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Kansas football won't win many games, but it'll get exercise and fresh air

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Team sports are great ways to make friendships, which is a positive thing we can say about the state of the Jayhawks.

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

1. Not all recruiting is the same

For the last 20 years, David Beaty has based in three areas: the greater Dallas area, the greater Houston area, and Lawrence, Kansas.

Beaty was a high school assistant near Dallas for seven years, then became head coach at North Dallas and Irving MacArthur. He joined Todd Graham's Rice in 2006, then became Mark Mangino's receivers coach at Kansas in 2008. He moved back to Rice to become coordinator in 2010, then to Lawrence. He landed on Kevin Sumlin's staff at Texas A&M*. And now, he's back in Lawrence.

* Yes, for a literary touch, I'm saying College Station, 90-something miles from Houston, is part of the "greater Houston area." Just go with it.

Beaty's short record as a coordinator was intriguing. Rice improved from 107th in Off. S&P+ in 2009 to 56th in 2010, and after falling apart in 2010, KU's offense improved from 117th in Off. S&P+ to 46th in 2011.

Still, see if you can spot a trend:

'David Beaty is well-respected in the football community and brings to KU great vision, passion and energy,' Kansas Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger said. 'He has a bright football mind and is known as one of the best recruiters in the nation.'

Known as an ace recruiter, Beaty oversaw the Aggies' recruiting efforts in the talent-rich Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, where he has roots as a high school coach.

Meanwhile, Beaty helped to coach record-setting offenses at Texas A&M while burnishing his reputation as one of the nation's best recruiters. The Aggies have had produced some of the best classes in the nation while he has been on the staff in College Station.

The 44-year-old Beaty, a former assistant at KU under Mark Mangino when the Jayhawks had a lot of success and offensive coordinator at Rice in 2010, is regarded as one of the nation's top recruiters and had landed a bunch of blue-chippers from his native Texas.

'David is a great recruiter, a great coach and a great man,' Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said.

Recruiting is as important as anything in college football. Almost no coach is adept enough to overcome a lack of talent. That Beaty is known as an excellent recruiter is one for the pro column.

That it's the first thing anybody mentions about him throws up a red flag.

Being a good recruiter can mean many things. When you're at Texas A&M, you've got a charismatic head coach and a Heisman winner in uniform, and you're based in the state of Texas, it means helping to lock down a series of top-15 classes.

When you're at Kansas, great recruiting is going to be building long-term relationships with high school coaches and families, projecting for your system, and maybe landing a couple more four-star recruits per year than your school is used to. You are never going to build a blue-chip pipeline, but good recruiting can lead to depth and an increase in star power.

Beaty has roots all over the Dallas area, and while that won't help him draw five-stars to eastern Kansas, it could give him a leg up when it comes to high-three-star talent. He might have been great at Texas A&M, but he has to be great in a completely different way now.

Former KU tight end Jimmay Mundine committed to Mark Mangino in July 2009 and was either redshirting or playing during the entire Turner Gill and Charlie Weis eras. The two lasted a combined five years, one recruit's cycle. They won a combined 12 games, one more than Texas A&M won in 2012. Recruiting is only going to matter so much if you can't get get the team playing well enough to keep your job.

Of course, even the best of coaching performances probably won't be enough to win many games with KU's 2015 roster. So we'll start judging in 2016.

2014 Schedule & Results

Record: 3-9 | Adj. Record: 5-7 | Final F/+ Rk: 99
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Adj. Scoring
Margin
Win
Expectancy
6-Sep SE Missouri State N/A 34-28 W 53% 1.8 94%
13-Sep at Duke 51 3-41 L 5% -38.0 0%
20-Sep Central Michigan 85 24-10 W 92% 33.2 98%
27-Sep Texas 53 0-23 L 16% -23.2 0%
4-Oct at West Virginia 40 14-33 L 19% -20.3 1%
11-Oct Oklahoma State 75 20-27 L 55% 2.9 50%
18-Oct at Texas Tech 82 21-34 L 37% -7.5 25%
1-Nov at Baylor 10 14-60 L 23% -17.0 0%
8-Nov Iowa State 92 34-14 W 68% 11.2 93%
15-Nov TCU 6 30-34 L 80% 19.9 39%
22-Nov at Oklahoma 19 7-44 L 4% -41.8 0%
29-Nov at Kansas State 26 13-51 L 8% -33.3 0%

