Entries from blogs tagged with “basketball”
A paint-by-numbers look at Baylor football, a study in offensive efficiency via blending a fast, powerful running game with a passing game that features fleet receivers and a terrific passer who also happens to be big and athletic and is protected by massive, experienced offensive linemen:
3 — Ranking in the Associated Press poll, tied for highest in school history.
4 — Players with at least five rushes per game and average 7.2 yards per carry or better, led by Shock Linwood (9.42 yards per carry, 146 yards per game.)
5 — Receivers who average 19.5 yards per catch or better.
11 - National-best touchdown receptions by Corey Coleman, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior from Richardson, Texas, who has as many touchdowns as KU’s entire roster.
15 — School-record tying career sacks from Shawn Oakman, 6-9, 275-pound defensive end.
19 — Touchdown passes for Seth Russell, who originally committed to current KU head coach David Beaty when Beaty was working for Turner Gill. TCU’s Trevone Boykin, who has played five games compared to four for Russell, is tied with Russell for the national lead.
32.5 — National-best first downs per game.
36 — National-best touchdowns, compiled in just four games.
63.8 — National-best points per game. Other schools left on KU’s schedule: TCU (second, 50.8), Texas Tech (third, 50), Oklahoma (ninth, 42).
218.75 — Russell’s national-best QB rating. Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty ranks second with 184.72, Memphis’ Paxton Lynch third with 181.47.
316 — Average weight in pounds of five starting offensive linemen, compared to an average of 257.4 for KU’s five heaviest defensive starters. That's 1.4 pounds shy of a 50-pound advantage per man.
376.75 — Rushing yards per game, second only to Georgia Southern.
410 — Pounds first-string tight end LaQuan McGowan carries on his 6-7 frame.
“There are couple plays in there that look like at the end of the movie when the team has to score a touchdown and one guy knocks 11 people over and they run behind him and score,” Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said. “There are couple clips that resemeble that, where he knocks a guy down, knocks another guy down and keeps running. He’s a big fella. ... He’s in there to be a lead blocker. He’s a big human who gets a lot of movement. We have to make sure that we don’t take him on real high.”
745.3 — National-best total yards per game, eclipsing the nation’s second-leading total offense (TCU) by 115.3 yards.
There’s no getting around it. No. 3 Baylor (4-0 overall, 1-0 Big 12) — one of the most impressive offensive teams in the nation — is going to score a lot of points on Saturday at Kansas (0-4, 0-1). The touchdowns are going to come quickly and often.
The back-to-back Big 12 champions make a habit of carving defenses into oblivion. As one BU hashtag likes to tout, #AmericasTopOffense leads the NCAA in yardage (745.3 per game) and points (63.8). That’s right. The Bears average roughly nine touchdowns a game.
The winless, rebuilding Jayhawks — who, by the way, average 391.2 yards and 22.0 points — have scored 11 touchdowns this season: Ke’aun Kinner (5 rushing), Tre’ Parmalee (1 rushing, 1 receiving), Ryan Schadler (kickoff), Marcquis Roberts (interception), Montell Cozart (rushing) and Kent Taylor (receiving).
For the love of all things football, Baylor nearly averages a first down per play on offense (9.4 yards a snap). The Bears, coached by Art Briles, own an average margin of victory of 37.8 points this season.
KU scored 38 points in its season-opening loss to South Dakota State, and has since finished losses with 23 points, 14 points and 13 points.
No FBS school scores like the Bears do. They lead the nation in TD drives of 2 minutes or less. They’ve struck quickly for scores 23 times. In four games.
Usually, in this Getting to know (KU opponent) feature, we give you five opposing players to watch out for. This week, given Baylor’s scoring prowess, we’ll go with five salivating at the chance to score touchdowns.
FIVE BEARS SALIVATING ABOUT SCORING
No. 17: QB Seth Russell | 6-3, 220, jr.
• The guy who keeps Baylor’s offense screaming along flawlessly is quarterback Seth Russell — a former KU commitment, believe it or not.
• All the junior QB has done this season is lead the nation in passing efficiency (218.7), passing TDs (19), passing yards per completion (19.71) and passing yards per attempt (12.44).
• In just four outings, Russell has thrown for 10 TDs of 40-plus yards — including six for 50-plus, three for 60-plus and one for 80-plus.
• The QB is mobile, too. He has a 40-yard dash time of 4.49 seconds and his vertical has been measured at 41.8 inches.
No. 1: WR Corey Coleman | 5-11, 190, jr.
• Robin to Russell’s Batman — or is it the other way around? — wide receiver Corey Coleman often has looked unstoppable, going over 100 yards in receiving in every game of 2015.
• On just 24 catches, Coleman has racked up 570 yards and a nation-leading 11 touchdowns.
• What is he a basketball player? He averages 16.5 points per game.
• Coleman can instantly flip the field (on the rare occasions he’s not scoring). He leads FBS with 12 catches of 20 or more yards. Three of those were of the 50-plus variety.
No. 32: RB Shock Linwood | 5-9, 200, jr.
• Hey, just so we don’t forget: The Bears can run the ball, too. Shock Linwood has scored six rushing TDs so far.
• The back with the great name ranks fifth in the nation, with 146.0 yards per game. With Linwood leading the charge, BU has already put up four games of 300-plus rushing yards.
• Just assume the chains are going to move when Linwood gets a handoff. He’s averaging 9.4 yards per carry.
• Currently fourth on Baylor’s list of all-time rushing TDs, with 30, Linwood only needs five more to tie Alfred Anderson (1980-83) for No. 1. Could he catch up with him against KU?
• The returning All-Big 12 first-team RB is coming off a 221-yard, two-TD performance vs. Texas Tech.
No. 4: CB Xavien Howard | 6-2, 200, jr.
• Hey, we can’t count out a defensive touchdown for Baylor. Corner Xavien Howard had four interceptions and 13 pass breakups last season, and has already broken up four passes in 2015, with two interceptions.
• KU is going to be throwing the ball, and it will have true freshman Ryan Willis doing it. If he throws in the direction of Howard, BU’s physical corner has the skills to turn it into six points.
• Just last week against Texas Tech, Howard returned an INT 46 yards.
No. 2: DE Shawn Oakman | 6-9, 275, sr.
• As long as we’re talking defenders, we shouldn’t overlook right end Shawn Oakman. The guy is a monster: 6-foot-9, 275 pounds. If you were going to pick a defensive lineman likely to scoop up a loose ball and do something spectacular with it vs. Kansas, you’d have to go with Oakman. I mean, his jersey barely can contain his massive frame.
• The senior has 37.5 tackles for loss in his BU career, and currently is tied with Daryl Gardener and Chris McAllister for the program’s all-time lead in sacks (15.0).
• The two-time All-Big 12 defensive end is as disruptive a pass rusher as exists in FBS. If he comes from Willis’ weak side and strips the young QB, you know the No. 1 thing on his mind would be taking the ball to the end zone. Oakman recovered three fumbles in 2014, and has six forced fumbles in 16 career starts.
