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Kansas Jayhawks Football 2016 Preseason Roundtable

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The writers at RCT gather to answer the burning questions surrounding 2016 KU football.

Florida International v Kansas Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Welcome (back) to the RCT Roundtable, where we invite the writers of this fine site to share their opinions on everything from the coach to the quarterback to the band. Well, not our band. You’ll see.

Let’s get started.

ON A 1-100 SCALE (100 IS THE BEST), DESCRIBE YOUR SATISFACTION WITH DAVID BEATY TO THIS POINT.

David: I'll say 30. Some improvement in the quality of recruits and the Alabama transfers have me feeling a bit more positive, but we still don't have much to go on with Beaty, and what little there is hasn't been encouraging. Puzzlingly conservative 4th down calls, bizarre handling of the QB situation, and special teams chaos were bad looks last year, but I'm willing to write a lot of that off as him being a rookie coach. Now, despite little experience and no real track record as an OC, he decided to make playcalling his own one man show this year. It's too early to truly judge, but I have my concerns.

Fetch: Probably like a 50. The fact that he has gotten the type of recruits (and transfers) when there isn’t much to recruit to is pretty impressive, and the pure gathering of talent outweighs everything else in my mind. If he picks anyone other than Willis to be the QB this year that will go down to about a 5.

Fizzle: I’d say 65. He is doing the best he can do given what he has to work with. No one expected to win last year. He is pulling in some great recruits too. Heck, i might give him a 70. That is subject to change after the first 3 games.

Mike: Wow, a D and two F’s so far. I’ll give him a 70, right at a C-minus. The recruiting has been impressive to me, considering where the KU football program rates nationally right now. His primary job is to stabilize the program and build depth and talent, and that is exactly what he is doing. He can worry about winning games in 2017 and beyond. By all accounts he’s an incredible offensive mind and has surrounded himself with good coaches, so I’m excited to see what he can do once some of this talent gets here and gets developed for a year or two.

Grad: I’ll say a 60. Recruiting has been good, especially considering the circumstances, but a few red flags surfaced regarding his actual coaching last season. I think year two will tell us a lot. We may not win many games, but we need to see improvement both from the team and from Beaty on the sideline.

dnoll5: I’ll be the guy that looks completely optimistic- 70. Dude had nothing to work with last year, and recruiting has been stellar.

Fetch: Screw it, I am with Dnoll. Give me a 70.

Mike: You jerks - I was the first one to say 70. Credit where credit is due, yo.

Winmore: I’ll give him about a 47. You can’t blame Beaty for the atrocious condition in which he found the KU football program. Nor can you blame him for the misfortune of his best QB option, Michael Cummings, getting his knee wrecked in last year’s spring game. The Air Raid offense is structured in a way to level the playing field for under-manned, under-talented teams, which is why it became a preferred playbook amongst mid-major schools well before power five conference teams jumped on the bandwagon. I have no problem with the offensive system, but plenty of questions when it comes to Beaty’s running of it. The obstinate desire to run a non-stop hurry up even though his offense was woefully inconsistent was rendered pointless when he would then clinch up to Marty Schottenheimer level conservatism once the ‘Hawks finally got on their opponent’s side of the field. The only thing the ‘Hawks did with any consistency last year was throw their struggling defense onto the field after countless three-and-outs.

misterbrain: What is wrong with everyone? I mean, this program was a complete and utter disaster when he took over, and I bet you can’t find one person on the planet that was surprised that the Jayhawks were winless last year. And while you can question his playcalling last year, he was still working with a bunch of supporting players thrust into star roles in the first year of a massive rebuild. The recruiting is solid at this point, which is what his strength was supposed to be coming in. I don’t see how anyone can give him lower than an 80 at this point. Personally, I’m going 87 (because, why not?).

David: sticking with 30. All the optimism is based on hope. If only my college professors were so nice as to grade on potential

KUChief: I’m going with the milquetoast 55… Football is about winning games first and foremost, and about not embarrassing everyone second, and I feel like we’re at least on the right track when it comes to the embarrassment part. That said, can’t go much higher without some wins.

