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2008 Kansas Preview - Offense
Kansas WR Marcus Herford
Kansas WR Marcus Herford
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 28, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Kansas Jayhawk Offense

Kansas Jayhawks

Preview 2008 - Offense

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

What you need to know:
One of the most efficient and effective attacks in the country, KU did everything right. It could pound the ball when needed, push the passing game deep to open things up, and better than almost anyone in America, it was great at going for the kill and even better at answering when pushed. It'll be a stretch to get the same overall production, and the O stunk this spring, but it should be terrific as the season goes on. Todd Reesing grew into a special quarterback and a perfect leader who rarely made mistakes, but he'll have to be even better early on until the tackle situation is settled (even though it's promising) and until the right running combination is found. Jake Sharp is a nice back, but JUCO transfer Jocques Crawford could be the team's newest star. The receivers are nice, with the return of Dexton Fields and Dezmon Briscoe, but they're not special.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Todd Reesing
276-446, 3,486 yds, 33 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Jake Sharp
147 carries, 821 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Dexton Fields
63 catches, 834 yds, 6 TD

Star of the defense: Junior QB Todd Reesing
Player who has to step up and become a star:
Senior OT Matt Darton
Unsung star on the rise:
Redshirt freshman OT Jeff Spikes
Best pro prospect:
Spikes
Top three all-star candidates:
1) Reesing, 2) WR Dexton Fields, 3) C Ryan Cantrell
Strength of the defense:
Quarterback, overall efficiency, interior of the line
Weakness of the defense:
Proven deep threat receiver, proven number one running back

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter
:
After showing good promise in a rotation role as a freshman, junior
Todd Reesing blew up last year with a Heisman-caliber season completing 62% of his passes for 3,486 yards and 33 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Three of his interceptions came in the win over Kansas State and two came early in the loss to Missouri (before he caught fire); he was ultra-efficient. While he's not that big at a generously-listed 5-11 and 200 pounds, he's at his best when on the move and in a rhythm. Even though he's not really a runner, he'll take off from time to time coming up with 84 yards against Colorado and 47 against FIU, but make no mistake about it; he's a bomber. His quickness is used best when he's able to by himself a half-second to let a pass play develop, but he can also hang in the pocket and get into a groove. This is his team and his offense, and he should once again be a terrific, tough leader.

Projected Top Reserve: Junior Kerry Meier appeared to be on his way to becoming a star at quarterback before Todd Reesing won the job last year. Meier ended up doing a little of everything to make the team better by lining up at receiver and catching 26 passes, to serving as the mop-up, backup quarterback completing a razor-sharp 25 of 29 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns. He was also the team's top punter this spring. Bigger than Reesing at 6-3 and 220 pounds, he's also a better runner. He's not the bomber Reesing is, but he can step in and keep the offense moving if needed.

Considering Kerry Meier's use elsewhere, the emergence of another quarterback option is a must. 6-4, 223-pound redshirt freshman A.J. Steward will likely be the No. 3 after having a fantastic year as a scout team star. Very fast and very athletic, to go along with his size, makes him a dangerous prospect if he can grow into a consistent passer. Also in the hunt will be true freshman Kale Pick, who came to school early and got some reps this spring. He's an athletic 6-2 and 200 pounds, but he needs to grow more as a passer before being anywhere near the No. 2 spot.
 
Watch Out For ... Reesing to do more dinking and dunking. The receiving corps will be fine, and the coaching staff will keep trying to push the ball deep, but Reesing, at least early on, will reestablish its short to midrange efficiency and then start putting it up once the rest of the pieces are in place.
Strength: Reesing and Meier. Reesing will be in the hunt for the Heisman if he's close to as good as he was last year, while Meier is a good veteran who can step in at any time and lead the attack. This will be one of the nation's most efficient passing games in the nation.
Weakness: The potential for utter disaster. You can never plan for injuries, but considering Meier will be used as a receiver, and is an all-out bruiser whenever he gets the ball, and with the was Reesing runs, and with some of the big shots he takes, the backups had better be ready at any time. Getting Steward some mop-up work early on could be a must.
Outlook: Reesing is a special quarterback who doesn't get the respect he deserves because he's not big and doesn't look the part of a big-time passer. He can do it all, makes great decisions, and is ultra-efficient. Meier is an excellent No. 2, and there are promising options who'll get time over the next year or two to improve. Overall, this is a terrific situation.
Rating: 10


Running Backs

Projected Starter
:
Junior Jake Sharp was supposed to be the main back early on last year before turning into a dangerous No. 2 man behind Brandon McAnderson, but he got almost as much work running 147 times for 821 yards and seven touchdowns. His workload diminished as the season went on serving more as a backup and garbage-time runner, but he was used a bit as a receiver, catching 21 passes on the year for 163 yards and two scores. He's a smart, versatile back who's tough enough to run in between the tackles even at 5-10 and 190 pounds, but is had his best when he gets on the outside. Even though he'll be the No. 1 back going into the season, he likely won't get the ball more than 20 times per game.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-2, 222-pound junior Angus Quigley only got 17 carries for 98 yards with two touchdowns last season, but he'll quickly become a bigger part of the offense. Very big and very quick with good hands out of the backfield, he can be used in a variety of ways. 100% healthy after missing all of 2006 with a knee injury, he's ready to add more power to the rushing mix.