Saturday marks the first Big 12 game of 2015 for both Kansas and Iowa State, and the Jayhawks and Cyclones have some losing streaks they’d like to get rid of at Jack Trice Stadium (11 a.m. kickoff).
Winless through three games this season, KU at least snapped a four-game skid versus Iowa State by winning 34-14 in Lawrence in 2014. But there is that not-so-insignificant matter of the Jayhawks’ 34-game losing streak away from Memorial Stadium. ISU accounted for three of those, and Kansas hasn’t won in Ames, Iowa, since escaping 35-33 in 2008.
Back then, of course, Mark Mangino was coaching the Jayhawks. Now ISU’s offensive coordinator, Mangino wouldn’t mind adding to KU’s road troubles — with no offense to his former assistant David Beaty.
ISU hasn’t won a Big 12 opener since bludgeoning Kansas, 45-3, in 2002. But the streak the Cyclones would really like to snap is a stretch of nine consecutive Big 12 losses.
Iowa State’s defense — unlike KU’s this season — has shown it can get into the backfield and make plays. The Cyclones (1-2) already have 24.0 tackles for loss — three times as many as KU — ranking third in the Big 12 and 17th nationally.
The Cyclones, who beat Northern Iowa in the opener and have since lost to Iowa and Toledo, have enough play-makers on offense to keep KU’s road losing streak alive and well. Here are five ISU players Kansas should be worried about.
FIVE CYCLONES TO WATCH
No. 12: QB Sam Richardson | 6-2, 217, sr.
• Believe it or not this will actually mark senior quarterback Sam Richardson’s first career start against Kansas. Injuries kept him out of the KU-ISU game each of the past two seasons. In 2012, though, he came off the bench as a freshman against Kansas and lit up the Jayhawks — 23-for-27 passing, with 250 yards and four touchdowns.
• This season, Richardson is averaging 249.7 yards passing per game and completing 61.3 percent of his throws (65-for-106).
• In each of his first two games this season (vs. Northern Iowa and Iowa), Richardson threw two TD passes, giving him 15 multi-TD games in his career.
• He ranks 28th nationally in completions per game (21.7).
• ISU’s QB only threw one TD pass vs. Toledo. He now has 42 in his career, tying for the second-best total in school history (Bret Meyer, 50, 2004-07).
• Richardson is one of five active FBS QBs with more than 5,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards.
No. 5: WR Allen Lazard | 6-5, 223, soph.
• Richardson’s favorite target, sophomore receiver Allen Lazard leads ISU in receptions (15) and receiving yards (150).
• He has caught at least one pass in all 15 games of his young career.
• As a freshman in 2014, Lazard had five catches for 70 yards at KU.
• Lazard delivered one of the best rookie seasons from a WR in ISU history last year, with 45 catches for 593 yards and three TDs.
• Also a threat on special teams, Lazard averaged 25.0 yards a punt return against UNI.
• The tall receiver already has two eight-catch games on his résumé. Not surprising when you consider how highly he was thought of coming out of high school.
No. 45: DE Dale Pierson | 6-2, 249, sr.
• Senior DE Dale Pierson ranks second nationally in sacks per game (1.7), trailing only Penn State’s Carl Nassib (1.75).
• Pierson also ranks No. 5 in the nation with 2.0 tackles for loss per game. That mark leads the Big 12.
• With nine games left to play, he is 3.5 sacks shy of ISU’s single-season record: 8.5, by Shawn Moorehead in 2006. No wonder his Twitter handle is @SACKMAMBA45.
• In ISU’s win over UNI, Pierson went for 3.0 sacks and recorded his first career interception.
• Pierson, a former Pasadena CC standout, really began to take off late last season. In his last six games for ISU, he has 37 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and an interception.
No. 2: RB Mike Warren | 6-0, 200, RS-fr.
• After seeing few opportunities in ISU’s first two games, red-shirt freshman running back Mike Warren broke out against Toledo. His 126 rushing yards included a career-long 41-yard carry.
• Warren now leads ISU with 154 rushing yards on the season.
• The young RB is averaging 5.1 yards a carry.
• It seems Warren could become the first ISU freshman to lead the team in rushing yards since Alexander Robinson did it in 2007.
No. 12: LB Jarnor “Jay” Jones | 6-3, 209, jr.
• Linebacker Jarnor “Jay” Jones’ 20 tackles rank third on ISU, and he has made plays in the backfield, with four 4.0 for loss.
• A former member of North Carolina State’s football program who transferred to Georgia Military College after running into some trouble, the transfer now seems to have things figured out.
• Jones had a sack and two tackles for loss in each of his first tow games for ISU, against Northern Iowa and Iowa.
Bill Self kicked off his 13th season at Kansas Thursday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse with KU basketball media day.
After players posed for photos and answered questions from reporters, Self sat down for a Q&A. Here are some of the highlights:
• Self is impressed every time he goes over to the new dorm, McCarthy Hall, which players should move into next week. Every time he is in there it looks better.
• Perry Ellis should be as good as or better than any player in the Big 12. He played at an All-American level for a stretch last season and he could do that all season long as a senior.
• “We’ve kind of got a crowded house” in the backcourt. But NBA people think Svi Mykhailiuk is as good as anybody on the team from a prospect standpoint. Self expects Mykhailiuk to challenge for a starting position and be as good as any reserve in the country if he doesn’t start. The Ukraine native, now in his second season at KU and living in the U.S., has far more maturity and strength now.
• Now that former KU point guard Aaron Miles is a part of the program as the new assistant director of student-athlete development, it will be really good for Devonté Graham and Frank Mason III. Self knows players respect him and Miles will be nothing but a huge positive.
• Wayne Selden Jr. played really well in Korea by using his athletic ability and strength. He drove and didn’t rely on jump shots, and that will make him a more impactful player if he continues in that style his junior season.
• Freshman big man Cheick Diallo (6-foot-9) has a wingspan of 7-foot-5, and has a motor, but he doesn’t know how to play yet. Diallo will keep balls alive and do important things, and he should be a good rim protector. Surprisingly, he’s a good shooter, too, which is exciting.
• KU struggled to score inside last year, and the coaches need to do a better job. But guards need to improve at feeding the post and playing angles. The Jayhawks should be a better passing team and better at scoring inside because of that.
• Freshmen Carlton Bragg and Lagerald Vick are a lot better off having traveled to Korea and being a part of KU winning gold at the World University Games. Bragg ia a “Marcus Morris type” offensively. He has a chance to be a “special” guy.
• This KU team is deeper than what they’ve had recently. “It’s gonna be hard this year figuring out who to play.” KU has 12 pretty good players and the 12th man isn’t going to play. The 10th-best player might not be in the rotation. Hopefully they’ll be much better defensively and tougher because of that depth and the flexibility it gives Self. There’s gonna be more competition at practices.
• Senior big man Hunter Mickelson has learned to compete more. He plays hard in a manner that uplifts his teammates and creates energy more than he used to.
• They haven’t even talked about red shirting right now in terms of what first-year guard Vick will mean for the team. He could be as good a defender as they have with his athleticism.
