David Beaty

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David Beaty has Kansas looking like the most interesting team coming off a 2-10 season

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You may not think Kansas has found reasons to be optimistic about its future after going 2-10 in 2016, but Kansas is taking some small baby steps forward as a program under David Beaty. In 2017, Kansas is already looking to build on a strong start to the recruiting efforts and will invest more in its coaching staff, two key ingredients to turning a program around.

Let’s be honest in agreeing Kansas had nowhere to go but up. Since a magical 12-1 season in 2007, the Jayhawks have had just winning season, and that was the following year in 2008. After failed runs under Turner Gill and Charlie Weis, Beaty was hired to provide some new energy in the program, and although that hasn’t necessarily been seen in many ways on the field, it is becoming clear something may be working off of it.

Though incredibly early, Kansas currently has a good jump on its Class of 2018 efforts with what is ranked the fifth best class according to Rivals. Forget about Beaty’s mission to “take this dadgum state back,” because Kansas has been setting up shop in Louisiana and the results are paying off. With eight commits lined up, including a trio of four-star prospects, Kansas is already taking strides in improving the roster’s talent level. The three four-star recruits (WR Devonta Jason, DB Corione Harris, WR Ja’Marr Chase) already equals the total number of four-star players to sign with Kansas from 2014 through 2017. Nothing will be official until next signing day when they submit their letters of intent, but if Beaty and his staff can keep those players on board, that would be a giant step forward. All three also happen to be from Louisiana, where Beaty appears to be building a pipeline with three other players from the state included in the early Class of 2018 lineup. The recent success in Louisiana, a state rich in football talent that has seen a few battles favor Kansas over LSU, has led to a promotion for running backs coach Tony Hull to associate head coach.

One way to keep that going is by providing some financial security to the staff, and Kansas is reportedly doing that. According to a report by Jesse Newell of the Kansas City Star, Kansas will be bumping the overall pay of the staff by $731,400 to push the total pay over the $3 million benchmark and putting them more on par with their Big 12 opponents. Beaty is also getting a bump in pay following his contract extension last December. This is what happens when you beat Texas.

We are not at the point where we can throw Kansas into the Big 12 championship picture, and it may be a while before we are, but Beaty has things working in Lawrence in the offseason. How much of that translates over to the football field in 2017 and beyond remains to be seen, but Kansas fans have reason to be optimistic about where the program is going.

David Beaty taking more control of Kansas offense in 2016

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Kansas head coach David Beaty is shaking things up on his staff this season by declaring he will take on the responsibility for calling offensive plays and coaching the quarterbacks. That essentially strips offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rob Likens of any defined responsibility on the staff, although he remains a member of Beaty’s assistant coaching staff.

“Rob is still going to carry the same title,” Beaty said earlier this week, according to KUSports.com. “But I’m gonna call the offense, and I’m gonna coach the quarterbacks this year. And that doesn’t have anything to do with Rob. It has to do with me. I want to be more actively involved with the QBs and what we do offensively.”

Beaty last called plays for an offense in 2011 as a co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach. He also called the shots at Rice as offensive coordinator in 2010. The last time Beaty coached quarterbacks was 2006 and 2007 as a passing game coordinator with Rice. With Beaty taking on the lead role of calling the offense, Likens will be used as an extra coach where needed despite holding the same title, officially.

“He’s a little bit more of a walk-around guy right now,” Beaty said. “It allows him to help me a little bit. Rob can go address some of the running-back stuff, some of the O-line stuff, and we get a chance to come back and make sure we’re really doing everything efficient.”

Kansas ranked 10th in the 10-team Big 12 in total offense with an average of 331.5 ypg (115th nationally). Kansas quarterbacks (led by freshman Ryan Willis with junior Montell Cozart appearing in five games) completed 53.8 percent of their passes with 12 touchdowns thrown and 14 intercepted passes. Part of the problem for Kansas was simply a lack of talent to produce much with the offense, but Beaty is looking to set a tone and that was never satisfied last season with the anemic Kansas offense. How much that will change in 2016 is probably minimal, but taking authoritative control just put more of the bulk of the responsibility on Beaty for better or worse.

It is also worth mentioning Willis is continuing to recover from an injured right wrist, which will leave more reps in spring for Cozart, Deondre Ford, Keaton Perry and Carter Stanley.

