With the task of replacing the likes of Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier, Dezmon Briscoe and Darrell Stuckey, the Kansas football program and it's fans will learn a lot during the four game non conference stretch. Games against North Dakota State, Georgia Tech, Southern Mississippi and New Mexico State will go a long way toward raising or lowering expectations of fans and the confidence of the Jayhawk team.
So who are these opponents? What did they accomplish a year ago? Key losses, key returnees? Today we begin the early early non conference previews at Rock Chalk Talk.
North Dakota State is a team and a University that might ring a bell to Jayhawk fans for a recent tournament game on the basketball court. For the sake of putting together any semblance of a football season, Kansas better hope their football team doesn't put up as good of a fight.
The Bison are coming off of a 3-8 season in 2009 with wins over Western Illinois, Wagner College and Indiana State. The BIson did play against a Big 12 opponent a season ago in a losing effort against Iowa State 34-17. To their credit the Bison did lose four of the eight games by one score or less so it wasn't as if they were getting blown out of the water left and right, but you are what your record says you are.
Offensively the Bison will need to replace their leading rusher from a year ago in Pat Paschall. Paschall rushed for over 1400 yards on the season with the next closest being DJ Norton, a junior entering this year, with 265.
The passing attack for the Bison featured two quarterbacks a year ago and one returns in Jose Mohler. Mohler stands only 5'11" but completed nearly 60% of his passes in four starts. His average per game was low at just 129 yards per contest, but part of that is likely due to the focus on the run.
Ultimately the Bison are going to have to replace nearly 50% of their scoring and 66% of their offensive yardage production from a year ago. Sound familiar? Kansas likely has to replace more.
Either way the Bison will be coming into Lawrence seeking a new identity and while the Jayhawks will be doing the same, I'd rather do that at home than on the road.
Defensively the Bison return three of their top four tacklers. The same group managed 22 sacks versus just 18 for their opponents. Another interesting statistic for the Bison, five blocked kicks. Not bad for someone not named Virginia Tech.
So there you have it. The 10,000 foot view of the North Dakota State Bison. I'd love to have a little more, but as you can imagine, the information isn't exactly plentiful when researching Bison Football.
Needless to say, Kansas should go into this one expecting to win and focused on polishing up their game and getting back into the swing of things. That's not a knock on the Bison, but it is the reality for Kansas. Even if NDSU was 9-2 last year, Kansas would still need to enter this expecting to and preparing for a victory. North Dakota State represents the final nail in the Mangino coffin and a chance to turn the page once and for all to a new regime and a new era of Kansas football.