• Diallo’s situation isn’t complicated. He has been cleared to practice. It doesn’t mean that it’s permanent. KU is still waiting for a ruling on his eligibility. Self is excited he can practice, because that means he won’t fall behind in terms of conditioning and learning.
KU is still gathering information for the Diallo case to present to the NCAA. It’s frustrating for Diallo. He has goals and dreams based on playing this season. There’s a lot of stress involved for him because of that.
— Hear the complete press conference: Bill Self discusses upcoming season, Cheick Diallo’s situation
When Kansas University junior forward Landen Lucas contemplates the quantity and quality of big men in KU’s basketball program right now, he almost can’t believe it.
The Jayhawks rarely lack in the depth department down low. Now entering his fourth season in Lawrence, Lucas (who red-shirted his first year) has played alongside or practiced with interior contributors such as Tarik Black, Joel Embiid, Kevin Young and Jeff Withey in the past. Still, the 6-foot-10 Lucas said the 2015-16 KU roster is more crowded in the front court than any he has seen.
“It’s weird to say that,” Lucas admitted earlier this summer, “because I feel like the last couple years we’ve had that kind of depth. But this year there will be an insane amount of people who have either started here, started at other schools — Hunter (Mickelson) started at Arkansas — mixed in with (high school) All-Americans.”
Indeed, KU seniors Perry Ellis (71 career starts), Jamari Traylor (19 starts) and Mickelson (25 starts in two seasons at Arkansas), like Lucas (14 starts), know what it’s like to be one of the first five on the court. Even 6-9 junior Dwight Coleby, who will sit out this season after transferring from Ole Miss, has seven career starts.
Plus, Kansas coach Bill Self and his staff brought in highly touted freshman big men Cheick Diallo (Rivals.com’s No. 5 recruit in the Class of 2015) and Carlton Bragg (ranked No. 21 by Rivals).
If the NCAA Eligibility Center clears Diallo to play, upon completing its review of his academic records from Our Savior New American High, in Centereach, New York, the Jayhawks will have six players available to use at power forward and center.
Lucas said just four big men in a rotation allows for aggressive play in the paint. He thinks the collective assertiveness of the front court should only improve with more options.
“Hopefully it will get people to go out there and play hard,” Lucas said. “If you go out there and you don’t, there’s somebody who’s ready to come in and do that.”
Each available big figures to bring something a little different to the floor.
The 6-foot-8 Ellis can score in a variety of ways.
Also 6-8, Traylor is quicker than most big men and has shown the ability to use that to his advantage.
Thus far a backup at KU, 6-10 Mickelson looked like a steady rim protector, as well as an effective scorer and passer as the Jayhawks won gold medals at the World University Games this summer.
And Lucas might be the best defensive rebounder among the veterans.
Without Bragg and Diallo making an immediate impact, though, the Jayhawks will only have a comparable version of last season’s front court. If the two rookies prove game-ready, KU could drive opposing teams mad inside.
While playing in South Korea this summer, the 6-9 Bragg showed he can run the floor, play with toughness and knock down open jumpers.
Diallo, meanwhile, might be the exact kind of player KU lacked this past season. The 6-9 big man is expected to play with manic energy on the defensive and offensive glass, protect the rim and compliment Ellis’s scoring inside.
Mickelson said transitioning from the high school ranks to high-major college basketball is different for every player, and although getting acclimated can be difficult, Bragg and Diallo shouldn’t have too much trouble. Freshmen, Mickelson added, usually can pick up drills and plays quickly enough, but KU’s veterans will be sure to remind them about other aspects of the game, such as body language or how to approach different situations.
“There’s just little tweaks and stuff like that that you can point out to help them,” Mickelson said.
In June, before playing in the World University Games, when asked what his weaknesses were, Bragg replied “everything.” The humble freshman’s point: he wanted to improve as much as possible every day. Bragg said KU’s veterans help him stay positive and let him know what to expect.
“They’re getting me ready, mentally,” the young big from Cleveland said. “Going through what they went through their freshmen, sophomore years, how coach was getting on you.”
Traylor already seems convinced Bragg will fit right in at KU, noting Self has said as much in complimenting Bragg’s feel for the game.
“But as far as natural stuff and natural athletic ability and instinct,” Traylor added, “he’s gonna be great for us.”
Because KU only has two newcomers inside, Traylor said it will be easy for the veteran Jayhawks to take Bragg and Diallo under their wings. It won’t be like the past couple seasons, when KU had first- and second-year players all over the floor — inside and out.
“We’re pretty much an old team now, so things are pretty much going quick,” Traylor said, snapping his fingers for emphasis.
You won’t see Rutgers football coach Kyle Flood on the field Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium, in Piscataway, New Jersey. As you’ve probably learned by now, the Scarlet Knights’ head coach is in the midst of serving a three-game suspension for rules violations and a string of off-the-field issues involving Rutgers players.
An investigation found that Flood emailed and met in person with a RU faculty member even though he knew — or should have known — of the university’s policies prohibiting coach-initiated contact with faculty members regarding students’ academic standing.
What’s more, Rutgers captain and standout wide receiver Leonte Carroo was suspended after facing assault charges in a domestic violence issue. On Sept. 16, Carroo pleaded not guilty to the charge in which authorities say he slammed a woman onto concrete after a football game.
As the AP reported, the Carroo incident “is the latest stain on a program that has seen six other players kicked off the team this month after being arrested on charges that include armed robbery and home-invasion burglary and rioting. One of the former players was also charged in two home-invasion robberies.”
All that disarray has led many who follow Kansas football to circle this week’s game at Rutgers (11 a.m. kickoff on Big Ten Network) as one of the few winnable dates on the schedule.
But before deciding if that’s the case, we should probably get to know the important remaining members of the Scarlet Knights, because those players will be the ones trying to extend KU’s 33-game losing streak away from Memorial Stadium.
Leading Rutgers in place of the suspended Flood is interim coach Norries Wilson. RU’s assistant head coach and running backs coach opened this unenviable stretch with a 28-3 loss at Penn State this past weekend. The Scarlet Knights never reached the end zone, in part because of meager field position: on average, RU started its first-half drives at its own 16-yard line; that average barely improved in the second half, to its own 20.
But if Kansas blows any special teams coverage, Rutgers (1-2) has just the weapon to flip the field. Here are some play-makers the Jayhawks (0-2) will have to keep in check in order to have a shot at a rare road victory.
FIVE SCARLET KNIGHTS TO WATCH
No. 1: RET/WR Janarion Grant | 5-11, 170, jr.
- Washington State had no answers for Janarion Grant on Sept. 12, when the return specialist set a new Rutgers record with 337 all-purpose yards, including a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown (above) and a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD (below). The day made him an easy choice for Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week.
Grant, who also took a kickoff return to the house in RU’s season opener versus Norfolk State, has returned a kick 70 yards or more five times in his career.
So far this season, Grant has 93 receiving yards (10 catches) and 21 rushing yards (one carry). Given KU’s defensive issues, the Jayhawks better be aware of him every time he appears in an offensive formation.
Grant had 105 receiving yards on eight receptions late last season against Maryland, and with his speed, he is a threat to burn KU’s secondary on any given snap.
No. 3: WLB Steve Longa | 6-1, 225, jr.