Looking to be part of the rotation right away is JUCO transfer Jocques Crawford, the junior college offensive player of the year after leading the nation with 1,935 yards and 19 touchdowns for Cisco JC. At 6-1 and 230 pounds with speed, he's a dangerous prospect who should perfectly fit into the Kansas mold of backs.

6-1, 200-pound sophomore Carmon Boyd-Anderson got a little bit of work over the first four games and then didn't see the light of day for the rest of the season. One of the team's top recruits two years ago, he has a good mix of talents and can run inside and out, but he needs more work and he'll need to fight through the logjam of players looking for carries.
 
Watch Out For ... Crawford. He was too productive at the JUCO level to not get a long look as the No. 1 back. He's the workhorse the offense can go to 25 times a game.
Strength: The rotation. There's the pounding of Quigley and Crawford, and there's the speed and experience of Sharp. While there might not be any all-star talents, the three should combine for well over 2,000 yards.
Weakness: Experience other than Sharp. The hope is for the system to work and Boyd-Anderson, Quigley and Crawford all can crank out over five yards per carry. While they should be good, they haven't done it yet.
Outlook: Lose Jon Cornish, replace him with Brandon McAnderson. Lose McAnderson, replace him with ... ? It might not exactly be a running back by committee approach, but there will be several backs in a rotation until one emerges. Sharp is a good veteran who can carry the offense for short stretches, but for the KU running game to work like normal, it needs Quigley or Crawford to be the blaster the team has had for the last few years. The results will be better than the talent.
Rating: 7


Receivers

Projected Starters
:
While Marcus Henry was the team's most dangerous receiver, 6-0, 204-pound senior Dexton Fields was the leading pass catcher for the second season in a row making 63 catches for 834 yards and six touchdowns. A nice, steady target for most of the year, he blew up late starting out with an 11-catch, 109-yard, two touchdown performance against Iowa State and finished with 26 grabs for 327 yards and three scores over the final three games. While he's not going to scare anyone deep, he's reliable and has nice hands. He's a good No. 1 to rely on.

Looking to replace the explosive Henry is 6-3, 187-pound sophomore Johnathan Wilson, who was mostly a special teamer last season and made three catches for 187 yards. A big, athletic home run hitter, he'll see plenty of single coverage and will get plenty of chances to make some big plays. His emergence as a field-stretcher will be vital.

In a rotation at the third receiver spot will be 6-3, 200-pound sophomore Dezmon Briscoe after finishing fourth on the team with 43 catches for 496 yards and seven touchdowns. While he disappeared at times, he was tremendous against Nebraska scoring three times. He didn't get into the end zone over the final four games, but he was still a big part of the passing game. An emerging star, he'll see more and more passes come his way.

Kansas likes to use four receivers, and it'll allow for jack-of-all-trades Kerry Meier to get on the field on a regular basis. The team's No. 2 quarterback and one of the better punters, he's also a 6-3, 220-pound athlete who caught 26 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns. A big, physical target who'll be used like a tight end, he'll make a key play or two a game to keep the chains moving.

One of the big losses is tight end Derek Fine, who caught 46 passes for 394 yards and four touchdowns. 6-3, 249-pound sophomore Bradley Dedeaux will try to take over after making just one grab for 11 yards. A top talent coming out of high school and a nice get for the program, he has good potential as a big receiver, but he has to prove he can be Fine-like as a blocker.

Projected Top Reserves: Can 6-3, 208-pound senior Marcus Herford finally get involved in the offense? He only made three catches for 35 yards, and will start out behind Dezmon Briscoe, but he's a special kickoff returner averaging a whopping 28.6 yards per try with two touchdowns. He has the wheels and he has the size, but he has to find a role in the attack.

How quickly will Rod Harris be involved? The 6-2, 200-pound star JUCO transfer caught 23 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns for Blinn JC, and with his phenomenal athleticism, could battle Johnathan Harris for the job as the team's top home run hitter.

Moving over from the defensive side is senior Gary Green, a 5-9, 175-pound speedster who'll play behind Kerry Meier. He's a good special teamer who also made six tackles and an interception for the D, and now he'll try to be a big-play weapon when he gets the ball on the move.

