QB Todd Reesing (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Jacobsen, KU Athletics)

2007 Statistics

Coach: Mark Mangino
37-36, 6 years
2007 Record: 12-1
FIU WON 55-3
at Kansas State WON 30-24
at Colorado WON 19-14
at Texas A&M WON 19-11
at Oklahoma State WON 43-28
vs. Missouri LOST 28-36
Virginia Tech WON 24-21

2007 Final Rankings
AP-7, Coaches-7, BCS-8

2008 Outlook

There were a number of signs over the recent years telling of how head coach Mark Mangino was building a team from the ground up, building it his way…the right way. Even though they were barely over .500 during the two years before the breakout year we just saw (KU went 13-11 from 2005-06), they won three Big 12 games each of those years and stopped their usual lulls of sub-par play. It was a turnaround from being a conference doormat, but few casual followers foresaw what was coming last year. Heck, we didn’t even have them in our top 50 at this time last year. Everyone knows that you can be a great team compared to most in the FBS, yet still be mediocre in the Big 12 as you barely finish around .500. It’s a grind, one that Mangino has learned about at other Big 12 haunts (he was the Oklahoma OC when they won it all in 2000 and helped turn the Kansas State program around in the ‘90s as coordinator there, too…Wildcats went 71-23-1 while he was there), so this seemingly sudden success came as little surprise to many.

It all came together due to Mangino bringing in Ed Warinner to help run the offense. Warinner’s spread techniques were embraced by Todd Reesing, to the tune of 33 TDs and only seven INTs. Oh, and Reesing's feet produced the longest run of the year for Kansas, making defenders stop and take notice when he is on the move. It will all happen again, for Reesing is back with so many weapons and he has so much knowledge after his first year as a starter that only injuries can take this team back down the polls. Marcus Herford is set to explode, as is Jake Sharp and Dexton Fields, but the new name in Lawrence might become Jocques Crawford, a JUCO back who has the razz-matazz to shake things up in a good way. All they need are the tackles to solidify, and then the offense skips no beats as the No.8 total and No.2 scoring offense in the nation.

The defense has to get a new tackle and a new star corner. The tackle will be easier to find…replacing All-American Talib will be tougher. Talib was a lock-down, leave-him-alone-in-coverage type, and the defense was built around the LBs being able to focus on stopping the ground attacks of those hulking Big 12 foes as a rule. Without either Harris or Harper being as good as Talib, it will be tough to hold onto the same results...one of them has to become a lockdown corner. But one thing buoying this eventuality is that all the LBs are seniors who were starters in ’07. The D allowed more points in three of last year’s final four games (of the regular season) than they did in any of the other games all year. In other word, they may have a ways to go still in stopping consistency, but the signs are there and they have enough guys back to be better, regardless. One thing that this year’s version of the Jayhawk defense needs is to again have the top turnover percentage in the nation…or close to it. Against the top foes, it will be a difference maker, like it was in ’07.

Hey, and speaking of top foes, the draw from the South Division doesn’t get much tougher. Naysayers pointed to Texas and Oklahoma not being on the 2007 slate as reasons they went 12-1…maybe so, but this year sees both on the schedule to let any debate be decided the best way, on the field. Texas Tech is a true test for the corners, and we will know by the USF game if the CBs are up to par or not. And with the North Division improving so much overall in the past few years, the ender with Mizzu could again dictate who goes back to Kansas City a week later for a chance at the conference crown and the automatic BCS bid.

What a crappy hand KU was dealt when they had one loss after the regular season but were not a possible contender for the other BCS title game spot since their lone loss, to Missouri, made them the third-best Big 12 team. OU and Mizzu both had two losses, so the circular logic most used was that none of them deserved the bid since it wasn’t clear which was truly the best. We expect a few more losses this time around, but the quality of football we will see come from this team will make pollsters respect them, and such respect will pay off when Kansas stays in the top 25 for years to come.