If Rutgers is playing, odds are linebacker Steve Longa is leading the team in tackles. In 29 career games with the Scarlet Knights, Longa has finished 20 of them with the most tackles.
Longa’s 251 career tackles give him the team lead among active players — by 107.
Averaging 8.7 tackles a game this season, Longa had made 15 tackles on passing plays.
On nine occasions at Rutgers, the linebacker has racked up 10 tackles or more. He had 14 vs. Washington State.
In his career, Longa has broken up seven passes, sacked a QB five times, recorded 12.5 tackles for loss, forced three fumbles and recovered two fumbles
On the Lombardi Award watch list.
No. 5: QB Chris Laviano | 6-3, 210, soph.
The Big Ten’s current leader in completion percentage, Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano has succeeded on 72% of his throws through three games, and has a passing efficiency mark of 148.0, which is fourth-best in his conference.
First-and-10 has been his favorite down-and-distance. Laviano is 25-for-32 on first-down pass plays, with 12 first downs and two touchdowns.
RU failed to score a touchdown in the sophomore’s first career road start, at Penn State, but he set new career highs with 27 completions, 42 attempts and 251 yards.
Laviano doesn’t appear to have a favorite target. He completed passes to 10 different teammates against both Washington State and Penn State…
… And there is an obvious reason for spreading the ball around. Three of his four touchdown passes in 2015 came to now suspended receiver Carroo in the season opener.
Laviano isn’t a huge running threat and can be sacked — good news for KU defensive ends Ben Goodman and Damani Mosby. His net average on rushing attempts (which include sacks in college) is -11.7 yards per game. PSU sacked the RU QB five times.
No. 31: FS Anthony Cioffi | 6-0, 200, jr.
KU quarterback Montell Cozart might not want to test Anthony Cioffi. The free safety already has two interceptions this season and four in his career.
Cioffi broke up a career-best three passes on Sept. 12 vs. WSU.
The free safety hasn’t had to do too much cleaning up on defense, with 11 solo tackles through three games.
In his 27-game career, Cioffi has nine pass breakups, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
In 2013, Cioffi blocked a punt for a touchdown against Central Florida.
No. 8: RB Josh Hicks | 5-10, 215, soph.
Sophomore running back Josh Hicks leads Rutgers with 16 first downs gained, and is a perfect 5-for-5 in third-down rushes in that category (average of 5.6 yards on third-down carries).
Hicks ran for 118 yards vs. Norfolk State, marking his third 100-yard game, and scored two touchdowns (his only two this season to date).
Through three games, Hicks is picking up yardage in chunks, averaging 6.3 yards per rush. His 41 carries and 258 rushing yards lead Rutgers, which also uses RBs Paul James (31-112) and Robert Martin (24-150) a great deal.
Finished off his 2014 season with 202-yard performance and MVP honors at the inaugural Quick Lane Bowl, where RU handled North Carolina, 40-21.
Denver Broncos fan favorite Chris Harris Jr., a Pro-Bowl cornerback, has been proving his doubters wrong from the minute he arrived in The Mile High City.
Undrafted after starring at Kansas for four seasons, Harris had no choice but to take on a me-against-the-world mentality, because the NFL culture didn’t accept him. The 5-foot-10, 199-pound corner wrote about that battle extensively for The Players’ Tribune on Thursday, in a piece titled: Don’t Call Me Underrated.
His account kicks off with a reminder about his KU career — Harris started for four seasons, even as a freshman on a team that would win the Orange Bowl. But all 32 NFL teams passed on the experienced corner in the 2011 draft.
Upon joining the Broncos, Harris found out breaking through as an undrafted rookie would be even harder than he expected.
“There’s a huge stigma to going undrafted,” Harris wrote at ThePlayersTribune.com. “Not a lot of people talk about it, but there is. For a guy who’s drafted, and in particular drafted high, you’re allowed to make so many more mistakes. People want you to succeed, and any shortcomings you have are viewed as temporary. An ‘adjustment phase.’
“When you’re undrafted, you just don’t have that same margin for error. You have to go above and beyond — and then above and beyond that.”
Harris goes on to explain how other team’s coaches, players and some media members hope to see undrafted players fall flat and make a mistake.
“Because if you do make one, they can think to themselves, ‘Oh. That’s why he went undrafted. Okay. We’re fine. We did our jobs.’”
Harris provides an interesting perspective on the subject — one he would know far more about than those of us watching on Sundays do. He paints the NFL as quite a cliquish environment.
Along those lines, consider another point brought up by Harris. Pro Football Focus rated him the No. 4 overall player in the NFL for 2014. The guys ahead of him? J.J. Watt, Aaron Rodgers and Justin Houston.
Later, the NFL Network released a top-100 list. Somehow Harris didn’t even make the cut.
That makes almost as much sense as the Broncos’ official online store not selling Harris T-shirts (which it doesn’t).
Appropriately, Harris closes his story by pointing out the sure-fire way to get people to remember him: “Win the Super Bowl.”
You can watch Harris — with fellow KU product Aqib Talib — in prime time tonight, when his Broncos (1-0) play at Kansas City (1-0) on Thursday Night Football (CBS and NFL Network).
With the help of a big, mobile quarterback who can command a versatile offense, Memphis football coach Justin Fuente is leading the kind of turnaround David Beaty hopes to pull off at Kansas.
Fuente took over a downtrodden Tigers program in 2012. After a 3-9 mark in 2013, Memphis went 10-3 last season, won the American Athletic Conference title for the program’s first league crown in more than 40 years and beat BYU in double overtime at the Miami Beach Bowl.
Entering Saturday night’s game at KU’s Memorial Stadium, Memphis has won its last eight games, dating back to the 2014 season — the fourth-longest win streak in FBS Football. Heading into this week, only Ohio State (14), Boise State (10) and TCU (nine) have longer win streaks. You might have heard of those programs.
Fuente’s teams are known for having creative offenses that can fool and burn defenses in a number of ways. The bad news for the Jayhawks: Memphis didn’t have to show much of anything in its season-opening, 63-7 dismantling of Missouri State.
The Tigers utilized six running backs who helped account for 317 rushing yards. Memphis’ 63 points against Missouri State ranked seventh in the nation, while the Tigers’ defense also put up some stellar numbers, nationally: rushing defense (18 yards, sixth), total defense (125 yards, fifth), turnover margin (+3, fifth)
Although Memphis put up 519 yards of total offense (35th) in its opener, KU actually fared better, with 576 yards (19th).
While Memphis and Kansas are in very different places as programs right now, Memphis has lost 19 straight games to schools which currently reside in the so-called Power 5 or BCS conferences. The Tigers’ last victory over a program from a major league came in the 2004 season opener against Ole Miss.
Fifteen of the Tigers’ 19 such losses in the past 11 seasons came against either ACC, SEC or Pac-12 opponents — six to Ole Miss and four to Tennessee. Four more came against current ACC program Louisville.
Interesting note: Memphis assistant head coach Darrell Dickey played QB for Kansas State from 1979-82
FIVE TIGERS TO WATCH
No. 12: QB Paxton Lynch | 6-7, 245, jr.
