Kansas: Reloading

Kansas won its first bowl game under Mark Mangino last season, but lost several stars off the team. Can they rebound? Find out what the Jayhawks had to say in CN's continuing media day coverge.

Iowa State led Kansas by seven points and had the ball with three minutes left and the Big 12 North hanging in the balance. We all know the result. One team had their hearts broken, but the other's confidence soared. Kansas translated the last minute heroics against Iowa State into bowl eligibility and a dominant 40-15 performance over Houston in the Ft. Worth Bowl.

 

"I feel that we have a football team that has a strong foundation," Kansas head coach Mark Mangino said Tuesday at the Big 12 media day. We obviously had some success last year, able to have a winning season and win a bowl game. And that success has helped tremendously. Everything has seemed to pick up a pace."

 

Winning is one thing, but the Iowa State game provided the Jayhawks something the Cyclones could have used in the past few years.

 

"It gave us the confidence to know that if we needed to finish, we could finish," Jayhawk OL David Ochoa said. "Whether we were playing Iowa State or any team, we know we can finish the deal."

 

The Jayhwaks lost a good portion of their defensive front that led the Big 12 in rush defense. Linebackers Nick Reid, Banks Floodman, and Kevin Kane all ended their careers last season. But unlike the previous decade of Kansas football, the cupboard still has some food in it.

 

"We've got some kids. Joe Mortensen, Mike Rivera, Eric Washington all played on special teams last year. We expect big things from them," Mangino said.

 

The defense also has first team all conference CB Aqib Talib instilling the attitude lost with the departing seniors.

 

"Aqib ‘gots some swagger to him. He'll make a play and let you know about it," DT James McClinton said.  

 

The Jayhawks believe they have a weapon in their artillery that they haven't had in recent years in red-shirt freshman quarterback Kerry Meier, a 6'3 210 gunslinger from Pittsburg, Kansas. The days of musical chairs at quarterback are over.

 

"I've had a good pleasure of being around some very talented quarterbacks. If he stays healthy and everything falls into place, he's got a chance to be among those type of guys," Mangio said.

 

That is high praise for a guy that hasn't taken a snap in division I football, but Mangino said it's well deserved.

 

"He's got all of the physical tools that are necessary. Good arm strength, accuracy speed, escapability. He's smart. He's perceptive. He's mentally tough. He's a tremendous competitor," Mangino said.

"He can really be special."

 

Perception is the Jayhawks will fall back into their traditional place near the bottom of the Big 12 along with the rest of the North. But David Ochoa feels that won't be the case.

 

"As a division, the Big 12 North is definitely on the upswing. Nebraska is a great team, Iowa State is a great team, nobody's a pushover. In the past, teams may look ahead to a game, but not now. The resurgence is good for the conference as a whole," Ochoa said.

 

Iowa State hosts Kansas on November 4th. 


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