Are You Ready for Some Football?

July 25, 2005

Tuesday: The Kansas offense
Wednesday: The Kansas defense

Excitement and expectations are at an all-time high as the University of Kansas football team prepares for the upcoming 2005 season under fourth-year head coach Mark Mangino. With a talented core of athletes returning to the team in 2005, Mangino and his staff will hit the practice fields this fall with high hopes.

“Defensively, I believe our front seven should be pretty good again,” Mangino said. On offense, I believe our offensive line will do well for us when we get everybody in the right spots.”

The Jayhawks return a strong nucleus of players on both sides of the ball as 51 letterwinners are back, including 23 on offense, 25 on defense and three specialists. In addition, the Jayhawks return six starters on offense, eight on defense in addition to special-teamers PK Scott Webb and P Kyle Tucker.

After a record-setting offensive display during the 2003 season, last year’s club showcased the team’s best defense in nearly a decade. Jayhawk fans hope the two components will join forces in 2005 and lift the team to its first-ever Big 12 North title.

Defensively, the Jayhawks have a chance to be strong once again as the team returns four of its top five tacklers from last season, including senior linebacker Nick Reid who led the team and finished second in the Big 12 with 109 total stops. Reid spearheads an experienced and talented linebacking corps which also returns senior starters Kevin Kane (69 tackles in 2004) and Banks Floodman (47 tackles in 2004).

The Jayhawk secondary is in solid hands with cornerback Charles Gordon returning for his junior season after tying for the NCAA lead last season with seven interceptions.

Despite the loss of first-team All-Big 12 selection David McMillan, the defensive front four returns nearly all of its key contributors including defensive end Jermial Ashley who finished second on the team last season in both quarterback sacks and pass break-ups.

On the offensive side of the football, Kansas welcomes back its second-leading rusher from a year ago, in addition to the top two quarterbacks and two of the team’s top three receivers.

Senior Clark Green has been a steady force during his first three years in the backfield and can be counted upon to pick up tough yards. He’s carried the ball for more than 2,000 yards during his career and ranks among KU’s all-time top 10 in rushing yards, carries and all-purpose yards. For a change of pace, Mangino can insert the elusive Gary Green who could see loads of playing time as he adjusts to the rigors of Big 12 action during his redshirt freshman season.

Kansas returns a bevy of talented quarterbacks including junior Adam Barmann who started eight games in 2004. Seniors Jason Swanson and Brian Luke each saw action in Big 12 games last season — Swanson led the Jayhawks to their first victory over Kansas State since 1992, while Luke directed KU’s second-straight dominating win over Missouri. The trio combined for more than 2,000 passing yards and 17 of the team’s 19 touchdown passes in 2004.

Senior Mark Simmons will lead a young group of receivers in 2005 after finishing second on the team with 48 catches for 553 yards and three touchdowns last season. Newcomer Brian Murph and sophomore Marcus Henry will be counted upon to make plays as well.

Check on Tuesday for a preview of the Kansas offense.