WE AT RCT KNOW, OR ARE PRETTY CERTAIN, THAT RYAN WILLIS IS GOING TO BE THE STARTING QUARTERBACK. WHY WON’T BEATY ADMIT THAT HE KNOWS IT, TOO?

David: I think he wants to stand by his #EarnIt philosophy. With Willis still being green and coming off a broken wrist, he's probably concerned that just handing him the starting job over an experienced upperclassman is a bad look. Drawing it out a bit makes it look like he really made him work for it. Plus, there's a small part of me that believes Beaty wants Cozart to be the guy.

Mike: All of what David said makes sense, I can totally see that being the case.

Fetch: See above. I won’t watch anyone take a snap other than Willis.

dnoll5: Yes you will - when we’re up by 30 on Rhode Island. God I hope that happens.

misterbrain: I don't give a damn about the broken wrist, he clearly showed last year he was the better option. And given that our WR group is looking pretty solid, Willis is the guy you want back there. The only way you could convince me that anyone else should be starting is if the OL was still horrendous, but everyone says that situation is much improved.

Fizzle: I’d say he is building suspense.

Grad: I think he likes the idea of a mobile QB and part of him wants Cozart to take this giant leap forward and become the QB we all hoped he’d become back when he first burst on the scene. Problem is… it just doesn’t look like it is going to happen. His passing just isn’t there, and it is bad enough that his ability to scramble for some first downs here and there isn’t a big enough plus to offset it. Willis is the best passer, let him get as much first-team reps as he can and become the guy.

Winmore: Beaty wants Cozart to be the guy. This offensive system works better with a run/pass attack from the QB position. Willis offers nothing in the run part of the equation. But I’m not really sure why people are talking about him being the second coming of Dan Marino. Cozart is no world beater, but before he was lost for the season against Iowa State he had three games where he was completing near or more than 70% while doing a good job of not turning the ball over - key ingredients in a pass heavy offense. Willis’ completion percentage was absolute garbage, barely completing 52% for the season. In three of his nine total starts he completed 46% or lower. That’s ghastly in an offensive scheme meant to simplify routes for quick completions. Add to that Willis’ average yards per attempt was a pathetic 5.5. If you omit the Iowa State game where both Cozart and Willis played and then project their respective starting numbers (3 games for Cozart & 8 for Willis) over a 12 game season, Cozart was on pace for 2,408 yards and Willis 2,429. The yardage comparison is negligible. Cozart’s protection of the ball, completion percentage and running ability makes it easy to see why Beaty isn’t ready to declare he’ll ride or die with Willis.

Mike: I dunno, man, I might have to call small sample size on you. SDSU 25/38, Memphis 13/28, Rutgers 13/18. Plus we saw plenty of Cozart in 2014 when he completed exactly half of his passing attempts (granted, different offense). Plus, I don’t know where it’s set that you have to have the run/pass option - Texas Tech’s Air Raid worked great for years with guys like Kliff Kingsbury, BJ Symons, Graham Harrell, Sonny Cumbie, and Taylor Potts.

David: Also, Memphis was the only halfway-decent defense Cozart had to play against. Willis played next to a banged up Kinner against Big 12 competition

Grad: Let’s not forget too that Willis was a true freshman. Cozart is what he is at this point, while Willis could develop into something special. We are going to be terrible this year, why not go with the higher guy that looks to have more upside?

KUChief: I share my FIFA philosophy in my gridiron opinions… as Grad mentioned, if things are in any way close I think you have to go with the younger player with more room for development. I was angry when we pulled the red shirt last year, but I’d be angrier now if Willis didn’t get to run the show from the outset.

WHO WILL STEP UP AND BE A LEADER FOR THE JAYHAWKS ON DEFENSE THIS YEAR?

