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2021 Season

Big 12 Spring Outlook: Can The Jayhawks Improve Amidst The Instability?



Getty Images - John E. Moore III

Spring football is in full swing across the Big 12. All ten teams in the league have officially begun to work through their fifteen allotted practices, with some of them set to wrap up soon. The Kansas Jayhawks started their spring on Tuesday, and will conclude on May 1st. Below, we give an overview of the program and provide an idea of what questions the Jayhawks will seek to answer over the course of their remaining practices.

Kansas witnessed significant shifts to their program this offseason, when allegations of sexual misconduct came to light in early March regarding head coach Les Miles. Miles’ alleged misconduct occurred when he was at LSU, but the scandal led quickly to a parting of ways between Miles and the Kansas athletic program. Receivers coach and passing game coordinator Emmett Jones was promoted to interim head coach in mid-March, and will be overseeing the program this spring.

The Jayhawks are coming off of what was a very forgettable 0-9 season, the second winless campaign for the program in the last ten years. Statistically, the defense was better in certain respects, but newly hired offensive coordinator Mike DeBord will look to take over a unit that really took a step back in 2020.

Of course, with so much up in the air regarding the program, it’s difficult to say whether the Jayhawks can actually make substantial progress this offseason. Kansas has some veteran players across the two deep, but they’ll really need to put in some work to start moving the football program in a positive direction.

LOCATION: Booth Memorial Stadium (Lawrence, KS)

Offensive Questions For The Jayhawks

After multiple transfers on the offensive side of the ball, DeBord will have his hands full in developing depth and helping this offense make some progress. Quarterback is still an enigma for the Jayhawks. Last year, Jalon Daniels and Miles Kendrick both logged time as the starter, but neither really separated. That means the spring will bring continued competition. North Texas transfer Jason Bean, who threw for 1,131 yards for the Eagles, will come in this summer, and has a legitimate shot to take the job.

Velton Gardner returns after leading the team with 325 yards rushing last season, so he’s in good position to become a full time starter in 2021. Among the pass catchers, new starters will have to be found at a couple of spots, as tight end Jack Luavasa and wide reciever Andrew Parchment both decided to transfer out. Luke Grimm, the team’s second-leading receiver last season, is a likely replacement there.

The good news is that experience returns up front in the form of three super seniors who are expected to start again. A new starter will have to be identified at center, with the entrance of Api Mane into the transfer portal. Colin Grunhard, a transfer from Notre Dame, is a good candidate to win that open spot.

Defensive Questions For The Jayhawks

The Jayhawks saw some slight improvement defensively in 2020, something that should provide a hint of optimism. They held opposing offenses to 223 yards passing per game, a number that ranked in the top half of the FBS. Despite multiple players deciding to leave on the defensive side, Kansas returns much of the starting experience that helped them make those strides last season.

Most of the defensive attrition was on the back end of the defense. Transfers hurt the depth in the secondary, leaving a bit of a gap at cornerback after Kyle Mayberry decided to enter the portal. A replacement at mike linebacker will also need to be found, as Denzel Feaster won’t be back for his senior season.