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How Young is Kansas Football?

We all know the Jayhawks will be experiencing some growing pains this fall.  We seem to have an abundance of up-and-coming players, but a lack of proven talent.  As I pondered the situation, I began to wonder: just how young is KU?  Specifically, how do we compare to the rest of the Big 12 in the youth department?

I used a very basic formula to rate the team in terms of the players' experience.  I went through the starters and assigned them a number based on their class (0 for a true freshman, 1 for a redshirt freshman, 2 for a sophomore, 3 for a junior, 4 for a senior).  I then divided the total number by the number of starters to get an average experience level.  A team getting a 2.00 would mean their average starter is a sophomore.  A team with a 4.00 would be nothing but seniors.  I then did the same for the 2 deep overall, to see how much scarier our inexperience would look from an even wider focus.


What I found was basically what I expected.  KU's offensive starters averaged a 2.91, meaning the average starter is between sophomore and junior level.  The defense picked up a similar 2.82.  The offensive two deep averaged a frightening 2.54, with the defense a 2.59.  These numbers paint a portrait of an inexperienced team, but a lot of teams have to start a bunch of sophomores and juniors.  How do we stack up against the rest of the conference?  The table below tells you the average experience level of each team's starters (offense and defense combined).

1 Missouri (3.41)!
2 Texas A&M (3.23)
3 Iowa State (3.18)
4 Texas (3.09)
4 Oklahoma State (3.09)
4 Kansas State (3.09)
7 Baylor (3.00)
8 Texas Tech (2.91)
9 Kansas (2.86)
10 Oklahoma (2.77)

Kansas falls right about where you would guess.  Anyone else shocked by Oklahoma?  It didn't seem like they lost a lot, but they look to start 9 sophomores and redshirt freshmen at this point.  Missouri blows the rest of the conference out of the water with their 3.41, as they start 10 juniors and seniors on offense, plus 8 on defense.

Now, the stats change a bit when you look at the entire two deep.  Several teams (namely Texas) had senior-laden starting lineups, but with only young guys to back them up, and their scores dropped accordingly.  For teams already at the bottom, the difference was fairly negligible.

1 Kansas State (2.88)
2 Missouri (2.86)
3 Texas A&M (2.83)
4 Iowa State (2.80)
5 Baylor (2.72)
6 Texas Tech (2.63)
7 Kansas (2.57)
8 Oklahoma (2.56)
9 Oklahoma State (2.50)
10 Texas (2.47)

Oklahoma State and Texas tumble when you look at their two-deep, while K-State clearly has a very experienced bench.  Kansas jumps up to 7th here, but numerically they're so close to the bottom, it's still a rough situation.  There's a lot less variation in these numbers, so it's safe to say most teams at this level are in a more similar boat when it comes to the experience level of the team overall, which makes sense.

In the end, I probably haven't told you anything you didn't already know, but I like to be able to see these things on paper, and it's nice to know how we stack up to the rest of the conference.  We're a young team.  Like I've said before, this season's success will be measured less by wins and more by the development and progress of our young players.  We lose only a handful of contributors after this season to seniority, and none of them are anyone I would deem "irreplaceable."  If we can get some valuable experience under these young guns' belts, we may have a much more positive outlook at this time next year.