Big 12 Preview: Kansas

In conjunction with the Big 12 Football Media Days being held this week in Houston, Go Pokes will be publishing previews on each of the conference's schools.

Kansas Jayhawks
OSU does not play KU this season
Head coach: Mark Mangino (4th year)
2004 Record: 4-7, 2-6 Big 12

Last year's offense struggled with little rhythm from the quarterback position, and neither Jason Swanson nor Adam 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 running back Clark Green. The wide receiver position is stacked with talent. Brian Murph and Marcus Herford infuse some athleticism and playmaking ability into the receiving group, and the unit should bloom if it gets a quarterback to throw them the ball.

Last year's offensive line got better as the year went along but never quite gelled. This year's version is much more talented and is at least two deep at every position with quality players, something that head coach Mark Mangino hasn't had in his time at Kansas. 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.

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 he showed the ability to get downfield in the passing game.

The Jayhawks' 4-3 defense is fast and is building depth, and doesn't have any glaring weakness. It will be successful if Kansas can get solid play deep into the defensive backs and defensive line. Both defensive ends Jermial Ashley and Charlton Keith have All-Big 12 potential, while interior defensive lineman James McClinton — a backup defensive tackle last year who dropped 15-20 pounds in order to put pressure on opposing offenses with his quickness — is a budding star. Tim Allen also returns to bolster a group that should allow the defense to be aggressive.

Nick Reid, Kevin Kane and Banks Floodman headline a fast, deep linebacking corps that makes plays. Charles Gordon could earn All-America mention at cornerback, while Aqib Talib was one of the surprises of spring ball as the redshirt-freshman safety moved his way to the top of the depth chart. The only issues are depth on the defensive line and at cornerback. Both units 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.

GoPokes Top Stories