Pulled from the opener late in the first half, Memphis star quarterback Paxton Lynch completed eight of his 12 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown vs. Missouri State.
In his career, Lynch has started 26 consecutive games, completed 60.7% of his 774 throws, racked up 5,165 yards and 32 touchdowns through the air and rushed for 15 more scores.
At the Miami Beach Bowl, Lynch played a part in seven total touchdowns (four passing, three rushing) — tying an NCAA bowl game record — and was named MVP.
On watch lists for Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien National QB Award.
No. 11: RB Sam Craft | 6-0, 210, jr.
Though Jarvis Cooper led Memphis with 102 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns last week, he was one of many backups to see extensive playing time. No. 1 RB Craft still went for 72 yards on 12 carries.
Last week’s 12-touch game figures to be an anomaly this season for the junior, and Craft as recently as last season against Cincinnati tallied 38 carries in one game. He rushed for a career-high 170 yards against Cincy.
The speedy junior also serves as a kickoff returner for Memphis.
No. 39: FS Reggis Ball | 5-11, 210, sr.
The Tigers’ leading returning tackler has 95 in his career — 68 unassisted — in 38 games.
Ball is capable of doing a bit of everything on defense and will be counted on to do so as a senior defensive back. He has 3.0 tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, two pass breakups, three fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and two blocked kicks during his time at Memphis.
Returned an interception 93 yards in 2013 vs. SMU.
No. 40: TE Alan Cross | 6-1, 235, sr.
Don’t let the 0 receptions vs. Missouri State fool you. Cross earned first-team all-AAC honors in 2014 for a reason.
The tight end caught three passes for 69 yards and a TD in the Tigers’ bowl win over BYU to close 2014.
On the John Mackey Award watch list for the nation’s top tight end.
No. 46 : PK Jake Elliott | 5-10, 165, jr.
Not many college programs are fortunate enough to have a real weapon in their place kicker, but Memphis does in Jake Elliott.
In 2014, Elliott made 21 of 32 field goals. Of the 11 he missed, eight came from more than 45 yards out.
The kicker set a new school record by hitting 57 extra points, going perfect in the process.
Eight of Elliott’s 10 kickoffs went for touchbacks in the season opener.
Named the American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Year in 2014.
With the start of yet another KU football season set to kickoff tomorrow, that means it's time for the staff at KUsports.com to start dusting off the cobwebs and trying to remember what life on game days is like.
Good news there: Things are going to be new and improved this season — at least for us.
Beginning with the KU football opener against South Dakota State — 11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium — we will be unveiling our new format for live game coverage, which promises to bring our readers a much more comprehensive look at what's happening with the 'Hawks on game days.
For the most part, things will be the same as they ever were in terms of the user experience. You'll still go to KUsports.com to follow our coverage team from well before kickoff until well after the game ends. And, as was the case before, this will be your community, a user-driven environment for Jayhawk fans to come together and track the good and the bad of what's going on with their team on the field and court.
But from this point on, the environment will have a fresh, new look and we will be able to more quickly and more easily incorporate all kinds of content from around the Internet, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and various other social media sites.
In addition, we'll also be able to integrate live polls, threaded comments, automated Twitter feeds, video and photo slide shows and much, much more, all within the framework of a more functional and aesthetically pleasing home base. There will also be a Big 12 scoreboard pinned to the top of the stream so that everyone can follow the scores of all the day's games.
As always, Tom Keegan, Matt Tait and Benton Smith will be providing live coverage and analysis of what's happening in front of them and also will continue to interact with our readers throughout the games. The extra content is merely that: Bonus nuggets from others who are closely following their favorite team elsewhere.
We have been working diligently over the summer months to improve our live coverage gameday blog and make it more all-inclusive and an aggregation of more of the things going on during each game, both live from the event AND elsewhere on the web.
Some of the changes we added last year, which included placing a stream of the #kufball and #kubball Tweets and the giving you the ability to Tweet your posts from our gameday blog to Twitter, have been expanded upon this year. And one of the biggest improvements is that our live coverage will now work on your smartphone!
A great deal of the enhancements in technology are actually on the back end and make it more efficient and functional for Benton, Matt, Tom and others to be able to participate with more of their content appearing in the live stream without taking away from all the other things they have to do during the actual game.
In addition, the improvements/enhancements that we made over the summer months for all of you should allow the stream to function much more quickly and consistently no matter how many Jayhawk fans join in the fun.
We are super excited about these changes and improvements and continuing to evolve our stream of posts and comments even further as the season(s) go on, so please do not hesitate to give us your feedback and suggestions about the new set up.
See you tomorrow at the game. As always, we'll get things fired up an hour or two before kickoff.
South Dakota State football coach John Stiegelmeier has built his program into one of the most respected in the Football Championship Subdivision since moving to that level in 2004.
In 18 seasons, Stiegelmeier has gone 120-86, and the Jackrabbits really have come on of late, with three straight FCS playoff appearances and a No. 15 ranking in this year’s preseason coaches’ poll.
When SDSU lines up against Kansas on Saturday at Memorial Stadium, Stiegelmeier and company will do so knowing that a victory against the Jayhawks would put another major bullet-point on the Jackrabbits’ résumé. Since moving to Division I, SDSU is 0-7 against FBS opponents — including a loss at KU to open the 2012 season.
Beating one of the big boys would mean the world to everyone who calls himself or herself a Jackrabbit — even if KU’s program is way down right now.
In the previous two seasons, the Jackrabbits lost at Nebraska and at Missouri. But they have registered nine wins in each of the previous three years, and have 15 returning starters — six on offense and nine on defense.
SDSU went 9-5 in 2014, including a 5-3 record in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, which is stacked with ranked FCS teams. The Jackrabbits lost to eventual champ North Dakota State (the Alabama of FCS), 27-24, in the second round of the playoffs last season.
While the Jackrabbits might be picked No. 5 in the preseason Valley poll, keep in mind the four teams ahead of them — NDSU, Illinois State, Northern Iowa and Youngstown State — are all top 16 teams.
FIVE JACKRABBITS TO WATCH
No. 33: T.J. Lally | MLB - 6-0, 225, sr.
Saturday’s game will mark middle linebacker T.J. Lally’s 42nd consecutive start. That streak began in 2012 at Kansas.
A preseason All-Valley selection, Lally led SDSU with 117 tackles in 2014, including 9.5 for loss.
A captain, he set an SDSU Division-I era record with 20 tackles against powerhouse North Dakota State last season.
The fourth-year starter already has two 100-tackle seasons.
No. 16: Zach Lujan | QB - 6-2, 190, jr.
An injury forced quarterback Zach Lujan into a starting role last season, and he responded by going 5-2.
Lujan also played unexpectedly in the 2014 season opener at Missouri because of an injury, and completed 21 of his 28 pass attempts for 239 yards (one interception).
In his first year at SDSU, the QB completed 61 percent of his passes — 147-for-241 — and threw for 1,943 yards, with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Now a team captain, Lujan is not a running threat: 62 attempts, 14 yards, 0 touchdowns in 2014.
