When the Big 12 Media Days kickoff in Dallas next month, more than likely everybody's favorite to win the North Division will be Kansas.
The Jayhawks return nearly their entire team from a year ago that won 8 games and they'll be led by veteran signal caller Todd Reesing.
JayHawkSlant.com publisher Jon Kirby sat down with Huskeronline.com to give his thoughts and perspective on where KU is at heading out of spring ball. Kirby said the expectations are at an all-time high this year in Lawrence.
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Nebraska travels to Lawrence this year on Nov. 14, where they have not won since 2003—Bo Pelini's first year at Nebraska.
When you look at what Kansas returns heading into this fall, are people about his high as they've been in a while about KU football?
"When you focus on the offensive side of the ball, I think that's definitely where they are. With Todd Reesing and a great group of wide receiver back, along with Jake Sharp, who's really been one of the more productive backs in the Big 12 when you count his touches. They are going to have to replace some spots on the interior part of the offensive line and they are going to have to groom some young kids there to step up, but they've always been able to answer those questions over the past three or four seasons. They are going to move the ball on just about everybody they play, which they've actually done the last couple of years."
How big is Reesing in the whole equation and what has he meant to Mark Mangino and KU football?
"I think first of all he's a winner and a competitor. He's a guy that goes out and leads the warm-up drills and he's got guys fired up. He's always jumping up and smacking guys on the helmet. He's just one of those guys that raises everyone up on the field not with just what he does on it, but just his attitude of competing.
"No. 2, I think he just knows this offense so well. If you go back and watch his film on the Rivals network, watch what this kid looked like on film coming out of high school. They were doing this three or four wide receiver spread and that's what he did coming out. He knows where everybody is going to be and he's so good at reading those defenses, that's what makes him so good because he's so smart. He just doesn't make mistakes."
What is the biggest question for Kansas heading out of spring ball?
"I think the biggest question right now is the offensive line. There's a lot of talent and a lot of depth there, but there's not a lot of experience. They've gone through this the last three years. They were missing two tackles one year and then the next year they were missing the interior part of the line and then last year they were missing the two tackles again. They've always found a way. John Reagan, the offensive line coach does a great job and Mangino is an old offensive line guy. They've got a lot of good offensive line people to shore that problem up.
"The other question will be at linebacker. They are going to be really good up front and very experienced and good in the secondary, but they lose three linebackers. Right now the experience or the numbers aren't there to replace those three guys they are losing and that's going to be the biggest question mark on the defensive side of the ball."
A lot of people are picking Kansas to win the North, but realistically how tough is that going to be with South Division games at Texas Tech and Texas and a home game against Oklahoma?
"It's the same schedule they had last year where they have to play that meat part of the schedule. I don't care if you are Kansas and people are talking about you winning the North—that's a tough schedule. I think Nebraska is getting it back and you still have rivalry games against Missouri and Kansas State and you go on the road to Colorado. There's not going to be any automatic wins. It's one of those deals when you look down the schedule now and say that's winnable, but it's also losable. The schedule is definitely going to play a factor this year."
What are the realistic expectations for this team and is anything less than a North title going to be a disappointment this year?
"I think the Kansas fans really started to sense the football turning around about four years ago. The stadium was more packed, there were more tailgaters and the season tickers were selling faster. People are catching on and the expectations are definitely up, especially with Kerry Meier and Todd Reesing being seniors—some of these guys that have been around that you've seen grow within the program. The expectations are at an all-time high."
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