Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Spring superlatives: Kansas
By ESPN.com staff
Time to continue our series breaking down each team's best and worst positions entering the 2012 season. Kansas is up next.
More spring superlatives:
Strongest position: Running back
I won't sugar coat this. Kansas wasn't very good at very much the past two seasons. However, it has a deep stable of running backs that could start for a lot of teams in the Big 12. That's highlighted by James Sims, who has led the team in rushing the past two seasons and returns for his junior season in 2012. Darrian Miller was kicked off the team, but Tony Pierson is a shifty back from East St. Louis who provides a nice balance to Sims' powerful style. Add Brandon Bourbon to the mix? You've got a pretty nice backfield.
Kansas got a big upgrade at quarterback in Dayne Crist's transfer, but the running backs have carried the offense the past couple seasons, and very well could do it again in 2012 with a lack of receiving options.
Weakest position: Defensive back
You really could pick any unit on Kansas' defense in 2011, but I'll go with the defensive backs for one big reason. The Jayhawks didn't stop much of anything last year, ranking ninth in both pass defense and rushing defense. However, trailing by big numbers last year meant teams ran a lot. Kansas faced the fifth-most rushing attempts in the Big 12 last year, but only Texas Tech (314) faced fewer pass attempts than Kansas (375) last year.
It's not all the defensive backs. Kansas didn't get much of anything resembling a pass rush and gave up almost 44 points a game, the most in college football.
Still, this unit had holes all over the place, and an underwhelming set of cornerbacks and safeties had no chance against dynamic weapons all across the Big 12. It gave up lots of big plays, lots of plays underneath and a whole lot of yardage everywhere.