No. 19: Jake Wieneke | WR - 6-4, 205, soph.
Lujan’s No. 1 target, wide receiver Jake Wieneke exploded onto the Valley scene in 2014, earning Freshman of the Year and First-Team All-Valley honors.
The long and reliable receiver caught 73 passes for 1,404 yards and a program record-setting 16 touchdowns last season.
Wieneke caught a TD pass in all eight Valley games and had seven different outings in which he racked up at least 100 yards.
The receiver was the runner-up for the Jerry Rice Award — top FCS freshman — in 2014. Fordham running back Chase Edmonds took the honor.
No. 22: Je Ryan Butler | RET/CB - 5-11, 180, sr.
A senior corner back and return specialist, KU will have to worry about Je Ryan Butler most of the game.
The preseason All-Vally returner Butler averaged 13.2 yards on punt returns and 18.1 yards on kick returns in 2014.
Since taking over punt-return duties in mid-2013, the speedy Butler has 617 return yards (49 attempts) in that category, and is 182 away from breaking the SDSU record of 798 career punt-return yards (Paul Aanonson, 2004-07).
As a starting corner, Butler leads current SDSU players with eight career interceptions.
He broke up eight passes in 2014.
No. 54: Cole Langer | DT - 6-2, 285, jr.
A preseason All-Valley selection as a defensive tackle, Cole Langer had 49 tackles, 1.5 sacks and blocked two kicks in 2014.
Jackrabbit wins might mean more to Langer than just about anybody in the program. The Dell Rapids, South Dakota, native is a third-generation SDSU athlete. His grandfather, Jim Langer, is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was the starting center for the undefeated Miami Dolphins in 1972. His father, Tracy, was an all-conference catcher for SDSU baseball.
After spending a good chunk of his summer preparing for the World University Games, in South Korea, and then leading Kansas/Team USA to a gold medal, Wayne Selden Jr.’s basketball journeys continued with a trip to the adidas Nations event, near Los Angeles, in early August.
It was there that DraftExpress.com caught up with Selden, a junior guard at KU, for a quick interview. Though he has played two seasons in the Big 12, Selden described the competition level at adidas Nations as high, too.
“You know, it’s basically everybody that’s left in college, that’s been around for a few years, and it’s a lot of guys that just know how to play basketball,” Selden said.
According to SBNation.com, Selden played on one of the four teams there that featured college players, and he teamed up with Iowa State’s Monté Morris and Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer. At one point, they lost to a team led by Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell.
It sounds like a worthy training ground, and Selden told DraftExpress.com he plans to be a better player this coming season for Kansas.
“Last year I had times where I was timid, I would shy away — not shy away. Timid’s not even the right word,” Selden said, deciding to re-characterize his sophomore struggles. “But I wouldn’t always be locked in. That’s probably a better word. I wouldn’t always be locked in. This year I’ve got a different mindset. I’m a lot more focused and I’m working. I’m out here having fun and just playing basketball.”
Offensively, Selden’s had issues during the 2014-15 season with his shooting inside the arc. Look at these numbers from hoop-math.com:
Selden only made 35 of 69 attempts at the rim (50.7%)
Selden converted on just 28 of 89 2-point jumpers (31.5%)
Often, Selden would reach the paint — or even the rim — and fail to finish off a solid drive with a bucket. By the end of the season, the guard hit a better percentage of his 3-pointers — 46 of 124 (37.1%) — than his 2-pointers. He said he wasn’t an efficient scorer because he would get to the lane and make things more difficult than they had to be.
“But I feel like I really improved on that, just in the short time since the season ended,” Selden said. “Over in Korea and here I’ve been doing pretty well with it.”
In fact, at the World University Games Selden made 59.7% of his 2-point shots — 40 of 67 — as his offense carried the Jayhawks to an 8-0 record. He was almost unstoppable in the first seven games, making 36 of 50 (72%) of his 2-pointers, before KU played its eighth game in 10 days, everybody’s legs looked dead and he shot 4-for-17 inside the arc in a double-overtime victory over Germany in the gold-medal game.
Selden’s 3-point shooting didn’t suffer in South Korea, either. He made 18 of 48 from deep for 37.5%, just above what he shot for KU as a sophomore. But he hopes to improve upon that clip as a junior.
“I see myself shooting over 40 percent from three this year, much improved jump shot, and I’m real confident with it right now,” Selden said. “I feel like I can make every shot. Even if I miss a shot, I feel like the next one’s going in.”
If he can follow through with that goal and continue finishing inside, the Jayhawks should have no trouble getting back to at least the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2013. Plus, the junior will see his stock rise.
And Selden knows Bill Self needs the junior guard in an effective, assertive role, to compliment junior point guard Frank Mason III and senior forward Perry Ellis. The trio figure to carry the Jayhawks and trade off leading the team in scoring from game to game.
“Basically, me and Frank, we the real bulldogs,” Selden said. “We’re gonna run the squad this year. Perry’s gonna get buckets, obviously, because that’s what Perry does. But me and Frank, we’re the heart of the team. We’re gonna have to take over and run the show.”
In case you were wondering, DraftExpress.com’s mock NBA Draft for 2016 doesn’t include Selden. The website actually has him as a second-round pick — 52nd — in the 2017 draft (after what will be his senior season).
KU freshman big man Cheick Diallo is listed as the No. 15 pick in the first round for 2016, and sophomore wing Svi Mykhailiuk is two spots behind him, at No. 17. Jayhawks senior forward Perry Ellis isn’t listed in the top 60 for the 30-team, two-round draft.
We'll stick with offense to crack into the Top 5, where a newcomer who had a fantastic preseason camp sits as one of the most important players in KU's new Air Raid offense.
His name is Ke'aun Kinner (pronounced Key-On) and he's the latest back in a long line of Jayhawks hoping to keep KU's recent success running the ball rolling.
Here's a look:
5. Ke’aun Kinner, 5-foot-9, 180-pound Jr. Running Back
To look at the 5-foot-9 running back generously listed at 180 pounds is to wonder whether he could withstand the pounding as a featured back. Nothing new about that and Kinner always answers the call. In a game for Little Elm High in Texas, he carried it 55 times and gained 332 yards.
Earning National Junior College Athletic Association offensive player of the year honors last season, Kinner dashed and darted his way to 1,696 yards and 22 touchdowns on 253 carries.
Clearly, he’s more durable than he looks. If not for falling short of qualifying academically out of high school, Kinner might have been recruited by all the Texas heavyweights. Injuries have eaten into KU’s depth here, so a healthy season from Kinner would ease those concerns. He’s a very talented back.
Running backs coach Reggie Mitchell called Kinner a mixture of former Jayhawks Tony Pierson and James Sims and if that's anywhere close to accurate you can see Kinner's enormous potential.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
The Kansas football team and first-year head coach David Beaty are less than two weeks away from the start of a new season and a new era. But when one considers the long road ahead for the first-time head coach and the program in general, it’s hard to forget KU got to this point with the help of former head coach Charlie Weis.
ESPN’s Jake Trotter made that abundantly clear in a piece examining the state of KU football, referring to Weis’s two-plus seasons at KU — when the Jayhawks went 6-22 — as “utterly ruinous.”
