

Charlot caught one pass for no gain. This was one example of hype for which coaches can’t be blamed. The coaches consistently threw water on the media’s excitement, but we didn’t listen.

Bostick made his first and only catch a memorable one. Bostick’s 8-yard touchdown reception from Carter Stanley cut Texas’ lead to two touchdowns early in the second quarter.

Four schools surrendered more than the 296.8 passing yards per game allowed by KU and one school might come as a surprise: 130 - UConn (333.9); 129 - Kansas State (310.3); 128 - Louisiana-Monroe (308.5), Texas State (297.3).

Stanley had a hand in K-State’s ranking by throwing for 418 yards against the Wildcats.

Another indictment of the KU secondary: Tied for 123rd with four interceptions. KU ranks 128th with a -1.42 turnover margin and 126th with a 28.86-percent success rate on third down. Opponents were successful on 40.11 percent of their third-down plays.

KU averaged 3.1 yards per rush and 5.91 yards per pass attempt. Opponents averaged 4.2 yards per rush and 9.32 yards per pass.

The longest stretch of offensive ineptitude didn’t come in a 38-9 loss to Baylor, which lost its other 11 games, rather in a nine-and-a-half quarter streak that started midway through the third quarter of the 65-19 loss to Texas Tech and dragged on in back-to-back shutouts against Iowa State and TCU. The Jayhawks were outscored 118-0. They gained 129 yards in nine quarters.

On the positive side, Kansas ranked 15th in the nation with 7.42 tackles for loss per game.

Gabriel Rui was responsible for the team’s biggest area of improvement. He made 17 of 20 field goals and nailed a career-high 50-yard kick, one of 10 field goals of 40 or more yards.

Reply 10 comments from Jeff Coffman Larrym Dj19qqq Realisthawk Jmfitz85 John Brazelton Adioszenger Pius Waldman Spk15

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