In case you missed it last season this is an actual Photo from the first RCT Roundtable. KC's the ratty looking one on the right.
Back in the swing of things, the RCT crew was able to pull together a few topics and kick the tires for a few days.
This year we'll be doing this once a week, every Wednesday afternoon and then inviting you all to give your thoughts on the topics at hand. In addition keep an eye on your inbox because we're having guest roundtable participants throughout the season just as we did with Bensa last spring.
This week, Fetch9 joins myself, Warden, Andy Edwards and Rockchalk to kick off this season of the roundtable.
Biggest concern regarding the Jayhawks heading into week one?
How will you gauge success this Saturday?
Kale Pick, right choice or wrong choice?
Most productive running back Saturday vs. the end of the season?
Biggest surprise of the Kansas football season?
Josh Selby eligible? and does it matter?
1. What's your biggest concern regarding the Jayhawks headed into week one?
Denver: For me it's hands down the defensive line. We have a proven, but not necessarily explosive player in Jake Laptad and other than that, it's all unproven talent. In theory it looks good on paper and it seem like we can put together a serviceable unit, but depth is a problem and if we see any significant injuries it could become a major problem.
Warden: My biggest concern is Kale Pick. I don't think he'll cost us the game or anything but I need to see him throw the ball successfully. Gill's going to be committed to running the ball but we'll need some sort of passing game to keep defenses honest. Not sure if Pick can carry that load.
Denver: The one thing I will say about Pick as it relates to his throwing ability is that I wouldn't let last year drive that concern. Mangino wasn't going to give him the opportunity to throw last year and if he did, it was going to be a bubble screen at best.
Fetch: I think my biggest questions are injuries and the defense as a whole. Losing Rell Lewis for the year hurts because it seems he was coming into his own over the offseason, and it necessitates the freshmen stepping up maybe a little bit earlier than they otherwise would.
Also the Jeremiah Edwards thing is a big blow, although that isn't really an injury per se. The Big 12 has some good offenses, and we didn't really stop anybody last year, so I'm semi-worried about a repeat of that.
Warden: As for the defense, that's not a huge concern heading into week 1 for me. Week 2 and 3 will be a whole new story. If it turns into a concern against NDSU, huge problems ahead.
KC: No one has mentioned "tackling anybody" yet? The linebacking corps scares the hell out of me, to be honest. And, not in a good way. There's little depth and with teams like Georgia Tech and A&M on the schedule, 300+ yards rushing allowed isn't crazy.
Rockchalk: I would say I'm primarily concerned with the front seven on defense. If we're going to be anything close to a bowl team we'll have to get more pressure on the quarterback than we have in recent memory. I just don't see this offense being as awesome as the Todd Reesing-led unit has been the past couple of seasons, meaning the defense will have to play better than it has in years to keep us in games. And besides Jake Laptad, there isn't really a proven, healthy player in the front seven.
Fetch: For someone who knows football better than me: Toben looked really good at RB last year I thought. Is his move to LB a necessity thing or will he really be better there?
Denver: I think it's a combination. Yes we need help at linebacker in a big way, but at the same time he just wasn't going to fit what the team wanted in a running back. Toben was almost a perfect fit for Mangino, almost every other school wanted to move him. It was a good situation for him, but now that's changed and I think he's taking that well.
2. Obviously NDSU is a game you expect to win, but what does success mean to you at the end of the day when Kansas and NDSU square off?
Denver: I want to see a balanced offense that can run the ball effectively. It doesn't have to be explosive like it has been in the past, but it should execute the gameplan without any "uh oh" looks from the unit like the beginning of last season. Crisp is the best word perhaps.
Defensively, I'm hoping to see plenty of snaps for a variety of players. It's hard to gauge what we'll see defensively from a game like this but if we see multiple players at the varying levels of defense making plays, it will at least make me feel like we have some potential
Warden: Agreed with Denver on the crisp offense. Goes back to my worries with Pick, can he throw the ball effectively enough to keep them honest. A successful day would be converting on a few 3rd and 5's or more.
Fetch: I really want to see how our offensive line and defensive line matchup. Obviously playing a 1-AA opponent our lines should be able to push theirs around, but it would be nice to control the ball and do some power running and impose our will. If we can't do it against NDSU it might be a long year.
KC: In games like this one, I look for discipline more than anything. If they can't come out crisp, organized and play with their heads screwed on right against North Dakota State, they're going to fold like a wet napkin against legit D1 and Big 12 teams. Limit the stupid penalties, mistakes and turnovers. Just look like you've been here before. Even if you haven't.
