Kansas Jayhawks Spring Practice Preview: 3 Storylines To Watch

    The seemingly never-ending rebuilding at Kansas enters Year 3 with David Beaty in charge of the Jayhawks.

    March 1, 2017

    A Kansas Jayhawks spring practice preview and storylines to watch, as the seemingly never-ending rebuilding at Kansas enters Year 3 under David Beaty.

    Kansas leads the nation in one thing: there’s no place among Power Five programs tougher to win than in Lawrence.

    The Jayhawks are a decidedly basketball program, one without a natural recruiting base in the region. Oh, and this has been a lost decade in the fall. Since 2010, Kansas has won just 14 games, while going a staggeringly feeble 4-58 in Big 12 play. To say it’s a long, steep climb ahead just to reach respectability qualifies as an understatement.

    However, under third-year coach David Beaty there have been glimpses of progress. The Jayhawks stunned Texas last November to snap a 19-game conference losing streak. And the program is having unusual success on the recruiting trail. There are flickers of promise for a Kansas squad that last finished above .500 in 2008.

    Kansas Jayhawks Spring Practice Storylines

    1. Who’ll Be Doug Meacham’s Quarterback?

    Beaty pulled off a coup when he lured Meacham away from TCU to coordinate the offense. Meacham’s first big decision in Lawrence will be anointing the offensive leader.

    Ever since Todd Reesing graduated in 2009, the Jayhawks have had a revolving door at quarterback. It’s one of the more prominent problems that the program has faced this decade. But there’s hope for more stability and effectiveness in 2017.

    Three quarterbacks from last year’s roster have transferred, clearing the field for Carter Stanley and Peyton Bender to compete to become the battery mate of talented receivers Steven Sims and LaQuvionte Gonzalez. Stanley displayed potential as a rookie last year, engineering the Longhorn upset. Bender comes by way of Washington State and Itawamba (Miss.) Community College.

    2. Fortifying The Back Seven

    No discussion about the ineptitude of Kansas would be complete without mentioning the defense, a sorry unit that’s allowed at least 30 points per game in seven straight seasons.

    The good news in Lawrence is that the D-line has two important returning pieces in underrated defensive tackle Daniel Wise and D-end Dorance Armstrong Jr., who came out of nowhere to lead the Big 12 with 20 tackles for loss. The bad, though, is that an already flimsy back seven has lost a few key parts, namely all-league safety Fish Smithson.

    For the Jayhawks to make more progress in 2017, it’s imperative that the defense doesn’t get trucked weekly. The onus falls on linebacker Keith Loneker and safety Mike Lee, who impressed as a freshman, to carry more of the weight this fall.

    3. Auditioning Feature Backs

    The Jayhawks would benefit, both on offense and defense, from a steady ground game. But the team needs a successor to workmanlike running back Ke’aun Kinner, who led the team in rushing the past two seasons.

    If Kansas can move the ball on the ground, it’ll take pressure off the unproven quarterbacks and give much-needed breathers to the defense. Taylor Martin and Khalil Herbert came off the bench to letter in 2016, combining for seven rushing touchdowns. However, Beaty sold junior college transfers Dominic Williams and Octavius Matthews on the potential for immediate reps.

    Matthews, who shared a backfield with Bender last fall, is a prized recruit who was hotly pursued by Auburn and Tennessee. He won’t take part in spring drills, though, so he’ll need to make an immediate impression upon arrival in the summer.

    MORE: Big 12 Football Storylines, Predictions For 2017


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