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 21.8 104 28.8 69
Points Per Game 17.8 118 33.3 106

2. Bowen had it going for a little while

To date, Beaty's best success at KU hasn't come in landing an 18-year-old's signature -- it happened when he hired his defensive coordinator. Clint Bowen was getting somewhere as KU's coordinator under Weis, and when Weis was dumped after four games last year, Bowen took over as interim head coach and produced good moments.

The bottom dropped out, as is often the case in such an arrangement, but Bowen did enough to earn a serious look at the permanent head coaching job. That he didn't get it but stayed anyway was a mini-coup.

  • Average Percentile Performance (first 4 games): 42% (~top 75 | record: 2-2)
  • Average Percentile Performance (next 6 games): 47% (~top 70 | record: 1-5)
  • Average Percentile Performance (last 2 games): 6% (~top 120 | record: 0-2)

Weis' four-game average was propped up by a solid game against CMU, but his Jayhawks thought about losing to Southeast Missouri State and were dreadful against Duke and Texas. They lost by a combined 64-3 in those games and averaged 3.9 yards per play, and 28 games after his surprising hire, Weis was let go.

After Bowen took over, the results were still hit-or-miss, but there were hits. KU outgained Oklahoma State by more than 100 yards in a tossup loss, whipped Iowa State, and bolted out to a somewhat fluky lead over TCU. There were duds against West Virginia and Baylor, and the last two games were hopeless (and perhaps killed any Bowen-for-head coach momentum), but KU showed glimpses of cohesiveness and talent.

That would be reason for optimism if most of said talent was still on the roster.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.82 86 IsoPPP+ 83.8 107
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 35.3% 120 Succ. Rt. + 86.7 115
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 32.2 110 Def. FP+ 95.0 117
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 3.5 113 Redzone S&P+ 78.9 126
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 23.0 ACTUAL 18 -5.0
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 118 112 116 107
RUSHING 112 118 117 114
PASSING 86 96 103 86
Standard Downs 116 118 108
Passing Downs 103 106 93
Q1 Rk 87 1st Down Rk 121
Q2 Rk 126 2nd Down Rk 122
Q3 Rk 91 3rd Down Rk 107
Q4 Rk 127

3. From thin to wow

For all of his perceived offensive prowess, Weis just never figured out how to move the ball at the college level. His NFL results were achieved in an environment of parity. With talent disadvantages at KU, it was more like parody. With Beaty on staff, KU ranked 46th in Off. S&P+ in 2011; in three years under Weis, the Jayhawks ranked 70th, 119th, and 104th, respectively.

And now they must replace nearly every skill contributor, four linemen with starting experience, and perhaps their quarterback.

Two of KU's top three runners are gone, as are all six players who were targeted at least 10 times. The leading returning receiver, tight end Ben Johnson, has eight career catches. None of the returnees could crack a pretty bad rotation last year. And the status of starting quarterback Michael Cummings after a scary knee injury in the spring game is not optimistic.

Yikes. Beaty and coordinator Rob Likens (most recently Sonny Dykes' passing game coordinator at Cal) will be attempting to build a spread-'em-out system with a bunch of newcomers. To say the least, that's probably not going to work in the short-term.

Beaty's addition of Likens was possibly a nice touch. Acknowledging your limitations as a new head coach is important, and Beaty is combating his lack of high-level coaching experience by bringing in some experienced coordinators. Bowen has been in various roles on the KU coaching staff for 16 years, and Likens' career has spanned nearly 25 years.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2015 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Michael Cummings 5'10, 212 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8454 137 244 1715 9 6 56.1% 18 6.9% 6.1
Montell Cozart 6'2, 193 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8164 64 128 701 5 7 50.0% 11 7.9% 4.4
T.J. Millweard 6'3, 219 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8832 2 3 14 0 0 66.7% 0 0.0% 4.7
Ryan Willis 6'4, 205 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8578
Carter Stanley 6'2, 188 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8059

