Kansas vs. North Dakota State Matchup Breakdown

Why Kansas?

Edge

Matchup

Edge

 Why NDSU? 

The Jayhawks begin the post Reesing/Mangino era looking to find an identity offensively.  Chuck Long and Turner Gill will both be heavily involved in the offense with Long calling the plays on Saturday.  Kansas returns a strong group on the offensive line and Kale Pick provides a versatile weapon at the quarterback position.  If Kansas can keep things balanced and keep the Bison guessing, they win the matchup because quite frankly they should.

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Kansas has a nice corp of players returning offensively and even though they are breaking in a new quarterback, he's able to make plays in multiple ways and that should serve him well in this matchup

Kansas Offense

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NDSU Defense

 

The Bison return 8 players with starting experience from a year ago.  They are thin with little experience beyond the first team, but the first team includes 3 of their 4 leading tacklers from a year ago. That familiarity and stability could counter a Kansas team without much of either.  If they can keep things close and control the Kansas running game, things could get interesting in the second half.

 

Here's a matchup with more question marks than answers.  Kansas has two senior leaders in Chris Harris and Jake Laptad, the secondary appears strong, but other than that there isn't much in the way of a sure thing.  The staff continues to seem ready and willing to make the necessary adjustments to get pressure and create by attacking.  If Kansas can find the personnel to do that and manufacture depth at LB and DT then they should be able to handle the NDSU offense well enough to win.  How well is the question.

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Which unit of unknowns are you more confident in?  I guess I'll take the BCS school with 85 scholarships to divvy up.  Kansas should have better depth and hopefully talent and that should win out.  If they don't show well on defense this week, it's going to be a long season.

Kansas Defense

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NDSU Offense

The Bison lose their leading rusher and cornerstone from a year ago in Pat Paschall.  They also find themselves breaking in a newer QB in Jose Mohler. Mohler started late last season and played respectably considering the circumstances.  If he's improved over the last year it could provide a new leader for the Bison.  It's a balanced attack that will hope to run first in order to setup the pass.  How the new faces up front and elsewhere respond will determine whether or not NDSU can win this matchup

Kansas has struggled for the better part of two seasons in the special teams department, but much of that might have to do with an overly conservative approach.  Kansas has the right people back in the return game and the staff is going to let them play football.  Alonso Rojas is a potential All Big 12 punter and Kansas has a new kickoff man in Ronny Doherty.  This free's up Jacob Branstetter for a move to gunner/wedge buster(laugh).

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Push, I'd expect Kansas to win out, but at this point it's been so bad for two seasons I need to see it.  I'm optimistic, but I've got to see it.

 

Special Teams

 

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The Bison, like Kansas, return a solid punter in John Prelvitz.  Other than that it's all new faces. As a team they were pretty good a year ago leading the conference in the return game, but their return man has moved to full time starter at halfback leaving the return duties to a true freshman.  Special teams can change a great deal year over year, but it's also one of the areas that certain coaches and teams tend to do well consistently.  On paper the Bison have been good in the past and they have some talent for this year as well.

Kansas has a new coach in Turner Gill who some feel has some further proving to do.  His success at Buffalo is well documented, as is his 20-33 overall record.  Many feel that the staff assembled by Gill is one of the best that Kansas has seen, and then there are those that still want to see how it translates to W's and L's before making the leap.

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Push.  Bohl has proven he can win, Gill has had success but there isn't a longterm track record.  Do I think Gill can be a great head coach? Yes, but it's his first game and I think he'd agree that he's going to set out to earn that.

Coaching North-dakota-state-bison-replica-mini-helmet-3349459_medium

Craig Bohl is entering his eighth season with the Bison and has recorded a 52-25 record with the program. He's built the program, grown home attendance and taken care of business on the field. The '06 and '07 seasons represented the high water mark to date with back to back 10-1 seasons and while they are hitting a bit of a low point, Bohl has proven he can win and will likely get the Bison back on track.

This is a game that's easy to mark as a win in every phase because quite frankly it should be.  It's two teams at different levels and from a physical standpoint you'd expect Kansas to win.  Still with all the question marks for the Jayhawks this might be closer than past years openers and that might leave the casual fan a little disappointed. 

For me it's balance, finding an identity, making those early mistakes being aggressive and then learning from them.  This actually could prove to be one of our best tuneups in an FCS opponent yet.

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