My 2011 Predictions for Jayhawk Football

football

The 2010 season was a very tough one for Turner Gill and the Kansas Jayhawks. Opening with a loss to North Dakota State provided a horrible start to the season. Blowouts in early Big XII games were just as painful. High notes included a win over then-ranked Georgia Tech and an amazing comeback against Colorado. Games at the end of the conference season weren’t as ugly as the early conference blowouts.

Another offseason has passed. Some players left the program and new players arrived. Many of the injured players from last season are back and ready to go. So how will the Jayhawks fare this season? I’ll give my projections for each of the games and we can look back in a few months to see if I was close.

Game 1 – McNeese State in Lawrence: This game brings the same danger as North Dakota State a year ago. In fact, the Cowboys are a better team. All the frustration of losing the opener last season will be unleashed by the Jayhawks and they’ll start the new campaign with a win. Record 1-0

Game 2 – Northern Illinois in Lawrence: Northern Illinois had a great 2010 and will most likely be favored in this game. Yet they have a new coach and will still be adjusting to the new systems. I expect this game to be close, but feel the Jayhawks will find a way to win. Record 2-0

Game 3 – Georgia Tech in Atlanta: After losing the opener and looking awful, nobody expect the Jayhawks to even keep the game close with Georgia Tech last year. Sure, it was close and Kansas led almost the entire game. Georgia Tech isn’t as talented as last year and the Jayhawks are a better team. Unfortunately I think revenge combined with a road game will give the win to Georgia Tech. Record 2-1

Game 4 – Texas Tech in Lawrence: The last time that Texas Tech came to Lawrence was an ugly blowout. Very few of the current players were around back then so they may not remember it. Hopefully they will remember the early season success and will have taken the bye week to fix any flaws from the first three weeks. Texas Tech has dropped off considerably since their last visit and I think the Jayhawks will find a way to win this one. Record 3-1

Game 5 – Oklahoma State in Stillwater: Oklahoma State features one of the most powerful offenses in the country. While improved on defense, the Jayhawks are no match for such a powerful offense. Unfortunately I don’t think this one will be close and the Pokes will come out on top. Record 3-2

Game 6 – Oklahoma in Lawrence: Oklahoma is the top-rated team going into the season. Pundits say they have the best offense in the country. I’d love to see a massive home upset of Oklahoma like in 1984, but I don’t see it happening. Oklahoma wins this one easily. Record 3-3

Game 7 – Kansas State in Lawrence: After two tough weeks, Kansas State comes to Lawrence for the second year in a row. The last meeting featured a Wildcat blowout. This one will be much closer and I think the Jayhawks will find a way to get revenge. Record 4-3

Game 8 – Texas in Austin: Texas had a really bad season last year and yet they still did better than the Jayhawks. Both teams are improved this season and have the desire to show improvement. Unfortunately this game is in Austin and I think the Horns will win this one. Record 4-4

Game 9 – Iowa State in Ames: Many feel that Kansas and Iowa State will be fighting for the Big XII basement. Iowa State isn’t as good as last season having lost their quarterback. Kansas finds a way to win a road game in the conference. Record 5-4

Game 10 – Baylor in Lawrence: This game was an early blowout last season in Waco. I’m sure the Jayhawks will again have revenge on their mind. I think this game will be a lot closer than last season, but I have Baylor getting the win. Record 5-5

Game 11 – Texas A&M in College Station: Most likely this will be the last trip the Jayhawks make to College Station and it would be great to come away with a win. They faced the same situation going to Lincoln last year and kept the game close. But like last year, the home team will prevail. Record 5-6

Game 12 – Missouri in Kansas City: They don’t call this a Border War for nothing. As a rivalry game, you can’t always go by the teams records. I think Missouri will already be bowl eligible and hoping to get into a better bowl. The Jayhawks need the win to become bowl eligible and prove the doubters wrong. I don’t think the game will come down to something as dramatic as Reesing to Meyer, but I do think the Jayhawks find a way to win. Record 6-6

Now that I’ve let my prognostication be known, it is time for the games to be played. We’ll see how many of the games I got right. What do you think? Post a comment with your own predictions.

by Sep 2, 2011

Will the Jayhawks Get Caught in the Spider’s Web?

basketball

Most observers will look at the #1 seeded Jayhawks and the #12 seeded Richmond Spiders and assume that this will be an easy win for the Jayhawks. There are also those who feel the Jayhawks may overlook the Spiders and be ripe for an upset. Either of those scenarios is certainly possible.

On paper, the Jayhawks have more talent. When it comes to the tournament, the team with the most talent doesn’t always win. The real key is getting that talent to focus on the task at hand and play well as a team. Of course, the underdog can also feel empowered and play well above their talent level would indicate.

