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Kansas will probably win at least one football game in 2016!

I think KU has finally found rock bottom. Now for the climb back up. This is Bill C's daily preview series, working its way through every 2016 team. Stay tuned!

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Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.

1. A new low

My goodness, there's just no way to look at the roster and make anything of 2015. The quarterback position went from mediocre to bad with injury, there's almost no skill experience, a bad offensive line gets younger, and the defense that carried so much weight starts over. There are virtually no proven playmakers, attrition has wiped out depth, and most of the winnable games come early.

David Beaty's first season is probably going to be similar to those of the last half-decade. The question is whether it can provide some hope.

-- 2015 Kansas preview

You knew 0-12 was on the table. The schedule was uncooperative, with three of the four worst FBS opponents hosting Kansas. The annual FCS opponent was a good one: South Dakota State finished 8-4 and 89th in the Sagarin rankings, ahead of quite a few bowl teams. And most of the weaker opponents showed up early, when Beaty's first squad hadn't had a chance to figure out many answers.

When the Jayhawks came up just short in a mad comeback against South Dakota State, it went from "on the table" to "likely." They lost to Memphis and Rutgers by a combined 82-37. They put up solid fights in losses to Texas Tech and a Trevone Boykin-less TCU, and they lost their other seven conference games by an average of 54-10.

Kansas finished winless and 127th out of 128 FBS teams in the S&P+ rankings. The Jayhawks kept falling, well short of projections, causing them to fall more. According to Sagarin, they would have ranked 41st in FCS, virtual proof of concept for promotion and relegation.

The question now is, will they ever be better? "Ever" is a long time, and Bill Snyder at Kansas State has forever proven any program can bounce back from any depths. But the depths KU has established over the last six years, and the new low the Jayhawks found last fall, have brought the program close to KSU-in-the-1980s territory. There is no quick road back.

You have to win one game, then another, then another. And the good news is that KU will almost certainly win at least one game in 2016. A season opener against Rhode Island, 1-10 at the FCS level last year, should make sure of that.

With no college head coaching experience, Beaty inherited a roster with almost no Big 12 talent. He shuffled his coaching staff and has brought in a few transfers to help replenish the two-deep, but there's only so much you're going to be able to do in one recruiting class.

2015 Schedule & Results

Record: 0-12 | Adj. Record: 1-11 | Final F/+ Rk: 127 | Final S&P+ Rk: 127
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Win
Expectancy
vs. S&P+ Performance
vs. Vegas
5-Sep South Dakota State N/A 38-41 L 20% 10% -5.1
12-Sep Memphis 41 23-55 L 12% 0% -19.9 -18.5
26-Sep at Rutgers 101 14-27 L 11% 1% -0.3 0.0
3-Oct at Iowa State 79 13-38 L 4% 0% +2.7 -9.0
10-Oct Baylor 14 7-66 L 8% 0% -25.4 -14.5
17-Oct Texas Tech 60 20-30 L 47% 29% +16.6 +21.0
24-Oct at Oklahoma State 40 10-58 L 5% 0% -13.8 -14.5
31-Oct Oklahoma 4 7-62 L 7% 0% -16.6 -15.0
7-Nov at Texas 68 20-59 L 8% 0% -17.8 -10.5
14-Nov at TCU 19 17-23 L 60% 28% +34.6 +39.0
21-Nov West Virginia 31 0-49 L 2% 0% -19.8 -21.0
28-Nov Kansas State 81 14-45 L 5% 0% -14.8 -11.0

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 18.4 116 40.9 123
Points Per Game 15.3 123 46.1 128

2. The wrong kind of consistent

If you're hunting for positive signs, there was evidence of resiliency.

  • Against South Dakota State in the opener, the Jayhawks crumbled and found themselves down 31-7 just three minutes into the second quarter, but finished on a 31-10 run before fumbling away a shot at overtime.
  • Against Texas Tech, they trailed 20-0 at halftime before going on a 20-3 run; they got the ball back with five minutes left with a chance to take the lead but threw a pick six.
  • Against TCU, they fell behind 10-0 in the opening 10 minutes, then tied it at 10-10 at halftime. TCU jumped back ahead 23-10, but KU cut the lead to six, then got the ball back with three minutes left. (Once again, they threw a pick.)

