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2009 Kansas Preview - Offense
Kansas QB Todd Reesing
Kansas QB Todd Reesing
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 3, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Kansas Jayhawk Offense

Kansas Jayhawks

Preview 2009 - Offense

- 2009 CFN Kansas Preview | 2009 Kansas Offense
- 2009 CFN Kansas Defense | 2009 Kansas Depth Chart
- 2008 Kansas Preview | 2007 Kansas Preview | 2006 Kansas Preview 

What you need to know:
The offense wasn’t as consistent, efficient, or as effective as it was in 2008, but it still finished 21st in the nation averaging 432 yards per game thanks to Todd Reesing and a passing game that averaged 306 yards per game. Reesing returns and should put up even better numbers than last year when he set school records in completion percentage (67%) and yards 3,888 yards thanks to his receivers. Dezmon Briscoe is becoming a special talent while Kerry Meier is a NFL caliber H-Back who’ll catch 90 passes. The problem is the O line that struggled last year and now has to replace the interior. The tackles will be fine, but there has to be a push for the running game and better overall pass protection. It’ll be running back by committee with Jake Sharp getting the first look, but with Jocques Crawford looking to be the main man early on if he's out of the team's doghouse.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Todd Reesing
329-495, 3,888 yds, 32 TD, 13 INT
Rushing: Jake Sharp
186 carries, 860 yds, 12 TD
Receiving: Kerry Meier
97 catches, 1,045 yds, 8 TD

Star of the offense:
Senior QB Todd Reesing
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior OG Carl Wilson
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Jeff Spikes
Best pro prospect: Junior WR Dezmon Briscoe
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Reesing, 2) Briscoe, 3) WR Kerry Meier
Strength of the defense: Quarterback, Kerry Meier & Dezmon Briscoe
Weakness of the defense: The interior of the line, tight end

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter
:
He might not fit the mold of a high-octane passing quarterback, but senior Todd Reesing is about to close out his career as the best passer to ever play at Kansas. He’s only 5-11 and 200 pounds, he not necessarily a runner, and he doesn’t have a rocket arm. However, he’s a pinpoint passer when it comes to getting his targets on the move, and he’s a pure gamer. Tough as nails, he managed to fight his way through injuries at the end of last season to beat Missouri in a classic with 375 yards and four touchdowns. Then he healed up in time to beat up Minnesota with 313 yards and four touchdowns to close out his second straight season with 30+ touchdown passes, and he’ll be a lock for a third if he stays healthy. He struggled a bit at times against the better teams last season, but he still finished with tremendous, KU-record 3,888-yard, 32-touchdown season with four rushing scores and 13 interceptions. While he’s fine in the pocket, he’s better when he gets on the move and makes things happen with his creativity. While he’ll take off when needed, he’s a bomber who’s at his best when he can get into a rhythm. With the receiving corps he has returning, he should be in for a tremendous season.
 
Projected Top Reserve: There are few more interesting players in the Big 12 than senior Kerry Meier. The 6-3, 220-pound wide receiver started off his career as a quarterback, and will serve as the backup again, with 1,542 career passing yards with 17 touchdowns and ten interceptions. He has also run for six scores and is also the backup punter. Beaten out by Reesing for the starting quarterback job in 2007, Meier has made himself into a top target who’ll only move back under center in an extreme emergency. He has a good arm, but his strength as a quarterback is his mobility. While he’s not the bomber that Reesing is, he can step in and keep the offense moving if needed.
 
Pushing for playing time this season in mop-up mode is Kale Pick, a redshirt freshman who got to school early last year and has had more than a year to prepare. The star of the scout team, the 6-2, 200-pounder has the athleticism to grow into the type of quarterback who can keep Reesing’s production going next year. He has been asked to do even more in practices, and after a rough start, he came through with a nice spring game showing crispness and accuracy.
 