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Corey Avery RB
151 631 5 4.2 3.9 29.1% 2 1
Taylor Cox (2012) RB 5'11, 206 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8133 91 464 3 5.1 3.7 N/A N/A N/A
De'Andre Mann RB 5'9, 205 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8256 86 399 0 4.6 3.1 40.7% 1 0
Tony Pierson RB
72 323 2 4.5 8.8 27.8% 1 0
Michael Cummings QB 5'10, 212 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8454 49 137 4 2.8 4.4 24.5% 8 1
Montell Cozart QB 6'2, 193 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8164 41 148 0 3.6 4.6 36.6% 3 0
Joe Dineen, Jr. LB
14 45 0 3.2 1.0 35.7% 0 0
Darious Crawley WR 5'11, 189 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8188 12 29 0 2.4 1.3 25.0% 1 1
Ke'aun Kinner RB 5'9, 180 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8553
Taylor Martin RB 5'10, 180 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8236







Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Nick Harwell WR
78 44 470 56.4% 22.4% 51.3% 6.0 -76 6.2 58.4
Nigel King WR
71 30 537 42.3% 20.4% 49.3% 7.6 138 7.8 66.7
Jimmay Mundine TE
61 45 584 73.8% 17.5% 57.4% 9.6 53 9.6 72.5
Justin McCay WR
36 18 189 50.0% 10.3% 44.4% 5.3 -40 4.8 23.5
Tony Pierson RB
33 22 203 66.7% 9.5% 57.6% 6.2 -61 6.2 25.2
Corey Avery RB
27 18 217 66.7% 7.8% 37.0% 8.0 1 6.6 27.0
De'Andre Mann RB 5'9, 205 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8256 11 8 56 72.7% 3.2% 36.4% 5.1 -39 6.6 7.0
Ben Johnson TE 6'5, 234 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8257 10 8 80 80.0% 2.9% 60.0% 8.0 -13 7.8 9.9
Rodriguez Coleman WR
10 3 37 30.0% 2.9% 60.0% 3.7 -7 3.6 4.6
Tre' Parmalee WR 5'10, 171 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8125 4 4 21 100.0% 1.1% 50.0% 5.3 -24 5.5 2.6
Darious Crawley WR 5'11, 189 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8188 2 1 7 50.0% 0.6% 100.0% 3.5 -6 N/A 0.9
Shakiem Barbel WR 6'3, 192 Sr. NR NR
Derrick Neal WR 5'10, 170 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8472
Bobby Hartzog, Jr. WR 5'11, 189 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8241
Tyler Patrick WR 6'0, 179 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7954
Chase Harrell WR 6'4, 200 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8073
Emmanuel Moore WR 6'0, 200 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8226
Jace Sternberger TE 6'4, 225 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8112

4. Playing time available

Technically, KU does return experience at quarterback whether Cummings rehabs quickly or not. And a new coaching staff offers new hope.

Perhaps junior quarterback Montell Cozart thrives in a new system. In moving to an air raid-style offense in 2014, TCU's Trevone Boykin went from inefficient to explosive. If you squint pretty hard, you can see something Boykin-esque in Cozart's stats to date. He was a semi-efficient runner in 2013, and he improved his completion rate from horrific (37 percent) in 2013 to merely bad (50 percent).

But even if Cozart improves, he needs help. And that help will almost certainly come from players who weren't on the field for KU last year. Thanks to the dismissal of sophomore Corey Avery, JUCO transfer Ke'aun Kinner has a clear path to the starting running back job. He'll get competition from efficient (and in no way explosive) senior De'Andre Mann and perhaps oft-injured senior Taylor Cox, but by simply signing with KU, Kinner became the new favorite for the job.

Beaty didn't sign any quick-fix wideouts. Returnees combined for just five catches last year (four from senior Tre' Parmalee, one from sophomore Darious Crawley), and while sophomore Derrick Neal was reasonably well-regarded as a recruit, he's just about the only one. Parmalee, Neal, and two-star redshirt freshman Tyler Patrick finished the spring atop the depth chart.

