Preview 2007 - Offense
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What you need to know: After spending last year running the
ball, new offensive coordinator Ed Warinner will try to stretch
the field more with a big, experienced group of receivers. The
big question will be who the quarterback will be throwing to
them. Sophomores Kerry Meier and Todd Reesing are talented,
mobile passers who can do a little of everything well, but
they'll be in a battle for the starting job up until the opener.
The other big question mark is at running back, where Jon
Cornish and his 1,457 yards and eight scores will be replaced by
Jake Sharp (fast) and Brandon McAnderson (powerful). The line is
nothing special, but the tackles are experienced and solid.
Passing: Kerry Meier
104-184, 1,193 yds, 13 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Kerry Meier
99 carries, 346 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: Dexton Fields
45 catches, 455 yds, 5 TD
Star of the offense: Sophomore QB QBs Kerry Meier and
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
RB Jake Sharp
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Marcus Herford
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Derek Fine
Top three all-star candidates: 1) OT Anthony Collins, 2)
Fine, 3) Meier
Strength of the offense: Quarterbacks, big receivers
Weakness of the offense:
Proven running backs, offensive
Projected Starter: 6-3, 215-pound sophomore Kerry Meier
is the likely starter going into the season, but he'll have a
fight on his hands to get the job. He has the size, the arm, and
the running skills to do everything Mark Mangino wants in a
quarterback, but he made plenty of mistakes in his rookie year
with ten interceptions to go with 13 touchdown passes and and a
56.5 completion percentage. He also finished second on the team
in rushing with 346 yards and five touchdowns in just eight
games. To be the main man, he has to be more consistent.
Projected Top Reserve: True sophomore Todd
Reesing stepped in when needed and was terrific at times
completing 14 of 24 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns
with three interceptions. Like Meier, he's mobile with 106
rushing yards and two scores, but at 5-11 and 190 pounds, he's
not as big. Even so, he's a bomber with the high school résumé
to prove it,
3,340 yards and 41 touchdowns last year for Lake Travis High in
Watch Out For ... a quarterback battle all season
long. Mangino is never afraid to change his quarterbacks at the
drop of a hat. Considering how close Meier and Reesing are in
the race, it'll be too easy to go with the second option if the
first struggles for any stretch of time.
Strength: Both of them can play. KU can win with
either quarterback, it can get positive rushing yards, and it
can get a few deep passes to open things up a little more. There
isn't a bad option.
Weakness: Comfort. When the starter is named, will
he get a chance to make the team his? Every bad pass will cause
to look back at the sideline to see if the backup is getting
Outlook: Meier will likely be the main man as long
as he can stay healthy. He took some big shots last year and
wasn't quite at 100% at the end. Reesing is more than good
enough to step in and win. It'll be one of the nation's most
hotly contested quarterback battles this fall.
Projected Starter: Sophomore Jake Sharp has some huge
shoes to fill trying to replace Jon Cornish and his 1,457 yards
and eight touchdowns. While he won't have to do it alone, he has
to show early on that he can make the running game effective.
Almost exclusively a special teamer so far, he ran the ball 21
times for 131 yards and caught six more for 42 yards. He has
good speed and has the skills to crank out more big runs than
Cornish, but it's asking a lot for the 5-10, 190-pounder to be a
Projected Top Reserves: Bringing more thunder than
Sharp will be 6-0, 235-pound senior Brandon McAnderson,
who carried the ball 31 times for 122 yards and five touchdowns.
He has the ability to be a tailback and crank out tough yards,
and he'll also serve as the starting fullback to open things up
When McAnderson is at tailback, 6-1, 220-pound sophomore Sam
Archer will step in at fullback. While he's not all that
huge, he's a decent blocker who could get a few carries here and
there to give the top two options a break.
Watch Out For ... McAnderson to get a ton of work. He
showed at times throughout the spring that he could be a
physical runner who can handle the ball as a possible workhorse.
Strength: The combination. McAnderson will loosen
things up on the inside, while Sharp will tear off big plays on
the outside. At least, that's the idea. If you put the two
together, you'd have an all-star back.
Weakness: Experience. Sharp and McAnderson haven't
done it yet on a regular basis, and there are no other viable
options at the immediate moment. Considering Cornish and his 250
carries were everything to the offense, everyone's crossing
their fingers that the overall production won't slip too far.
Outlook: KU won't finish 19th in the nation in
rushing offense again, but Sharp isn't some walk-on pulled from
out of a psych class to get some carries. He can play, and so
can McAnderson. A number three back, possibly true freshman
would be a major boost.
Projected Starters: Three starters are back, led by 6-0,
200-pound junior Dexton Fields, who led the team with 45
catches for 455 yards and five touchdowns. A big, reliable
target with nice hands and the ability to make things happen in
the red-zone, Fields is a nice number one to work around, even
if he's not exactly going to scare anyone with his wheels.