Watch Out For ... Reesing to have his best year yet. With a veteran receiving corps that knows exactly what it’s doing, Reesing should be able to exploit the mismatches more than ever. Expect the success of the last few years to continue with plenty of yards after the catch with Reesing doing his job to get the ball to his targets where they can do something with it.
Strength: Todd Reesing. In a conference with Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, and other big-time statistical stars, Reesing belongs in the discussion among the best Big 12 passers with 7,578 yards, 68 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. KU will win at least two games this year simply because its quarterback is better than the other team’s quarterback.
Weakness: Backup inexperience. While Meier can step in and play, it would be a huge hit for the KU offense to take him away from the receiving corps. That means Pick might have to be ready to hit the ground running to make sure the best players are on the field in the correct positions.
Outlook: It’ll take a limb to fall off for Reesing to be taken out of a game, and he’ll have to do everything possible to stay on the field. As long as he’s under center, the Jayhawks will put up huge offensive numbers and will be in every game. He has to guard against pressing too much, but with his experience and knowledge of the attack, and with Meier a nice emergency option, the situation is strong.
Rating: 9.5

Running Backs

Projected Starter
:
It doesn’t seem like senior Jake Sharp is necessarily wanted as the team’s top running option, the KU offense usually likes a 200+ pound thumper, but he turned out to be the team’s best back after lobbying for more work and earning it when he got his shot. The Honorable Mention All-Big 12 back led the team with 860 yards and 12 touchdowns while catching 25 passes for 283 yards and a score. His production came in spurts with a 118-yard, three touchdown day against Colorado and a 181-yard, four touchdown day against Kansas State, so the question remains whether or not he can be a back who carries the ball 20 times a game. The coaching staff gave him the chance late in the year, and he produced despite not getting much room to move. He’s a smart, quick, versatile back who’d be at his best as a third down player and a change-of-pace runner, but for now, he’s the main man.
 
Projected Top Reserves: It seemed like a foregone conclusion that JUCO transfer Jocques Crawford was going to come in and take the team by storm. After all, he was the 2007 junior college offense player of the year after leading the nation with 1,935 yards and 19 touchdowns for Cisco JC. But he wasn’t quite ready for prime time yet as he struggled to get more than a backup and special team role finishing with 232 yards and four touchdowns. At 6-1 and 230 pounds, he has the size to go along with excellent speed. He had problems in the past with a knee injury, and his status for the season is in question after being suspended for violating team rules, but if he’s in the mix (and that’s not a given), don’t be shocked if he turns into a breakout player.

Sophomore Rell Lewis is a 5-10, 199-pound speedster who has only seen time on special teams so far. He made three tackles in his first season, but now he’s expected to be used as a variety of ways as the third back, and possibly the No. 2 man, after a good offseason.

True freshman Toben Opurum will bring the power the team didn't have last year. The 6-2, 235-pound power back has good speed to go along with his size and should be fantastic around the goal line and in short yardage situations. Versatile, he can also catch a little bit.

6-2, 222-pound senior Angus Quigley finished second on the team with 309 yards and three touchdowns, but he wasn’t able to take the starting job by the horns and was eventually relegated to a backup role. He was still in the rotation late in the season before being moved over to linebacker just before the bowl game. While his move to the defensive side will be permanent, he could switch back over to offense whenever needed.

The offense almost never uses a fullback, so 6-2, 232-pound junior Drew Dudley will mostly be used as a part-time linebacker and on special teams. He has 25 tackles over the last two years, but now he’ll be a full-time offensive player used as a blocker and an occasional short-yardage runner.
 
Watch Out For ... Crawford … maybe. The light bulb never went on for the former JUCO star in his first year in Lawrence, but if all is fine off the field, he’ll get more work and more chances to become the main man. The offensive line is in a state of flux and won’t give him too much room to move early on, but he has too many skills to not be a major player.
Strength: A rotation. In KU’s perfect world, a big back like Crawford carries the ball 250 times this year and becomes the stud the offense can work around. What’s more likely to happen will be a combination of backs with Crawford, Sharp, and possibly a third option like redshirt freshman Tyler Hunt or Lewis splitting time depending on the situation.
Weakness: Proven home runs. There’s plenty of speed in the KU backfield, but the longest run last year was a 47-yarder from Sharp. The team averaged just 3.7 yards per carry and almost never came up with a big run to help out the passing game. That put even more pressure on Todd Reesing to make things happen downfield.
Outlook: For the Kansas offense to be at its best, it needs Crawford to be another Jon Cornish or Brandon McAnderson. However, with a veteran back like Sharp in the mix, there will be more of a running-back-by-committee approach. At the moment, this is a good group of backs, but it needs Crawford to shine for the unit to be great. Helped by the running of Reesing, KU will finish with over 1,700 rushing yards, but it would like to be closer to 2,000 to balance out the attack.
Rating: 7