Kansas WR Shakiem Barbel gets extra year from NCAA

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Kansas wide receiver Shakiem Barbel received some positive news on Wednesday. The NCAA has agreed to grant him an extra year of eligibility, allowing him to play one more year of college football in 2016.

“We are excited to have Shakiem back for another year,” said Kansas head coach David Beaty in a released statement. “He is a great teammate and a guy with some quality experience. It will be valuable to our program to have him in our locker room and back out on the field with us.”

Barbel’s eligibility was a bit of a question mark given his transfer to the program from Fresno City College in 2014. Barbel started two games for the Jayhawks last season and he appeared in all 12 games. Because he appeared in every game last season, it was a question of whether or not the NCAA would grant him one final season. Barbel has appeared in 22 games since his arrival in Lawrence.

Last season saw Barbel catch 15 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown.

QB situation at Kansas now looks to 4th string QB; Cozart out indefinitely

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Kansas head coach David Beaty simply cannot catch a break with his quarterbacks since being named the head coach of the Jayhawks. Quarterback Montell Cozart is out indefinitely with a shoulder strain. His backup, Deondre Ford, is also out for the year with a thumb injury. That means Kansas will have almost no other choice than to move forward with Ryan Willis.

Cozart had completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 752 yards and two touchdowns in four games this season. Ford appeared in just two games, as has Willis. Willis, a freshman, has attempted 18 passes and completed eight of them for 100 yards in his brief time on the field this season. He will now be given the first team snaps and have a chance to show what he can do running the offense. He is not exactly taking over at a good time, as if there is one for Kansas. Kansas takes on Baylor this weekend, followed by Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma before getting to Texas.

The Kansas quarterback instability started in the spring when Michael Cummings was taken out at the knee by one of his teammates in the spring game. That injury led to knee surgery that put him on the shelf.

CFT 2015 Preseason Preview: Big 12 Predictions

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The Big 12 was left on the outside looking in of the College Football Playoff party a year ago, but it looks as though the odds are good the conference is not left out this season. TCU opens the 2015 season as the second-ranked team in the major polls and the Horned Frogs are joined by Baylor as popular picks to make a playoff push in 2015. But what about Oklahoma and Texas you ask? This year should see some improvements with both blueblood programs, although progress at each will be measured differently.

It is time for me to go on the record with some Big 12 predictions. Let’s just say I have a weird gut feeling about some of these.

1. TCU (Last year: 12-1, beat Ole Miss in Peach Bowl)
TCU returns a loaded offense with 10 starters coming back in 2015 from last season’s surging offense. That includes quarterback Trevone Boykin, who may be my top contender in the Heisman Trophy race this season thanks to his experience and supporting cast. TCU needs to replace just one offensive lineman, which puts TCU ahead of the curve compared to the rest of the conference. The schedule does have its challenges ahead of the Horned Frogs, including a season opener on the road against a solid Minnesota squad and road trips to Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. But I think TCU can manage to get away with wins in all three. In fact, I see TCU winning every game on the schedule this season, which would be a remarkable feat for this program on the rise. Most importantly, if TCU does live up to this prediction, there is not a shot they miss out on the playoff at the end of the season. None. There are some questions on the defensive side of the football, but I trust Gary Patterson will be able to address those concerns enough to get by while the offense is cooking.

2. Oklahoma (Last year: 8-5, lost to Clemson in Russell Athletic Bowl)
I feel rather optimistic about the Sooners this season, although I wonder why I feel this optimistic. Heck, I’ve even calling for Oklahoma to win a road game at Baylor. Call it gut instinct if you will. Oklahoma lost every game against a ranked opponent last season and holes were exposed by Baylor and Clemson. But Oklahoma hung in there with Kansas State and TCU and the Sooners have the best running back in the conference with Samaje Perine. I’m looking for a big year from Perine, if the rebuilt offensive line can help him out. I think Oklahoma gets off to an OK start, with the game at Tennessee a toss-up (I have it marked as a loss right now). I think Bob Stoops comes through with some solid performances to surprise some along the way to a second place finish in the Big 12.

3. Kansas State (Last year: 9-4, lost to UCLA in Alamo Bowl)
Here is what I have come to learn about Kansas State over the years. Bill Snyder is a good coach and finds a way to put together a solid team more often than not. You can look at Kansas State on paper and suggest there is no reason to be too excited about the Wildcats in 2015, and that is fine. Snyder will find a way to make it all come together, and he will have three fairly easy games and a bye week at the start of the season to get it all worked out before jumping into Big 12 play. That could get off to a rough start as well, but the bye week before hosting Baylor could be huge. I think Kansas State finishes strong in Big 12 play after the bye week.

