Saturday, August 25, 2007

2007 Preseason Preview: Kansas Jayhawks

In preparation for the 2007 College Football season, Drinking the Forty will look at every team in the Big XII, sizing up the conference for the 2007 season.

Kansas has been unable to turn the corner and become a Big XII power in the Mark Mangino era. Last season once again showed the inconsistency that they have faced in being a second tier team. Going 6-6 last season was about the status quo, as Kansas has been unable to rise to the top of the Big XII North.

Offensively, Kansas will have to recover from the departure of tailback Jon Cornish, who ran for almost 1500 yards. Stepping into his place will be sophomore Jake Sharp and senior Brandon McAnderson. They will be running behind a line returning both their tackles, anchored by senior tackle Cesar Rodriguez. On the interior line they will be bringing in three new juniors who will have to anchor this offense. After dual threat freshman Kerry Meier led the offense for much of the season, Kansas will move in a new direction after sophomore Todd Reesing won the job this fall. Reesing will return the leading receiver from a year ago, junior Dexton Fields. If Reesing struggles to start the year, Kansas could find themselves mired in a quarterback controversy. Kansas will need to establish the run game to take the pressure off Reesing.

On the defensive side of the ball Kansas returns their top two tacklers from a year ago in linebackers Mike Rivera and Joe Mortenson. They will continue to cause problems in the middle, along with senior defensive tackle James McClinton. Kansas boasts a young and talented defense, with only one senior. The secondary is led by All-Big XII performer Aqib Talib, who led the team with 6 interceptions last season. This is a young unit for Kansas, but they are very talented and return six starters from a year ago. They should be through their growing pains, and could end up being a dominant unit. They will just need to improve in the secondary, and avoid giving up the big play.

Kansas will face an early test in last season's MAC champions, Central Michigan. If they can get past them, they will face a favorable schedule, with an easy non-conference schedule, and a Big XII early schedule featuring Kansas State, Baylor, and Colorado before facing Texas A&M and Nebraska. But if Kansas can figure out their offense and get improved play out of their defense, they have a chance to make a run in the Big XII North, as they don't face Texas or Oklahoma this season. However, there appears to be too much inexperience on the offensive side of the ball for Kansas to challenge Nebraska or Missouri in the North.

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