Projected 2008 record: 8-4
LB Mike Rivera (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Jacobsen, KU Athletics)
QB - 5 DL - 4
RB - 3.5 LB - 5
WR - 4 DB - 4
OL - 3.5 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Todd Reesing, 276-446-7, 3486 yds., 33 TD

Rushing: Jake Sharp, 147 att., 821 yds., 7 TD

Receiving: Dexton Fields, 63 rec., 834 yds., 6 TD

Scoring: Jake Sharp, 9 TD, 54 pts.

Punting: Kerry Meier, 4 punts, 32.2 avg.

Kicking: None

Tackles: Joe Mortensen, 106 tot., 50 solo

Sacks: Maxwell Onyegbule, 3.5 sacks

Interceptions: Justin Thornton, 5 for 74 yds.

Kickoff returns: Marcus Herford, 31 ret., 28.6 avg., 2 TD

Punt returns: Anthony Webb, 19 ret., 0.8 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Brandon McAnderson-RB, Marcus Henry-WR, Derek Fine-TE, Cesar Rodriguez-OT, Scott Webb-K, Anthony Collins-OT (NFL)
DEFENSE: James McClinton-DT, Kyle Tucker-P, Todd Haselhorst-DT, Aqib Talib-CB (NFL)

This offense just needed the right guy under center to become the unstoppable force it was for nearly all of 2007. With only two offensive linemen who were returning starters last year, the new-look backfield exploded, led by Todd Reesing and his elusive style. A very balanced Jayhawk attack was the nation’s second-best scoring offense, increasing their point per game from the prior year by nearly 14 and overall yardage per game by over 100. Just a junior this year, Reesing has deceptive speed when he decides to run it; he wisely makes sure to send opposing LBs into coverage before scooting by the engaged DLmen. Did he get sacked 26 times? Probably not even 20 since tackling the QB behind the line of scrimmage pretty much qualifies as a sack these days. But his decision making when he throws it with just as much caution is the key for Kansas to stay atop the rankings. C’mon, 33 TDs and seven INTs says it all. Reesing has a huge arm for his sub-6’ frame (outfielder in prep BB) and a real pension for learning from his own (modest) mistakes so as not to repeat them. He gets it, and the offense follows along by his example of focus and determination. Coordinator Ed Warinner accomplished more offensive production in his first year (’07) than what coach Mangino could in any of his prior six, so we are sure Mangino is happy to be relieved of that pressure with so many wins to convince him of the smart move getting Warinner. But that doesn’t dismiss the hard work Mangino did building the offense the right way, as we have noted for a few years. The flashes seen as the team was brought along over the 2004-06 times all just came together under Warinner’s influence. And why would this stop now, with so many pieces of the puzzle back?

Another major piece is multi-tasker Kerry Meier, the displaced QB who is just way too talented to keep off the field. The only way to describe his role is Mr. Everything – he’s throwing passes here, then running it or catching it in the flat over there…up to 220lbs, Meier isn’t quite a fullback, but he can break tackles with his speed and isn’t afraid to hit between the tackles, either. Meier lines up anywhere and everywhere (listed as a WR). But Meier doesn’t supplant the true receivers who make foes respect the deep ball.

Jake Sharp is ready for the main role as ball carrier. Sharp is a quick back who can hammer it straight ahead, too, but he will have to hold off classmate Angus Quigley. Quigley is that Jim Brown-type, big and strong as he blows by with a burst of sudden speed, but it has to translate more from the practice field to game day. It’s a great one-two punch for the one-back sets, and Quigley as a blocker in two-back sets works, too. The next great back to come out of Lawrence will be Jocques Crawford, the NJCAA Player of the Year in ’07. He will push Quigley to the levels needed, or just fly by him on the two-deep. The backs just have to have soft hands to keep them from becoming just role players, a hint to Crawford for how to get more reps (also need to block well for blitz pickups).

Missed will be Marcus Henry’s field-stretching abilities, but plenty are there to take his role. Dezmon Briscoe comes to mind, as does Micah Brown. But the guy who should get first dibs is top WR Dexton Fields. He has the size, speed and savvy (would take two guys with him most of the time, for sure) to get in the clear deep down field and open the rest of thing up for Reesing. But the biggest weapon to emerge has to be Marcus Herford, the kick return phenom who will have a place in this year’s patterns. Will TE Bradley Dedeaux be as good as Fine at sucking LBs into coverage? That remains to be seen, so the new faces from this class (Hawkinson, Biere, Plato) need to step up quickly.

