2008 CFN Kansas Preview
Kansas QB Todd Ressing
Kansas QB Todd Ressing
Posted Apr 28, 2008

After one of the wildest, out-of-the-blue seasons any team has come up with in a long, long time, Kansas is looking to prove it wasn't a fluke. Todd Reesing and the Jayhawks won't sneak up on anyone this year, and the schedule is tougher, but the team should be the real deal. Check out the CFN Kansas Preview.

Kansas Jayhawks

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Kansas Preview | 2008 Kansas Offense
- 2008 CFN Kansas Defense | 2008 Kansas Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Kansas Preview | 2006 CFN Kansas Preview 

No, you didn't see this coming. Not even Kansas saw it coming.

Kansas was coming off a decent 2006, but not a great one, and it had a nice team returning and a cushy-soft schedule to fatten up on, but even so, 12-1?! An Orange Bowl win with some suggesting the Jayhawks deserve to be national champions after finishing the year with the best record of any BCS team? Really?

Head coach: Mark Mangino
6th year: 37-35
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 17, Def. 24, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 16
Ten Best KU Players
1. QB Todd Reesing, Jr.
2. LB Joe Mortensen, Sr.
3. LB Mike Rivera, Sr.
4. WR Dexton Fields, Sr.
5. LB James Holt, Sr.
6. CB Chris Harris, Soph.
7. C Ryan Cantrell, Sr.
8. OT Jeff Spikes, RFr.
9. RB Jocques Crawford, Jr.
10. WR/QB Kerry Meier, Jr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 Florida Int'l
Sept. 6 Louisiana Tech
Sept. 12 at South Florida
Sept. 20 Sam Houston St
Sept. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 4 at Iowa State
Oct. 11 Colorad
Oct. 18 at Oklahoma
Oct. 25 Texas Tech
Nov. 1 Kansas State
Nov. 8 at Nebraska
Nov. 15 Texas 
Nov. 29 Missouri (Kan. City)

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 12-1

Sept. 1 Central Mich W 52-7
Sept. 8 SE Louisiana W 62-0
Sept. 15 Toledo W 45-13
Sept. 22 FIU W 55-3
Oct. 6 at Kansas State W 30-24
Oct. 13
Baylor W 58-10
Oct. 20 at Colorado W 19-14
Oct. 27 at Texas A&M W 19-11
Nov. 3 Nebraska W 76-39
Nov. 10 at Oklahoma St W 43-28
Nov. 17
Iowa State W 45-7
Nov. 24 Missouri (in KC) L 36-28
Orange Bowl
Jan. 3 Virginia Tech W 24-21

Missouri was getable. It was a team that was on the rise with plenty of good talent and on the verge of being a Big 12 power, but Kansas, Kansas was supposed be an also-ran even with a supposedly good defense coming back and a promising young quarterback in Todd Reesing to work around. That the offense came up with one of the most unstoppable, efficient seasons ever was a complete shock, and that the team came through with every big play at the right moment was the most pleasant surprise.

So how did this happen? How did KU go from being a schlub of a program, an afterthought, to a national superpower? It's simple: outside of the punting game, it did everything right.

First in the nation in turnover margin. Seventh in passing efficiency. First in the Big 12 in defense and scoring defense. First in the Big 12, and second in the nation, in scoring offense and eighth in the total offense. The Jayhawks committed just 53 penalties (compared to 81 committed by their opponents) and converted 43% of their third down opportunities and 60% on fourth downs. If you can do all that, good things tend to fall into place.

Of course, it also helped to play just a few teams with a pulse, miss Texas and Oklahoma, and not have to deal with anyone of note, outside of possibly Central Michigan, in the non-conference schedule. However, you have to beat who you play, and it's not like KU had the market cornered on easy schedules. It finished with the 72nd toughest schedule in the nation, which was better than USC's, but only five BCS-league teams had it easier.

The schedule won't be an excuse for anyone this year with Oklahoma, Texas, and a loaded Texas Tech to deal with, along with a trip to South Florida and an improved North slate to face. But while many might think KU could go back to normal with the tougher slate, other teams are going to have to deal with a real-deal Jayhawk team now. This isn't going to be the automatic win it used to be.

