I’ve skipped game three in this series because a) its Towson and no one really cares about their personnel and b) its really tough to find good information on Towson. So chalk it up to lazy sportswriting but no Towson preview. We move onto Kansas. Jordan will cover sPitt later since they are Game 1.
Kansas is currently on its fourth head coach since West Virginia joined the Big 12 ten years ago. When the Mountaineers joined the conference, Charlie Weis had just been hired. Three short year later, the Jayhawks turned to David Beaty and tried to give him as much rope as they could but four years later, he was let go and the Jayhawks brought in former LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles. He was dismissed and now Lance Leipold has been brought in.
Leipold may be the guy to turn the fortune of Kansas around. He’s a proven winner, compiling a record of 109-6 in 8 seasons. From 2009-2011, his teams did not lose a game, going 45-0. After collecting 6 Division III championships at Wisconsin-Whitewater, he became the coach at Buffalo in 2015. He went 37-33 including 10-4 in 2018, the most in program history for a single season.
Now the head coach at Kansas, Leipold has his work cut out for him. Every Kansas coach comes in thinking they will build the team through recruiting, finds out its going to be a much tougher sledding than they thought, jump to taking 100 JUCOs and they fail. Will Leipold be different?
At the end of the year, Kansas looked to be a different team. The biggest reason for KU’s late improvement was the emergence of quarterback Jalon Daniels. After he was inserted as the starter for the final three games and three quarters, Daniels was dynamic, throwing for seven touchdowns with three interceptions while also adding three rushing scores.
He won’t have leading receiver Kwamie Lassiter to throw to, but there’s experience and production in the corps – Luke Grimm, Lawrence Arnold, and Trevor Wilson are key parts of the promising group – to grow into their roles even more.
The running game will be a plus. Devin Neal led the team with 707 yards and eight scores, and on the way is Ky Thomas from Minnesota and Sevion Morrison from Nebraska to rotate in. Daniels can run, too.
KU’s coaches feel good about the starting offensive line — including anchors Earl Bostick Jr. at left tackle and Mike Novitsky at center — but the team desperately needs rapid development from backups to avoid a significant drop-off if injuries occur.
Seven starters are expected back and the transfer portal is loaded with parts about to play a huge impact.
Mason Fairchild and Trevor Kardell were the top two guys a year ago, while Jared Casey also should have a role after becoming a cult hero following his game-winning two-point conversion catch against Texas. Juco transfer Tevita Noa gives KU a run-blocking option.
Miami University’s Lonnie Phelps will instantly be the team’s top pass rusher – he made 8.5 sacks for the RedHawks last year – and Jarrett Paul is a former Rutgers and Eastern Michigan playmaker who could start at safety right away.
2021 Full Game & Highlights
Prediction that will be right: Kansas will be a tough out
Prediction that will be wrong: Tony Mathis will have a breakout game