Ubben's assessment of KU's spring practice and game.
2012 Big 12 record:
Offense: 5; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 2
RB James Sims
, RB Tony Pierson
, LB Ben Heeney
, LB Jake Love
OL Tanner Hawkinson, DL Toben Opurum
, DB Bradley McDougald
, WR Kale Pick
, QB Dayne Crist
, DB Lubbock Smith
2012 statistical leaders (*returners)
Dayne Crist (1,313 yards)
James Sims* (1,013 yards)
Kale Pick (390 yards)
Ben Heeney (112)
Kevin Young* (2)
Bradley McDougald, Tyler Patmon
Sept. 7: South Dakota
Sept. 14: at Rice
Sept. 21: Louisiana Tech
Oct. 5: Texas Tech
Oct. 12: at TCU
Oct. 19: Oklahoma
Oct. 26: Baylor
Nov. 2: at Texas
Nov. 9: at Oklahoma State
Nov. 16: West Virginia
Nov. 23; at Iowa State
Nov. 30: Kansas State
1. No questions at quarterback.
As expected, there's not much of a quarterback competition this spring. Michael Cummings
stepped in last season and earned a few starts after Dayne Crist struggled, throwing nine interceptions to just four touchdowns, but BYU transfer Jake Heaps
has claimed the job this spring. He had to redshirt last season after transferring, but dominated on the scout team. The former blue-chip recruit started two seasons at BYU before transferring.
2. Big growth at linebacker.
Kansas needs improvement everywhere, so anywhere it happens is a welcome development. Defensively, linebacker should be a clear strength for a KU defense that improved last year but still struggled. Linebackers Ben Heeney and Jake Love had strong springs and looked much improved. Heeney already played well last season, but he may be a serious All-Big 12 first-team talent next season considering the amount of talent at the position that's left the league since 2012.
3. Defensive playmakers emerging.
Kansas brought in tons of junior college talent this offseason, but a few have already stood out in the spring. Defensive back Dexter McDonald left the team and went to junior college last season, but he's back and making an impact, and defensive lineman Ty McKinney
stood out during the spring, along with defensive back Cassius Sendish, one of the nation's best juco players at Arizona Western a year ago.
1. Will the streak end?
This is by far the most important question of Kansas' 2013 season. The current Big 12 losing streak stands at 21 games, and odds favor it ending before too long. If we're still talking about a 30-game losing streak in Big 12 play this time next year, coach Charlie Weis will be on very, very thin ice. KU came close in losses to Texas Tech and Texas last season, but a win is a win. The Jayhawks haven't experienced that in Big 12 play since a 2010 win against Colorado, and haven't beaten a current Big 12 team since beating Iowa State in the 2009 conference opener.
2. Is Jake Heaps really any different from Dayne Crist?
Optimism is high around Heaps after KU's other transfer quarterback, Crist, flamed out last season and lost his starting job to a freshman. Heaps has better weapons than Crist, highlighted by Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay
, but KU's offense is short on depth at the offensive skill positons, and the offensive line has to prove it can block for him and create holes for the running game to soften up defenses. We'll see how well Heaps ultimately does.
3. Can Kansas find offensive weapons?
McCay is a big upgrade, but you can't hide from the fact this team went 12 games last season without a touchdown catch from a receiver. That's simply not good enough in the Big 12 and not a problem one receiver can solve. Tony Pierson
and James Sims offer a great 1-2 punch in the running game, but will other receivers like Tre Parmalee or Andrew Turzilli