Jayhawk fans know all too well about the unexpected loss to Northern Iowa in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. UNI was a veteran team that played a great game. The Jayhawks also seemed to take the game for granted which led to a flat performance. As most of the key performers played in the UNI game, they should realize that no team can be taken for granted at this point of the season.

There is another factor that may give the Jayhawks inspiration and it came before any of them put on a Kansas uniform. Richmond has played one previous game against Kansas and it was in 2004 at Allen Fieldhouse. They were a huge underdog and walked out of the Phog with a win. The Spiders played an amazing game that night and the Jayhawk players most likely overlooked them.

Bill Self has been at Kansas for eight seasons and has only lost seven home games. Most of the players on the current team experienced their only home loss this season when the Texas Longhorns came to Lawrence. The Jayhawks were exhausted that day after Thomas Robinson’s mom had died the evening before. When they met Texas again in the Big XII Tournament, the team was fired up for revenge.

With the loss to UNI in 2010 and the knowledge of Richmond winning at Allen Fieldhouse, the Jayhawks should have some revenge and redemption on their minds when they take the court Friday evening. While I expect Richmond to be a tough out, I think the Jayhawks will have enough fire to stomp out the Spiders and advance to the Elite Eight.

by Mar 23, 2011

Mangino Out, Gill In

football

There has been a lot of activity in the football program since my last post. After the Jayhawks got off to a 5-0 start, the wheels fell off and the season ended with seven straight losses. During the last two weeks of the season, Mark Mangino was under investigation for mistreatment of players. It definitely wasn’t a good time to be a fan of Jayhawk football.

It was no surprise that Mark Mangino resigned just a few days after the season ended. And he didn’t resign without a big push from the administration. As fans, we’ve all been concerned about Mangino’s obesity. I wrote before the season that he needed to seriously consider getting his weight under control. We’ll never know how much his weight problem contributed to his attitude towards the players and how many recruits it turned away. Now that Mangino has time to himself, I truly hope he can find a way to address his weight so that he can live a long life. Even though he is no longer the coach of the Jayhawks, I’ll always remember him as the coach that delivered a magical 2007 season capped off by an Orange Bowl win.

Regardless of how you feel about Mark Mangino, he is no longer the coach and we need to be supportive of the new coach. After watching Turner Gill’s introductory press conference, I am very impressed with him. Will he bring a consistent winner to Lawrence? Only time will tell.

I’ll admit that I had wanted Jim Harbaugh. He was the “sexy” hire. Now that I can reflect, I also feel he would have been the wrong hire. Sure, he may have elevated Jayhawk football. I just don’t think he would have been in Lawrence long. If he found success, others schools and the NFL would have come calling. We, the fans, will never know what exactly was said in the talks between Lew Perkins and Harbaugh. I’m guessing that part of the reason that Perkins chose to hire Gill was the fear that Harbaugh would only stick around for a few seasons.

When you listen to the press conference, you’ll hear Coach Gill make it very clear that he didn’t take the job as a stepping stone to something else. While we’ve all heard coaches say things like that in the past, I was impressed that he said it without prompting and was quite adamant about it. Let’s just hypothesize that he is successful at Kansas and Nebraska comes calling in a few seasons. He could stay at Kansas and be the coach that started the dynasty or he could return to Nebraska in hopes of taking them back to where they were in the mid-90s. Even if he won two national championships for Nebraska, he still wouldn’t measure up to Tom Osborne. Yet winning one at Kansas could get him elected to Congress, just like it got Tom Osborne elected. We also must remember that his daughter will be a KU grad and I wouldn’t be surprised if the same will be true of his younger daughter who is still in high school. Would they allow their father to leave their alma mater?

Turner Gill did not have a great record at Buffalo. He was only 20-30 in his four seasons. When he arrived, Buffalo was considered the worst Division I team in the country. After three seasons, his team had won a conference championship. When was the last time that KU fielded a conference champion? It has been over 40 years! The Jayhawks had a down season in 2009, but they were nowhere near the worst team in the country. Of course they also play a tougher schedule in a tougher conference than Buffalo in the MAC. I would also think that it will be much easier to recruit top athletes to Kansas than to Buffalo. KU offers better facilities, a better conference and the opportunity to win championships. No matter what you think of living in Buffalo, it can’t offer those opportunities.

Critics have also complained about Chuck Long and Carl Torbush as offensive and defensive coordinators. Those critics point to their failures as a head coach. Yet they ignore the fact that both of them have had great success in the positions for which they were hired.

One area where Turner Gill has always been lauded is his recruiting skills. His welcome speech re-recruited me as a fan and I have no doubt he will be successful in the living rooms of some highly skilled players. There is little time left to recruit before signing day in February. If Coach Gill can retain most of the players who have verbally committed and pick up a few more, I’ll be happy. The biggest test will come with his recruiting next year. He’ll also be tested by the results on the field in 2010. I’ll go on record with a prediction right now and say that the 2010 Jayhawks will finish the season 8-5. Maybe I’m too optimistic, maybe not. I do know that I’m very excited for the first game and it is more than nine months away.