Also returning is 6-4, 200-pound senior Marcus Henry, a
big, physical veteran who caught 25 passes for 316 yards and
three touchdowns. While he made a few big plays here and there,
he was mostly a steady three-catch-a-game target who disappeared
at times late in the year. He'll have to do even more at the
New to the overall starting mix will be 6-3, 210-pound junior
Marcus Herford, who was a superstar kickoff returner
averaging over 26 yards per try. He saw a little time at
receiver with a start and appearances in 11 games making eight
catches for 137 yards and a score. The former quarterback has
the best combination of speed, size, and upside in the corps,
but he has to put it all together and be steady, with an
occasional home run thrown in here and there.
Back at tight end is 6-3, 245-pound senior Derek Fine
after finishing third on the team with 28 catches for 355 yards
and five scores. A fantastic blocker, he turned into a more
dangerous receiver with better hands and the ability to stretch
the field a little bit. He'll be the team's most consistent
Projected Top Reserves: Looking to add more live
bodies to the receiving corps, 6-3, 200-pound junior Raymond
Brown will work behind Herford after making 11 tackles in
the KU secondary. A big, physical target, he'll have to work his
way into a role and must show consistent hands early on.
6-2, 210-pound Angus Quigley is a former running back who
appeared ready to grow into a home-run hitter in the backfield
before getting knocked out for the year before the season even
started. With more speed than most in the receiving corps, he
should be a dangerous option behind Fields.
Working behind Fine at tight end will be 6-4, 241-pound senior
Marc Jones. He didn't catch a pass last year being used
exclusively as a blocker. The former JUCO transfer has the hands
to catch a few passes here and there, but the receiving job work
will be left to Fine.
Watch Out For ... Herford to play a big role. The
receiving corps was effective, but it didn't show much in the
way of pop. Herford has the potential to change all that and
become the dynamic playmaker who can change games around.
Strength: Size. This is a huge corps with just
about everyone checking in at around 6-2 and 200 pounds. It's a
physical group that's good at downfield blocking.
Weakness: Speed. No one's staying awake at night
worrying about Henry or Fields getting deep. Herford and Quigley
need to be effective deep threats, or else everyone will cheat
up and stop the run.
Outlook: It's sort of a slap to use the word
serviceable, but that's what the KU receivers are, and it's not
necessarily a bad thing. It's a good group for what the offense
tried to do in the past, but offensive coordinator Ed Warinner
is going to want to push the ball deep on a regular basis. The
weapons might not be there to do that.
Projected Starters: The offensive line will need some retooling,
but both tackles, junior Anthony Collins and senior Cesar
Rodriguez, are back. They're just going to switch sides. The 6-7,
286-pound Rodriguez has started the last 24 games at left tackle, and
will now move over to the right side, where he started six times as a
freshman. He's a long, lean blocker who's solid in pass protection. The
6-6, 300-pound Collins is more of a bulldozer. The former defensive
lineman was a mainstay on the right side last year, and now he'll move
to the left.
And then things get interesting. 6-4, 315-pound JUCO transfer Chet
Hartley will take over at right guard and be the biggest blocker on
the line. He's a physical hitter who should be great for the running
game over the next two seasons.
Taking over on the left side will be 6-3, 300-pound
junior Adrian Mayes, a former walk-on who emerged from
spring ball as the starter, but will have to keep pushing to
hold on to the job. He's physical, but not all that athletic.
Starting at center for David Ochoa will be 6-3, 285-pound junior
Ryan Cantrell after seeing a little time in three games.
He played a bigger role as a redshirt freshman with five starts
at guard, and while he appeared to have a good 2006 spring, he
was never really part of the mix.
Projected Top Reserves: Pushing Mayes for the
starting left guard job will be 6-6, 305-pound junior Matt
Darton. More athletic than Mayes, and a little bigger, he's
sure to see time in the rotation if he doesn't end up winning
the gig outright.
Able to play tackle or guard, 6-4, 295-pound junior guard
Rameses Arceo will be a much-needed backup. The former JUCO
transfer played tackle before coming to KU, but is better suited
for the inside, where he'll play behind Hartley on the right
Watch Out For ... the interior to not quite be in
place until early in the season. The combination seemed to work
in spring ball with Mayes, Cantrell and Hartley doing a decent
job, but Mark Magino is never afraid to tinker.
Strength: Tackles. While they're not all-stars,
Collins and Rodriguez are solid veterans to count on all year
long. They're good in all areas and should be great even after
Weakness: Proven depth. There isn't any. A slew of
new, untested players will have to play big roles right off the
Outlook: The line was fantastic for the ground
game and only allowed 26 sacks. With the starting tackles back,
everything else will fall into place. With no depth, there will
be major problems if injuries strike.