Trotter points out KU would have been much better off hiring Gus Malzahn, then offensive coordinator at Auburn, instead of Weis.
“For Kansas, the Malzahn match made too much sense,” Trotter writes. “But in a defining decision, the Jayhawks changed course in the final moments and opted to go with the biggest name they could get.”
Malzahn, of course, went on to coach at Arkansas State for one season before returning to Auburn as head coach. The Tigers went 12-2 his first year and 8-5 in 2014. Who knows how he would have fared in Lawrence. But you get the feeling the guy could (eventually) win anywhere.
Maybe in a few years, once Beaty and his staff have time to recruit and train multiple batches of recruiting classes, he can win at Kansas, too — just like his former boss, Mark Mangino.
For the time being, the upbeat Beaty and his energy-filled assistants will have to begin a slow, steady rebuilding project this fall. A one- or two-win season seems likely to be in play at KU. As ESPN points out, since 2000, 20 major-conference teams have finished with one victory or fewer — including Weis’s 2012 Jayhawks. Trotter says Beaty has a “herculean task to keep the 2015 Jayhawks from joining that ignominious club.”
As you know by now, the lack of marquee returning starters and a deficiency in scholarship players are what make KU’s current situation so daunting.
And those are the reason’s Weis’s name will continue to come up as Beaty’s Jayhawks compete this season.
Back to the list after some significant news out of preseason camp, we find one of the biggest dudes on the team who plays one of the most important positions in the lineup at No. 7.
Here's a look.
7. Larry Mazyck, 6-foot-8, 343-pound Sr. Offensive Lineman
At his size and blessed with long arms and big hands, Mazyck (rhymes with physique) has the look of an NFL prospect. Through this past spring’s practices, Mazyck hadn’t brought the passion or attention to detail to suggest that he was terribly interested in making a career of playing football. The most passion he showed last season came when he talked about how he was “unstoppable” as a basketball player.
Dogged by false-start penalties throughout the year in 2014, the hope for Mazyck in 2015 is that this season’s simpler offense will make it easier for Mazyck to play with the discipline needed to avoid such penalties.
Mazyck has done a nice job of losing weight and was able to withstand the challenging summer workouts that included more running than he ever had been asked to do.
A native of Washington, D.C., Mazyck is in his sixth season since graduating from Friendship Academy. He spent a year at a prep school, a year at Div. I New Mexico, two years at Iowa Western Community College (one as a redshirt), and is in his second season with Kansas. If the motor doesn’t rev consistently throughout fall camp, Beaty won’t hesitate to relegate him to a reserve role by handing the job to a smaller, hungrier player, even if he can’t match Mazyck’s potential.
It’s late in the game for Mazyck to earn anything with potential. If he can bring senior urgency and begin to tap that potential, he can have a significant impact in the passing and running games.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
It wasn’t the regular season, so none of the stats count and everything that transpired will soon only register as footnote-worthy, but former Kansas linebacker Ben Heeney looked like he’ll fit in at the NFL level just fine in his preseason debut Friday night.
Heeney led Oakland with eight tackles in the Raiders’ 18-3 victory over St. Louis, and even picked up a sack by chasing Rams quarterback Case Keenum out of bounds for a short loss early in the second quarter.
“That counted as a sack?” Heeney asked a reporter in a story posted on the Raiders’ website.
“That’s what’s up. We were just in man coverage and I was manned to the (running back). The back went into the flat and Keenum kept the ball, and I just got off my man coverage and chased him out of bounds. I didn’t know it was a sack at all, so that’s what’s up.”
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio left the exhibition impressed with his fifth-round pick from KU. In a CSNBayArea.com report, Del Rio said Heeney flies around at practices the same way he did in his unofficial Oakland opener.
“He’s very, very active. His speed showed up,” Del Rio said. “I know that one time the quarterback tried to break contain and he laid him down for a sack. That was his speed. That’s one of the reasons we have him.”
Heeney told CSNBayArea.com’s Scott Bayer hustling and getting dirty is in his football DNA. He just doesn’t know any other way of playing the game.
“That’s what I’ve staked my game on,” Heeney said.
The rookie from Kansas hoped to take his stained, game-worn jersey home with him after his successful night, but the Raiders’ equipment personnel told him he couldn’t, because that was the only black, No. 51 Heeney jersey they had available at the moment.
“I definitely want to get it back once they get the next jersey made,” Heeney said. “I wish they wouldn’t wash it, but I guess it has to look good for next game.”
The defensive play-calling and in-game adjustments made his first NFL game feel a lot different than his college days, Heeney said, but he thought he handled it pretty well. Moving forward, the 6-foot linebacker from Hutchinson just wants to make sure he attacks more.
“There were a couple of plays I could have shot a gap and got a tackle for loss that I didn’t do, but I think for the most part I’m happy with my performance,” Heeney said. “I have a couple of things I need to clean up.”
Thanks to Naveed Chowdhury of Cover32.com, we can watch every defensive snap Heeney played on Friday night.
Along with his eight tackles and one sack, Heeney read one pass over the middle well enough to either disrupt the intended receiver or deflect the ball (it was hard to tell on the video whether he got a finger on it). It was just another example of how the former KU star can begin making an impact immediately for Oakland this season.
As Heeney posted on Instagram following his first preseason game in silver and black, the NFL is finally a reality for him: “No more dreaming, just living!”
Today was a mixed bag on the former Kansas University golfer front.
The day started with bad news, when Gary Woodland scratched from the PGA Championship field at 5:30 a.m. because of a neck injury, three hours before he was scheduled to tee off with Francesco Molinari of Italy and Marc Warren of Scotland. First-alternate Carl Pettersson of Sweden took Woodland’s place in the tournament being played at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
Elsewhere, former KU All-American Chris Thompson continued his hot week with a strong opening round in the Web.com tournament for which he qualified Monday.
Thompson shot a five-under par 67 in the Price Cutter Charity Championship at Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield, Mo. He finished his round by sinking a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th hole. He earned his spot in the field by firing a 64 in Monday’s qualifier.
Thompson’s consistent ball-striking today enabled him to average 291.5 yards off the tee without a drive of longer than 295 yards.
Thompson, who tees off Friday at 2:25, carded 14 pars, three birdies and an eagle. Thompson is in a 20-way tie for 16th, five strokes behind leader Chase Wright. The winner of the event with a total purse of $675,000 will earn $121,500.
Woodland’s chance to compete for the $1.8-million first-place prize and a career-changing victory died when his neck forced him to withdraw in the morning.
Heading into the week, Woodland ranked 27th on the PGA tour money list with $2,448,415, 31st in the FedEx Cup standings and 37th in the World Golf Rankings.
When Montell Cozart arrived at Kansas in 2013, the true freshman didn’t have all the answers.
Cozart had to figure out then-head coach Charlie Weis’s pro-style offense. For him, the transition was far from seamless, because the system wasn’t like the spread format he had success in at the high school level, at nearby Bishop Miege, in Kansas City, Missouri.
