Last year it can be argued that Kansas football made some steps forward despite its 1-11 record. No longer were the games completely uncompetitive, Kansas just fell short a lot. Part of that reason can be attributed to the quarterback play.
Last year the Jayhawks ranked 117th in passing and 119th in receiving. Dayne Crist had a passing completion rate of 47.7%, the lowest of his career. He also threw nine interceptions, doubling his career total from Notre Dame.
It's safe to say that 2012 was not a banner year for Crist. That topic has been covered extensively and is fully in the past. What needs to be talked about now is how Kansas can do at the quarterback position in 2013.
That's where Jake Heaps comes in.
Imagine if the Jayhawks had an average passing offense in 2012 as opposed to the terrible one they had. Instead of throwing for seven touchdowns on the year, Kansas throws for 22. Suddenly they put up a lot more points and aren't stuck relying on the running game nearly as much. A 22nd ranked running game is fantastic, but it does no good when it's the only facet of the team operating well.
If Jake Heaps can come in this year and the next and be an average NCAA quarterback then the Jayhawks will be in much better shape. The defense is already improving with Dave Campo's recruits and can be better than last year. James Sims and Tony Pierson return and the addition of Darrian Miller will contribute to the continued success of the 22nd ranked rushing offense.
If Heaps can be an average NCAA quarterback then the Jayhawks will be in pretty good shape heading into 2013. His two seasons at BYU, even his sophomore season where he washed out, were loads better than the previous regime. In 2010 he put up 2,316 yards with 15 touchdowns and a 57.2 completion rating. 2011 he only contributed 1,452 yards with nine touchdowns, but his completion rating stayed the same.
Heaps looked impressive in the spring game, throwing for 257 yards. However, as we saw with Crist, spring game success doesn't always translate to season success. However Heaps has the tools to be successful. He spent a year learning and molding to the Kansas style of football. He has a better group of receivers than Crist had last year. The running game will continue to be steady and Campo's defense should improve as well.
If Kansas is going to improve their record from last year to this year, (not too hard of a feat, admittedly) it will be because Jake Heaps will be the leader that the offense needs. If he can put up 2011 numbers, it will give Kansas more points and better chances to win games.
Kansas has the pieces to be a low-level bowl team in 2013 if they win the games they're supposed to win and pull off a few conference wins. The only way they are going to be able to do that is if Jake Heaps can be a serviceable quarterback and not completely awful.
2013 will ride on the arm of Jake Heaps, let's just hope that he can get Kansas football out of the mud and on the right track to becoming a good program.