The Kansas football team reports for camp on Wednesday in what will be the beginning of a new era for Kansas football. Charlie Weis takes over for Turner Gill after a two year experiment that ended in a disastrous fall back to the bottom of the Big 12. Now Weis will look to turn things back in the right direction at Kansas with the hopes of laying a solid foundation for the future of the program in what looks to be the final stop in his career.
Heading into year one there are a multitude of questions surrounding this team. The roster changes alone make it almost impossible to really know what Weis and Kansas are working with. That's not to say that this team is going to set the world on fire, but it might also be a mistake to assume they will limp their way through the 2012 campaign. Of course when you finish the previous season 2-10 no one is going to give you the benefit of the doubt so Kansas will have to show fans, media and opponents alike that they can put a competitive product on the field.
With so many questions and so few answers a few standout as Kansas football prepares for the start of the 2012 season in just a few short days.
How Much Improvement Can Kansas Expect Offensively With Dayne Crist At Quarterback?
Jordan Webb has transferred to Colorado, Dayne Crist has stepped in at Kansas. Crist was the top pro style quarterback in his recruiting class and the number two quarterback overall when he chose to play for Charlie Weis and Notre Dame. The two have reunited with the hope that they can create some magic in a second chance with the Jayhawks.
Crist hasn't lived up to his high school hype and this is one last chance to showcase himself as he looks to move on to the next level. How much can he improve the Jayhawk offense? Were the issues over the past two seasons a product of coaching, the overall talent level or the signal caller? The good news is that while Kansas has a new system, their quarterback isn't learning it for the first time. That could help move the entire team along the learning curve and hopefully give Kansas some consistent production on one side of the ball.
Can The Jayhawks Find The Right Pieces To Improve Defensively?
Kansas was horrible on defense during the past two seasons. Losing is one thing. Watching an opponent set multiple school and league offensive records on a weekly basis is another. There is plenty of blame to go around and the finger pointing always seems to focus on a few areas but it's hard to imagine anything improves if it isn't an across the board improvement.
Dave Campo is charged with guiding that improvement. There is expected to be an infusion of new competition on the front line but what happens at linebacker and in the secondary will be just as important. Is the personnel there to make the improvement and can the staff find the right pieces to make that happen?
Does This Team Measure Up Physically?
The S&C program was in disarray near the end of the Turner Gill era. Actually it was apparently in disarray throughout the Turner Gill era, or so we've been told. Accountability, organization and the basics of managing a program of 85 men through an offseason program was apparently lost on the last staff.
The talk out of Lawrence is that this has changed. Is that true? Do we see four quarters of competitive Kansas football without the benefit of practicing halftime? This team was run of the field physically and mentally on multiple occasions last year. Has the new approach by the new S&C staff improved this team enough from a physical and mental standpoint to line up in the Big 12?
What Is The Mental Makeup of This Team?
It's hard to ignore the fact that Kansas has been bad for two years. Coach Weis has stepped in looking to change the culture and that has been the challenge that every Kansas coach has faced when taking the job. Historically this is a program that experiences occasional ups, followed by a series of downs. We're coming out of a dramatic downturn, one that would shake the confidence of anyone. Is this new staff able to do an effective job of breaking things down and building this team back up into a group that is mentally ready to compete? How do the roster changes impact this piece and what players will step up and take ownership in this piece?
Is Charlie Weis The Right Choice?
Outside of Kansas there are a whole lot of doubters when it comes to Weis. Even Kansas fans have had their doubts. As any good fanbase will do they gradually warm up to the idea and support your team but now the rubber meets the road.
Weis has a confidence about him, he talks Super Bowls, NFL quarterbacks and he likes to talk about the names and organizations he's been associated with. That's all fine and well and hopefully those things help him succeed, but this will be a challenging job for him. Is he ready to put in the work? Does this team show the improvement in terms of the overall competitive nature of the program?
Certainly expectations are different at Kansas than they were when Weis was at Notre Dame or even Florida, but neither of those programs is particularly disappointed that Weis is no longer the coach. Does this situation and this fanbase provide an opportunity and an environment where Weis can prove his ability at the college level? It's been said that this team is made up of players looking for a second chance or even a final chance. That same scenario probably holds true for Weis. Is he the right choice?