2009 Kansas Jayhawks Football Preview
2008 Record: (8-5, 4-4)
2008 Bowl: Insight Bowl vs. Minnesota (W 42-21)
Coach: Mark Mangino (45-41 at Kansas, 45-41 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ed Warinner
Defensive Coordinator: Clint Bowen
Other Key Returnees: TE Tim Biere, DT Caleb Blakesley, DT Jamal Greene, CB Chris Harris, OT Jeremiah Hatch, DT Richard Johnson, WR Kerry Meier, CB Daymond Patterson, OT Jeff Spikes, S Phillip Strozier, CB Justin Thornton, WR Jonathan Wilson
Key Losses for KU: DE Russell Brorsen, C Ryan Cantrell, WR Dexton Fields, G Chet Hartley, LB James Holt, G Adrian Mayes, LB Joe Mortensen, LB Mike Rivera
After failing to meet high expectations during the 2008 campaign, Kansas is again the probable favorite to win the Big 12 North. The return of a plethora of offensive playmakers is why the expectations are again rising, but the schedule is a nightmare with Big 12 South opponents Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech on the slate. Missing out on Baylor and Texas A&M will likely give the Jayhawks a worse record than they deserve, but it could also catapult them back to the national radar if they can pull off an upset or two.
The offense could be the most potent in the conference (that is saying a lot) if everything comes together. Quarterback Todd Reesing is a proven signal caller and receivers Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier are both back after surpassing the 1,000 yard receiving mark last season. Add the dynamic Jonathan Wilson to the mix and Reesing just has to get the ball to a receiver and sit back and watch. However, that is easier said then done without the entire interior of the offensive line. The Jayhawks have a few experienced options ready to plug in, but Reesing will need time to find his targets. An improved line would also mean a more balanced attack. Jake Sharp is a fine running back who is capable of tallying 1,000 yards on the season if the line gives him space.
Kansas had a pretty solid defense last year. The numbers are not that great, but considering their opposition, giving up under 400 yards per game is not that bad. But now the entire middle of their defense is gone. James Holt, Joe Mortensen and Mike Rivera were tackling machines who held the entire defense together. There is not much experience ready to step in, but there are some pretty talented athletes who have plenty of speed and athleticism. In the pass happy Big 12, speed and athleticism is never a bad thing to have. Jake Laptad had a great sophomore campaign, tallying 8.5 tackles-for-loss and seven sacks. If the Jayhawks can find another pass rusher and create pressure from the front four, their defense will be just as good as it was last year, even with three new linebackers.
The Bottom Line for the Jayhawks:
This will not be another 2007 type of season. Just like last season, the schedule is much tougher than it was when they went to the Orange Bowl. This is a team that can beat some good teams and it must be remembered that with their win over Minnesota in the Insight Bowl, Kansas has won back-to-back bowls for the first time in their history. It might not be another BCS bowl this time, but the Jayhawks very easily could make it three in a row.
By Joel Welser
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