Kansas Jayhawks 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 25
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 76

A new era for the Kansas Jayhawks begins in 2010. New head coach Turner Gill will take over, as will a new quarterback. Kansas started off strong in 2009, but wilted as the season went on and won only five games.

Kansas’ prolific passing attack is over, as legendary quarterback Todd Reesing is gone, as are the top receivers from last year. The new quarterback will come down to either redshirt sophomore Kale Pick or redshirt freshman Jordan Webb. Pick has better accuracy and mobility and is expected to be the starter in the fall.

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Jonathan Wilson is the leading returning receiver after catching 35 passes for 449 yards. Gill is converting two cornerbacks to wide receiver to improve the speed and depth at the position. Tight end Tim Biere should also have a more active role in the passing game in this new offense.

The offense will switch from a shotgun, spread formation to more of a run oriented system. Last year’s leading rusher Toben Opurum returns after rushing for 554 yards and nine touchdowns. The bruising back should have more opportunities in Gill’s new system.

The offensive line returns all five starters from a season ago. The unit had some problems in pass protection, giving up 32 sacks, but may be better with the increased focus on the ground game. Two members of the line, Trevor Marrongelli and Brad Thorson, were academic All-Big 12 performers so intelligence should be an issue.

The defense is led by two time All-Big 12 honorable mention Jake Laptad. The senior defensive end led the team in sacks last season with 6.5 and is the leader of the line. On the opposite side, Quinton Woods had a quiet junior season after transferring from junior college. He needs to be better in his senior year.

Drew Dudley leads a pretty good group of linebackers. He had 88 tackles, and will be joined by Huldon Tharp and either Justin Springer or Steven Johnson. The secondary is extremely deep, one of the reasons why Gill moved two corners to receiver. Senior Chris Harris proved he is a solid tackler after recording 84 stops in 2009. Safety Lubbock Smith is a hard hitter, but the unit must get better at taking the ball away. The team had only seven interceptions all of last year.

Even with a relatively easy schedule, Kansas is going through too much of a transition to be good right away. This team has some good young talent, especially on offense, but it is not ready to win now.

Kansas’ odds to win the Big 12: + 4000

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