Big 12

2010 NCAA Football Preview: Kansas Jayhawks

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2009 Record: 5-7 (1-7 in Big 12)
2009 Bowl: None
Final 2009 AP Ranking: Not Ranked
Head Coach: Turner Gill (First Year at Kansas, 20-30 at Buffalo)
Non-Conference Schedule: North Dakota State (9/4), Georgia Tech (9/11), at Southern Miss (9/17), New Mexico State (9/25)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 29.4 points per game (5th in Big 12)
Rushing Yards/Game: 112 (9th in Big 12)
Passing Yards/Game: 310 (2nd in Big 12)
Total Yards/Game: 422 (4th in Big 12) 

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 28.4 points per game (10th in Big 12)
Rushing Yards/Game: 138 (8th in Big 12)
Passing Yards/Game: 245 (9th in Big 12)
Total Yards/Game: 383 (9th in Big 12)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: -0.41 per game (9th in Big 12)
Penalties: 48 yards per game (1st in Big 12)

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Returning Starters
Offense: 7
Defense: 7
Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Kale Pick, Soph (4 of 5 for 22 yds)
Rushing: RB Toben Opurum, Soph (133 carries for 554 yds, 9 TD, 4.1 ypc, 50 ypg)
Receiving: WR Jonathan Wilson, Sr (35 rec, 449 yds, 2.9 rec/game)
Tackles: OLB Drew Dudley, Sr (88), CB Chris Harris, Sr (84)
Sacks: DE Jake Laptad, Sr (6.5)
Interceptions: CB Ryan Murphy, Jr (2)

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Athlon Sports: #50
Pre-Snap Read: #67
Sporting News:  #31

2010 Pre-Season Big 12 North Prediction:
Athlon Sports: #3
Phil Steele: #4

Bowl Prediction:
Athlon Sports: Pinstripe Bowl (vs. Rutgers)
Phil Steele: Pinstripe Bowl (vs. Rutgers)

Kansas started off the 2009 season by winning 5 straight games. After that they took a severe nose dive and lost their last 7 games (3 of which were within 7 pts- Colorado 34-30, Kansas State 17-10 and Missouri 41-39).  This year Kansas has a tougher non-conference schedule as Duke is replaced by Georgia Tech but they miss both Oklahoma and Texas on the in-conference slate. We reached out to Scout.com's Kansas Jayhawks site Phog.net and spoke with Senior Writer Aaron Cedeño about the 2010 Kansas season. Here is the preview that he wrote for us:

Fans of Kansas Jayhawk football learned many lessons in 2009, but perhaps the most important was this: One can never take success for granted. The season began full of promise, thanks largely to the return of senior stars Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier and Jake Sharp, as well as junior Dezmon Briscoe. Despite lingering concerns about the strength of the defense, many among Jayhawk Nation believed last year's team capable of simply outscoring the majority of opponents on the schedule. A Big 12 North title and a spot in the conference championship game seemed well within reach.

But a handful of injuries, a porous defense and one highly-publicized coaching controversy later, and the Jayhawks stumbled home to a 5-7 record on the back of seven straight losses. The Orange Bowl victory of 2007 had never seemed a more distant memory.

However, with each year comes a fresh chance at success, and perhaps nowhere is that more true for the coming season than in Lawrence, Kan.

Gone are Briscoe, Meier, Reesing, Sharp and standout safety Darrell Stuckey, as well as embattled former Head Coach Mark Mangino. In is Turner Gill, fresh off his resurrection of the football program at the University of Buffalo, and one of the most experienced and exciting coaching staffs in the Big 12.

Not knowing the exact nature of the schemes to be employed by offensive coordinator Chuck Long and defensive coordinator Carl Torbush – not to mention the outcome of several personnel battles carrying over from spring football – it is difficult to predict what lies in store for Kansas football in the months ahead.

Here's what we know so far:

Offense

Asking an inexperienced signal caller to replace Reesing's production would be impossible. Fortunately, that's not what the new coaching staff needs out of their quarterback. With an offense geared more toward the running game – Gill stated in the spring that his ideal offense would run the ball 60-percent of the time – whomever wins the starting job will have the luxury of relying on what should be a strong running attack. The Jayhawks return freshman sensation Toben Opurum, talented sixth-year senior Angus Quigley, and a pair of dynamic freshmen – James Sims and Brandon Bourbon. In addition to an experienced and talented front five, all signs point to a running game capable of giving QB1 the ability to ease into his role as the starter.

The wide receivers are a talented and deep group, led by senior Johnathan Wilson, junior speedster Daymond Patterson and a host of big, fast, sure-handed targets. Maybe the surprise of the spring at the position is converted freshman quarterback Christian Matthews, whom Gill praised for his speed and overall athleticism. Additionally, tight end Tim Biere gives the team an All-Big 12 talent at the position.

Sophomore Kale Pick and Freshman Jordan Webb – the two frontrunners for the position – each possess different strengths. An exciting athlete, Pick is just as likely to make plays with his legs as his arm. Though as he proved in the annual Spring Game, he possesses the arm strength and accuracy to make all the throws on the field. Webb might not have ideal size, standing at maybe a hair's breadth shy of six feet tall, but he packs a serious punch in his right arm. Plus, much like Reesing before him, he has the ability to make something out of nothing when the play breaks down. Don't expect a victor to be declared in this battle until after a couple of weeks of fall camp, but the offense should be in capable hands regardless.

Defense

When freshman defensive end Kevin Young beat freshman All-American left tackle Tanner Hawkinson for a sack during the spring game, the thousands of fans in attendance at Memorial Stadium weren't disappointed – they were elated. Young is a combination of size and speed at the position that the Jayhawks haven't had since the departures of Charlton Keith and Jermial Ashley in 2005. Couple him with what should be Kansas' deepest and most talented defensive interior in recent history, and the defensive front just might have a stew going.

The linebackers were led during the spring by senior Justin Springer manning the middle of Carl Torbush's 4-3 system. Now fully healthy, Springer possesses the ideal size, athleticism and mentality for the position, and should be the rock upon which everything else in the unit is built. Huldon Tharp had a promising freshman season in 2009, and Steven Johnson drew consistent praise from Gill and Torbush during the spring.

The secondary is another matter altogether, as nowhere on the defense do more questions exist than in the backfield. Safety Lubbock Smith was a pleasant surprise in 2009, but with the departure of Stuckey to graduation and the NFL, many are wondering who will fill the other three spots. Seniors Calvin Rubles and Chris Harris look to be the favorites at corner, while super-talented freshman Prinze Kande could play alongside Smith at the other safety slot. Regardless, this group will have to grow up on the field in a hurry if the defense is to improve upon its performance in 2009.

We may not know a lot about the Jayhawks of 2010 yet, but we know this: Gill will find a way to get every last ounce of effort from the talent he has available to him.

September 4th can't get here soon enough.

Thanks to Phog.net and Senior Writer Aaron Cedeño. Make sure and visit their website for Kansas football and recruiting news. You can follow them on Twitter @PhogNet.

Previous Big 12 Previews: 
Iowa State Cyclones
Kansas State Wildcats
Missouri Tigers 
Oklahoma Sooners 
Texas Longhorns
Texas Tech Red Raiders

Next Up: Oklahoma State Cowboys

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