Falling behind by double digits in the first quarter is suboptimal. But when you grade out as the second-worst team in FBS, you have to look for encouragement. In theory, if better talent and experience lead to early-game competitiveness, KU might have some fight later in games.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.14 118 IsoPPP+ 73.3 124
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 35.6% 115 Succ. Rt. + 82.5 120
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 32.9 118 Def. FP+ 32.2 112
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 3.5 119 Redzone S&P+ 83.6 120
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 27.2 ACTUAL 25 -2.2
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ (PBP)
Rk
Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 115 121 120 124
RUSHING 121 123 124 116
PASSING 69 121 104 124
Standard Downs 123 119 123
Passing Downs 122 114 124
Q1 Rk 127 1st Down Rk 123
Q2 Rk 121 2nd Down Rk 128
Q3 Rk 113 3rd Down Rk 124
Q4 Rk 121

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Ryan Willis 6'4, 211 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8578 164 315 1719 9 10 52.1% 30 8.7% 4.4
Montell Cozart 6'2, 193 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8164 66 105 752 2 1 62.9% 7 6.3% 6.2
Deondre Ford 6'1, 200 Jr. NR NR 11 23 132 0 1 47.8% 2 8.0% 4.8
Keaton Perry 5'10, 194 So. NR NR 2 6 20 1 1 33.3% 0 0.0% 3.3
Carter Stanley 6'2, 196 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8059








Tyriek Starks 6'2, 188 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8265








3. Kansas might have found its QB

When presumptive starter Michael Cummings got injured by a teammate during spring practice and was lost for the season, it opened up the floodgates. If you had a right arm, you probably got a chance behind center.

In all, five quarterbacks threw at least one pass, and three saw some semblance of sustained action. Montell Cozart, an on-and-off starter for parts of three years, saw the lion's share in the first four games, and Deondre Ford filled in during parts of games 2 and 3. But beginning with the Baylor game, the job belonged to true freshman Ryan Willis.

When a team is desperate, and a freshman quarterback throws a single good pass, the TV announcers dive into "the future is bright!" cliches. I'm not going to do that. Willis threw at least 16 passes in nine games and produced a passer rating above 120 just one time (and that was against Texas Tech, which barely counts). His passer rating for the season was 101, and if you take out the Tech game, it falls to 94.6.

Still, Willis came from nearby Overland Park with a solid pedigree, and he looks the part. In the offense that Beaty and offensive coordinator Rob Likens are trying to create, having a guy who can stand tall, read defenses, and fire quick passes from sideline to sideline is the name of the game. The Jayhawks might have that in Willis.

He was saddled with a dreadful receiving corps, an iffy line, and no running game. Of course he was going to struggle. Give him some help, and he could do well.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Ke'aun Kinner RB 5'9, 191 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8553 134 566 5 4.2 4.9 31.3% 2 0
Taylor Cox RB 79 231 2 2.9 2.7 19.0% 2 1
De'Andre Mann RB 78 387 1 5.0 6.4 30.8% 4 1
Montell Cozart QB 6'2, 193 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8164 38 167 1 4.4 3.3 42.1% 2 1
Ryan Willis QB 6'4, 211 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8578 29 131 0 4.5 5.3 37.9% 5 3
Ryan Schadler RB 5'11, 191 So. NR NR 20 100 0 5.0 6.0 30.0% 0 0
Taylor Martin RB 5'10, 200 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8236 16 42 0 2.6 2.1 12.5% 1 0
Tre' Parmalee WR 4 22 1 5.5 11.9 25.0% 2 2

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
Yds/
Target
%SD Success
Rate
IsoPPP
Tre' Parmalee WR 66 41 599 62.1% 15.2% 9.1 63.6% 57.6% 1.33
Steven Sims, Jr. WR 5'10, 176 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7976 59 30 349 50.8% 13.6% 5.9 47.5% 33.9% 1.58
Jeremiah Booker WR 6'2, 202 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7906 48 23 228 47.9% 11.1% 4.8 58.3% 41.7% 1.00
Tyler Patrick WR 6'0, 177 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7954 46 30 255 65.2% 10.6% 5.5 56.5% 45.7% 1.13
Shakiem Barbel WR 6'3, 203 Sr. NR NR 31 15 130 48.4% 7.2% 4.2 64.5% 32.3% 1.15
Kent Taylor TE



