2012 Record: 1-11 (0-9 in Big 12)
Head Coach: Charlie Weis (2nd year at Kansas, 36-38 All-Time)
Last Bowl Game: 2008 Insight Bowl: beat Minnesota 42-21
Stadium: Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, KS (capacity = 50,071)
Home Field Advantage: ranked 68th out of 69 BCS teams
Toughest Home Game: 10/19 vs Oklahoma
Toughest Road Games: 11/2 at Texas, 11/9 at Oklahoma State
Stats to Fear: converted just 32.26% on third downs (last in Big 12), scored TDs on just 46.15% of red zone trips (last in Big 12), had 11 sacks in 2012 (last in big 12)
Stat to Cheer: held opponents to a 78.46% red zone conversion rate (2nd in Big 12)
Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 93rd out of 124 teams
Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 5, Defense: 6, Special Teams: 2
Key Defensive Returnees: LB Ben Heeney (112 tackles)
Key Offensive Returnees: RB James Sims (1013 yds rush, 9 TD), RB Tony Pierson (760 yds rush, 6.5 ypc)
The debut season of Charlie Weis was pretty much what everybody expected when the hire was announced. The lone victory for the Jayhawks came in their opener against South Dakota State. They did have some close calls (Rice, NIU, Okie State, Texas and Texas Tech) but they just didn't have enough to finish games. Will that change in year two?
The one year Dayne Crist experiment didn't work and the Jayhawks could have had the same record if they would have spent that time developing a QB. This year, the Jayhawks will once again give the reigns over to a transfer QB but this one, Jake Heaps of BYU, will have two years of eligibility left. Heaps had a great freshman year for the Cougars but lost favor in his sophomore season as his performance dipped. Can he help Kansas get out of the Big 12 gutter? The Jayhawks have a nice backfield with Tony Pierson, James Sims and Taylor Cox. The receiving corps is an unknown and it's also still unknown if Miami (OH) transfer Nick Harwell will be able to play this fall. In just nine games last year for the Redhawks, Harwell caught 68 passes and 8 TDs and he could be a difference maker for the Jayhawks, if he's eligible, as a dependable go-to receiver. The OL losses it's three most experienced players and returns just 29 career starts so that very important piece of the puzzle is still very much in question.
Would you believe me if I told you the Kansas defense improved last season? They allowed less points and less yards than the year before, they were a lot better on third downs and they were better in the red zone. Now if they could just stop giving up as many big plays. They still have a long way to go before they are considered a good defense but they are heading in the right direction. The DL will be a work in progress as the Jayhawks must replace their two leading tacklers off of a defense that only had 11 sacks all season long (no player had more than two). They Jayhawks will add five JUCO linemen this fall so they hope that will help shore up the defense. The LB corps is one of the better units on the Jayhawks and they will be led by Ben Heeney. The defensive backfield must replace pretty much everybody who attempted to defend a pass last year. Weis has added four JUCO's to try and help the backend of the defense.
Kansas will put a lot of faith in transfers and JUCO's this season on both sides of the football. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. The out of conference schedule is workable with South Dakota, Rice and a Louisiana Tech team that will be rebuilding a bit. If, and it's a big if, the JUCO's and transfers come through Kansas could be a lot better this year but it's hard to bank on all of them coming through. Look for the Jayhawks to be more competitive but don't look for them to work any miracles.
Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews: