Most college football fans are counting down the days until the season starts (24 by the way). However, Kansas Jayhawk fans might be counting down the days until basketball season instead because this fall will be another long, cold journey of tears in Lawerence.
As there are many questions to be asked about this Jayhawk team, we can pinpoint them down to three big questions.
1. How will Kansas bounce back from losing 21 seniors/17 starters?
For teams like Kentucky basketball, this is exciting news because you get the best freshmen class coming in to run with the baton. However, for football teams like Kansas, this is a nightmare. A program that is trying to capture its first winning season since 2008 needs experience and leadership. Nevertheless, there are some potential breakout stars hidden in this roster.
While only returning one receiver who registered a reception last season, the Jayhawks seem to struggle in the receiving game. Lucky for them, head coach David Beaty has spent almost the last 10 years as a wide receiver coach at schools such as Rice, Kansas, and Texas A&M and can coach young faces like freshman Chase Harrell to become solid targets down the stretch.
With the new attacking spread offense, Kansas might add threats with two tight ends in sophomore Ben Johnson and junior Kent Taylor, who both had solid spring games.
Additionally, Kansas has produced six current NFL defensive backs. This year, the Jayhawks will have a fresh new secondary, and a new star like Juco transfer Bazie Bates IV could break out to be the next defensive answer they need.
2. Who is the answer at quarterback?
After going down with a knee injury late April, it is probable that senior Michael Cummings will miss the entire 2015 season. Montell Cozart seems to be the likely starter come September, but UCLA transfer T.J. Millweard, who completed two of three passes for 14 yards last year, could find himself some snaps in the early rounds of the season.
Cozart started as quarterback for the Jayhawks last season but lost his starting position to Cummings after five games. In those five games, Cozart threw 64/128 on 701 yards, only completing 50% of his passes with five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Fans saw a glimmer of hope for the future with Cummings’ play, but they will have to wait a little while longer to see pure talent under center.
3. When will Kansas become a winning program again?
This is a loaded question since it takes some programs decades and other programs a single season to turn things around. But Kansas has seen the national stage before. In fact, it was just eight years ago they were playing in a BCS bowl game. Since then, they have only won eight Big 12 games, half of them being the following season in 2008.
Kansas is reporting that approximately 40 walk-ons will be added to its squad, next to the load of freshmen and JUCO transfers that will get a shot at starting this upcoming season. In these situations, you are never sure when or who will be the miracle answer. Yet, if you’re Kansas, you can try pretty much any tactic or player with not much to lose. It is definitely a low-risk, high-reward situation.
But then again, you never know. Maybe Heisman-potential talent is right around the corner. More than half of the 2007 squad that went 12-1 and won the BCS Orange Bowl was highlighted by underclassmen, six of which were true freshmen. Even if it is a “one-hit-wonder” kind of team, the Jayhawks can use any kind of help at this moment.