at Folsom Field • Oct. 22
Head Coach: Mark Mangino (4th year)
2004 Record: 4-7, 2-6 Big 12
Offensive scheme: Multiple, ball-control passing
Key lost players: RB John Randle, WR Brandon Rideau, TE Lyonel Anderson, C Joe Vaughn
Key returning players: QB Jason Swanson, QB Adam Barmann, RB Clark Green, WR Mark Simmons, WR Marcus Henry, OT Matt Thompson
Key newcomers: RB Gary Green, WR Brian Murph, WR Marcus Herford, TE
The Jayhawks will be successful on offense if: The offensive line clicks and a quarterback improves his consistency. Last year's offense struggled with little rhythm from the quarterback position, and neither Swanson nor Barmann won the job in the spring. Both had their bright spots followed by moments of poor decision-making.
The dismissal of John Randle at running back means the team will have to find another threat to tote the ball to remove pressure from Clark Green.
The wide receiver position is stacked with talent, and should boom if they get a quarterback to throw them the ball. Last year's offensive line got better as the year went along, but never quite totally gelled. This year's version is much more talented and much deeper. If they can come together as a group, it would take pressure off the quarterbacks and running backs and make the offense move more smoothly down the field.
Tight end was a need position, and true freshman Josh Bell could step right in and win the job. He was a dominating blocker in high school and showed the ability to get downfield in the passing game.
Defensive scheme: Attacking 4-3
Key players lost: DE David McMillan, DT Travis Watkins, S Tony Stubbs
Key returning players: DE Jermial Ashley, DE Charlton Keith, DT James McClinton, LB Nick Reid, LB Kevin Kane, CB Charles Gordon, S Rodney Harris
Key newcomers: DE Rodney Allen, DT Wayne Wilder, LB Eric Washington, CB
Clavens Charles, S Aqib Talib
The Jayhawks will be successful on defense if: They can get solid play deep into the defensive backs and defensive line. There aren't really any weaknesses to the Kansas defense. Both Ashley and Keith have All-Big 12 potential, while McClinton is a budding star. Tim Allen also returns to bolster a group that should allow the defense to be aggressive. Reid, Kane and Banks Floodman headline a fast, deep linebacking corps that makes plays.
Gordon could earn All-America mention, while Talib was one of the surprises of spring ball. The only real weaknesses are depth on the defensive line and at cornerback. Both will receive boosts in the fall, with the cornerbacks needing to be sharp by the Texas Tech game. This unit could be one of the best in the conference.
Key games: At Kansas State - Oct. 8, Missouri - Oct 29, Iowa State -
While the first conference game at Texas Tech will be an important test for a team trying to turn the corner, the other three games are major contests for Big 12 North supremacy. The Jayhawks snapped a losing string last year to the Wildcats, and would love to start one of their own with a win at Manhattan. It should be a hotly contested game, with the local battle for recruits at stake. The Missouri game will also be important for the Jayhawks, who have won the last two battles against their Border War rival. A win gives them momentum heading into the Nebraska game, something that could be important in trying to break a losing streak that dates back to the 1960s.
The Iowa State game could be for the North championship. Kansas tends to play well against the Cyclones in Lawrence, and it will be a matchup of two programs trying to rise in the conference pecking order. Win all three and Kansas will definitely go bowling, with a good shot to win the North.
Buffalo Outlook: By the middle of October, it should be apparent how good the Colorado defense is in 2005. Heading into August, it appears CU will have the upper hand when Kansas has the ball. However, an experienced Kansas defense will probably give the Buffs offense all it can handle at Folsom Field, especially if Colorado has failed to define its running game by then. — Mark Collins
Opponent Preview — Kansas Jayhawks
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