4. Baylor (Last year: 11-2, lost to Michigan State in Cotton Bowl)
This one is sure to raise some eyebrows, and I fully understand. Baylor is seen by many as a Big 12 favorite and legitimate playoff contender. Eight starters are back on offense, and nine more on defense. If not for a slip up at West Virginia last season, Baylor would have been in the playoff with an undefeated record. Just like last season, the margin for error is extremely thin for the Bears. This may be a solid test for Art Briles, as he looks to work his quarterback magic once more with Seth Russell taking over a talented offense. With an experienced offensive line protecting him and Corey Coleman and KD Cannon as targets and running back Shock Linwood in the backfield, things should look pretty good for Baylor, right? I’m going with the gut instinct again here to explain why I have Baylor down so low in the Big 12 standings. I think Baylor gets off to a great start, but hits a road block after the second bye week. I’m putting Baylor down for back-to-back losses against Kansas State and Oklahoma and one more two weeks later against TCU. But they may be the best three-loss team in the nation.

5. Texas (Last year: 6-7, lost to Arkansas in Texas Bowl)
When Charlie Strong was hired as the head coach of Texas I said it might take a few years for him to have the Longhorns ready to compete for a Big 12 title. Entering year two, I think we start to see some signs of progress. With a couple of coaching changes on the staff, the hope is the offense begins to show some more consistency and efficiency. The Longhorns have to decide whether to go with Tyrone Swoopes or Jerrod Heard at quarterback and replace both starting tackles on the line, but things should start looking a little more stable on offense. After experiencing a setback in the season opener in South Bend against Notre Dame, the Longhorns rebound before hitting TCU and Oklahoma before the bye week. We will see this season there is still work to be done for Texas to compete against the best fo the conference, but it should start proving to us things are getting better.

6. Oklahoma State (Last year: 7-6, beat Washington in Cactus Bowl)
Another relatively low expectation for the Cowboys compared to many of the preseason previews out there. The big hang up for Oklahoma State for me will be the schedule. The road game at Texas I think ultimately goes down as a loss as the Longhorns look to make a bit of a statement. A road trip to West Virginia could go down as a loss as well, and TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma could all be home losses as well. Oklahoma State is probably more likely to go 1-2 in those big three games in the last half of the season, but I have them as losses right now.

7. West Virginia (Last year: 7-6, lost to Texas A&M in Liberty Bowl)
West Virginia should once again be somewhere in the middle of the Big 12, and will be one of those teams capable of pulling an upset. West Virginia will not be a pushover and should have some back-and-forth games, but the Mountaineers are not quite equipped to make a run at the Big 12 title. They are dangerous though as long as Dana Holgorsen is commanding the offense and a defense returning nine starters (including safety Karl Joseph). West Virginia’s biggest weakness is in the trenches. There won’t be enough of a push from the defense and the offensive line may not be the most dependable. The start of Big 12 play could be rough (at Oklahoma, vs. Oklahoma State, at Baylor, at TCU after bye).

8. Texas Tech (Last year: 4-8)
The best thing about Texas Tech is Kliff Kingsbury and his swagger. But good looks do not translate to wins on the football field, and Texas Tech is the textbook example of that right now. I have little faith in Texas Tech’s ability to be consistent enough on offense and I have even less confidence in Texas Tech’s defense to stop anything. Sure, shootouts may be fun to watch at times, but the Red Raiders need a lot of things to start turning around if we are ever going to see this program recapture the magic the Mike Leach era offered at times.

9. Iowa State (Last year: 2-10)
You may not find a harder working two-win team in the country than Iowa State. Yes, it could be another long season for the Cyclones, and that could place head coach Paul Rhoads in some unfortunate territory at the end of the season, but there should be some bright spots for Iowa State along the way. Wide receiver Allen Lazard will be tough to slow down and could have a big season. And hey, they’re not Kansas.

10. Kansas (Last year: 3-9)
I have Kansas down for one win this season and even that might be a stretch. New head coach David Beaty has his work cut out for him, but at least he is bringing some passion to the rebuilding project in Lawrence. He will need it with just three starters returning on each side of the football field, and his quarterback was injured in spring practice. If Kansas does not beat South Dakota State in week one (not a given by any means), then the Jayhawks will be staring down an 0-12 record this season.