It's a great time to be a Kansas fan. The football team is a power, the basketball team finally broke through and won another national title (talk about stealing the thunder away from the football program ... Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.), and the potential is there for the fun to keep on going. Yes, Kansas is the real deal, and now, with the spotlight on, it's going to get a chance to prove it with everyone watching.

What to look for on offense: The running game needing Jocques Crawford to be as good as expected. The Jayhawks have found a star running back from out of nowhere in each of the last two years, with Jon Cornish shining in 2007, and Brandon McAnderson rolling last year, and while Jake Sharp and Angus Quigley are decent veterans who can help the cause, they're hardly special talents who can carry the ground attack. Crawford fits the current KU RB mold and needs to be a 1,000-yard-caliber back from the moment he steps off the bus.

What to expect look for defense: The linebacking corps to be among the best in the Big 12, if not the best. This is sort of by default. The Big 12 might be better overall, but the linebackers are nothing special across the board. Even so, even if this was a strong year for linebackers, KU's would stand out with Joe Mortensen, Mike Rivera and James Holt three seniors who have seen it all. These three should dominate even more considering the front line should be good.

This team will be much better if … the overall punting game is better. Kansas was terrific in every aspect but the punting game as it finished 109th in the nation with a 31.82 net average and 103rd in punt returns averaging 5.97 yards per try. Bowling Green transfer Alonso Rojas was a one-time big recruit who has a big leg, and now he has to prove it.

The Schedule:
The Jayhawks might be able to slip on by with yet another breezy non-conference schedule, but it'll all catch up to them in Big 12 play. To be fair, there's a beartrap of a pre-conference date at South Florida, which makes up for playing FIU, Louisiana Tech and Sam Houston State. Opening up at Iowa State won't be as easy as it sounds, and going to Oklahoma and hosting Texas and Texas Tech from the South is as bad as it gets. Going to Nebraska won't be a plus, but at least there's a week off before the regular season ending showdown against Missouri.

Best Offensive Player: Junior QB Todd Reesing. Kerry Meier was supposed to be in the mix for the starting job going into last year, and at the very least appeared ready to be a part of the rotation. Instead, Reesing took over the spot and had a season for the history books throwing for 3,486 yards and 33 touchdowns with just seven interceptions, with three of them coming in one game. He was ultra-efficient, razor-sharp, and consistent.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Joe Mortensen. The entire linebacking corps is the strength, and Mortensen, and all-around playmaker, is the star of the show in the middle. A great tackler who has gotten better at coming up with plays in the backfield, he should be in the mix for the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year if he doesn't have any issues with an off-season knee injury.

Key player to a successful season: Senior OT Matt Darton. Reesing didn’t get tons of time to work last year, but the protection wasn’t awful thanks to tackles with star tackles Anthony Collins and Cesar Rodriguez coming through with big years. Redshirt freshman Jeff Spikes is expected to grow into an all-star at left tackle over the next few seasons while Darton, a decent reserve so far, needs to step in and shine on the right. The Jayhawks have options to try out, but Darton needs to use his experience to be steady.

The season will be a success if ... the Jayhawks win the Big 12 North. Lost in all the greatness of last season was that KU came up with one really bad first half against Missouri and didn't even win its own division. While the Big 12 championship should be the goal after last year's monster success, just winning the division would be a great step up. Considering how strong Missouri is going to be, and with dates with the big boys from the South, getting to the title game for the first time would be impressive.

Key game: Nov. 29 vs. Missouri (in Kansas City). There are plenty of big games before the showdown in KC, but it's relatively safe to say KU can't win the North it if doesn't beat Mizzou for the first time since 2005. Don't expect this game to have the magnitude of last year's showdown, but it'll still be a national spotlight battle.

2007 Fun Stats: 
 - KU scoring by quarter: 1st 105, 2nd 164, 3rd 155, 4th 132
 - Opponents scoring by quarter: 1st 41, 2nd 52, 3rd 52, 4th 68
 - Penalties: Opponents 81 for 753 yards – Kansas 53 for 508 yards