The new AD, Jeff Long, reported to campus on Wednesday. On Thursday, the KU football team reported for camp. And today - Friday, obviously - practices officially begin.
There are plenty of “storylines for KU football” out there that you can go and read, many of them linked in today’s news and notes. Well... here’s one more. This is what I’m looking for as fall camp begins.
How soon will Beaty settle on a QB?
Last year, Beaty didn’t announce Peyton Bender as the starting quarterback until a few hours before game 1. This year, he’s on the record as saying that he wants to get a quarterback named “pretty quickly.” I hope that means AT LEAST by August 18, which would be two full weeks before the opener vs Nicholls State. That would give
Bender whoever it is plenty of practice time with the first stringers, get them comfortable with each other, and allow Bender that player to establish himself as a leader on offense.
A second, but related question, is obviously who will win the QB job? In case you haven’t figured it out, my money is on Peyton Bender, which is why I think KU will struggle again in 2018.
Let me explain.
If Miles Kendrick or Carter Stanley can somehow work their way into the QB1 spot, it would show that the coaching staff is at least open to trying new things and not just going to go full on AIR RAID because that’s what we do or some other stupid reason. It would also be a good reason for the staff to lean heavily where their best talent lies, and that’s on Khalil Herbert, Dom Williams, and Pooka Williams out of the backfield.
Will key newcomers win starting jobs?
Kansas needs its two heralded freshman out of Louisiana, CB Corione Harris and RB Pooka Williams, to contribute right away. As KU’s first-ever top 100 recruit, Harris needs to grab a starting job in the secondary right away and make the transition to D1 ball as quickly as possible.
Williams, meanwhile, likely won’t unseat Khalil Herbert as a starter, but should be too talented for coaches to keep off the field. He needs to see action not only as a backup but also as a slot receiver and possibly even a kick returner.
The defense returns nine starters, but has a glaring hole at DE with Dorance Armstrong leaving early for the NFL last year. Juco DE Azur Kamara had an impressive offer sheet that included Florida State, Nebraska, Arizona State, and Louisville, and KU will need someone to step up alongside DT Daniel Wise on that defensive line to suck up blockers and put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Juco DE Najee Stevens-McKenzie also had a decent offer list (Maryland, Pitt, Missouri) and could push incumbents Keyshaun Simmons and Josh Ehambe for playing time as well.
Will the offensive line continue to be a sieve for opposing defenses?
I mean, c’mon man. This was ridiculous.
Losing Mesa Ribordy to health issues along with the departure of Jacob Bragg is a huge blow to this unit. Hakeem Adeniji should be completely healthy now after surgeries on both shoulders in the offseason, and most of the rest of the starters from last year return. With new offensive line coach AJ Ricker on staff, will that be enough to make this unit serviceable?
The Jayhawks picked up a couple of promising recruits in Jacobi Lott and Nick Williams, but I wouldn’t expect them to be able to come in and contribute as true freshmen with all of the returning linemen KU has available.
I have a cautious optimism that we’ll see improvement from this group, although that optimism isn’t really founded in anything more concrete than the hope that it can’t get any worse.
Although now that I think about it, that’s kinda how I feel in general about most things regarding the Kansas football program at the moment!