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Perfect Combinations: Rob Likens and Zach Yenser

With so many new faces playing for the Jayhawks this fall, we take a look two of the coaches charged with helping to turn around the KU football program.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

OC Rob Likens and OL coach Zach Yenser have been coaching together since 2010 at Louisiana Tech, spending 2010-14 under head coach Sonny Dykes at LaTech and then at California.  Now under first-year head coach David Beaty, they look to build a recruiting machine and make the University of Kansas relevant in football.

As Beaty announced his first several staff hires, he said he was looking not only for recruiters, but for teachers, mentors, and people full of enthusiasm and energy for the game.

For their part, not only have Likens and Yenser have been involved with some of the best offensive minds in college football in the past, but they have become good friends off the field as well over the past five years.

Their final year at Louisiana Tech (2012) saw the Bulldogs lead college football in scoring offense and total offense.  That year they knocked off Illinois and Virginia, and gave Texas A&M all they wanted in a 59-57 affair.

That gave Sonny Dykes an opportunity at Cal, and he took most of his coaching staff with him to Berkley.

Likens and Yenser helped lead Cal to two of the best offensive seasons in school history.  In 2013, Cal set school records for completions, yardage, and attempts.  In 2014, they set four more school records: passing yards, touchdowns, total yards per game, and passing first downs.  Additionally, three of Cal's top four receivers in 2014 were Biletnikoff Award candidates.

Said Likens: "A lot of people don't think about how much the coaches have to come together. The camaraderie of the coaches will filter and trickle down to your team. Players are smart, they're not dumb, they see that. They see that camaraderie. If there's some dissension amongst a coaching staff, kids are the first one to pick up on that. That (Yenser) was big because the offensive line coach has to be one of the better coaches on your staff. We've worked together for five years and all I've got to do is say Zach, 'This.' And he knows exactly what I'm talking about. I don't have to spend a day coaching him what I want. It was huge and on the personal level he's a really good friend of mine."

Coach Beaty is known for his prowess as a recruiter, and that showed as he went to set up his coaching staff as well.  Likens again: "As soon as Coach Beaty shared his vision with me I was like, 'Let's do this. I'm on board.' He wants to do it right. He wants to build a solid foundation doing things the right way, building a program over the long haul not just coming in here and doing quick-fix type stuff. That was very attractive for me."

The last five years together (advanced stats pulled from Football Outsiders):

Year School Record OFEI Rk Off S&P+ Rk
2009 Louisiana Tech 4-8 85 101
2010 Louisiana Tech 5-7 92 72
2011 Louisiana Tech 8-5 78 83
2012 Louisiana Tech 9-3 11 27
2012 California 2-9 100 58
2013 California 1-11 89 89
2014 California 5-7 32 30

If Likens and Yenser continue to have similar success at Kansas, it's likely they won't be here very long, either.  But, they do have their work cut out for them, as Kansas is currently one of the worst FBS programs.  The Jayhawks have a pronounced lack of talent and depth, with fewer scholarship players than most FCS teams (and fewer scholarship players than Penn State after the Sandusky sanctions).

Welcome to Lawrence, guys.  We're glad to have you.