Know Your Opponent: The Kansas Jayhawks

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(Graphic by Marshall Sunner | Collegian Media Group)

The Sunflower Showdown is this Saturday, Nov. 6, pitting Kansas State and Kansas in one of the nation’s longest-standing rivalries. Kansas leads the series 64-49-5 according to K-State’s record book but has lost 12-straight.

KU is under the direction of its seventh head coach since Mark Mangino beat Ron Prince in 2008. This time, first-year head coach Lance Leipold will lead the Jayhawks into battle against K-State.

Between his alma mater Wisconsin-Whitewater and Buffalo, Leipold has amassed a 147-46 record, but is 1-7 at Kansas. The former quarterback is the next in line to try to end KU’s run of futility.

OFFENSE

Leipold brought his offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki along from Whitewater to Buffalo and now to Kansas. He helms a run-first spread offense that set school records at Buffalo and helped the Bulls to a 6-1 record this past season.

The offense looks to transfer quarterback Jason Bean to run that offense, with a little help from senior quarterback Miles Kendrick. Bean played with K-State receiver Malik Knowles in Mansfield, Texas, at Lake Ridge High School.

Bean is a decently accurate passer and brings a solid threat in the quarterback run game as well. He allows KU to do what they want in the passing game and open up holes for running back Devin Neal.

While Bean is the starter, senior Miles Kendrick has shown the ability to move the ball and was the Jayhawks’ lone sign of offensive life in a blowout loss to Oklahoma State this past week.

KU’s offense averages only 310.1 yards per game and 15.75 points per game — both of which are dead last in the Big 12.

DEFENSE

Kansas’ defensive coordinator D.J. Elliot is a holdover from the Les Miles era in Lawrence. He has worked at power five programs all over the country, including Florida State, Kentucky and Colorado.

The Jayhawks are one of the few Big 12 teams that run a traditional seven-man front defense with their multiple 3-4 defense. They will also show a four-man front at times to throw off defenses and get a different set of athletes on the field.

They are dead-last in the Big 12 in opponent yards per game and yards per play and average 10 points per game more than the second-worst defense in the Big 12.

KEY MATCH-UPS

Kansas Kids:

K-State’s players at the media availability this week made it clear that this is an important game to K-State’s in-state players because a lot of them feel overlooked by KU. The Wildcats will need to channel that energy to continue their dominance over their in-state rival.

Dominate both sides of the ball:

K-State should be able to run up the score on this Kansas team, who is by far the worst in the Big 12. To do that, K-State will have to push KU around in the trenches on both sides of the ball and light up the scoreboard.

Superior coaching:

With KU bringing yet another new coach to the match-up, K-State can flex its relative coaching stability. K-State’s coaching staff has an opportunity to show potential in-state recruits that they are still the best coaching staff in the state.

PREDICTION:

Devin Neal is the lone bright spot for KU, who struggles to stop the Wildcats on early downs and struggles to move the ball. KU gets a late score against K-State’s second-string to make it look closer than it is: K-State wins 42-17.

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Hi! I'm Nathan Enserro, a graduate student from Olathe, Kansas, working on a Masters in Mass Communication. I graduated in spring 2020 with a Bachelor's of Science in strategic communications from K-State. This is my fourth year covering K-State sports for the Collegian.