🏈 Kansas Hosts South Dakota Friday for First Game of Lance Leipold Era

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The 2021 season is officially set for kickoff for the Kansas Jayhawks, as KU is set to open the season under the lights on Friday night at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium versus South Dakota. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with Mark Neely (Play-by-Play) and Barrett Brooks (Analyst) on the call.

The game will mark the debut of Head Coach Lance Leipold, who arrived at Kansas in late April, ready to lead the Jayhawks. Leipold brings a career record of 146-39 with him to Lawrence and won six Division III National Championships at Wisconsin-Whitewater. Leipold spent the last six years at Buffalo, going 37-33 overall and 30-16 over the last four years.

The Friday night opener for the Jayhawks marks the first Friday night home opener for Kansas since a 47-0 win over Washburn to open the 1944 season.

The Jayhawks and Coyotes have met twice before, most recently in 2013, where KU opened the season with a 31-14 victory. The series dates to 1900, with KU winning both matchups against South Dakota, including the first matchup where KU blanked South Dakota. 42-0 on October 27, 1900.

Quick Hits

  • Kansas returns its leading passer (Jalon Daniels), rusher (Velton Gardner), receiver (Kwamie Lassiter II), tackler (Kenny Logan Jr.), scorer (Jacob Borcila), all-purpose gainer (Lassiter) and interceptor (Logan) to its roster for the 2021 season.
  • The Jayhawks played 27 true freshmen last season, which tied for the highest number in the country. This year, Kansas has 69 freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores on its roster, meaning 69 of the 118 players on the roster (58 percent) are two years or less removed from high school.
  • On the flip side, the Jayhawks boast nine super-seniors this year. Kansas has three on the offensive line alone in Chris Hughes, Adagio Lopeti and Malik Clark. Receiver Kwamie Lassiter II adds a fourth super-senior on offense. Defensively, defensive lineman Sam Burt, defensive end Kyron Johnson, linebacker Nate Betts, safety Ricky Thomas Jr., and cornerback transfer Jeremy Webb are all taking advantage of their extra year of eligibility with the Jayhawks.
  • The 2021 roster features 12 new Division I transfers. Joining the Jayhawks are Buffalo transfers Trevor Wilson, Eddie Wilson, Rich Miller, Mike Novitsky, Michael Ford Jr., and Ronald McGee. In addition, Kansas added Jason Bean (North Texas), Cornell Wheeler (Michigan), Kevin Terry (Texas Tech), Colin Grunhard (Notre Dame), Jeremy Webb (Missouri State) and Zion DeBose (Virginia Tech).
  • Head Coach Lance Leipold is set to make his debut for the Jayhawks against South Dakota. Leipold’s on-field coaching staff is comprised of four coaches who were with the Jayhawks last season (Wide Receivers Coach Emmett Jones, Running Backs Coach Jonathan Wallace, Cornerbacks Coach Chevis Jackson and Defensive Line Coach Kwahn Drake).
  • Special Teams Coordinator Jake Schoonover arrived in Lawrence prior to Leipold’s arrival but wasn’t on staff last season. Additionally, offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki, Defensive Coordinator Brian Borland, Offensive Line Coach Scott Fuchs, Quarterbacks Coach Jim Zebrowski and Linebackers Coach Chris Simpson were with Leipold last year at Buffalo.
  • Under Kotelnicki’s direction last year, the Buffalo offense led the nation in rushing, averaging 6.71 yards per carry. The Bulls were also second in the country in rushing yards per game at 287.4.
  • Borland’s defense, meanwhile, ranked No. 1 in the MAC in total defense, allowing 359 yards per game.
  • The Jayhawks return three players who earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors last year in defensive end Kyron Johnson, safety/kick returner Kenny Logan Jr., and wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter II. Logan was also named to the Hornung Award Watch List this preseason, give to the most versatile player in college football.

Booth Basics

As the Jayhawks prepare for the 100th year at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, here is a breakdown of what’s new and what’s returning to the stadium experience this season for fans.

New Items

  • Fans will be able to buy tickets before heading into the stadium at QR code locations throughout the grounds, including:
    • East side at Shuttle bus drop off location
    • West side at the bottom of the stairs coming from Lot 52
    • North side by the stairs coming from 11th street
    • On the hill
  • Wifi access at ticket booths to enable QR code purchases
  • Students allowed to enter any gate
  • General Public can now enter through gate 18 to help alleviate the congestion at the northeast entrance
  • Upgraded Ticket Scanners to help expedite fan entry
  • New Team Entrance Tunnel
  • New landscape walkway and wall at the North end of the stadium
  • New menu boards on concourse concession stands

Returning Items

  • Tailgating is officially back for the 2021 season, including on The Hill
  • Return of Customer Service Booths
    • North and South Ends
  • Return of Cool Zone misting fans on the outer concourse of the East and West side
  • Return of bottle filling stations on the four corners of the concourse
  • Return of the KU Band and Cheer performances on the field
  • Return of Fun Zone on the Kansas Football practice fields, which includes inflatables, face painting and various games. The Fun Zone opens three hours priors to kickoff and closes at kickoff. It is open to the general public
  • Return of Giveaways, roster cards and promotions
  • Safety of Fans still a top priority
    • In Venue hygiene, cleaning prior to arrival
    • Masks required indoors, strongly recommended in crowded outdoor spaces
    • Contactless entry through metal detectors
    • Cashless transactions at concession stands
  • Gameday on The Hill is also back for this week’s season opener against South Dakota. It features live music and food trucks at the bottom of The Hill. It is open to the public and opens three hours prior to kickoff and closes at kickoff

Up Next

Following Friday’s season opener, the Jayhawks will travel to Coastal Carolina to take on the Chanticleers on Friday, September 10 at Brooks Field in Conway, S.C. The matchup will be the third in as many years between the two teams, including the first hosted by Coastal Carolina.