Key matchup(s): @Northwestern (Sept. 18), Texas Tech (Sept. 25), @Missouri (Nov. 20)
Star Power: RB Clark Green 5-foot-11 220 pounds Junior, WR Brandon Rideau 6-4, 190 Senior, WR Mark Simmons 5-11 175 Junior, C Joe Vaughn 6-1 285 Senior, LB Gabe Toomey 6-4 235 Junior, LB Banks Floodman 6-3 230 Junior, LB Nick Reid 6-4 226 Junior, CB/WR/PR Charles Gordon 5-11 170 Sophomore.
Notable Additions: QB Jason Swanson 6-0 190 JC Transfer, RB Gary Green II San Antonio, Tex., **DE Charlton Keith 6-5 230 JC Transfer DT James McClinton 6-1 295 Garland, Tex., DT Todd Haselhorst 6-5 290 Olathe, Kan., CB Theo Baines 5-11 190 JC Transfer, S Rodney Harris 6-0 185 JC Transfer P/K Kyle Tucker 6-2 205 Katy, Tex.
**(pending academic status)
Notable Subtractions: QB Bill Whittemore (graduation), LT Adrian Jones (fourth round NFL Draft- New York Jets), RT Danny Lewis (graduation), DE Monroe Weekley (left program), DT Phil Tuihalamaka (left program), DT Chuck Jones (left program), P Curtis Ansel (undrafted, signed by Detroit Lions).
Notable Returnees: QB Adam Barmann 6-4 210 Sophomore, RB John Randle 6-0 185 Sophomore, G Bob Whittaker 6-5 320 Sophomore, DE David McMillan 6-3 240 Senior, DT Travis Watkins 6-4 295 Senior, LB Kevin Kane 6-1 225 Junior, LB Brandon Perkins 6-1 225 Junior, S Tony Stubbs 5-10 200 Senior.
Offensive Overview:The Kansas offense must replace Bill Whittemore, who set a school record with 18 touchdown passes last season. While his leadership will be missed, the Kansas offense relies on short passes like slants and screens that enable quarterbacks to become comfortable quickly. Barmann is ahead of Swanson for the quarterback race based on his knowledge of the offense. Running back and receiver return experienced talent. Look for Kansas to run the ball a little more this year to alleviate the pressure in the inexperienced quarterback, and take advantage of a loaded backfield and physical offensive line. Mangino said this line has a chance to be the best he’s had at Kansas, with Adrian Jones being replaced by Cesar Rodriguez, a budding star. The line does lack depth, so an injury or two could shortchange the unit.
|2004 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE|
Defensive Overview: The defense should be much improved from last season’s unit which allowed offenses 4.9 yards per carry and a 62.1 percent pass completion rate. It all starts with the linebackers as Toomey, Floodman and Reid are all honors candidates and depth abounds. Potentially the two most talented newcomers, Mike Rivera and Joe Mortensen, will find playing time tough to come by this season because of the logjam of talent. The defensive line has no depth after the departures of five players from last season and Tuihalamaka. To make matters worse, possible starter DE John McCoy was called up for duty and DE Charlton Keith has yet to qualify. Watkins and McMillan form a strong starting point on the line, and Haselhorst and McClinton might have to play right away. Gordon, Baines, Harris and Stubbs form what should be a much-improved secondary.
Special Teams Overview: Scott Webb redshirted last season and should compete with Johnny Beck, Jerod Brooks and newcomers Jeff Edwards and Kyle Tucker for the starting position. Shoddy kicking cost the Jayhawks several times last season. Curtis Ansel may have been the best defensive player last season for his ability to directional punt and pin opposing teams near the goal line. Tucker, Chris Tyrell and Walker Douglas are in the battle to replace him.
The Jayhawks can go to another bowl game this season if... The non-conference schedule goes well. Whoever plays quarterback will have to grow up quickly as the non-conference schedule includes two 2003 bowl teams in Tulsa and Northwestern, and Toledo, a team poised just outside of the Top 25 to start the season. If they win all three, they should be confident heading into the Big 12 opener against Texas Tech at Memorial Stadium, a winnable game. Every team on the schedule is capable of putting up a fight, so the Jayhawks will have to play well every week and snatch an upset or two to repeat last season’s result.