30 15 179 50.0% 6.9% 6.0 53.3% 40.0% 1.24
Darious Crawley WR 5'11, 191 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8188 29 18 244 62.1% 6.7% 8.4 62.1% 44.8% 1.57
Ke'aun Kinner RB 5'9, 191 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8553 25 17 175 68.0% 5.8% 7.0 52.0% 44.0% 1.34
Bobby Hartzog, Jr. WR 5'11, 195 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8241 24 10 139 41.7% 5.5% 5.8 33.3% 37.5% 1.56
Ben Johnson TE 6'5, 245 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8257 19 13 115 68.4% 4.4% 6.1 47.4% 26.3% 1.88
De'Andre Mann RB 17 11 90 64.7% 3.9% 5.3 64.7% 35.3% 1.35
Derrick Neal CB
12 7 52 58.3% 2.8% 4.3 50.0% 25.0% 1.40
Taylor Cox RB 10 8 48 80.0% 2.3% 4.8 40.0% 20.0% 1.92
Emmanuel Moore WR 6'0, 190 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8226 4 3 13 75.0% 0.9% 3.3 75.0% 50.0% 0.48
Austin Moses WR 6'1, 192 Sr. NR NR 3 1 11 33.3% 0.7% 3.7 100.0% 33.3% 0.84
LaQuvionte Gonzalez
(Texas A&M)
WR 5'10, 176 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9295
Jace Sternberger TE 6'4, 236 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8112
Chase Harrell WR 6'4, 213 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8073
Evan Fairs WR 6'3, 182 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8167

4. Experience in the right places

As tends to happen after awful seasons, Beaty had turnover on the coaching staff. He ended up bringing on five new assistants -- two on offense and three on defense. Position coaches are frequently brought aboard because of their recruiting. But if new running backs coach Tony Hull (formerly a coach of New Orleans' Warren Easton High) and receivers coach Jason Phillips (June Jones' former co-coordinator at SMU) have some coaching chops, it would be welcome, as KU had some of the least effective skill position talent in the country last year.

Of course, it was also young talent, and as we are learning, a young receiving corps is doomed from the start. While leading receiver Tre' Parmalee was a senior (and an underrated one at that), freshmen Steven Sims Jr., Jeremiah Booker, and Tyler Patrick served as the No. 2-4 targets; only one managed even a decent success rate (Patrick), and only one averaged even 10 yards per catch (Sims). Combined, they averaged just 5.4 yards per target.

Still, they are no longer freshmen, and among the 10 players targeted at least 19 times last year, only two are gone. If nothing else, continuity could be Willis' friend.

So could LaQuvionte Gonzalez. The former four-star Texas A&M receiver is eligible this year; in two seasons in College Station, he caught 26 passes for 317 yards, and he is regarded as a solid return man. If nothing else, he could give Willis a nice target for quick passing on the perimeter, someone who could occasionally take a short pass a long way.

KU is starting over in the running game. Senior Ke'aun Kinner returns, but Taylor Cox and De'Andre Mann do not, meaning sophomores Taylor Martin and Ryan Schadler could get some carries. Kinner hinted at decent explosiveness, but open-field opportunities were few and far between.

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 90.6 2.46 3.5 29.3% 55.0% 19.7% 78.8 4.9% 11.4%
Rank 109 120 38 128 118 75 98 68 118
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. 2015 Starts Career Starts Honors/Notes
Keyon Haughton C 9 14
Larry Mazyck RT 4 13
Jordan Shelley-Smith LT 6'5, 302 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) NR 9 10
Bryan Peters LG 9 10
Joe Gibson C 6'3, 310 Jr. NR NR 3 10
D'Andre Banks RT 6'3, 310 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7583 9 9
Larry Hughes RT 6'7, 309 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8000 9 9
Jacob Bragg LG 6'4, 291 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8544 5 5
Clyde McCauley III LT 6'5, 307 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8035 3 3
Will Smith OL 6'3, 307 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8033 0 0
Jayson Rhodes RG 6'4, 311 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7956 0 0
Kyle Pullia OL 6'4, 279 Jr. NR NR 0 0
Aaron Garza OL 6'3, 311 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8485