Don't expect much explosiveness. And without big plays, you need consistent execution. If Kinner's a stud, maybe the Jayhawks can avoid putting too much pressure on whoever ends up behind center. But that's a lot of pressure to put on a newcomer.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 81 2.3 2.84 31.5% 51.3% 22.3% 76.1 7.9% 7.0%
Rank 121 124 103 122 125 107 112 115 60
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Career Starts Honors/Notes
Ngalu Fusimalohi LG 21
Pat Lewandowski LT
20
Mike Smithburg LG
19
Larry Mazyck LT 6'8, 343 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8294 9
Joe Gibson C 6'3, 293 So. NR NR 7
Damon Martin RT
7
Keyon Haughton C 6'2, 290 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8204 5
Junior Visinia RG 6'4, 375 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7894 3
Jordan Shelley-Smith LT 6'5, 296 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) NR 1
Bryan Peters LG 6'3, 298 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8578 1
Devon Williams OL 6'4, 304 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7901 0
Kyle Pullia LG 6'4, 273 Jr. NR NR 0
Joe Bloomfield RT 6'6, 268 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8366 0
Jacob Bragg OL 6'4, 284 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8544
D'Andre Banks RG 6'3, 309 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7583
Will Smith OL 6'3, 327 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8033
Jayson Rhodes RT 6'4, 300 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7956
Aaron Garza OL 6'3, 290 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8485
Clyde McCauley III OL 6'5, 275 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8035

5. Options, at least

Despite decent recruiting rankings (relatively speaking), the KU offensive line had very little to offer against Big 12 defenses. Granted, blocking for iffy quarterbacks and young running backs will hurt a line's stats, but aside from the passing downs sack rate (which ranked a decent 60th), KU's line stats were beyond awful. The Jayhawks barely converted 50 percent of short-yardage attempts, and nearly one-quarter of their rushes were stopped in the backfield.

With this in mind, the loss of three multi-year starters might not be the most painful thing in the world. Enormous left tackle Larry Mazyck is back, as are five players who have started at least once, but there is playing time available if any of three JUCO transfer plays well from the start, or if a youngster like redshirt freshman Jacob Bragg or sophomore Joe Bloomfield progresses. And the bar is very low here.

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Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.93 109 IsoPPP+ 98.5 71
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 40.9% 62 Succ. Rt. + 109.8 31
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 28.6 102 Off. FP+ 101.0 51
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.3 54 Redzone S&P+ 124.8 8
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 23.0 ACTUAL 21.0 -2.0
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 109 54 35 71
RUSHING 106 74 41 94
PASSING 89 47 32 60
Standard Downs 36 26 46
Passing Downs 98 60 107
Q1 Rk 80 1st Down Rk 96
Q2 Rk 37 2nd Down Rk 100
Q3 Rk 111 3rd Down Rk 66
Q4 Rk 23

6. The defense deserved better (again)

I don't want to overstate the quality of the KU defense. The Jayhawks gave up too many big plays on the ground and on passing downs, they started halves very slowly, and they had some outright duds -- Duke averaged 7.3 yards per play, and a hit-or-miss Oklahoma offense averaged 8.1. Thanks to a late-season fade, KU ended up ranking only 69th in Def. S&P+, 11 spots below where they were in 2013.

But it was good enough to make the Jayhawks competitive at times, and ...

... actually, wait, I said the same thing last year.

Make no mistake: Kansas' defense wasn't great in 2013. The unit crafted by Bowen and Dave Campo had no standout strengths, and the line was an outright liability. Still, with a decent offense, the defense would have been good enough to keep the Jayhawks in more games.

Relative bright spots are relative bright spots. With shaky talent (from a recruiting perspective), Bowen has helped KU to mediocre defensive ratings for two straight years, and with more help from awful offenses, the D could have been bowl-worthy.

This formula probably won't change. Beaty and his offensive assistants are reasonably well-regarded, but they might not have anything to work with this year. So it will be up to the defense to keep the Jayhawks in games.