Receivers

Projected Starters
:
Junior Dezmon Briscoe turned out to be the team’s breakthrough player of the season finishing with 92 catches for 1,407 yards and 15 touchdowns highlighted by a 12-catch, 269-yard, two touchdown game against Oklahoma and an Insight Bowl MVP performance with 14 catches for 201 yards and three scores against Minnesota. The 6-3, 200-pounder earned Second Team All-Big 12 honors as he grew into a deadly all-around threat. With his size, defenders bounce off of him if they don’t wrap up. With his speed, he’s able to get by most of the slower defensive backs as long as he can beat the jam. While he’s growing into a No. 1 target, he makes the most noise when defenses have to concentrate on other areas. Briscoe destroys single coverage.

While Briscoe led the way in scoring, senior Kerry Meier led the team in catches with 97 grabs for 1,045 yards and eight touchdowns. The former quarterback has grown into a tremendous receiver and an NFL-caliber H-Back at 6-3 and 220 pounds with excellent speed. He was consistent all year long, and then he was dominant late in the year once everyone started to worry about Briscoe with 24 catches for 219 yards and three scores in the final games against Missouri and Minnesota. A big, physical target, he’ll be used in a variety of way and he’ll be Todd Reesing’s go-to target on key plays.

Not to be ignored is 6-3, 187-pound junior Johnathan Wilson, a big, athletic home run hitter who benefitted from all the attention paid to the other targets. While he only averaged 13.3 yards per catch after averaging 17.3 yards per grab in 2007, he got into the end zone with three touchdown catches on 43 grabs. He’ll have a few double-digit catch games this year and will have at least two 50+ scoring grabs.

Sophomore Tim Biere turned into the team’s top tight end as his true freshman season went on working in four-wide sets and being used as a blocker. The 6-4, 243-pounder made six catches for 65 yards, and now he’ll be asked to do even more. He’s a big target with soft hands and decent route running ability.

Projected Top Reserves: 5-11, 192-pound senior Raimond Pendleton will get the first look at replacing Dexton Fields in the No. 4 receiver role. Pendleton made four catches for 29 yards last season in mop-up duty, getting one start against Sam Houston State, and now he’ll get a longer look as a quick option who’ll be great in the open field. He can be used as a punt returner if needed.

Working to be more involved as a tight end and a big receiver is A.J. Steward, a 6-4, 228-pound sophomore who made a catch for six yards against Colorado. He came to Kansas as a quarterback and is taking the Kerry Meier route to grow into a regular target. While he’ll see some time at tight end, he’ll work mostly as a tough inside receiver.

6-3, 252-pound junior Bradley Dedeaux was supposed to take over the tight end job, but he only made two catches for nine yards. A top talent coming out of high school, he has yet to come close to playing up to his immense potential. He has the size and the blocking skills, and now he has to prove he can be a consistent receiver.

At some point, Roderick Harris needs to play a big role. The 6-2, 200-pound JUCO superstar didn’t do anything on offense but saw time on special teams. He’s a phenomenal athlete with elite speed, but he has yet to show it off in any way. He’ll get a shot to show what he can do on the outside.

Watch Out For ... Wilson. It was a pick your poison situation for defenses when it came to Meier and Briscoe, and it’ll be even more so going into this year. It’ll be up to Wilson to make defenses pay, and he’ll have the opportunities to do it facing plenty of single coverage.
Strength: The Meier/Briscoe combination. These two might combine for 200 catches this season. Meier has excellent speed for his size and will move the chains, but it’s Briscoe who has the potential to be truly special.
Weakness: Depth. So much work was going to Briscoe and Meier, and occasionally to Wilson, that there wasn’t any passes to go to anyone else. While this isn’t a bad situation considering how good the starters are, KU has to identify playmaking wide receivers who could be able to step in if needed.
Outlook:  Meier and  Briscoe might not be considered All-Americans by anyone, but they should be. They’ll be among the most productive receivers in America and they’ll take turns coming up with huge games. Meier is an established, reliable target, while the sky’s the limit for Briscoe, who’s already good as is. More established depth is needed and a receiving tight end needs to emerge, but this is a good situation overall.
Rating: 8

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
:
6-3, 311-pound sophomore Jeremiah Hatch came up with a solid freshman season starting out at right tackle before moving to the left side for the second half of the season. While he struggled with his overall consistency and was average in pass protection, he has the potential to grow into a solid all-around blocker after moving to center this spring.

RRedshirt freshman Tanner Hawkinson was one of the finds of spring ball, playing well enough to earn a long look on the left side. While the former tight end is hardly a sure-thing to win the starting job, he’s tall, athletic, and got bigger after starting out as a 6-6, 245-pound spring-bean and getting up to 260 pounds.

Starting again on the right side will be Jeff Spikes, a 6-6, 314-pound sophomore who was the best of the young tackles. He started every game, getting the call on the left time for the first four games before moving over to the right side. He had the unenviable task of moving over from Anthony Collins early on, but he turned out to be better on the other side when he wasn’t as responsible to handle the killer speed rushers.

Pushing for one of the open guard spots will be John Williams a huge option who’ll be a key factor in the rotation if he doesn’t win a starting gig. Williams is a 6-4, 338-pound redshirt freshman with excellent strength.

6-3, 292-pound Sal Capra was one of the team’s top backup guards last year, seeing time in every game. Good enough to play either guard spot, he’ll likely get the first look at right guard in place of Chet Hartley. A top-shelf recruit who was a high school star out of Kansas City, the time is now for the junior to shine.

Projected Top Reserves: Taking over will be Brad Thorson, a 6-3, 290-ound transfer from Wisconsin who wasn’t able to do much on offense, but had a role on special teams. He’ll have to fight to keep the job, but he’s the most natural center in the mix.

The other big loss up front is All-Big 12 left guard Adrian Mayes, a stalwart on the line for the last few seasons. Carl Wilson, a 6-4, 288-pound junior will get the long look at taking over the job. While he’s not a space-eater and he’s not all that big, he can move just enough to be decent at being used in a variety of ways.

6-4, 285-pound redshirt freshman Trevor Marrongelli was one of the team’s scout team stars last year. While he’s built more like a tackle, he’s a guard who’ll push for time at both spots on the inside. He’s athletic and tough; he should grow into a top starter in the next few years.

A vital backup all year long at right tackle was Ben Leuken, a 6-6, 300-pound true sophomore who saw time in every game and can be counted on for the running game. He’s not quite quick enough to be a steady left tackle, but he’ll hardly be a liability if he has to move to the other side. First, he has to get back healthy after suffering a few injuries in a car accident.

The team’s key backup tackle will be junior Ian Wolfe, an athlete 6-5, 295-pound veteran who saw a little bit of time. He has beefed up over the last few years and should be ready to step in at left tackle. He has a little bit of starting experience and is decent in pass protection.

The team’s most interesting prospect for the O line is Nathan D’Cunha, a 6-6, 307-pound Australian who was brought in to be part of the starting mix if he was able to surprise, but he redshirted. A fantastic athlete, he’s extremely raw with tremendous upside coming out of Santa Barbara CC.
 
Watch Out For ... Shuffling on the inside. The tackles are set, but the guards have to be found with four players in the mix. Thorson has potential at center, but he’s hardly a given. The interior of the line won’t be settled until fall.
Strength: The tackles. They struggled in their first season in starting spots, but they were redshirt freshmen. Spikes has the potential to be special, while Hawkinson is a good one who should be far better with more reps.
Weakness: Production. The line struggled throughout last year in all phases, failing to get enough of a push for the ground game and having problems in pass protection. Now the interior of the line has to be replaced … that’s not a plus.
Outlook: The line struggled to keep Todd Reesing upright after finishing 97th in the nation in sacks allowed and it didn’t do enough for the ground game paving the way for 127 yards per game. The outside will be solid in time, Hatch and Spikes are good ones to build around. The interior of the line needs to find starters, but there are options.
Rating: 6.5