Rockchalk: It may be an obvious answer, but I'll measure success by how we look. If we look good, if we look like we know what we're doing, if we look like we have things under control, then it'll be a success. If we only score 28 points but continually got into the red zone, only to miss a field goal here or get an untimely holding call there, then I can live. We can fix little mistakes through practice, I want to see how our overall product is and whether there is any hope for this team to go bowling.
3. Kale Pick, the right choice or wrong?
Denver: Right choice. Maybe not the better passer, but I'm all for the balanced attack that can beat you multiple ways. Pick provides that and can keep a defense off balance if the team is executing well. Besides, Pick can throw too it's not as if he's a one dimensional QB.
Warden: Right choice, if he can throw the ball reasonably well. (Notice I'm slightly worried about this?) I really do like the idea of him running the ball, so maybe my fears about the passing game are a little overblown.
Fetch: Right choice. I'm no football expert but he looked fairly comfortable when he got in last year and he showed some good running ability. I think he can keep the defense off balance a little more, but if the receivers come into their own I have no problem seeing Webb in there since he's the much better passer.
KC: Gotta be the right choice for me. Obviously, we'd rather be going into the season with a, say, Jacory Harris type established starter already, but if we don't have that, Kale is the closest we have. I hope the coaching staff lets him let fly the first game, though. See what he can do. If he's not the guy, better to find out game one that game three of the Big 12 schedule.
Rockchalk: Right choice. He was the favorite all along for a reason, and with some options and quarterback runs likely to be in Gill's/Chuck Long's offense, the extra athleticism of Kale should be an asset. I like Webb, but Pick had to be the guy at the end of the day.
Denver: Well, that was easy. So at what point does he become the wrong choice?
Fetch: I think the only way I'd really clamor for his job is if he just loses all confidence and control of the offense. If he plays reasonably well this year, and improves the next two years, having him as a Senior would be a nice luxury. Although the counter to that I guess is if Webb maybe improves his mobility a bit, maybe not to the point where he's a running QB but can avoid the rush, he could be a 4 year starter.
KC: I don't think it's a matter of being the "wrong choice." It's pretty apparent that he's better than Webb at this point. My thing is that if he's not the guy for the long run, and it's obvious after non-conference play and the beginning of conference play, and the season is tanking, you can pull the plug with minimal backlash.
4. Right now there are four choices at RB. Quigley, Sands, Bourbon and Sims. Who is the most productive in game one? and how does that change throughout the season?
Denver: I'll say Quigley will see the most snaps in game one. Sands and one of the freshman will also see an opportunity as well. As the season goes on I think one of the two freshman can move toward more minutes and take on a much larger role if they prove they are ready early. Sims and Bourbon have talent; if they make a quick transition they are as good an option as any for Kansas.
Warden: Quigley will be most successful in game one. I think Sands could be a real surprise as the season progresses.
Fetch: Well I picked Quigley in the yards from scrimmage part of the contest, so I sure hope he's most productive in game one. Bourbon strikes me as too tall to be a RB in a spread offense, but Id like to see us rotate RBs in and try to eat some clock this year so hopefully the other three step up.
KC: I agree; Quigley will probably have the best showing with the starters, but I'm really hoping for a late game showing from either Bourbon or Sims. If I had to choose, I hope it's Sims. Lightning in a bottle.
Rockchalk: Not to be lame or anything, but I'll say the same as everyone else and go Quigley. At least in this game, with the starters. Like KC, though, I'll be really interesting to see how all of the other runningbacks look, because even if Quigs stays the starter he won't be the only back receiving plenty of carries. I'll say Bourbon is the guy who breaks out and starts demanding carries, but really that's just a throw to the dart board.
Denver: Not lame at all, THE BEEF!!! wins in a landslide. I still say one of these freshman sees quality minutes by the conference schedule.
KC: Go on record: which one's it gonna be?
Denver: From that standpoint, a little Bourbon on gameday is a good thing.
5. What's your prediction for the biggest surprise on the season? Could be a player, an unexpected win, a weakness that ends up a strength...whatever?
Denver: Biggest surprise will be a solid road win in the Big 12. I think right now the best prediction I've seen is Kansas going 6-6. That doesn't account for many if any wins on the road in the Big 12. That's always been a problem for Kansas period. This year Iowa State, Nebraska or Baylor are the three road trips. It's not unreasonable to see Kansas winning one of those. But what if I told you I thought it would be in Lincoln?
