2015 Kansas Jayhawks Football Preview
Head Coach: David Beaty (first at Kansas and first overall)
2014 Record: 3-9 overall, 1-8 Big 12
Bowl Result: None (Last: Insight Bowl: 12/31/08- Kansas 42 Minnesota 21
Following the back-to-back brief tenures of Turner Gill (5-19, 1-16 in two years) and Charlie Weis (6-22, 1-18 in two years plus) new KU head coach David Beaty will seek to bring some desperately needed stability and success to Lawrence.
Mark Mangino, who coached the Jayhawks from 2002 to 2009 and whose contract was bought out amid controversy surrounding the coach after a 5-7 finish in the ’09 campaign, is the only coach in the last 50 years to conclude his time at KU with a winning record. Overall, he compiled a 50-48 mark—although he was just 23-41 in the Big 12—and took the Jayhawks to four bowls in eight seasons. The apex of the Mangino Era—which included five major rules violations in 2005—was the program’s stellar 2007 season that saw the Jayhawks win a school-record 12 games.
Beaty’s major undertaking of establishing a consistent winner at a school that is best known for its success on the hardwood will begin with a lot of new faces to the program.
The Jayhawks return just 5 starters—three on offense and two on defense—from last year’s 3-9 (1-8) team that dealt with Charlie Weis being relieved of his duties after KU’s 2-2 start. That team surrendered more than 33 points per contest while producing only 17.8.
Due to the lack of experience returning and gaps needing to be quickly filled, Beaty opted to bring in eight junior college players—among which there are three offensive linemen and a pair of defensive backs.
Ke’aun Kinner, a JUCO running back out of Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas, will join sophomore Corey Avery and senior De’Andre Mann in a talented Jayhawks’ backfield.
Senior signal-caller Michael Cummings, who played in all 12 games and started the final seven last year, suffered a surgery requiring injury to his left knee on a what Beaty termed a “freaked accident” in the spring game. Cummings, who is just 5’10”, completed 56 percent of his 244 attempts in throwing for just over 1,700 yards.
Therefore, it appears that junior Montell Cozart—who started the first five games last season—will likely take the reins of the KU attack.
To whom will Cozart and company be throwing the ball? Well, that remains to be seen as the Jayhawks lost nearly all of their top threats—such as All Big 12 Jimmay Mundine (45-584-3), Nigel King (30-537) and Nick Harwell (44-470-5).
Bobby Hartzog, Jr., Tre’ Parmalee, Derrick Neal, Rodriquez Coleman and Darrious Crawley are possible contributors out wide. Parmalee was a Freshman All Big-12 selection as a kick returner in 2012, but he has just 19 career receptions in three years.
Defensively, KU returns just two starters, but they are good ones in senior linebacker Jake Love and senior defensive end Ben Goodman.
The unit, which lost one of the nation’s top tacklers in Mike linebacker Ben Heeney, will be co-coordinated by Clint Bowen and Kenny Perry. Bowen, who played for the Jayhawks, has been the most consistent aspect of the KU program as he has spent 17 years at his alma mater with four different head coaches. Perry was a very successful head coach on the high school level in Texas prior to spending the last two seasons on Gary Patterson’s staff at TCU where he tutored the Horned Frogs’ corners.
Odds are the Jayhawks will do their share of punting this season and that is also a question mark with the departure of All Big 12 punter Trevor Pardula.
With the coaching change and so much inexperience throughout the roster, it’s tough to find four wins on the schedule—which would allow Beaty and staff to surpass last year’s win total. The Jayhawks should win their opener against South Dakota State, but wins against Memphis or at Rutgers would be upsets. KU may very well be underdogs in all nine conference contests—including the league opener at Iowa State. The Cyclones were the lone Big 12 win a season ago.
By Thomas "Bubba" Rosenbaum
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