Kansas Jayhawks: CFN College Football Preview 2021

·10 min read

College Football News Preview 2021: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Kansas football season with what you need to know.

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– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Kansas Football Schedule Analysis
Kansas Jayhawks Previews
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2020 Record: 0-9 overall, 0-8 in Pac-12
Head Coach: Lance Leipold, 1st year (37-33 overall)
2020 CFN Final Ranking: 104
2020 CFN Preview Ranking: 72
2019 CFN Final Ranking: 117

Kansas Jayhawks College Football Preview 2021: Offense

It’s been a rough run for the Kansas offense for the last several years, and now it’s up to new head coach Lance Leipold and offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki to change that as soon as humanly possible with what they have to work with.

The Jayhawks only averaged 259 yards and 16 points per game, every game was a blowout loss except in the 16-13 season finale defeat against Texas Tech, and … nothing worked.

The quarterback situation has to finally be settled, but locking in a No. 1 guy wasn’t always a hallmark of the Leipold era at Buffalo. Jalon Daniels was thrown to the wolves as a freshman, and veteran Miles Kendrick is around for his senior season, but North Texas transfer Jason Bean is the all-around baller who might fit right away.

The Jayhawks have receivers, but they need to get the ball more. Kwamie Lassiter led the team with 43 catches for 458 yards and two scores, and No. 2 yardage guy Luke Grimm is back after coming up with 255 yards and two scores, but Andrew Parchment is off to Florida State and Ezra Naylor left for Tulsa.

The tight end situation is a positive, even though Jack Luavasa is in the transfer portal. 6-7 redshirt freshman Will Huggins is a potentially strong receiver, and 6-5 junior Mason Faichild is a good blocker.

The blocking was a problem. The Jayhawks allowed a whopping 5.22 sacks and close to 11 tackles for loss per game, and now the rebuilding starts with three starters back around senior OT Malik Clark and – potentially – Notre Dame transfer Colin Grunhard for somewhere on the inside.

The rushing tandem of Velton Gardner and Daniel Hishaw was one of the few positives in 2020. They combined for close to 600 yards and each scored twice – they have the quickness and upside to explode if Leipold can do for the KU offense what he did at Buffalo.

– What You Need To Know: Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Kansas Football Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Kansas Jayhawks College Football Preview 2021: Defense

Kansas Jayhawks College Football Preview 2021: Defense

The defense didn’t help the cause to overcome the awful offense. The Jayhawks allowed a Big 12-high 459 yards and 46 points per game. The pass defense was bad, the run D was worse, and there wasn’t any pass rush to get disruptive.

For good and for bad, this group is undergoing an overhaul after being gutted by the transfer portal.

So who’s back and what’s in place? Safety Kenny Logan made a team-high 58 tackles and came up with two of the four picks, and Ricky Thomas is a good-tackling veteran who tied for second on the team with 42 stops. These two are good, but it’s not a plus that they have to make so many tackles.

The safeties are fine, but the corners will take a while to come around with Elijah Jones off to Oregon State and Karon Prunty in the transfer portal. This is where the decent recruiting class should help the cause – Cam’Ron Dabney and Devonte Wilson might be thrown into the fire right away.

The defensive front had a shot to grow into something okay, but … the transfer portal. Top tackle-for-loss end Marcus Harris left for Auburn and tackle DaJon Terry took off for Tennessee. The front needs 292-pound Caleb Sampson and 6-4, 222-pound end Steven Parker to rise up.

Again, the defensive backs had to make too many stops, but 223-pound super-senior Kyron Johnson is back to work in a hybrid way – he tied Ricky Thomas with 42 stops – and Gavin Potter and Nick Channel are smallish, active tacklers. It would be nice to have a 240-pound thumper, but size is an issue across the board for the Jayhawk D.

– What You Need To Know: Offense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Kansas Football Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Kansas Jayhawks College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Kansas Jayhawks College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Best Kansas Jayhawks Offensive Player

WR Kwamie Lassiter, Sr.
The Kansas offense didn’t work, but Lassiter was a bright spot with 43 catches for 458 yards and two scores. He might not have done much to get into the end zone, and he didn’t get to have too many explosive moments, but he was a reliable midrange target who gave the Jayhawks something.

2. RB Velton Gardner, Jr.
3. WR Luke Grimm, Soph.
4. FB Ben Miles, Sr.
5. QB Jason Bean, Jr.

Related

Kansas Football Schedule 2021, Analysis, Best & Worst Case Scenario

Best Kansas Jayhawks Defensive Player

LB/DE Kyron Johnson, Sr.
Part undersized pass rusher and part linebacker, the 6-1, 223-pounder did what he could with 42 tackles with three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss.

He has a quick enough burst to be even more of a playmaker if he’s surrounded with size and more help, but he’s one of the few good veterans on the defense that’s in desperate need of a rebuild.

