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2007 Kansas Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 18, 2007


Preview 2007 Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas Jayhawks

Preview 2007

By Michael Bradley & Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Kansas Offense Preview | 2007 Kansas Defense Preview
-
2007 Kansas Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Kansas Preview 

Coaches always point to this game, or that play, as big reasons why a play/game/season wasn’t successful. Kansas coach Mark Mangino can direct his index finger toward a variety of things to explain why the Jayhawks were a pedestrian 6-6 and out of the postseason in 2006.

Head coach: Mark Mangino
5th year: 25-34
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 26, Def. 27, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 21
Ten Best KU Players
1. CB Aqib Talib, Jr.
2. DT James McClinton, Sr.
3. QB Kerry Meier, Soph.
4. OT Anthony Collins, Jr.
5. QB Todd Reesing, Soph.
6. TE Derek Fine, Sr.
7. DE Russell Brorsen, Jr.
8. P Kyle Tucker, Sr.
9. LB Joe Mortensen, Jr.
10. LB Mike Rivera, Jr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
6-6

Sept. 1

Central Michigan

Sept. 8

SE Louisiana

Sept. 15

Toledo

Sept. 22

FIU

Oct. 6

at Kansas State

Oct. 13

Baylor

Oct. 20

at Colorado

Oct. 27

at Texas A&M

Nov. 3

Nebraska

Nov. 10

at Oklahoma State

Nov. 17

Iowa State

Nov. 24

Missouri (in KC)

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
6-6
2006 Record: 6-
6
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 NW State W 49-18
9/9 UL Monroe W 21-19
9/16 at Toledo L 37-31 2OT
9/23 South Florida W 13-7
9/30 at Nebraska L 39-32 OT
10/7 Texas A&M L 21-18
10/14 Oklahoma St L 42-32
10/21 at Baylor L 36-35
10/28 Colorado W 20-15
11/4 at Iowa State W 41-10
11/18 Kansas State W 39-20
11/25 at Missouri L 42-17

He might choose the overtime loss at Toledo. Or the overtime defeat at Nebraska. He might want to select the 21-18 heartbreaker against Texas A&M, in which the Jayhawks coughed up an 18-7 fourth-quarter advantage. There was the 36-35 disaster in Waco, when KU bolted to a 35-17 halftime advantage before falling apart. And then there was the coup de grace, the 42-32 collapse against Oklahoma State, allowing 42 second-half points and 300 receiving yards and four touchdowns to Adarius Bowman.

Even after all the problems, the school gave Mangino a contract extension, despite no bowl invitation, and that might not be as crazy as it seems. What’s easy to forget is that KU’s defense had to be totally rebuilt, while the offense never got its quarterback situation straight, thanks to injury issues. Kansas easily could have been 10-2, or at least 8-4. With the might-have-beens exhausted and put away for fans to lament down the road, Mangino and the Jayhawks have to get back in the bowl picture.

That might not be such a hard task, considering a schedule that includes seven home games, four of them against manageable non-conference foes, at least three Big 12 toss-ups and a visit from Baylor. We’re not calling for eight wins, but the Jayhawks should be at least bowl-qualified, if not necessarily playing somewhere warm during the holiday season.

A big reason for the optimism is the KU defense, with eight returning starters from a unit that rocked against the run and should be stouter versus the pass. The question is whether the Jayhawks can score enough under new offensive coordinator Ed Warinner.

Under Mangino, KU has done a great job of overcoming expectations, even small ones, and this team should do the same. Winning a few fourth quarters will go a long way to doing that.

What to look for on offense: Sophomore Kerry Meier, who was adequate in eight games last year, will get the start, although Todd Reesing provides a good changeup and is better on the ground. Speaking of running the ball, Jon Cornish’s departure means Jake Sharp gets a shot at running back, although he’ll have to fight off speedy true freshman Brian Murphy and fullback Brandon McAnderson. If Meier gets some time to throw from the rebuilt line, he should be fine with a simplified offense that’ll take some of the decision-making out of his hands.

What to expect look for defense: With eight starters returning, the Jayhawks should be able to stop the run well again. Their secondary needs to get better at protecting the end zone, since KU surrendered 22 touchdowns through the air last year. The return of All-Big 12 cornerback Aqib Talib and two other starters should help, as should a pass rush that’ll be among the Big 12’s best.

This team will be much better if… it can pull out the close games. The Jayhawks would have been bowling and looking at some serious momentum heading into 2007 if they had won just two of the four tight games they lost. Experienced teams win those battles, and this one has the veterans to finally start closing.

The Schedule:
If KU doesn’t go to a bowl game, it can’t blame a schedule that has at least two gift-wrapped wins (SE Louisiana and FIU) and three games a good Big 12 team should win (Central Michigan, Toledo, Baylor). Getting the Bears from the South, and at home, is a nice break. Overall, the road dates (Kansas State, Colorado, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State) could be a whole lot worse, while Nebraska and Iowa State have to come to Lawrence before the season-ender against Missouri in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore QB Kerry Meier. And he might not even be the full-time starter, if Todd Reesing has anything to say about it. Meier showed tremendous all-around ability with good rushing skills and a nice passing touch, but he couldn’t stay healthy. Mark Mangino wants to rely on one quarterback, and if Meier can’t stay on the field, Reesing could be the answer.

Best Defensive Player: Junior CB Aqib Talib. While the KU pass defense was miserable, Talib was among the most productive corners in the nation, breaking up a whopping 22 passes. With decent speed in a 6-2, 180-pound frame, he’s a solid all-around defender who can be used as a receiver at times and is good at rushing the passer.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore RB Jake Sharp. The quarterback situation will end up being more than fine, no matter who’s under center. Replacing Jon Cornish will be the big issue. Sharp, sophomore Angus Quigley and senior fullback Brandon McAnderson will all get carries. The 235-pound McAnderson is a bruising blocker and should be a good short-yardage option. Sharp was a special-teams player last year and got a little bit of work using his excellent speed, and Quigley has the most upside after coming off an injury.

The season will be a success if ... the Jayhawks get back to a bowl game. The schedule is light enough and the team is experienced enough, especially on defense, to expect six wins like last year without much of a problem. Considering the team is better, and it lost four games by seven points or fewer, winning eight games and being a little bit of a factor in the North race should be an easily attainable goal.

Key game: Oct. 6 at Kansas State. The Jayhawks haven’t beaten their rival in Manhattan since 1989, and if they have any hope of being in the North title race, they have to reverse the slide this season. Considering the opening four non-conference games are relatively light, and a home date with Baylor follows, a win over the Wildcats might mean a 6-0 start before going to Colorado.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Average passing yards per game: Kansas 197.7; Opponents 269.1
- Fourth down conversions: Kansas 6 of 12 (50%); Opponents 4 of 16 (25%)
- Punt return average: Kansas 13.5 yards; Opponents 6.8 yards

 

Related Stories
2007 Kansas Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 18, 2007
2007 Kansas Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 18, 2007
2007 Kansas Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 18, 2007








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