Welcome Coach Gill and Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

by Dec 15, 2009

Basketball Season Starts Tonight

basketball

The latest edition of the KU basketball team will take the court this evening in an exhibition game with Fort Hays State. I’ll explore more about the team in the near future. Let’s start out by looking at the roster and trying to determine who will play, who will redshirt and who will get mop up minutes.

In total there are seventeen players on the roster and coach Self claims that he will have an 8-9 man rotation. We know that two of the walk-on players will have very limited minutes. Let’s put Jordan Juenemann and Chase Buford near the end of the bench. While they are valued members of the team, they just aren’t going to play very much. That leaves fifteen players.

For the first semester, we also know that Brady Morningstar is suspended and Jeff Withey is not yet eligible to play after transferring. Both players have exhausted their redshirt year so they will play this season. As Morningstar was a starter most of last season, we can expect that he will be part of the rotation this season. Withey brings size and mobility to the front court, as well as five more fouls, so he should also be added to the rotation on his return. That leaves thirteen players.

Mario Little and Travis Releford will sit out tonight’s exhibition game so that they have the possibility of redshirting if they won’t be playing meaningful minutes. Freshman players are allowed to play in the exhibition games without forfeiting their ability to redshirt. It would make sense for both Little and Releford to sit out this season. Mario hasn’t been healthy since he arrived at KU and he would have the opportunity to get fully healed by sitting for the season. Travis Releford has a lot of raw offensive talent, but hasn’t shown the ability to be a stopper on defense. Both of these players could get limited minutes this season, though they could play a lot in future seasons. I say they should sit for the season and that leaves us with eleven players.

Another player that could get lost in the shuffle this season is Elijah Johnson. While I’d love to see him play, I don’t think he will get many minutes this season. Take the redshirt and learn from the upperclassmen. Now we are down to ten players and I think they will all play significant minutes this season. Of course there will actually be twelve once Morningstar and Withey are eligible.

Now that we’ve determined who won’t play, let’s talk about who will play. We’ll start in the front court. There is no doubt that Cole Aldrich will start at center and will play a huge role on this team. He was spectacular last season and should only improve in his junior season, especially since it will probably be his last season in Lawrence. Joining him at the post and power forward positions will be sophomore Markieff Morris, sophomore Marcus Morris and freshman Thomas Robinson. The Morris twins were very unpolished in their freshman season and they should be much improved thanks to their great workouts over the summer. Coach Self has had wonderful things to say about Robinson and his “motor”. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him playing at least 20 minutes a game and tearing up the glass.

At the small forward, Marcus Morris could see some time. Yet it is expected that Xavier Henry will be the starter at this position by the end of the season. While many expect him to only play one season, it is possible he could stick around for more than one if he isn’t yet ready for the NBA. Tyrel Reed should also see some time and could even be the starter early in the season since he has experience. Connor Teahan has also seen some time at the small forward and we can only hope he has regained the shooting touch he displayed as a freshman.

There is no doubt that Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor will be the starters in the backcourt as they were last season. Taylor played on the national team this summer and led the team in scoring. Collins is a senior and a pre-season All America. CJ Henry is a big unknown as he hasn’t played organized basketball in several years. He will not be playing in the first exhibition game due to a minor knee injury. His health will probably determine the number of minutes he will get this season. If healthy, he will be a valuable player on this team. It is also quite possible that Tyrel Reed and Connor Teahen will see some time in the backcourt.

This team is extremely deep and should be very fun to watch. They have experience and they have very talented young talent. If everyone plays to their expectations, the Jayhawks could be cutting down the nets in April. Let’s see what happens tonight and go from there!

by Nov 4, 2009

Halloween in Lubbock Was Scarier Than Expected

football

Let’s start with the good news from Lubbock. The Jayhawk defense played very well for the first three quarters of the game. This was a big improvement from the past few games. It was even better news considering it came against one of the top offenses in the country.

Unfortunately the offense seemed really stale the whole game. That didn’t stop them from scoring a touchdown at the end of the third quarter to take a 21-14 lead. At that point, a win seemed within reach. Then came the turnovers as things got really scary. Before you knew it, the game was over and the Jayhawks were on the losing end of a 42-21 score.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Todd Reesing was pulled from the game with the win still within reach. He hadn’t played well most of the game and later admitted to an annoying groin pull. Yet this was a shocker and it shows that coach Mangino isn’t afraid to yank a top player if that’s what needs to be done. Reesing will be back at starter this weekend in Manhattan and he even called a player’s only meeting today. Let’s hope that both the offense and the defense play well this weekend so that the losing streak can be broken.

by Nov 3, 2009

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