As the 2009 University of Kansas football season approaches, I find myself eager for news and discussion about the football season during any free time. Today, on a Saturday, just 3 weeks from the opening game against Northern Colorado, I find myself feeling confident about this season with many questions floating around my head.
All the usual ones apply:
How will the linebacker situation shake out?
Will we finally get a consistent pass rush?
Who will emerge at the corner spots in a very talented group of DB's?
Is the offensive line going to protect Todd and open up holes for our RB's?
Who will play at RB along with Jake Sharp?
Which freshman will emerge as guys who will get consistent playing time?
The list goes on and on. I really just can't wait for this season to start, especially that first game where we will undoubtedly throttle Northern Colorado, giving the fans almost a full half of looks at all the new faces we're hearing about.
On to the point of the post. I'm sitting here thinking about all of the guys that we know we can count on to really be great players for this team. On offense: Todd Reesing, Dezmon Briscoe, and Kerry Meier are locks to be difference makers and stars for this team. Jake Sharp could be thrown in there but one could argue that he's not exactly a sure thing. On Defense, the list is shorter, as Darrell Stuckey is the only defensive Hawk that we know will get the job done at a very high level.
My question then becomes, who do you see as that guy that is going to step up on offense and defense and be a star behind the other stars? I'm going to pick 1 for each side of the ball, but I encourage everyone to pick as many as you like. Obviously, for the offense it's hard to pick O-lineman, but they are for sure very very very important to the success of our attack.
Offense: Johnathan Wilson
Picking Wilson will not shock anyone. Wilson has emerged as someone who the Jayhawk family is really counting on for big things this season. In each of the last 2 seasons, he's been voted by his teammates as the Jayhawk "most likely to have a breakout season." That must tell us something about the way he works and the talent the junior receiver from Houston has. All season, there is going to be a lot of attention on Dezmon Briscoe on the outside, a whole lot of jamming and holding on Kerry Meier down the middle and when those 2 are requiring 2 players each covering them, Todd is going to need another target. That target is going to be Wilson and I think that means the catches this season being more spread out.
We've seen flashes of greatness from Wilson to the tune of 10 catches for 179 yards and 2 TD's in the heartbreaking loss to S. Florida last season. After that game, however, Wilson only caught 24 balls the rest of the season in 10 games. For us to be successful, he is going to have to be a factor in every single game opposite the two Belitnikoff candidates. Take Wilson and add in a 4th receiver as another slot option and I don't see how many teams will be able to stop our offense, that is if the running game holds up.
Defense: Daymond Patterson
This is a tough one and the one that I think will get the most differing opinion. Our secondary is probably the strength of our defense in the pre-season with all the talent and returning starters we have coming back. D-Line and Linebackers are the biggest keys to whether our defense will be able to stop any of the high powered Big 12 offenses. The reason I can't pick any of them, though, is I really have no idea who is going to be playing.
One guy who I know will be playing in the secondary is Daymond Patterson. The former receiver turned defensive back is entering only his sophomore campaign and is finally starting to learn the nuances of the position. A small kid with a lot of athletic ability, Patterson showed flashes of great play last year at CB while also looking lost at times. When asked about how he feels about the position heading into this season, he had this to say on JayhawkSlant:
"I am probably a hundred times better. Before the Texas Tech game I had never practiced at that spot. So my technique has gotten way better. Just recognizing the defense and everything has really improved."
After an entire offseason and pre-season at his new position, Patterson could be primed and ready to be a great DB. Time will only tell, but I'm counting on Daymond Patterson to lock down a side of the field with his coverage just like great KU DB's of the recent past have in Charles Gordon and Aqib Talib.
What do you guys think, who will the Unsung Heroes of this team be in the 09 season?