Mesa Ribordy OL 6'4, 290 RSFr. NR NR

Chris Hughes OL 6'5, 260 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8506

Hunter Harris OL 6'2, 260 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8223

5. Potential up front?

The bar is pretty low, but KU's line stats were better than their other offensive stats. That suggests that the front five was at least not the Jayhawks' biggest problem. KU kept defenders out of the backfield reasonably well -- 75th in stuff rate, 98th in Adj. Sack Rate -- though that's only so much of a benefit when you're getting no push in short-yardage situations (118th in power success rate) and creating no open-field chances (128th in opportunity rate).

Nine players started at least three games up front (including three freshmen), and six return. Continuity could be a plus, at least, and size won't be an issue: The six key returnees average 6'5, 305. Now we just have to find out about actual talent.

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Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.31 89 IsoPPP+ 86.3 109
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 52.3% 128 Succ. Rt. + 88.1 107
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 26.2 127 Off. FP+ 27.0 112
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 4.6 87 Redzone S&P+ 93.3 95
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 13.9 ACTUAL 18.0 +4.1
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ (PBP)
Rk
Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 128 114 107 109
RUSHING 125 123 110 123
PASSING 124 96 99 98
Standard Downs 103 104 99
Passing Downs 120 116 120
Q1 Rk 103 1st Down Rk 118
Q2 Rk 108 2nd Down Rk 114
Q3 Rk 119 3rd Down Rk 110
Q4 Rk 86

6. Desperately seeking disruption

Clint Bowen has proven he can do pretty well as KU's defensive coordinator. The Jayhawks ranked 60th and 62nd in Def. S&P+ in 2008-09 under his guidance, then 69th in his return to the role in 2014. He was effective enough as interim head coach in 2014 that I thought he deserved a look at the role full-time. But when Beaty was hired, he stuck around.

Unfortunately, the talent didn't. Bowen had to replace his top two tacklers, four of five linebackers, and four of six defensive backs, and combined with a new boss and new underlings, Bowen was as ineffective as the players he put on the field. KU plummeted to 123rd in Def. S&P+ -- the Jayhawks were worse on defense than offense, which I very much did not expect -- holding only three opponents below 38 points and allowing 55 or more five times.

The biggest issue came in the havoc department. The Jayhawks were able to make some aggressive plays in 2014, but most came from senior linebackers and defensive backs. In 2015, linebacker tackles for loss fell from 46.5 to 14, and defensive back passes defensed fell from 50 to 25. The line, meanwhile, was led in part by two freshmen. This was a recipe for disaster.

Continuity should once again be more friendly to KU this year. Six of the top nine linemen are back (including three sophomores), as are the top three linebackers and 10 of 11 DBs.

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 89.5 3.65 3.63 47.5% 77.3% 15.5% 100.9 5.2% 8.7%
Rank 109 128 109 128 113 112 62 59 38
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Ben Goodman, Jr. DE 12 42.5 5.5% 9.5 5.5 0 0 0 0
Daniel Wise DT 6'3, 290 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8417 12 21.5 2.8% 5.5 3.5 0 1 0 0
Dorance Armstrong, Jr. DE 6'4, 241 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8454 12 19.5 2.5% 5.0 3.5 0 4 0 0
Corey King NT 11 18.0 2.3% 3.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Anthony Olobia DE 6'5, 247 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8609 12 17.0 2.2% 4.0 1.5 0 0 0 0
Damani Mosby DE 6'3, 258 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8175 10 11.5 1.5% 2.5 1.5 0 0 0 0
Kapil Fletcher DT 12 10.0 1.3% 1.5 1.0 0 0 0 0
D.J. Williams NT 6'5, 302 So. 3 stars (5.6) NR 8 8.0 1.0% 1.5 1.5 0 0 1 0
Jacky Dezir DT 6'1, 286 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7945 9 5.5 0.7% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
T.J. Semke DE 12 3.0 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Tyler Holmes DT
1 3.0 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Devon Williams DT 6'4, 311 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7901
Kellen Ash DE 6'3, 271 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8277
Josh Ehambe DE 6'3, 247 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8060
Isi Holani DT 6'3, 325 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8140
Deelsaac Davis DT 6'3, 300 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8120
Isaiah Bean DE 6'5, 210 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8125








Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Joe Dineen, Jr. LB 6'2, 225 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8147 12 76.0 9.9% 6.5 3.0 0 1 0 0
Marcquis Roberts LB 6'1, 223 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8615 12 61.5 8.0% 3.5 1.0 1 1 0 2
Courtney Arnick LB 6'2, 215 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8041 11 24.5 3.2% 1.0 0.0 1 0 1 0
Schyler Miles LB
6 15.5 2.0% 0.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
Cameron Rosser LB 6'1, 232 Sr. NR NR 12 6.5 0.8% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Kyron Watson LB
4 4.5 0.6% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 1
Osaze Ogbebor LB 6'1, 220 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7794 12 4.0 0.5% 1.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Kendall Duckworth LB 6'1, 210 So. 2 stars (5.4) NR 7 2.0 0.3% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Beau Bell LB 11 2.0 0.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Aaron Plump LB 12 2.0 0.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Maciah Long LB 6'2, 245 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8610








7. Linebacker is the least of concerns

It shouldn't get worse in the front seven, and not only because that's almost literally impossible. Linebackers Joe Dineen Jr. and Marcquis Roberts return; while they weren't as disruptive as their predecessors, they weren't awful. They'll be joined by senior Courtney Arnick and freshman Maciah Long, one of the jewels of the 2016 recruiting class.

Meanwhile, though Beaty admirably chose the long road and elected not to load up on JUCOs -- former KU head coach Charlie Weis made that gamble and lost big -- he did bring in two JUCO tackles: Isi Holani and Deelsaac Davis. With these two, along with continued development from sophomores Daniel Wise and D.J. Williams and junior Jacky Dezir, tackle could go from a morbid weakness to at least an area of competence. Wise struggled quite a bit, but he did still make 5.5 tackles for loss.

The pass rush, a relative strength last year, takes a hit with the loss of end Ben Goodman. But the top five returnees up front each had at least 1.5 sacks, and Dineen had three. And even if the pass rush regresses a little, improvement in run defense would at least result in more pass rush opportunities.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Fish Smithson S 5'11, 201 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8411 11 99.0 12.8% 2 0 2 3 1 1
Tevin Shaw NB 5'11, 206 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) NR 12 56.0 7.3% 1 1 0 3 0 0
Tyrone Miller, Jr. CB 6'0, 182 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8348 12 49.0 6.4% 2 0 0 2 2 0
Michael Glatczak S 12 48.5 6.3% 2.5 0 1 2 0 0
Brandon Stewart CB 6'0, 178 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7883 10 32.0 4.2% 0.5 0 0 0 1 0
Marnez Ogletree CB 5'10, 190 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8115 9 29.5 3.8% 0 0 0 5 0 0
Chevy Graham NB 5'9, 200 Sr. NR NR 11 25.0 3.2% 2.5 2 0 0 0 0
Bazie Bates IV S 6'1, 197 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8332 11 23.0 3.0% 1 0 1 1 0 0
Derrick Neal CB 5'10, 170 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8472 11 13.0 1.7% 0 0 1 2 1 0
Greg Allen S 5'11, 204 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8191 5 11.0 1.4% 0 0 2 0 0 0
Colin Spencer CB 5'10, 183 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7994 12 7.5 1.0% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Shaquille Richmond S 6'0, 197 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8181
Stephan Robinson CB 5'11, 173 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8019
Ian Peterson CB 5'11, 180 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8300
Kyle Mayberry CB 5'11, 175 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8174
Shola Ayinde CB 6'0, 175 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7948








8. Experience in the right places, part 2

It appears continuity is more valuable at quarterback, receiver, and defensive back than in any other units. Check, check, and check.