2. S Kenny Logan, Jr.
3. LB Gavin Potter, Jr.
4. S Ricky Thomas, Sr.
5. LB/DE Steven Parker, Soph.

Top Incoming Kansas Jayhawks Transfer

QB Jason Bean, Jr.
Part of the explosive North Texas quarterback rotation last year, the 6-3, 189-pound Bean threw 14 touchdown passes with five picks last season, and he added some mobility with 346 yards and five scores.

He doesn’t have a huge arm, but he can push the ball deep, did what he could with 251 passing yards in the ugly bowl blowout loss to Appalachian State, and he might step right in and take over the muddled KU quarterback job.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Kansas Football Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Kansas Jayhawks College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

Kansas Jayhawks College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

Kansas Jayhawks Biggest Key: Offense

The offensive line can’t be totally abysmal in pass protection. Does Kansas have the skill players to improve? It’ll be hard to tell if the offensive front can’t block anyone.

It was lousy in 2019, but the 23 sacks allowed in 12 games and the 30 given up in 2018 were cute compared to the whopping 47 given up in just nine games in 2020.

The Jayhawks gave up four sacks or more in every game including nine against Oklahoma, and allowed a ridiculous 96 tackles for loss. How bad was this?

Fresno State, Akron and UNLV are the only other teams that allowed four sacks or more per game, but no one else gave up more than five.

The 5.22 given up per game were the most sacks per game allowed in over a decade, and it was the only time since Rutgers gave up 5.02 per game in 2010 that anyone allowed five more more.

Kansas Jayhawks Biggest Key: Defense

Quit getting steamrolled over. The Jayhawks caught a break against the better passing teams because everyone had so much success on the ground.

Kansas has had some miserable run defenses in the past, but 2020 was the worst year ever by the D since allowing 5.83 yards per carry in 2011.

2011, though, was a bit more about feast-or-famine instead of the steady crushing that last year’s D endured. Kansas State and Coastal Carolina are the only two teams to not get to 200 yards on the ground, but the Wildcats hung 55 points on the board and the Chanticleers ran just fine.

Kansas Jayhawks Key Player To A Successful Season

DT Sam Burt, Sr.
The Kansas defensive front needs a whole lot of help, but it has a leader and veteran to work around in the 6-4, 288-pound Burt. He might not be massive, and he only has 30 tackles and 1.5 sacks in his two years, but he’s least been around. For a gutted defensive front, he’s a part to start a rebuild with.

Kansas Jayhawks Key Game To The 2021 Season

at Coastal Carolina, Sept. 11
Oh for heaven’s sake, Kansas, just beat this team already.

Forget about coming up with a win in the Big 12 or even dreaming of a crazy upset against an Oklahoma or Texas, the Jayhawks have to figure out how to beat the Chanticleers.

Coastal Carolina shocked KU in a 12-7 win early in 2019 and last year ended the Jayhawk season before it could get started with a second-straight 38-23 win in Lawrence. There’s a date with South Dakota to start the season and then there’s a trip to Conway.

Assuming the Jayhawks can beat the Coyotes, they’ll be going into the Coastal Carolina game with a shot to start a season 2-0 for the first time since 2011.

Kansas Football Schedule Analysis

2020 Kansas Jayhawks Fun Stats

– 1st Quarter Scoring: Opponents 106 – Kansas 23
– Sacks: Opponents 47 – Kansas 9
– Punt Return Average: Opponents 16.5 yards – Kansas -1.2 yards

NEXT: Kansas Jayhawks College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

Kansas Jayhawks College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

The Les Miles idea was a good one, until it really, really wasn’t.

Lance Leipold might not have the big name or the BCS National Championship that Miles owns, but he’s a six-time Division-III national championship head coach at UW-Whitewater – going 109-6 in eight years – who then turned Buffalo to a MAC power.

His big flaw and problem? His UB teams should’ve come up with at least two MAC championships over the last three years and they both whiffed. But that’s a first world problem compared to the problems at Kansas over the last decade.

It really is unbelievable.

Yes, kids, the 2007 Kansas Jayhawk football team were a game away from playing for the national championship, but lost the Big 12 Championship to Missouri. It went on to finish 12-1, followed it up with an 8-5 season, and then …

Yuck.

12 straight losing seasons, no more than three wins in a campaign since 2009, two winless campaigns in the last six years, and with the misery going on and on and on.

Set The Kansas Jayhawks Regular Season Win Total At … 2

Leipold isn’t going to change this in a season – or three.

It’s going to take a massive overhauling of talent, attitude, and expectations to get this program out of the doldrums and make it at least consistently competitive.

However, Leipold’s teams know how to run the ball, they don’t make a ton of big mistakes, and they play an aggressive brand of defense that’s always getting into the backfield.

Last year’s Buffalo team led the nation in fewest sacks allowed, was second in rushing, was sound on special teams, led the MAC in total defense, and …

It took a while to get there. Don’t expect miracles right away.

There should be at least two wins – the Jayhawks might catch someone napping on the wrong day, and they’ll probably beat South Dakota – but there’s hope now. The program got a good coach who knows how to do this.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
Kansas Football Schedule Analysis