It wasn’t too clear who the new faces on the Kansas faces would be when the 2013 season begins against South Dakota, but it was clear there would be some new looks after the team finished 1-11 a year ago.
On Saturday, when the Jayhawks take the field at Memorial Stadium, there will be some new players and new looks.
First of all, Kansas is switching up there defense a little to combat the ridiculously fast offenses that the will face in the Big 12 this season. The idea is to be flexible since it will be very difficult to change personnel when a team implements a hurry up offense for 60 minutes.
On the defensive line, the Jayhawks will feature three players who were mainstays a year ago, as opposed to the heavy number of JUCO players that were anticipated. Kevin Young and Keba Agostinho will man the end positions with Keon Stowers getting the start at nose tackle. Marquel Combs and Ty McKinney did not make the first string, but will both back up Stowers. It sends a message to everybody that head coach Charlie Weis meant it when he said, the best players will play, regardless of how long they’ve been with the program.
The BUCK position will be manned by Ben Goodman, who has done the work to be ready in the wake of the release of Chris Martin, earlier this summer. Michael Reynolds will back him up.
The linebacking corps will be one of the more exciting groups to watch, as captain Ben Heeney will start along side newcomer Samson Faifilli. Schyler Miles and Jake Love will back up Heeney and Faifilli, respectively. The demotion for the Love is in no way indicative of anything. All it says is Kansas has a lot of talent at the position. You can bet that Love will be heard from and often on the field. The speed and power of the unit makes it one of the better groups on the team.
In the secondary, newcomer Cassius Sendish, once thought to be the nickelback in the Jayahawks modified scheme will now start at free safety thanks to the solid camp turned in by Victor Simmons at the NB position. Dexter Linton and Courtney Arnick will man the second string at those positions, respectively.
Isaiah Johnson will earn the start at strong safety with Tevin Shaw behind him. JaCorey Shepherd and Dexter McDonald will be the starting left and right cornerbacks. Brandon Hollomon will back up Shepherd, while Kevin Short and Greg Allen will back up McDonald.
Shepherd’s story is a great one, as he worked out with a coach back home during spring break and this summer to continue getting better and his hard work has paid off. He could have a big season on defense this year.
As for the South Dakota game, Kansas won’t be as tested across the field as they will later, as Joe Glenn’s squad will stick to more power run based scheme, though they are big up front. It’ll be a great start to the season for the Jayhawks, as they try to bring the program back in year two under Weis.