There may be a lot of questions surrounding the Kansas Jayhawks offense going into the 2013 season, but as the Spring Game approaches next Saturday, there's one certainty. The Jayhawks will bring to the table one of the best backfields, if not the best in the Big 12.
Led by returners and team leaders James Sims and Tony Pierson, Kansas will lean on this group, as the rest of the offense will round into shape around them. While none of this is exactly ground breaking news, what is news is that they want to use this group differently in 2013, particularly Pierson.
Earlier in the spring, head coach Charlie Weis said that he envisions using the speedy back in a similar manner to the way West Virginia used Tavon Austin in their high-powered offensive scheme. Needless to say the prospects of touching the ball in various ways has Pierson giddy about the possibilities in 2013.
"I'm very excited because I used to watch Tavon Austin last year and he's a nice play, so doing, everybody likes his role at West Virginia," Pierson said.
Pierson said during spring football, he's ran at a pass/run ratio of 80/20. It's no secret that he may see the ball primarily as a receiver, though his skill set can't have him be discounted in the run game, which when used with Sims, could spell big things for the Kansas offense.
"Tony is a great player," Sims said. "He's very explosive and one of the best in the country, if not the best at making big plays and I'm just glad he's on our team."
When paired together, it's no surprise that Weis must be feeling giddy about the variety of ways he can get big plays out of his backfield.
Another back to keep an eye out on will be true freshman Colin Spencer. The Texas native arrived early to participate in spring ball and was immediately moved from the secondary to the backfield.
Spencer invokes memories of former Jayhawk great Jake Sharp and possesses speed so impressive that he and Pierson could race to determine who is the fastest guy on the team and Spencer could win.
The Jayhawks backfield will be the focal point of the offense in that it will trigger everything else, which will introduce quarterback Jake Heaps, a much improved and potentially nasty offensive line, to go with an improved receiving corps.
The offensive unit as a whole will hit the field with the attitude of a group looking to send a message to all of those who doubt their abilities to lead Kansas football back in 2013 and it all starts with a backfield that is daring opponents to overlook them, a process that will begin with Saturday afternoon's Spring Game.
"We just want to prove to everybody that we aren't the same team as last year. We want to come out with a lot of energy and get the crowd into it and just come out and have fun," Sims said.