Cozart said Monday he doesn’t think KU’s incoming quarterbacks will have as many issues as they adapt to offensive coordinator Rob Likens’ Air Raid attack. Plus, true freshmen Carter Stanley (from Vero Beach, Florida) and Ryan Willis (also from Bishop Miege) have impressed the junior with their approaches.
“You can see those guys coming in ready to work,” Cozart said. “They both have ran similar offense to what we’re running now when they were in high school.”
KU’s new offense actually benefits every quarterback fortunate enough to play in it, according to Cozart.
“Now that we’re back to this offense,” Cozart said, “it gives all of our quarterbacks a lot of confidence, because we all can be successful in it.”
A few days into preseason camp, Kansas has eight quarterbacks on its roster:
Cozart (jr., 6-2, 193)
Keaton Perry (RS-fr., 5-10, 186)
Stanley (fr., 6-2, 188)
T.J. Millweard (jr., 6-4, 219)
Willis (fr., 6-4, 205)
injured Michael Cummings (sr., 5-10, 212)
Deondre Ford (jr., 6-1, 200)
Frank Seurer, Jr. (jr., 5-11, 190)
Cozart said there are “all sorts” of players in KU’s quarterback room, and their various skill sets are on display when the QBs go over practice video.
“We’ve got guys with cannons. We’ve got guys with good feet that can run a little bit,” he said. “This offense just helps everyone be successful and puts you in a great position.”
Both Willis, whom Cozart knows a little from their Miege connection, and Stanley, Cozart’s camp roommate, figure to be his primary competition in the race to become KU’s starter. The junior said every time he leaves a quarterbacks meeting, he comes away impressed with the true freshmen.
“When we’re watching film, you see them jotting down things, trying to get better and get to where me, T.J. and Mike are in this offense,” Cozart said. “They’re trying to catch up, and you can see those guys working great.”
For Cozart, it’s fun to have younger QBs around looking up to him. When each day of preseason camp ends, the quarterbacks throw the ball around and talk about “everything” as they all get to know each other.
“We’re always talking about football,” Cozart said. “Just little things around the nation, what’s happening in the sports world, getting to know one another.”
Sharing a room with Stanley for camp has allowed Cozart to discover a lot about him quickly. Cozart said they often watch video and bounce ideas off one another when they see certain things pop up on the screens in front of them. He said Stanley (freshmen and program newcomers can’t speak with media, per team rules) has fewer questions each day, a sign he is learning the offense and getting comfortable.
Likens wants all of the QBs making strides in those areas. Cozart said the coordinator and quarterbacks coach has harped on the importance of recognizing defensive structure at the line of scrimmage, a key component of the Air Raid offense for the signal-callers.
“You want to know the answer to the test before it even comes,” Cozart said.
At this point, it seems the junior might have more solutions this season than he did in the past, which is good news for the QB whom head coach David Beaty referenced as having the inside track on the starting gig.
Another player that figures to play an important role in KU's success on defense this season falls in our countdown at No. 13.
Because the Jayhawks are unproven and inexperienced in the secondary and at linebacker, it's going to be important for the guys up front to get after the quarterback on a regular basis.
That's where this guy comes in. Here's a look:
13. Anthony Olobia, 6-foot-5, 241-pound Jr. Defensive End
A defensive end with good size and speed from Renton, Washington, Olobia spent two seasons at Arizona Western Community College and spent his first season at Kansas as a red-shirt.
Olobia plays KU’s deepest position but is too talented to keep on the sideline. His length and quickness off the line of scrimmage give him the potential to terrorize quarterbacks. Olobia had 20 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and eight sacks during his sophomore juco season. His play drew recruiting interest from Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Utah.
KU’s defensive tackles lack size and strength, so Olobia and fellow edge pass rusher Damani Mosby can’t count on the quarterback getting flushed in their direction after the pocket collapses. That’s OK. Two talented pass-rushers coming off the edge can cause even more panic and it looks as if Kansas has two of them to complement third-year starter Ben Goodman, an all-around solid D-End.
Before sitting out last season, Olobia, the No. 2 rated juco D-End in his class, arrived with a big name and a ton of hype. After adjusting to KU and being fueled by his year off, the athletic defender said this spring he was ready to prove he was worth the hype.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
Today's entry on the list of most crucial Jayhawks for the 2015 football season has a little local flavor.
Healthy and ready for his second season in the program, former Free State High standout Joe Dineen has moved back to defense and is ready to play.
When he arrived at KU he walked the line between staying lean and playing safety or bulking up and playing linebacker. After a year doing whatever it took for the team, the guy who earned the nickname "Local Boy" from the media is back on defense and has the KU coaching staff excited about his potential.
Joe Dineen, 6-foot-2, 212-pound Soph. Linebacker
The injuries mounted at running back, including a pair of season-enders in two days, and Kansas turned to the local boy freshman to fill out the depth chart. Joe Dineen was recruited as a defensive player and even though his offensive position in high school was quarterback, he had the talent to project as a running back.
He didn’t play much as a freshman, but now that he’s on defense and has added considerable muscle to his broad frame, look for defensive coordinator Clint Bowen to get Dineen on the field. He could play anywhere from nickelback to outside linebacker, where his speed, nose for the ball and attack mentality all will come in handy.
Dineen speed enables him to drop back into coverage and his naturally aggressive personality gives him a chance to develop into a force who can make plays at and behind the line of scrimmage.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, Dineen, a sophomore, has the frame to pack on another 15, 20 pounds by the time he uses up his eligibility at Kansas. A graduate of nearby Free State High, Dineen was named Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Kansas in 2013. He wears No. 29 in honor of the late Andre Maloney, a high school foe who was a member of the same KU recruiting class.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
At No. 15 on our countdown we find the second tight end to crack the list as former Florida transfer Kent Taylor lands in the middle of the list.
Taylor sat out last season after transferring from UF and is now learning his third offense in four years. How quickly he picks that up and shows the ability to run things without having to think too much could determine how much the tall, lean and athletic tight end plays during his first year eligible with Kansas.
Here's a deeper look at Taylor:
15. Kent Taylor, 6-foot-5, 220-pound Jr. Tight End
A four-star recruit at tight end when he signed with Florida in 2012, Taylor has played in six college football games, all in 2012.
He redshirted his sophomore season at Florida and then had to sit out last season per transfer rules. He showed during the spring that he has skills as a pass-catcher, but so far two things have held him back from developing into the every-down tight end so many powerhouse schools thought he would become when they recruited him.
First, he has had difficulty putting on weight. He measures 6-foot-5 inches and weighs 220 pounds. Second, he has not shown a passion for blocking, a huge part of that position. He does not have wide-receiver speed. At this point, he’s likely to back up Ben Johnson.
He has shown the potential to make plays in the passing game and create match-up problems down the field with his size and athleticism so it's possible that even in a limited role, Taylor could make an impact when he is on the field.
Teammates say he's a funny dude who likes to clown around and is very hard on himself because he feels the urgency to make his mark and has such a strong desire to win. Despite having little experience, he did play in the Sugar Bowl following the 2012 season and that fact gives him a taste of college football that nearly everyone else on this roster can't come close to matching.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015: