Kansas head coach Charlie Weis released his depth chart, heading into Saturday night’s season opener with South Dakota. It reveals some surprises and a lot of decisions that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Needless to say, there are reasons to be excited to see the product on the field, when the team takes the field, Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Offensively, Kansas will be led by quarterback Jake Heaps with Michael Cummings backing him up. Obviously, that is no surprise. Instead, the excitement will be focused on Heaps finally being able to show what he can do on the field in a game after sitting out 2012 after transferring from BYU.
The starting running back position is another non-surprise, as senior James Sims will line up against the Coyotes. Taylor Cox or Darrian Miller will serve as his backups. Miller’s return was an added bonus for the team after a solid freshman year in 2011. Weis has raved about Cox, after he turned in one of the best camps on the team.
Jimmay Mundine will start at tight end with Trent Smiley backing him up. Mundine has garnered some attention from some in media circles, saying that the junior could be one of the better tight ends in the Big 12. Mundine has certainly earned the praise, becoming one of the team leaders on and off the field.
Tony Pierson will line up at the “F” position and fans will get to see the different ways that Weis and the offensive staff plan to use him. Keep an eye on Brandon Bourbon, who will back Pierson up. Bourbon is a terrific athlete, who will do some things from there as well.
The wide receivers will be looking to reach the end zone for the first time in Weis tenure. In 2013, the chances are good for that to happen and happen more than just a couple of times.
Justin McCay and Josh Ford will make up the “X” position, while Christian Matthews will be the starting “Z” with newcomer Rodriguez Coleman and Tre’ Parmalee serving as backups.
McCay and Matthews starting comes as no surprise, as McCay turned many heads last year on the show team with Heaps. Matthews, meanwhile has had one of the best springs and summers of anyone on the team.
The starting offensive line will feature three newcomers and two holdovers from last year with a twist. Pat Lewandowski will get the starting nod at center, with Dylan Admire serving as backup.
JUCO transfers Ngalu Fusimalohi and Mike Smithburg will start at left and right guard, respectively, while Aslam Sterling will be the starting left tackle, with newcomer Zach Fondal opposite him at right tackle. Brian Beckmann will serve as Fondal’s primary backup.
The specialists will showcase a dramatic improvement to the kicking game, as promised by Weis. Trevor Pardula will handle the kickoff duties, but could also be called upon to attempt a long field goal. Pardula has the ability to make from as far as 60 yards, but as Weis pointed out, could also miss from 30.
Matthew Wyman will be the starting placekicker and have no fear, he has range too, showing the ability to make from as far out as 50 yards. On Tuesday, Weis said Wyman won the starting kicker job and it wasn’t close.
Weis loves the fact that if they needed to attempt a really long field goal to win a game, he could call on another kicker. The scenario will remind some fans of former kickers Johnny Beck and Scott Webb, who each saw action in 2004. Beck was primarily called on for really long field goals, while Webb was the short man. Pardula’s assessment could remind some of Beck, who was outstanding at times from long range.
Pardula will also get the nod at punter. Ron Doherty will serve as back up. Doherty handled most of the punting a year ago.
Kickoff returning duties will be handled by Cox and Bourbon. Both have the speed and ability to give Kansas a good boost on offense. Meanwhile, punts will be handled by Connor Embree and Parmalee. Embree will also backup Blake Jablonski, who will hold on kicks.