The Kansas Jayhawks lost every game last year. Head coach Les Miles was fired for allegations of impropriety against women during his time at LSU. His boss, Jeff Long was fired for, well, hiring Miles, basically. In came a new athletic director in Travis Goff and a new head coach in Lance Leipold. What does Kansas have to do on offense to start making things right in 2021? We break it down here.
1. Transition Yet Again
Here we go again with change in Lawrence. Set aside the head-coaching change for a second. As late as April, Mike DeBord was the Jayhawks’ offensive coordinator. He was out to take the Jayhawks in the direction of a pro-style offense. Nothing was guaranteed, of course. Once Lance Leipold took over, change was in the air. He brought along his own offensive coordinator, Andy Kotelnicki. Now, Leipold and Andy Kotelnicki have been working together since 2014, so Kotelnicki knows what Leipold wants offensively. And this article published by KUSports.com hits on some of the philosophies that Kotelnicki will probably bring to the team. At Buffalo, Kotelnicki’s offenses produced a MAC Offensive Player of the Year at quarterback and at running back. It produced 1,000-yard rushers. It produced two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season. With flux at quarterback, Kotelnicki’s philosophy bodes well for running back Velton Gardner. But because Leipold’s staff didn’t participate in spring football, there is a ton of unknown around what exactly Kotelnicki can do with this group this season.
2. Quarterback Battle
Who is going to start at quarterback? Fun question, and an almost annual question at Kansas. Again, the late staff changeover means we have a hard time reading the tea leaves, but there’s a sense it’s a wide-open race.
Last year’s tandem of Miles Kendrick and Jalon Daniels are back. Daniels threw for slightly more yards (718 to 647), while Kendrick threw for more touchdowns (6 to 1) and interceptions (5 to 4). It’s unclear if either are a good fit for the new offense.
That opens the door for Jason Bean, the North Texas transfer, a speedy player who threw for more yards (1,131) and touchdowns (14) last season than either Kendrick or Daniels. Expect all three to complete. But given the clean slate this program is implementing with the new staff, expect Bean to get a serious look.
3. Fix The Offensive Line
How bad was the Kansas offensive line last year? The unit gave up 5.2 sacks per game. That was the worst rate in FBS in more than a decade. If Kansas leans into the running game, that should help. The left side of the offensive line is stable with the expected return of Earl Bostick Jr. at tackle and Malik Clark at guard. One has to hope that a new scheme and a traditional offseason will help both players. But the biggest piece is center Colin Grunhard, who played at Notre Dame last year and transferred to Kansas. That SOUNDS like a bad move on Grunhard’s part. But he was a walk-on for Notre Dame, a backup last year and is hungry for a chance to prove himself on the field. The Jayhawks could use that kind of hunger.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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