All of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the arrival of Turner Gill to Lawrence quickly faded when they lost to North Dakota State, 6-3, to start the 2010 football season. The Jayhawks reached the pinnacle of their season the following week when they stunned #15 Georgia Tech. Kansas would then lose eight of their final ten games to finish with a 3-9 record. Now they'll enter 2011 with even more questions than they did 2010.
With running back James Sims and quarterback Jordan Web returning there are key pieces of the offense returning that should improve from a Big 12 worst 17.1 points last season. Receiver Daymond Patterson was Web's top target in 2010 with 487 yards and returns looking to improve on those numbers this fall. Key losses on the defensive side of the ball may be what ultimately breaks the Jayhawks in 2011. Gone are sack leader Jake Laptad as well as linebackers Justin Springer and Drew Dudley and also corner back Chris Harris and safety Olaitan Oguntodu. Leading tackler Steven Johnson is returning and will be a good start when it comes to building the 2011 defense. However, the success of the Kansas season hinges on the answers to the following questions.
1. How much will the new guys contribute to the offense? New faces like freshman running back Darrian Miller and Kale Pick should give Kansas more options. Miller enrolled early and had a strong spring and will be looking to be a bit of a change of pace from Sims. Pick started his Jayhawk career as a quarterback and has since moved to receiver. He led the team in receptions at the spring game.
2. Will a patch work defense be strong enough to compete? The Jayhawks are looking to have a redshirt freshman in Pat Lewandowski line up next to converted running back Toben Opurum at the defensive tackle spots. Then they also have converted receivers Keeston Terry and Bradley McDougald as their possible starting safeties.
3. Is Web the best possible solution at quarterback? He ended the spring at the top of the depth chart but will be pushed this fall by Quinn Mecham and Brock Berglund when the team starts their preseason camp.
The Sooners will play at Kansas on October 15th