Kansas Preview 2006

Posted Jul 31, 2006

All those who thought Mark Mangino was going to turn around the Kansas program with defense, not offense, raise your hands.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

Kansas isn't going to get the talents that places like Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas can get, but it'll get hard-nosed playmakers to set a foundation and good athletes who can be molded into great football players.

Mangino and his coaching staff got the veteran, senior-dominated defense to carry the day last year, but it'll have to be the offense, specifically the ground game, that shoulders the load early on.

While Mangino made his national mark as an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, his real strength was putting together quality offensive lines. It took five years, but he has his best line yet with guard Bob Whitaker and center David Ochoa the types of talents good enough lead a front five that'll give everyone a time to work as well as be able to control the tempo. Running back Jon Cornish can be a workhorse until new quarterback Kerry Meier and the passing game comes around.

Head coach: Mark Mangino
5th year: 19-29
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 22, Def. 18, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 22
Ten Best KU Players
C David Ochoa, Sr.
2. CB Aqib Talib, Soph.
3. DT James McClinton, Jr.
P Kyle Tucker, Jr. 
5. R
B Jon Cornish, Sr.
6. SS Jerome Kemp, Sr.
7. WR Marcus Herford, Soph.
8. QB Kerry Meier, RFr.
9. LB Mike Rivera, Soph.
OG Bob Whitaker, Sr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

9/2 Northwestern State
9/9 UL Monroe
9/16 at Toledo
9/23 South Florida
9/30 at Nebraska
10/7 Texas A&M
10/14 Oklahoma State
10/21 at Baylor
10/28 Colorado
11/4 at Iowa State
11/18 Kansas State
11/25 at Missouri

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-5
2005 Record: 7-5

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 Florida Atlantic  W 30-19
9/10 Appalachian St W 36-8
9/17 Louisiana Tech W 34-14
10/1 at Texas Tech L 30-17
10/8 at Kansas State L 12-3
10/15 Oklahoma L 19-3
10/22 at Colorado L 44-13
10/29 Missouri W 13-3
11/5 Nebraska W 40-15
11/12 at Texas L 66-14
11/19 Iowa State W 24-21 OT
12/23 Fort Worth Bowl
Houston W 42-13

The defense loses its top three tacklers, linebackers Nick Reid, Kevin Kane and Banks Floodman, along with all-star end Charlton Keith and his nine sacks and 23 tackles for loss. Will the D be able to replace all the playmakers? Not right away, but there are several athletic young prospects to build around led by sophomore corner Aqib Talib, and two good veterans in senior tackle Wayne Wilder and senior safety Jerome Kemp to provide leadership.

But is Kansas on the upswing, or was last year a case of the program getting all the parts and all the experience to come together at a time when the Big 12 was at its weakness? Maybe it's a little bit of both.

There doesn't appear to be any sort of panic on the part of the coaching staff at all the lost talent, and by all indications, there's no need to considering this a rebuilding season. However, the league appears to be better with the North improving from the disappointment of the last few seasons. On the plus side, Kansas appears to be part of that upswing, although it doesn't have the upside of Nebraska or Colorado.

For a program that suffered through nine straight losing seasons and came within an eyelash against Iowa State of making it ten, getting to a bowl game and winning 42-13, even if it was over Houston in the Fort Worth Bowl, was a huge step. While this season might be a step backward to take two leaps forward for 2007, there's no reason not to shoot for another bowl game because of ...

The Schedule: Kansas can't take anyone lightly, but it shouldn't have a problem opening up 2-0 against Northwestern State and UL Monroe before a nightmare of a non-conference game at Toledo. Big 12-wise, missing Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech from the South and playing Baylor, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State is as big a break as it gets. The Kansas State game is at home, and so is the game against a Colorado team that beat the Jayhawks 44-13 last season.

Best Offensive Player: Senior C David Ochoa. It might not be a major plus to have your best offensive player at center, but Ochoa, who'll combine with guard Bob Whitaker and/or Jake Cox and a deep group of options, will pave the way for the attack. Time is needed at the skill positions before they fully rock, and this line will provide it.

Best Defensive Player: Sophomore CB Aqib Talib. The loss of CB Charles Gordon to an ill-advised early entry to the NFL means Talib is suddenly the team's best corner. He got more than his share of experience when Gordon was spending so much time on offense, and now Talib should blossom.

Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman QB Kerry Meier. True freshman Todd Reesing will get a little bit of a look for the number one spot, but the team needs Meier to step in and become the main man right away. He's going to make more than his share of big mistakes, but he'll also have enough wow moments to provide hope for the future.

The season will be a success if ... KU wins seven regular season games and goes back to a bowl game. KU will come up with at least one win it shouldn't and will lose at least one game it should win. But if it can take advantage of the relatively soft schedule and the offense can come together, then it'll be the first time in the school's history that it goes to back-to-back bowls.

Key game: September 30 at Nebraska. The 40-15 win over the Huskers last year was one of the big surprises of the Big 12 season. Nebraska is hoping for a big year, but if KU can pull off the monster upset in Lincoln, all expectations for the North race will change. Even a good showing in a loss would prove that the young team can be close to last year's level.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 10 of 14 (71%) - Kansas 4 of 16 (25%)
- Rushing yards by Texas vs. Kansas: 336 and four touchdowns - Rushing yards by KU's 11 other opponents: 663 and four touchdowns
- Interception return average: Kansas 16.1 - Opponents 8.2

The Last Time Kansas…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Fort Worth Bowl vs. Houston)
…missed a bowl game…2004
…pitched a shutout…2000 (Southern Illinois)
…was shutout…2002 (Kansas State)
…scored 50 points…2004 (Toledo)
…went undefeated…1923
…won a conference title…1968 (share, Big Eight)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2003 (Clark Green)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…1985 (Richard Estell)
…had a first-round draft choice…1993 (DT Dana Stubblefield)

Related Stories
Kansas Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 31, 2006
Kansas Preview 2006 - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 31, 2006
Kansas Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 31, 2006

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