It'll be up to 6-6, 228-pound true freshman Nick Plato to backup Bradley Dedeaux at tight end. After graduating from high school early, Plato secured the backup spot with good hands and surprising route running ability for such a young player. He's not an outstanding blocker quite yet, but he's physical.
 
Watch Out For ... Wilson. He has the size and the speed to make several big plays, and while he likely won't be a consistent performer, he should change a few games around with the home run. Anything to replace Henry would be a plus.
Strength: Fields. While he's not a special receiver and he's not going to be a game-changer, he's the type of No. 1 target a developing receiving corps needs.
Weakness: Tight end. For now. True freshman Nick Plato should develop into a good one, and Meier sort of serves like a tight end at times, but if Dedeaux isn't ready for primetime, Todd Reesing will be missing a major option that was so key to the attack last season.
Outlook: The KU coaching staff wanted to push the ball deeper last year, and the results were tremendous averaging 12.5 yards per catch with 36 touchdowns. The system is better than the talent, but Fields is a serviceable receiver to work around until more talented prospects like Wilson and Briscoe start to do more. There's plenty of potential to stretch the field and provide some big pop, but consistency and keeping the chains moving will be the key to this corps.
Rating: 7

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
:
Last year the tackle situation was the one steady part going into the season. Now the two spots are up for grabs with Anthony Collins and Cesar Rodriguez gone. There will be a constant rotation going into the fall, but at the moment it's redshirt freshman Jeff Spikes taking over for Collins on the left side, and senior Matt Darton stepping in on the right. Don't get comfortable with the idea of those two starting the season.

Spikes was singled out this spring for his pass protection. At 6-6 and 314 pounds, he has the size to grow into a mauler and surprising feet. A good athlete, he should be a fixture on the line for the next four years. He appears to have more job security than Darton, who was going to start out on the left side but was moved to the right at the end of spring ball. The 6-4, 310-pounder was a key reserve last season and got a start in the Iowa State game. While he's a good pass protector and has good athleticism, he's not Spikes.

The star of the line should be 6-3, 295-pound senior Ryan Cantrell, who has a few problems with a foot injury but should be an All-Big 12 performer again after earning second-team honors last year. Able to play guard if needed, where he was a reserve at times earlier in his career, he was one of the team's biggest surprises as he turned into a fantastic quarterback for the front five. Ultra-consistent, he's the team's most dependable lineman.

Back at a starting spot at right guard is 6-4, 310-pounder Chet Hartley, who came over from the JUCO ranks to start every game. A physical hitter who was great for the running game, he's a decent pass protector, but not an elite one. His game is about mowing down defenders and keeping drives moving.

6-3, 305-pound senior Adrian Mayes started every game last season and will once again be the man at left guard. Without Anthony Collins to help out anymore, he'll have to become even more consistent. The former walk-on is a physical force on the inside, but he's not a great athlete and isn't going to do too much on the move. He's a smart player who doesn't make mistakes.

Projected Top Reserves: While Matt Darton and Jeff Spikes have the starting tackle spots going into the fall, sophomore Ian Wolfe and JUCO transfer Nathan D'Cunha will get every shot to win the jobs. Wolfe is an athletic 6-5 and 283 pounds, but he's 30 pounds lighter than Spikes on the left side. He saw a little action last season and got the starting nod against Toledo. While decent in pass protection, he's not the overall talent Spikes is projected to be.

The 6-6, 307-pound D'Cunha was brought in to start immediately. The Australian is a fantastic athlete for his size and was strong for Santa Barbara Junior College. While he's still raw, he has tremendous upside.
 
Watch Out For ... Spikes. Considering Anthony Collins was up for just about every big award an offensive lineman can get, he was slightly overrated. He was good, but he wasn't the be-all-end-all. Even so, he will be missed until Spikes gets his feet wet. In the long run, Spikes should be the better of the two; he has that kind of upside.
Strength: The interior. Last year the big question marks were at guard and center. How was the running game going to be as effective as it was in 2006? Cantrell turned into a force, and Mayes and Hartley were rock-solid. They'll be one of the team's strengths.
Weakness: Proven depth. Several backups have seen a little bit of game action, but there will be huge problems if the interior suffers any major injuries after Mayes, Cantrell and Hartley started every game. There are four options at tackle, but they're all starting from just slightly ahead of square one.
Outlook: The line wasn't dominant last season, but it cranked out the long scoring drives when the team absolutely needed them. While mediocre in pass protection, allowing a Big 12-high 26 sacks, it was good when it had to be. Now the trio of guards Mayes and Hartley along with center Cantrell should be terrific, while the tackles are promising. Jeff Spikes has the potential to be special in place of Collins on the left side, while it'll be an ongoing battle for the job on the right side.
Rating:
7