The line had two senior tackles and many new starters inside in ’07; it is just the opposite with the inside guys now the veterans (all seniors) and the tackles are the new faces. The attitude on the line starts with center Ryan Cantrell, a fifth-year senior who tattoos DTs as well as leaving his imprint on whoever is in his way. Ex-wrestling champ Adrian Mayes also moves well for his size, like Cantrell, and his knowledge of where to be and when to be there is what makes the timing plays here work so well. JC-transfer Chet Hartley also gets the “team aspect” to blocking, working well in the scheme. These three have gelled like Mangino only could have hoped and they form the wall inside that he has longed for. It really was the new spread looks that allowed the linemen to use their athleticism in space instead of being bunched together on most plays. The new tackles look ready, even if they are not All-American Collins and Rodriguez. Matt Darton did time behind Collins, filling in versus Iowa State admirably. Ian Wolfe has amazing footwork, and his presence on the first-team means he will start, holding off Australian JUCO-product Nathan D’Cunha and 6’6 Jeff Spikes, whom Mangino said could be one of the best linemen to ever go through here (granted he steps up). The tackles’ fitting in is the biggest roadblock that might keep KU from repeating the same level of offensive production as seen last year.

Reesing, Meier, Harp and Herford will overwhelm many. But a true test to see the level of things in ’08 will come early when they journey to Tampa.


WR Dexton Fields (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Jacobsen, KU Athletics)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Todd Reesing-Jr (5-11, 200) Kerry Meier-Jr (6-3, 220)
RB Jake Sharp-Jr (5-10, 190) Jocques Crawford-Jr (6-1, 230)
Angus Quigley-Jr (6-2, 222)
WR Kerry Meier-Jr (6-3, 220) Johnathan Wilson-So (6-3, 187)
Rod Harris-Jr (6-2, 200)
WR Dezmon Briscoe-So (6-3, 200) Marcus Herford-Sr (6-3, 208)
WR Dexton Fields-Sr (6-0, 204) Tertavian Ingram-So (6-0, 195)
TE Bradley Dedeaux-So (6-3, 249) Nick Plato-Fr (6-6, 228)
OT Jeff Spikes-Fr (6-6, 315) Ian Wolfe-So (6-5, 295)
OG Adrian Mayes-Sr (6-3, 305) Jeremiah Hatch-Fr (6-3, 310)
C Ryan Cantrell-Sr (6-3, 295) Sal Capra-So (6-3, 295)
OG Chet Hartley-Sr (6-4, 310) Carl Wilson-So (6-4, 290)
OT Matt Darton-Sr (6-6, 310) Nathan D'Cunha-Jr (6-6, 305)
K Stephen Hoge-Fr (6-4, 216) Jacob Branstetter-Fr (5-10, 175)



It is no small statement that Kansas led the Big 12 in defensive pass efficiency as well as total and scoring defense in ‘07. Mangino’s teams had always done well in stopping those tough conference foes, that is, up until 2006. That means the rebound back to how tough they were last year was really no surprise. But losing DC Billy Young may hurt. Going to Clint Bowen will keep the continuity from ’07 as much as is possible, and Bowen seems ready to lead. There are only two holes on this side to fill, which makes it scary for how high that sets the bar.

The line helped sustain the league’s second-best run defense, which was good enough for eighth in the country…not bad for 2nd place in the Big 12. This line first stops the run, knowing that this conference demands you do such as the top priority or pay the price against those amazing running games. That, of course, means you have to have the DBs to handle themselves, accordingly. Ok, back to the line…and heads-up DE John Larson. He had two INTs to go with 12 TFLs, making the Kansas City product a focus for offensive linemen. Like Larson, Russell Brorsen is a senior all-Academic Big 12 end who plays responsibly more than flashy. The three backups all over-achieved in their brief showings last year, so KU looks good there into 2009 since they are two sophs and a junior (Wheeler is a monster who can slide inside, if needed). The tackles seem to be a work-in-progress. Caleb Blakesley was adequate, but neither he nor Todd Haslhort has offered enough to secure the start, though they are the most experienced tackles on the team. Jamal Greene was a name floating around the two-deep, and the arrival of Darius Parrish should bolster things more. We can’t say this is a worry, but finding the right tackles will be the biggest challenge, more than filling the gap at corner. UPDATE: DT
Todd Haselhorst has left the program “to tend to personal matters".

