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Friday, January 11, 2013
Season report card: Kansas Jayhawks

By David Ubben

We're grading each Big 12 team's season right now, and we'll move on to the next team on the list: The Kansas Jayhawks.

OFFENSE: The Dayne Crist Era at Kansas had inauspicious beginnings, when the Notre Dame transfer completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes for just 169 yards in his first game as a Jayhawk. Still, KU won that game over FCS South Dakota State. It wouldn't get any better. Crist didn't do much for his NFL stock at KU, completing 47 percent of his passes for four touchdowns and nine interceptions before being benched for a freshman, Michael Cummings. He didn't have much help at receiver, but the Jayhawks likely would have began the year 2-0 if they'd had James Sims, who burst out with a huge season after being suspended for the season's first three games with 1,013 yards and nine touchdowns on just 218 carries. He led the Big 12 in rushing yards per game, though KU rode him hard once he returned, giving him at least 27 carries in five of the first six games in Big 12 play. Sims earns KU's offense some points for respectability, but the lack of balance was glaring and forced KU to go winless in Big 12 play yet again. GRADE: D

DEFENSE: It felt like this unit was better when the year began, and in some ways, it was under new coordinator Dave Campo. It wasn't the complete disaster it was in 2011 when it finished dead last in total defense and gave up 50+ points on the regular. The defense kept the Jayhawks in games against Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech, but the offense couldn't make enough plays to get a win. Ultimately  though, KU still finished 116th nationally in total defense and 112th in scoring defense, though that was ahead of two Big 12 teams. Bradley McDougald had a solid year at safety, and the unit forced tons of turnovers early in the season, but looking at the season in its entirety, there wasn't much to be truly impressed with, besides being a little bit better than last year's defense, which was one of the worst in college football history. GRADE: D

OVERALL: You can't talk about KU's 2012 season without also noting that it lost to Rice, a team that had never beaten a Big 12 team in 20+ attempts since the breakup of the Southwest Conference. The Jayhawks lost late leads to the Owls and Orange Bowl participant Northern Illinois, which easily could have landed KU at 3-9 and a marked improvement over last year's 2-10 campaign. It's tough to grade this team. It really was better than 2011's squad. The games showed that, even though the 1-11 record did not. There were tons of close games this year, even though KU never could get over the hump and crack a Big 12 losing streak that now stands at 21 games. That improvement saves the Jayhawks from drawing an F from yours truly. GRADE: D-

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