Only ... the defense is also rebuilding. The top two tackles, four of the top five linebackers, top two safeties, and top two cornerbacks are all gone. Again, yikes.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 101 2.93 3.92 39.8% 75.7% 17.1% 96 4.0% 6.7%
Rank 57 66 121 80 111 100 74 83 80
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Keon Stowers DT
11 20.5 3.0% 0.5 0.0 0 1 0 0
Tedarian Johnson DT
12 19.0 2.8% 3.5 1.0 0 0 1 0
Ben Goodman DE 6'3, 253 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8394 12 17.5 2.6% 2.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
T.J. Semke DE 6'2, 248 Sr. NR NR 12 15.0 2.2% 2.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Andrew Bolton DT 6'3, 293 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8538 11 13.5 2.0% 3.5 1.5 0 0 0 0
Tyler Holmes DT 6'3, 273 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8407 12 7.0 1.0% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Kapil Fletcher DT 6'3, 271 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8301 7 4.0 0.6% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Damani Mosby DE 6'3, 239 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8175
Anthony Olobia DE 6'5, 239 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8609
Kellen Ash DE 6'3, 242 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8277
D.J. Williams DT 6'5, 289 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8560
Daniel Wise DT 6'3, 271 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8417
Jacky Dezir DT 6'1, 286 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7945
Dorance Armstrong DE 6'4, 225 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8454








Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Ben Heeney MLB
12 107.5 15.8% 12.0 1.5 1 1 2 0
Jake Love WLB
11 46.0 6.7% 9.5 3.0 0 1 1 0
Michael Reynolds BUCK
12 40.0 5.9% 14.5 7.0 0 0 5 0
Courtney Arnick WLB 6'2, 207 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8041 12 39.5 5.8% 4.0 1.0 0 2 0 0
Victor Simmons BUCK
12 25.5 3.7% 6.5 2.0 0 2 2 0
Schyler Miles (2013) MLB 6'2, 221 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8731 10 12.0 1.7% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Kyron Watson MLB 6'0, 235 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8817 11 3.5 0.5% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Joe Dineen, Jr. LB 6'2, 212 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8147
Josh Ehambe LB 6'3, 236 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8060








7. One of the league's best LB corps is no more

Some new blood ended up being a good thing for KU's defensive front. Players like Tedarian Johnson, Andrew Bolton, and T.J. Semke helped to give the Jayhawks some depth they didn't have up front and allowed an excellent set of linebackers to pursue better. KU still didn't have much of a presence in the backfield, but they were able to hem in most rushes near the line of scrimmage. If a runner got to the second level, he was probably running a long way, but play-making from the linebacker position was a strength.

And now four of last year's five linebackers are gone. Junior Courtney Arnick is back, Schyler Miles is back from injury, and Kyron Watson was the gem of the 2014 recruiting class. But the other four took 42.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, and 10 forced fumbles with them. That's a high standard that this new unit will struggle to meet.

That said, despite the loss of Johnson and Keon Stowers, the line is deep enough that it could hold up to blocking and free these new guys up.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Isaiah Johnson S
12 63.5 9.3% 0.5 0 1 2 1 0
Cassius Sendish S
12 63.0 9.2% 1.5 0 1 3 0 1
Fish Smithson S 5'11, 193 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8411 12 42.5 6.2% 2 0 0 1 0 0
Dexter McDonald CB
12 31.5 4.6% 0 0 2 13 1 0
Tevin Shaw NB 5'11, 194 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7900 12 30.0 4.4% 2.5 0 0 1 1 1
JaCorey Shepherd CB
12 26.5 3.9% 0 0 3 15 0 0
Greg Allen S 5'11, 212 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8191 12 15.0 2.2% 2 1 0 1 0 0
Matthew Boateng CB 5'11, 176 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8114 7 8.0 1.2% 0 0 1 5 1 0
Ronnie Davis CB 6'0, 192 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8069 10 3.5 0.5% 0 0 0 1 0 0
Colin Spencer CB 5'10, 179 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7994 10 2.0 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Aaron Plump S 5'10, 213 Sr. NR NR
Bazie Bates IV S 6'1, 186 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8332
Brandon Stewart CB 6'0, 171 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7883
Marnez Ogletree DB 5'10, 190 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8115
Tyrone Miller Jr. DB 6'0, 180 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8348
Shaquille Richmond DB 6'0, 180 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8181








8. A good secondary in 2016

The KU defense was nicely aggressive, giving up big plays but forcing plenty of turnovers and three-and-outs. The linebackers were probably the biggest strength, but saying that might be doing a disservice to corners Dexter McDonald and JaCorey Shepherd, who combined for five picks and a whopping 28 breakups.