The linebackers are a deep group that has three returning senior starters, just about the best guarantee one can give that a defense will repeat its strong performance. They started every game together last year, and Mortensen (held out during spring ball) and Rivera have been starting together since 2006. James Holt plays like the ex-DB he apparently still has in him, but he also can inhabit the opposing backfield for 13 TFLs. Springer and Wright have done well in reserve, so depth is there, too. Again, the LBs are another group that can benefit from the DBs being left alone in one-on-one coverage, allowing the LBs then to focus on run stopping duties more.

Chris Harris knows his responsibility stepping in for Aqib Talib as the top corner. But moreover, he’s embracing the leadership role he has been given, even asking to get Talib’s No.3 jersey as a symbol of the torch having been passed to him, so to speak. "I talked to CG and Talib, and Talib thinks that I should have it, [that] it should be kept with the cornerbacks," Harris boasts. Junior College-transfer Kendrick Harper should be ready to be a starter again since he was just that until injuries allowed Harris to fly by him…but neither Harper nor Harris is Talib, and until they prove themselves at Talib's high level of play, foes will pick on them. Anthony Webb needs a bit more work, so there has to be concern here with so many great WRs in this conference. The safeties know how to bend, yet not break. Stuckey and Resby are a great pair, but it was Justin Thorton who shot up the depth chart to start by the end of the year due to his five INTs, the same number as Talib. His ability to bump up into one-on-one is a sure answer for any cornerback woes, and assures he will be a definite presence as a nickel guy, early and often. The corners, specifically, will be a huge question mark. How they answer the critics will go the longest in assuring KU gets back to the BCS race.

Switching coordinators will be the next biggest challenge, but everyone knows Bowen, and they like his style and respect his approach. Even non-Jayhawks know that Kansas won't go anywhere in this conference if the D doesn't do its job.


LB Joe Mortensen (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Jacobsen, KU Athletics)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Russell Brorsen-Sr (6-4, 240) Jake Laptad-So (6-4, 237)
DT Caleb Blakesley-Jr (6-5, 290) Richard Johnson-Fr (6-2, 279)
DT Jamal Greene-So (6-4, 300) Darius Parish-Fr (6-4, 340)
DE John Larson-Sr (6-3, 250) Maxwell Onyegbule-Jr (6-5, 251)
OLB James Holt-Sr (6-3, 222) Arist Wright-Jr (6-0, 220)
MLB Joe Mortensen-Sr (6-1, 250) Justin Springer-So (6-4, 240)
OLB Mike Rivera-Sr (6-3, 255) Drew Dudley-So (6-2, 230)
CB Kendrick Harper-Sr (5-9, 190) Anthony Davis-Fr (6-0, 192)
CB Chris Harris-So (6-0, 180) Isiah Barfield-Fr (6-0, 175)
SS Patrick Resby-Sr (6-0, 200) Justin Thornton-Jr (6-1, 202)
FS Darrell Stuckey-Jr (6-1, 205) Tang Bacheyie-Sr (6-1, 211)
P Alonso Rojas-So (6-3, 220) Kyle Davis-Jr (5-10, 200)




The kicking jobs are pretty wide open. Alonso Rojas is being brought in from community college to push Jacob Branstetter and Stephen Hoge. Departee Webb was 2-for-6 from 40+ last year, so we think a new foot may get three points for Mangino more consistently from farther away. Also, the net punt results were putrid for a top team, keeping the Jayhawks from extra yards they have the talent to hold on to. Meier was seen here in spring ball as a punter since Rojas hadn’t arrived. A sure All-Big 12 choice on special teams, Marcus Herford is the kick returner who gives Kansas a field-position advantage every time he touches the ball.