For Kansas, there’s nowhere else to go but up after completing the first 0-12 season in Big 12 history. David Beaty enters his second season of rebuilding the Jayhawks brimming with optimism as usual, but the next eight months will be a critical period for progress.
As we head into the new year, here are three questions Kansas must address this offseason:
When is the next win?
The Sept. 3 season opener against Rhode Island should be circled on the calendar, because it’s Beaty’s best opportunity yet for his first win as KU’s head coach. The FCS Rams went 1-10 in 2015 and lost their only game vs. an FBS team (Syracuse) by a score of 47-0. URI is 2-21 under coach Jim Fleming and might be the ideal punching bag for Kansas to snap its 15-game losing streak and get Year 2 of the Beaty era off to a good start.
Can KU revive its run game?
This was a particularly frustrating development for the Jayhawks over the course of their Big 12 slate. The Jayhawks averaged a league-worst 90.2 rushing yards per game in Big 12 play at a rate of 2.5 yards per carry. Ke’aun Kinner was banged up over the course of the year and rushed for 271 yards in Big 12 play after gaining 295 yards in three nonconference games. He’s the only experienced back returning, too, after De’Andre Mann and Taylor Cox graduate. Kansas’ quarterbacks needed all the help they could get from the run game in 2015, and they didn’t get much.
Which newcomers make an impact?
Kansas’ most important addition for 2016 might be the guy who was on the scout team in 2015. Watch out for LaQuvionte Gonzalez, the speedy receiver who sat out last season after transferring from Texas A&M. Beaty coached him in College Station and know he can be a serious difference-maker. As for KU’s incoming recruiting class, there are three juco transfers set to enroll early (DT Isi Holani, DT DeeIsaac Davis, WR Stephan Robinson) who should contribute early and probably a few more on the way. KU only has 10 commits a month before signing day, so it’ll be interesting to see who KU’s staff discovers and closes on before signing day.