Like the linebackers, the new starting corners -- likely some combination of senior Ronnie Davis, sophomore Matthew Boateng, and JUCO transfers Brandon Stewart and Marnez Ogletree -- have a high bar to clear.

The good news is that Davis is possibly the only senior who will end up in the rotation. This unit appears athletic enough that, when the experience reaches a certain level, it could do good things. There might be a setback this year, but 2016 should be kinder to the KU secondary.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Trevor Pardula 83 44.3 10 18 24 50.6%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Trevor Pardula 41 56.7 13 1 31.7%
Eric Kahn 6'5, 204 Sr. 6 40.0 0 0 0.0%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Matthew Wyman 6'1, 218 Jr. 25-27 8-10 80.0% 1-5 20.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Returns Avg. TD
JaCorey Shepherd KR 37 20.9 0
Darious Crawley KR 5'11, 189 So. 2 17.5 0
Nick Harwell PR 8 19.4 1
Derrick Neal PR 5'10, 170 So. 4 2.5 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 121
Field Goal Efficiency 91
Punt Return Efficiency 63
Kick Return Efficiency 117
Punt Efficiency 52
Kickoff Efficiency 128
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 113

9. The best aspects of a bad unit are gone

Trevor Pardula was an awesome punter, and Nick Harwell was an awesome punt returner. They're gone, leaving behind unknown return men, a shaky place-kicker (Matthew Wyman), and maybe the worst coverage unit in the country.

KU ranked 52nd in punt efficiency despite Pardula's 44-yard average (and high rate of fair catches and punts inside the 20) and dead last in kickoff efficiency. And when you suffer losses in the receiving corps and defensive backfield, that's not going to help your coverage units.

One more time: yikes.

2015 Schedule & Projection Factors

2015 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. S&P+ Rk
5-Sep South Dakota State NR
12-Sep Memphis 68
26-Sep at Rutgers 79
3-Oct at Iowa State 86
10-Oct Baylor 14
17-Oct Texas Tech 53
24-Oct at Oklahoma State 43
31-Oct Oklahoma 10
7-Nov at Texas 36
14-Nov at TCU 18
21-Nov West Virginia 40
28-Nov Kansas State 33
Five-Year F/+ Rk -29.9% (117)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 69 / 67
2014 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin* 3 / 0.0
2014 TO Luck/Game +1.2
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 6 (3, 3)
2014 Second-order wins (difference) 4.0 (-1.0)

10. There is no short road back from here

The KU defense seems to be in good hands with Bowen, and the offense will get a fresh start. Beaty isn't going to be signing top-15 classes at KU, but if he can at least raise the Jayhawks' recruiting to a consistent top-40 level, that would give them a higher level of talent than they're used to.

But my goodness, there's just no way to look at the roster Beaty inherits and make anything of 2015. The quarterback position went from mediocre to bad with Cummings' injury, there's almost no skill position experience, a bad offensive line gets younger, and the defense that carried so much weight starts over.

The best-case scenario is that KU improves into the 80s overall and looks better in November than it does in September. With that, you could say optimistic things about 2016. But there are virtually no proven playmakers, attrition has wiped out depth, and most of the winnable games on the slate come early.

Maybe the Jayhawks are able to ride an element of surprise to upset wins over Memphis or Rutgers or a road win over Iowa State. And hey, maybe a couple of early wins builds a higher-than-expected level of confidence. Anything's possible. But Beaty's first season as head man in Lawrence is probably going to be pretty similar to those of the last half-decade.

The question is whether it can provide some hope along the way.