Warden: I'd say HELL YES to winning in Lincoln. I'm not ready to go there yet but I do think Nebraska is massively overrated until their offense shows it can be competent. Realistically, biggest surprise will be dominating Kansas State.
Denver: Right after I wrote that I watched 2 of the 3 College Gameday personalities pick Nebraska to win the Big 12 Championship over Oklahoma. It made me feel slightly less optimistic about a win in Lincoln.
Fetch: I know Nebraska's defense is really stout, but their offense can't do anything. Just thinking back to the Iowa State game last year I wonder how they're supposed to win the Big 12. personally I think Missouri is as good as they are, if not better (which pains me to say).
Warden: Agreed on Missouri this year being as good as Nebraska this year. However, that game will be in Lincoln and if I had to pick right now- I'd pick the Huskers to win it in ugly fashion.
KC: While it may not be a huge surprise, it will be a nice luxury; I think Lubbock Smith will do great things to ease the transition of losing Darrell Stuckey to the NFL. Smith was very good last year before getting hurt late in the season and for me, he's going to be the defensive player of the year. After all, there will be lots of tackles to be made on running backs at that level of the defense.
Rockchalk: I'll say another defensive end will emerge to provide Laptad some breathing room. I think our pass rush will be much improved this season, with offensive lines having to focus on two legitimate pass rushers instead of one. I'll say Kevin Young is the one who emerges, but it really could be anybody. Again, dart board.
Fetch: Which would be really huge. We have a pretty untested secondary and if our rush can cover them a bit it would be really nice. Especially if the CB's are pressing we don't really want to hang them out to dry.
6. Josh Selby...eligible or not and does it matter?
Denver: Eligible. Sure it matters, but it's not crucial. I'd still put Kansas as the front runner in the conference with or without him. With or without him Kansas can win a national title. There are no gimme's regardless of who you have so one way or anther it's about team chemistry and playing well at the right time. Selby doesn't ensure either of those happen. That said, I still want him on the court this year.
Warden: I think he'll end up being eligible. He's staying around Lawrence, so you have to think he expects to be eligible. Does it matter? I think it's the difference between winning the Big 12 again and finishing 3rd. The frontcourt will be as good as any team in the conference but the guards will struggle to score if Selby isn't on the court. With Selby, Kansas is a top 5 team. Without him, they're a top 20 team.
Denver: Interesting. You've put a lot of stock in Selby then? I guess for me I think Kansas can win the Big 12 either way. I'd say it's the difference between expectations of a top 5 team to a top 10 team. Maybe I'm a little too upbeat about the Morri or something?
Fetch: I think without Selby Kansas is still the Big 12 favorite. But with him we're a legit national title contender. Freshmen point guards don't really have great track records but if Selby is talented as advertised maybe he can take over a game or two like Derrick Rose did for Memphis in 08, but I think there's a lot of depth on the team to get by with. This might be semi-shocking but I think T-Rob is going to have a big year this year.
Warden: I might be putting too much stock in Selby but I expect him to be a more complete player than Xavier Henry was last season. I'm also a Tyshawn Taylor fan but right now my faith in him carrying the guards to a Top 5 season isn't solid.
KC: I hate being a broken record, but I think taking him will hinder the team this year. If Tyshawn is given the keys all by himself, he excels. No doubt in my mind. He may not be smart on his social networking, but I'm a huge fan of his game on the court, as a pure point guard. I've said all this before, though.
Denver: KC, still sticking with the "don't mess with chemistry" theory and Xavier hurting more than help this past year? Sounds like you see the same problem with Selby.
Fetch: I noticed a weird thing when looking at Tyshawn's numbers. His assist rate and turnover rate were 24.1% and 22.1% last year. Russ Robinson's in 2007 were 24.1% and 22.3%. I think we all remember what happened in 2008.
KC: And, did we bring in some uber-great one and doner in ‘08? I don't think so... Just sayin'.
Rockchalk: Eligible. And yes, of course it matters. I see the chemistry thing, KC, and I was initially on that bandwagon last year with Xavier. But we're in a different position this year, and no matter your undying faith in Tyshawn Taylor, we could use another playmaker guard.
Elijah Johnson is unproven, Royce Woolridge is a true freshman without Selby's pedigree, Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar aren't nearly as explosive as Selby and no one else really fills the same position.
I think Selby takes us over the top in the Big 12, and while I can see us winning it without him, it will be a lot easier with him. Elijah and Selby can come along together slowly, giving us a nice three-man rotation at point. We can win without him, but yes, Selby's eligibility matters a lot.