Almost everybody returns from a unit that was constantly shuffled (11 DBs made at least 7.5 tackles, but only three played in all 12 games) and burned in 2015. Again, there's plenty of reason to worry about talent, as well; you don't allow a 157.7 passer rating simply because of inexperience. But there was late-season improvement -- in the last three games, TCU, WVU, and KSU managed only a 105.5 rating -- and the reasons for that improvement return. Safety Fish Smithson is a keeper, Tevin Shaw is a physical presence at nickel back, and corner Tyrone Miller Jr. survived despite being a freshman No. 1 going against a steady stream of awesome Big 12 receivers.

The pass defense was in no way good last year, but it's the lesser of worries for Bowen this fall. I would be surprised if KU's Passing S&P+ rating didn't at least rise back into the 70s or 80s. And if a new set of tackles improves the run defense, then decent defense is possible. Staff turnover in the form of a new line coach and linebackers coach could either hurt or help.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Matthew Wyman 6'1, 225 Sr. 53 41.5 1 5 7 22.6%
Eric Kahn 29 34.0 2 12 7 65.5%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Matthew Wyman 6'1, 225 Sr. 43 60.9 20 3 46.5%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Nick Bartolotta 5'6, 189 Jr. 17-18 3-5 60.0% 1-2 50.0%
Matthew Wyman 6'1, 225 Sr. 4-5 0-1 0.0% 2-3 66.7%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Ryan Schadler KR 5'11, 191 So. 33 22.7 1
Derrick Neal KR 5'10, 170 Jr. 9 15.2 0
Tre' Parmalee PR 10 2.8 0
Derrick Neal PR 5'10, 170 Jr. 2 -1.0 0
Category Rk
Special Teams S&P+ 122
Field Goal Efficiency 120
Punt Return Success Rate 116
Kick Return Success Rate 87
Punt Success Rate 92
Kickoff Success Rate 41

9. Coverage was a relative strength

Overall, KU's special teams unit was as bad as its offense or defense, but at the very least, Matthew Wyman's kickoffs, and the coverage that followed, was a strength. Coverage was usually pretty good in the punting game, too: KU allowed a decent 7.9 yards per return, 62nd in the country. Unfortunately, those are the only nice things you can say. Ryan Schadler had a couple of decent moments in kick returns (including one touchdown), but all in all, KU ranked above 87th in only one category: kickoffs. That everybody returns isn't necessarily a wonderful thing.

2016 Schedule & Projection Factors

2016 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. S&P+ Rk Proj. Margin Win Probability
3-Sep Rhode Island NR 30.5 96%
10-Sep Ohio 95 -3.8 41%
17-Sep at Memphis 77 -16.0 18%
29-Sep at Texas Tech 43 -22.5 10%
8-Oct TCU 31 -18.7 14%
15-Oct at Baylor 13 -32.4 3%
22-Oct Oklahoma State 23 -21.5 11%
29-Oct at Oklahoma 4 -37.9 1%
5-Nov at West Virginia 33 -25.2 7%
12-Nov Iowa State 71 -10.2 28%
19-Nov Texas 34 -18.2 15%
26-Nov at Kansas State 67 -18.0 15%
Projected wins: 2.6
Five-Year F/+ Rk -32.4% (117)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 77 / 71
2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin* -7 / -13.4
2015 TO Luck/Game +2.6
Returning Production (Off. / Def.) 83% (81%, 85%)
2015 Second-order wins (difference) 0.7 (-0.7)

10. Kansas probably won't go 0-12 again

All of last year's freshmen involved in the passing game are sophomores now. The defensive backfield features infinitely more continuity. The defensive line has more experience and depth. There's almost no way Kansas doesn't improve in 2016.

The bad news is that the Jayhawks are in an incredible hole. Since beating Iowa State to start conference play in 2009, Mark Mangino's last season, they have gone 3-57 against Big 12 foes. They fell apart down the stretch, fired Mangino, collapsed further under Turner Gill, somehow decided to pay Charlie Weis millions of dollars, and then managed to hit their lowest level yet in 2015.

This has been a sustained, almost unfathomable seven-year decline. And while improvement is likely this fall, it's up to Beaty and his new staff to prove that the coming rebound is not a function of "it cannot possibly get any worse."