A Look at 2005 -- The Offense
July 26, 2005
Controversy? Not exactly, but the KU coaching staff does expect quite a competition this fall between a number of talented Jayhawk signal-callers. No quarterback on the roster has an over-abundance of Division I experience, but all of them bring something valuable to the field. It’s a position that could be filled by any number of players.
“We’ll have a great competition at the quarterback position,” Mangino said. “We’re going to evaluate them throughout camp and then determine what roles they will fill.”
Junior Adam Barmann and seniors Brian Luke and Jason Swanson all saw action in Big 12 contests last season and all three had shining moments.
Barmann (6-4, 210) threw for a team-leading 1,427 yards and 12 touchdowns as he started the first eight games of the season before a shoulder injury forced him to the sidelines.
Swanson (6-0, 190) completed 21-of-43 passes in 2004 and accounted for a pair of touchdowns. His 31-yard TD strike to Mark Simmons in the fourth quarter of the win against Kansas State, gave the Jayhawks a 24-21 lead.
Luke (6-6, 225) played admirably in the final two contests of the 2004 season. The Walnut Creek, Calif., native, entered KU’s final home game against No. 6 Texas and guided the Jayhawks to a 10-point fourth quarter lead before the Longhorns claimed victory with 11 seconds remaining in regulation. The following week, Luke and the Jayhawks travelled to Columbia, Mo., where he completed 24-of-36 passes for 239 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Jayhawks defeated rival Missouri for the second-straight season.
The running back position has the potential to be a strong unit for the offense this season with the return of senior Clark Green, hard-charging junior Jon Cornish and sophomore Brandon McAnderson. The emergence of redshirt freshman Gary Green II would enhance the team’s ability to move the ball on the ground.
Clark Green (5-11, 220) has rushed for 2,090 yards and 11 TDs in his first three seasons at Kansas and could move into the top five on KU’s all-time career rushing list with a solid season in 2005. In KU’s season finale against Missouri last year, Clark Green rushed for 118 yards and scored the team’s first touchdown of the game on a 12-yard run.
Cornish (6-0, 205) and McAnderson (6-0, 235) have been impressive on several of KU’s special teams units and will push for playing time in a reserve role.
KU’s backfield could be even more crowded if Gary Green II (5-9, 175) is as good as advertised. As a senior in high school, Gary Green II rushed for 1,721 yards and 23 touchdowns, caught 11 passes for 191 yards and a TD and also scored on a punt return.
A new mentor will help the Jayhawk ball-carriers through drills this fall. The running backs will be under the tutelage of former Chicago Bears assistant coach Earle Mosley, who spent the last five years in the Windy City and guided Anthony Thomas to the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2001.
After returning nearly 90 percent of the team’s receiving yards and all but three of the team’s 25 touchdown catches last season, this year’s wide receivers enter 2005 with just one player — Mark Simmons — who has more than 10 career catches.
Simmons (5-11, 185), who finished second on the team with 48 catches for 553 yards in 2004, will be looked upon to lead a group of young, but talented wide receivers. The DeSoto, Texas native caught at least two passes in every game last season and averaged 11.5 yards per catch and 50.3 receiving yards per game.
Marcus Henry (6-4, 195) showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman in 2004, but will be relied upon to post even bigger numbers this year. He caught eight passes for 85 yards last season and was one of just five players to average more than 10 yards per reception.
Butler County Community College transfer Brian Murph (6-1, 190) may have the best shot at making an impact early after helping the Grizzlies to the NJCAA national championship game last season. He led the team with six receiving touchdowns as a sophomore and also handled BCCC’s punt and kickoff return duties.
Even though the squad may appear inexperienced on paper, first-year assistant coach Tim Beck has plenty of talented wide receivers to work with. Others looking for playing time include, juniors Jonathan Lamb, Dominic Roux, sophomore Hassan Johnson and freshman Dexton Fields. Also looking to make an impact is former quarterback Marcus Herford (6-3, 205), who spent the 2004 season on KU’s developmental scout team and earned the Otto Schnellbacher Award for Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year at the team’s annual awards banquet in January.
“I feel good about the young kids that we already have in our program,” said Mangino. “Some of them are ready to step up and play a major role in our wide receiver positions. Brian Murph will have an impact too.”
Derek Fine is the top candidate to start at tight end. Fine (6-3, 240) is the most experienced after serving in a back-up role last season. He saw most of his action as a standout on special teams, but did manage to catch two passes for 16 yards.
Freshman Jim Reuber (6-4, 240) provides the team with a solid blocker at the end of the line. He spent the 2004 season as a member of the scout team while learning the intricacies of the Jayhawk offense.
The loss of two-year All-Big 12 center Joe Vaughn will certainly have an impact, but there is no doubt that the KU offensive line should be one of the strongest units on the field in 2005. The team returns all players at both tackle and guard positions, including right tackle Matt Thompson (6-4, 295) and guards David Ochoa (6-4, 280) and Bob Whitaker (6-5, 317) — a trio that started all 11 games alongside one another in 2004. Add left tackle and eight-game starter Cesar Rodriguez (6-7, 278) to the mix, and the Jayhawks have a recipe for success.
“I think the offensive line will be a strength,” said Mangino. “We did lose a very good center and once we get that position solidified, we should be in good shape.”
Center Todd Haselhorst (6-4, 300) has moved from his defensive tackle position to anchor the middle of the offensive line and help fill a void left by the departure of Vaughn.
In addition, the team returns tackle Travis Dambach (6-5, 295) who started the first three games of the season and guard Matt Mann (6-4, 290) who played in a reserve role and on special teams.
The KU coaching staff is also excited about several players who were with the program last season — but did not play — including redshirt freshmen Adrian Mayes (6-3, 300), Matt Darton (6-6, 305), Scott Haverkamp (6-4, 275), Jake Cox (6-5, 295), Anthony Collins (6-6, 290) and Ryan Cantrell (6-3, 285).
First-year assistant coach John Reagan will take over as offensive line coach and offensive run-game coordinator for the Jayhawks. He joined the Kansas staff after serving the last two seasons at Air Force.