Now that we’re in the beginning stages of the 2018 college football season we can start to speculate—what should Kansas football fans expect from the team this year? It’s a great question but with a not so easy answer.
So far under David Beaty the program has been 3-33. That’s an 8.3% winning percentage, the lowest of all Power 5 coaches since he took over. It’s not all Beaty’s fault, as he came into a rough situation that not many coaches could dig out of—at least not quickly. But he certainly hasn’t helped himself.
To be more specific, as head coach for Kansas Beaty hasn’t seen a whole lot of improvement since his first year.
|Kansas Football 2015||Kansas Football 2017|
|Total Offense – 119th||Total Offense – 120th|
|Passing – 80th||Passing – 76th|
|Rushing – 121st||Rushing – 125th|
|Receiving – 80th||Receiving – 76th|
|First Downs – 114th||First Downs – 124th|
|Offensive Efficiency – 118th||Offensive Efficiency – 122nd|
|Total Defense – 128th||Total Defense – 118th|
|Passing Defense – 125th||Passing Defense – 126th|
|Rushing Defense – 125th||Rushing Defense – 71st|
|Sacks – 65th||Sacks – 92nd|
|Interceptions – 92nd||Interceptions – 125th|
|Defensive Efficiency – 115th||Defensive Efficiency – 110th|
|Field Goals – 124th||Field Goals – 32nd|
|Punting – 9th||Punting – 12th|
|Special Teams Efficiency – 125th||Special Teams Efficiency – 124th|
There are only two areas from the rankings above where Beaty made significant improvements—rushing defense and field goals. Most of the other rankings stayed pretty even, aside from total sacks, which to me was rather shocking.
A lot of this could be and likey is due to the fact that when Beaty arrived he had a significantly depleted roster. Not many coaches have had to go through the strenuous and grim situation he did so it’s illogical to draw comparisons. But to not see much improvement in three years makes for an ugly head roaring of a fan base.
Kansas football fans are beyond asking for results—they are now demanding them. I can’t blame them as it’s been darn near 10 years since they’ve seen a winning record. But will this year be the year of improvement?
I think a good start to answer that question is to look at the first release of the 2018 roster. A few things I noticed right away—they have depth and they have experience. These are two things Kansas has desperately lacked since Beaty has been here.
At the QB position they’ve picked up a quality prospect in Miles Kendrick who has leadership ability and the competitive spirit of Michael Cummings—one of the last QB’s to be successful at Kansas. They also return former starters Carter Stanley and Peyton Bender who will most certainly be pushed by Kendrick.
Another few areas Kansas should see significant production and improvement from is the RB and WR positions. They return a lot of experience at both positions and have added a big time play maker in Pooka Williams who I foresee playing RB and occasionally lining up in the slot. He reminds me of a Tony Pierson type player, but faster and overall just better.
But I think an area that could be a concern for this team once again is the OL. Kansas took a big blow when they lost starting center Mesa Ribordy for the rest of his career who just about single-handedly held the line together. Since then Andru Tovi has moved into the OL and is hoping to fill that void. Also look for JUCO product Reuben Lewis to make an impact as he’s a big dude with a lot of talent and experience.
The biggest improvement from last year to this year though will be on the defensive side of the ball. It was a big focus in recruiting and Beaty made it a point to bring in some JUCO guys that could not only play right away but make an immediate impact. He also picked up a 4 star freshman in Coe Harris that I think is arguably the best player to be recruited by Kansas. He has the potential to be a Richard Sherman type player and this will open up a lot of opportunities for the defense.
Having said all of that, it’s hard to determine what exactly to expect from this team. The depth is there and the talent and experience are there, but are the coaches able to properly prepare the players for games? At times last year, especially on the defensive side of the ball, players seemed out of place or simply unprepared for the opposing team. It’s hard to tell if it was because many of the players were new to starting or if it was the coaches not creating a sufficient game plan. Either way this was an area that was addressed by Beaty as he brought in big time veteran defensive mind, Bill Miller. Let’s hope it makes the difference.
It’s also worth noting that the schedule won’t be getting any easier for Kansas as they play a tough FCS team in Nicholls State to open the season. That may be the only game they’re favored in all year and if they are favored it won’t be by much. I have confidence they can win at least this game but after that it will be like a gazelle trying to hunt a lion. The Big 12 is a gauntlet from the 9th place team to the 1st place team, so they’ll need a lot of focus, execution, and even more luck to pull off a few conference wins.
At the end of the day there’s a lot of improvement to be made. It all starts with spring practices and if the players do what they need to do during the summer, things could shake out better than they have under Beaty.
And just as only a handful of Kansas football fans are, I’m trying to stay as optimistic as I can. The realization that this year could easily end in another 1-11 or even worse 0-12 season is troubling but at the same time it can’t get much worse than it already has. Either way, let’s hope they put in the work and iron out the wrinkles so we can finally start to enjoy some competitive football.