In the final game before the start of conference play, the Kansas Jayhawks will play host to the New Mexico State Aggies in a game that should present some opportunity to make any last minute adjustments and do a little fine tuning.
A year ago the Aggies down in Las Cruces finished the season 3-10 overall with a 1-7 conference record in the WAC. The three wins were actually a bit of a surprise as the Aggies were able to sneak up on the Aggies of Utah State and get a win where they weren't expected to.
As for 2010, they look to be improved but probably not enough to get out of Lawrence with a win.
On the offensive side of the ball the Aggies return 9 of 11 starters including leading rusher Seth Smith, their top two recievers in Todd Lee and Marcus Allen and for better or worse leading passer Jeff Fleming and his counterpart Trevor Walls.
If there is one position on the field that will hold the Aggies back it would have to be the quarterback position. A season ago Aggie quarterbacks totaled just 6 touchdown passed compared to 18 interceptions. The bad news for NMSU is that they return both quarterbacks with any meaningful minutes.
Jeff Fleming would appear to be the front runner, but expect Walls, Tanner Rust, Matt Christian, and Andrew Manley to all compete for the starting job. Either way the Aggie offense that was in the bottom tier of college football a season ago doesn't appear to be ready to make any major strides in 2010.
Defensively the Aggies return seven starters including the entire secondary which was statistically their best unit last year. Part of that is due to the lack of a need for opposing teams to throw the ball, but the group also has some talent including cornerback Davon House.
The biggest hole in the Aggie defense exists with the linebacking corps which might take a step back after the loss of all three starters including the teams two leading tacklers from a year ago. At the same time, do you really care if you lose three players from a 3-10 team? In the case of the Aggies, returning 16 starters to a team that was bad might mean that you're still bad.
At the end of the day Kansas should win this one comfortabley. Game four will present an opportunity to fine tune, work out any last minute kinks, and hopefully heal up and get the last few reps for those backups before the conference grind begins.