Spring superlatives: Kansas

Today: The third in our series looking at the strongest and weakest position for each team in the Big 12: The Kansas Jayhawks.

Strongest position: Running back

Key returnees: James Sims, Deshaun Sands

Key losses: Angus Quigley

Analysis: It's a little hard to believe considering Kansas' top running back in 2009, Toben Opurum, plays defensive end now, but the position was a strength in Turner Gill's first year. It should be again in Year 2, only slightly more so than linebacker. To be frank, Kansas wasn't very good at much in 2010, and its 3-9 record showed it. However, the Jayhawks should have great, great depth at the position and a possible 1,000-yard rusher in Sims leading the way. Sims (never forget, Big 12's best headshot) took over as the primary ballcarrier after rushing for 101 yards against Georgia Tech in the Jayhawks' signature win of 2010. He topped 100 yards two more times last season and scored four touchdowns in Kansas' lone conference win of the season, a 52-45 victory against Colorado that featured 35 consecutive Kansas points in the fourth quarter. His 10 scores led the team, and there are several running backs with potential behind him. Sands could get some carries, but two of the Jayhawks' best recruits of the past two classes have been running backs. Brandon Bourbon and Darrian Miller should compete for playing time as well. Dreamius Smith could be a factor, and as the bruiser of the group, Sims could be complemented well in the Kansas running game with a speedier, shifty change-of-pace back.

Weakest position: Quarterback

Key returnees: Jordan Webb, Quinn Mecham

Key losses: None

Analysis: The Jayhawks had a glaring weakness at quarterback in 2010, and it's the biggest area that must improve if Kansas is going to get back to a) being competitive and/or b) winning games consistently in the Big 12.

Consider this: Despite suffering eight of its nine losses by double digits last season, the Jayhawks threw the ball just 353 times. Only Nebraska, with its impressive running trio, threw it fewer times last season. That says plenty about the confidence the Jayhawks have in their passers. It's not surprising that Kansas threw the second-fewest touchdown passes (Texas), had the second lowest completion percentage (Iowa State), threw for the fewest yards and yet threw the third-most interceptions (14) in the league. Not a good combination.

Webb and Mecham don't have many great receiving options, but Daymond Patterson, Chris Omigie and tight end Tim Biere will have to become more consistent targets for the Jayhawks next season. They were shuffled in and out last season. This spring, hopes were high for incoming freshman Brock Berglund, the top player in Colorado, who enrolled early and planned to take part in spring practice, which begins on Friday in Lawrence. Citing personal reasons, however, Berglund went back to Colorado shortly after enrolling and plans to re-enter the university in the fall. That puts a damper on the hopes of Jayhawks fans hoping to see him start the season opener in the fall, but considering Mecham and Webb's struggles last season, it's likely that Berglund will, at the very least, get an opportunity to prove himself in a game next season.

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