What We Know
Returning Starters: Offense - 5 , Defense - 6
Much Improved Kicking Game
There are high expectations for a kid that hasn't arrived on campus as of yet. Michael Mesh, a JUCO transfer will be counted upon to greatly improve the place kicking, an area of concern. Attempting 16 field goals in the previous year, the Kansas Jayhawks connected on a mere 10 of those for a 62.5% conversion rate. Yet, only one of those was made from 35+ yards between Ron Doherty and Nick Prolago.
Adding to the improvement will be another JUCO transfer, Trevor Pardula, who is already on campus. Pardula has a strong leg which apparently has impressed Charlie Weis enough to list him as projected starter once falls rolls around.
No Repeat Of 1-11
Tweaking has been done and transfers have come in. After the 1-11 performance of last year, the Jayhawks will easily walk away with more wins than that. Remember, KU lost five, yes count 'em five, games by a touchdown or less. Combine that with two games that Kansas likely should have won over a few conference foes and it could have been an entirely different season.
Starting out the 2013 conference schedule with three of the first four games being hosted in Lawrence. It will provide the Jayhawks with the start they need to be more successful down the road as the streak of losing to conference foes dies off. This prediction becomes easy to spot as a reality in the future.
A Heavy Dose of JUCO
It is no secret that Charlie Weis has been looking to improve his team in a hurry. The option that presented itself was to turn to the JUCO ranks to bring in talented players looking for a window of opportunity. Unable to get pressure on Big 12 quarterbacks, Weis brought in five JUCO kids on the defensive side of the ball to contribute immediately along the defensive line and the secondary.
All-time Leading Rusher James Sims?
Last season produced a 1,000 yard rusher for Kansas by way of James Sims, the workhorse of the group. From the moment he stepped onto the field, many fans, as well as opposing fans, have taken note of his talent and drive. While he is a lock for a starting role, Charlie Weis has brought in some competition. Needless to say, this factor alone could lighten the load Sims is expected to carry throughout the season. Word is that a man by the name of Tony Pierson is expected to be more involved in the offense as the passing game sees much improvement over the production from just a year ago.
After a 1,013 yard performance, Sims is poised to take over as the all-time leading rusher in school history. To do so, he will need a career best of 1,360 yards which is obtainable by every means. Will he be able to complete the feat and leave a lasting mark on Kansas?
Another Year, Another Transfer...Jake Heaps
For the second year in a row, the Jayhawks will have inherited a former 5-star recruit at the quarterback position. This time around it is Jake Heaps who transferred from BYU and is expected to be the starter. To answer the underlying questions, Heaps is a different type of player than Dayne Christ who proved to be ineffective during his tenure as a Jayhawk.
Several facets of the game are coming into play here as the talent and abilities are there for Heaps to possibly see his name tabbed as All-Big 12. It remains to be seen, first that the defense can keep Kansas in games while giving the offense the opportunity to win it. And second, we aren't sure how the receiving group will perform under the night lights. As with any team, if everything comes together at the right moment in time and space, KU can produce trouble for some of the heavyweights...which brings me to my next question.
Receivers Drop An Egg In Touchdown Column
A tough pill to swallow for not only fans but also the players was the fact that not a single touchdown pass was caught by a receiver last year. Call it an anomaly, call it a fluke, heck, call it down-right unacceptable but it still happened. A name many Oklahoma fans are familiar with is Justin McCay, who is now claiming that the Kansas receivers will come up with a touchdown reception in the first quarter of the first game of the season. You can bet that this is a stat the receivers are well aware of and it has pushed them through the off-season. The opportunity to put the streak to bed will be upon the Jayhawks before we know it. McCay's crystal ball has revealed one scenario to move past the glaring issue but when push comes to shove, we aren't quite sure when that curse will be broken.
The initial inclination is to go with James Sims. However, I am picking Tony Pierson this season. Not only has Pierson put up a 200+ yard game on the ground, he also has great hands coming out of the backfield. Rushing for 760 yards on 117 carries, this was a player who added 291 yards on 21 receptions. In my opinion Pierson offers a much more reliable dual-threat than that of Sims (not to take away from Sims' capabilities).