Breaking down spring camp: Kansas

March, 27, 2012
3/27/12
9:00
AM ET
Kansas opens spring camp today. Here's a closer look.

Schedule: The first of 15 spring practices allowed by the NCAA begins Tuesday afternoon and they'll conclude with the spring game on April 28.

What's new: Well, pretty much everything. Former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis shocked a whole lot of people when he left his post as Florida offensive coordinator to become the head man in charge. He'll call the plays and bring in his offense, and old Cowboys coach Dave Campo will coordinate the defense for the Jayhawks. It should be fascinating to see this spring and next fall for a program that needed a big jolt of excitement after an awful 2-23 record in Big 12 play the past three seasons.

New faces: The two biggest are two you'll recognize. Dayne Crist will make his debut at quarterback after transferring from Notre Dame, where Weis recruited him. His physical skills will be there, but will it mean production? Former Oklahoma receiver Justin McCay is coming, too. He struggled to catch on at OU, and his NCAA waiver that would make him eligible for 2012 is in question, but he was a blue-chip recruit when he came to Norman. Will a fresh start help either?

Question mark: The defense. Kansas had the worst scoring defense in the country last season and lacks a lot of big playmakers on that side of the ball. Campo will walk in and it's clear that tearing up the depth chart from last season is the best approach. Let players prove themselves and go out and recruit players who are better to motivate the ones on campus. That's how you build a program. Kansas is starting anew from a tough spot. The big question is whether Campo can make an impact with a better scheme for a unit with nowhere to go but up.

All eyes on: Crist. A good quarterback can make a lot of things look a lot better in this game, and Crist qualifies. He'll have a good set of backs, but will he find enough weapons to make an impact? Look at the rest of the league's top passers? Landry Jones, Geno Smith, Casey Pachall and other passers from last season all had a lot of guys to get the ball to and make plays. KU needs to find some in a hurry.

Breaking out: DE Toben Opurum. Opurum led the Jayhawks in rushing in 2009, but when Turner Gill arrived, he moved Opurum to the defensive line. It was rough at first, but he's gotten better and better as time has progressed. He led the team with 10.5 tackles for loss last season, but he could be due for an even bigger year in a new system. Truth be told, you never know how any guys will fit in a new system, but Opurum's had maybe the most interesting career of any player in the Big 12 right now.

Big shoes to fill: Whoever wins the linebacker job replacing Steven Johnson. The former walk-on led the Big 12 in tackles last season with 119, and did it all with measurables that wouldn't wow very many. He was an instinctive, tough player who was good for the program, and the Jayhawks will need to replace his leadership as well as his production.

On the mend: Weis' coaching reputation. This is what everyone around the nation will be watching this year. Kansas' Weis hire was panned by most, but he learned a lot in his shortcomings at Notre Dame, and Kansas is a very, very different place and a very different job. Weis wanted to come here and build a program. He won't have to deal with a fan crush or crazy expectations, but he'll have recruiting limitations that weren't present in South Bend. Is this the beginning of a new start for Weis?

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