David: Dorance Armstrong was a pleasant surprise opposite Ben Goodman at DE last year. We'll see how he does now that he's the top pass rusher for teams to worry about. Smithson should have another really solid year, but I'm probably most excited about Dineen. Comparing him to Ben Heeney is probably premature, but given that he'd never played LB at any level before last year, he looked damn good doing it. Now, as a junior with a year of starting under his belt, I can see him really taking off.

Fetch: I am excited to see Kyle Mayberry run around and make plays. I have heard nothing but good things about him. I’ll say Fish though. Partially because of his name, partially because looking competent with zero bodies and not a ton of talent was quite the achievement last year.

Mike: Agreed, I’d like to see Mayberry, Mike Lee, and Maciah Long on the field sooner rather than later. All of those guys had long lists of P5 offers but I’m sure need to #EarnIt. Smithson should have a big year in terms of total tackles, but I’d really like to see the D-line step up, whether that’s one of the Juco guys or Dorance Armstrong bursting through constant double-teams.

Fizzle: I’d say Fish because he can quickly dart around the field and can wiggle out of your hands. Like a fish.

Grad: Probably Smithson and Dineen will be the two “leaders.”

dnoll5: Mayberry. Been getting some tutelage from Chris Harris.

Winmore: Smithson may be the next Jayhawk DB to get a chance in the NFL. Given all the problems with KU last year the kid played his ass off in leading the team in tackles and picks. As a senior I think he’ll go out with a solid effort.

KANSAS HASN’T WON A ROAD GAME SINCE 2009 (UTEP). IF THE JAYHAWKS WERE TO BREAK THAT STREAK IN 2016, WHICH ROAD GAME ARE THEY MOST LIKELY TO WIN?

(Memphis, Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma, West Virginia, K-State)

Fetch: I don’t even remember that UTEP game. Jesus they didn’t win a road game when I was there. Anyway I think they’ll have a shot at Memphis thanks to all their turnover, and maybe Baylor will do everyone a favor and nuke their program by then. I call dibs on the RG3 statue. Who knew cheating on his wife on his wedding day would be the most respect Baylor football showed women this decade.

Mike: Damn dude. Harsh. (Not disagreeing, but harsh.)

David: Clown question, bro.

Mike: So I’ll take that as “they won’t win a road game.” That wasn’t one of the options. For the record, I’ll go with Memphis as “most likely” although I firmly believe we’ll pull another O-fer on the road this year.

misterbrain: They didn't win anywhere last year and you expect a road win? I don't see TCU on the road schedule, so Memphis is probably the only shot.

Fizzle: They aren’t winning any road games this year.

Mike: A couple of somebodies didn’t read the question very well…

Fizzle: You didn’t read the question very well.

Mike: I’ll read you.

Grad: I don’t think we will win any of them, but I think the best chance is probably Tech. We’ve played them close in Lubbock before (lost in OT down there three years ago) and maybe Mahomes gets hurt.

dnoll5: Tech. Couldn’t think of anything else to type.

Winmore: I don’t think it’s happening this season. The Hawks aren’t going into Norman, Waco or Manhattan and coming away with a victory. Mahomes is a ball player so even though the ‘Hawks have played Tech close in Lubbock before, I don’t see a win there either. The most likely candidates would be Memphis or West Virginia. But West V. is a tough place to play and Memphis may be too early in the season. So I’m sticking with maybe next year.

KUChief: So… how about next year’s road schedule?

TRUE OR FALSE: THE K-STATE BAND WILL HAVE A HALFTIME SHOW INVOLVING A JAYHAWK FORMATION PRIOR TO THE MATCHUP IN MANHATTAN WITH KU ON NOV 26.

Fetch: True. I am surprised they haven’t changed their name to the Kansas State we hate the Jayhawks yet.

David: True. It's not a matter of “if,” it's just a matter of what type of compromised position will the Jayhawk find itself in this year? Last year a spaceship was entering its open beak. This year they may do an aquatic theme with a submarine going up… you know what, I think I'll stop there.

