Bring Back the Special Teams
In 2007 it was a strength and since then it's been a steady decline. Kansas has been a revolving door in the return game and while punting has been a strength behind the leg of Alonso Rojas, Kansas rarely found themselves consistently winning the battle of field position.
At the end of the day it's about getting the ball in the hands of those that can make it happen. Kansas has already taken step one in improving the special teams by doing that. DJ Beshears, Daymond Patterson and Bradley McDougald all should have been in these roles a season ago, but all were part of a revolving door at the positions.
The second piece to that puzzle is discipline and effort from those that have to execute the blocks and make the tackles. That seems easy enough, but let's consider for a moment that these are usually players not starting regularly, putting in the blood, sweat and tears with little in the way of recognition. That can become difficult to do if things are as bad as they appeared to have been at Kansas last year. When you talk about buy in, it's top to bottom buy in that matters and that includes those that play a critical and often thankless role on special teams.
Last but not least, the kickers. Jacob Branstetter is as good a form tackler for a 5'9' kicker as there is in the country, but he doesn't necessarily have a huge leg. Ronny Doherty is supposed to help in that and maybe just maybe give the Kansas kicking game a little boost.
Ultimately, the adjustments matter but it's the emphasis in this area from the coaches that makes the difference. One of the few carry overs from Buffalo for Gill is Aaron Stamm the special teams coach. So far, he's hard not to like. Saturday Kansas needs to get back to making special teams as key a part of their game plan as the offense and the defense.