Here is everything you need to know about the Jayhawks opener in our Kansas vs. Southeast Missouri Preview.
Jesse Hosket, QB, Southeast Missouri
Hosket will become the first Redhawk quarterback in six years to start consecutive seasons. He started all 11 games in 2016, completing 178 of 356 passes (50 percent) and threw for 2,332 yards, which ranked third in the Ohio Valley Conference. But Hosket is just one of four returning starters from a 3-8 team, so he will have to become the leader very quickly.
Alex Snyder, RT, Southeast Missouri
Snyder is one of the four returning starters on the offense and the senior is going to draw defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., the preseason Big 12 defensive player of the year. If Snyder doesn’t give Hosket some time, the Southeast Missouri offense is going to have a tough day.
Dorance Armstrong Jr., DE, Kansas
Speaking of Armstrong, the expectations are high as he becomes the face of KU football in helping trying to kickstart the long-awaited turnaround. He has a chance to come out of the gates and dominate the SEMO offensive line and prove that the preseason hype is legitimate and warranted.
Peyton Bender or Carter Stanley, QB, Kansas
During Tuesday’s press conference, head coach David Beaty said, “We’ll tell who the starter is when they run out. No need to give the opponent an advantage.” I mean, coach, I know you’re trying to build the program, but you’re playing an FCS opponent. This comes across as a little silly. So is the competition essentially still ongoing, and the player who performs better against Southeast Missouri gets the nod? Or is this truly just gamesmanship? I guess we’ll all find out more on Saturday.
Own the line
Redhawks head coach Tom Matukewicz recently said, “We graduated a lot of senior offensive linemen. We have good players there, but that doesn’t really mean much. They’ve got to be able to perform. They’ve got to be able to work with each other.”
So, the Jayhawks must own the line of scrimmage, especially their defensive line against the Southeast Missouri offensive line. Armstrong and Daniel Wise need to lead the way and dominate.
A great way to get upset by an FCS team is to screw up big time on special teams (cough, cough Michigan vs. Appalachian State circa 2007). Southeast’s top return man is Cameron Sanders who was one of just two preseason All-OVC players as a return specialist. Big special teams plays are great ways for big underdogs to get motivation. Kansas must not let that happen.
KU must close out
Southeast Missouri dropped four games by a combined 12 points and finished with a 3-8 record (3-5 in the OVC). For the Jayhawks to prove that they are starting to turn the corner as a program, this must be the type of FCS team that they beat with ease, especially since the Redhawks are projected to finish second-to-last in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Kansas 35, Southeast Missouri 17
The Jayhawks aren’t quite back to full respectability, but David Beaty is getting them closer by the day. It’s only Week 1 and it’s only an FCS team, but the Jayhawks are going to go out there and prove that, no, they no longer are a doormat for the Big 12. Kansas might look a little rusty early, but the Jayhawks will take care of business.
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