Mike: David and I are on the same page on this one, that’s actually almost exactly what I was thinking. I can hear the protests now: “It was a sea monster! We shot a torpedo at it! COME ON YOU GUYS CAN’T YOU SEE THAT?”

misterbrain: False. I think given all the bad publicity they got last year for it, they'll wait to do something inappropriate with the Jayhawk during halftime of our game with them.

Fizzle: I don’t think so. Then again this is Kansas State we are talking about so they could surprise me.

Grad: Of course they will. They will probably trot out with shirts that show a Wildcat doing something inappropriate to a Jayhawk and then the band director will go “those damn kids I had no idea!” and everyone will go “man their band director is the classiest guy ever it definitely isn’t his fault” and all that BS.

dnoll5: At some point in the near future, they will. It’s in their DNA. Why celebrate the mediocrity that is their own institution, when they can relentlessly (and poorly) insult the team and school they desperately want to be?

Winmore: Who cares?

KUChief: I’m with Winmore.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE START TIME FOR A KU FOOTBALL GAME?

Fetch: Give me 11 AM. That probably won’t be a popular pick but the games on at that time are usually garbage so I might as well watch garbage I have a rooting interest in.

David: Evening is my favorite time to watch football. If I'm going to the game, I've always felt night games have the great atmosphere. If not, well I have a family, so there's no nightlife to interfere with, and by that time my kids’ sports activities are over for the day, so it's the only way for me to relax with nothing else to do and just enjoy the game. Plus, since it's primetime, if our game turns ugly, there's usually a big game nationally that I can change the channel to

misterbrain: I don't know that I have one, but probably 11 AM if I have to pick.

Fizzle: Earlier the better. Get it over with quickly.

Mike: As someone who goes to most of the games, night games - 6 PM or later - are much better for tailgating, so that’s what I would pick.

Grad: I like the 3:30 or so games for home. Gives me enough time to get to Lawrence and get blasted drunk before the game, but once it ends I still have all of Saturday evening to get blasted drunk. Plus it’s hard to beat Lawrence on a crisp fall afternoon. For road games, I actually like the 11:00 AM as I can wake up and hit the sofa, maybe ride my stationary bike while watching, etc.

dnoll5: Should I make some comment about starting later so I can watch all of my European soccer in the earlier time frames, or will Mike ban me from all future roundtables if I do?

Mike: Consider yourself banned.

Winmore: Night games at Memorial Stadium are great, especially early in the season when the weather is still nice. You have a day of watching good football, plenty of time to tailgate and then settle into your seats just as the sun becomes obscured by the stadium’s west side press box. I’ve been sunburnt so many times at midday games at Memorial Stadium over the years. There is absolutely no shade anywhere in that stadium at that time and the metal bleachers make you feel like you’re sitting on a grill. If I’m gonna watch the ‘Hawks get roughed up, I rather do it in comfort.

Mike: Yes, the day games, especially in September, are brutal if the sun is out.

David: Agreed. The stadium is all concrete and aluminum baking in the sun. Even an 80 degree day can be miserable if there are no clouds or breeze

KUChief: Living on the East Coast makes the 11am CST games great… If you lose you can still do whatever you want with the day and, more importantly, it doesn’t feel too early to imbibe at a bar even if nobody else cares about the game.

SHOULD DAVID BEATY WEAR A HELMET ON THE SIDELINES WHILE EATING A HOT DOG SANDWICH?

Fetch: I would think he’d have to wear one of those leather helmets with no facemasks from the 1930s or whenever to be able to eat with a helmet on. Coincidentally the ‘30s are also when his 4th down playcalling is from.

Mike: He could always go with one of those one-bar helmets from the 1970s.

David: What the hell is a hot dog sandwich? Those two terms don't belong together.

misterbrain: I refuse to dignify this nonsense with an actual response.

Fizzle: Do you mean a sliced up hot dog in between 2 pieces of sandwich bread? I don’t think so. He needs to focus on coaching.

dnoll5: When did this idiotic trend of calling a hot dog a sandwich come about? I’m blaming millennials.

Grad: We thuggin', rollin' on dubs, and

Off up in the club, wildin' like what

Got Cris' on pop, Henny wit no chaser, and mami don't stop

Throw it up, six o'clock, 'cause I got four hon-eys in the drop

THE JAYHAWKS ARE REPORTEDLY FAVORED BY 29 POINTS OVER RHODE ISLAND. WILL KU COVER?

Fetch: I say yes if Willis starts, no if Cozart starts. If Cozart starts they might lose the freaking game.

David: Nah. Even though the team is more experienced than last year, it's still very green. Especially with it being Beaty’s first game calling plays, I expect a few hiccups and youthful mistakes. I don't think it will be close, but a MOV over four touchdowns is a lot to ask of a team that couldn't win a game last year

misterbrain: Yes! Rhode Island is BAD. If Kansas doesn't win by at least 21 then I don't expect another win all season.

Fizzle: I’m feeling good about that one. KU will absolutely cover.

Mike: I dunno about losing the game sans-Willis, but with the type of offense Beaty wants to run, I could easily see the Jayhawks getting into the 40s or 50s against this overmatched opponent. I mean, come on, Rhode Island is terrible. I currently have faith in Beaty. A victory of less than 28 points will smash that faith to pieces.

Grad: I say KU wins comfortably but doesn’t cover. Either from some late URI scoring or the fact we move the ball but don’t finish a couple drives. I’ll take KU 34-13.

Mike: A 34-13 win would be disappointing to me. They’ve got to take advantage and run it up. Put on a show for the fans.

dnoll5: Yes. Blind optimism.

Winmore: I think they have to for the good of the program and to provide any sense of hope for KU fans. I agree with Mike though. I just don’t know if they have the ability to pile it on yet. I’m gonna say they fall just short with a 24 point victory.

KUChief: I can’t remember when I was last sure of a win… but sure, why not just win by 35 or something?

GIVE AN OFFICIAL PREDICTION FOR TOTAL WINS FOR KU FOOTBALL THIS YEAR.

Fetch: I’ll say two. Rhode Island and then they steal one somewhere.

David: One. There's definitely a chance it turns into two, but I'm not counting on it. Just hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

misterbrain: I'll go with three. Rhode Island for sure, most likely Ohio, and then they steal one against TCU or Iowa State.

Fizzle: Two. 2-3 in the noncon and 0-9 in conference play.

Mike: I believe two is most likely, but I’m optimistic about three. That 1.5 over/under in Vegas is easy money.

Grad: Three wins. We will start 2-0, get irrationally excited, get murdered our next several games and then steal a Big 12 win late in the year.

dnoll5: Two.

Winmore: 3-9. Anything less than that is no improvement over last year’s no contest showing. I think they will get one conference win this year.

KUChief: Two. Way closer to a solid two than a possible three.

IS IT TOO EARLY TO GET EXCITED FOR 2017?

Fetch: No. I wish it were 2017 now.

David: What I hear you saying is that you wish it was basketball season already.

Fetch: Yes. You can tell via reading twitter lately.

Mike: I am ready for 2017 as well - assuming these Alabama transfers pan out. Ryan Willis throwing to two five-star receivers and an O-line that has been together for three years? Yes please.

misterbrain: Yes. I wouldn't want to miss the non-conference portion of Josh Jackson's only season in the crimson and blue.

Fizzle: No way. I am excited to see Star Wars Episode 8.

Grad: Nah, regardless of what happens this year we should have a decently talented team in 2017 and a good amount of experience. Plus our non-con has two home games against Southeast Missouri & Central Michigan (should win both) and a road game against Ohio (definitely a chance for a win, although the road is always tricky).

dnoll5: I actually want to win a game before I move on to the next season. Call me old fashioned. But after we win 56-7 over Rhode Island, feel free to fast forward football to 2017.

Winmore: Yes. Way too early. Gotta see some signs of life this season.