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COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2015 PRESEASON TOP 25

#103 Kansas Jayhawks

NATIONAL FORECAST

#103

Big 12 PREDICTION

#10

HEAD COACH: David Beaty, First Year | OFF. COORDINATOR: Rob Likens | DEF. COORDINATOR: Clint Bowen, Kenny Perry

David Beaty was hired at Kansas because the Jayhawks know they need to recruit better. From the look of the worst roster in the Big 12, Beaty has a lot of work ahead of him. And with just five starters back, his only victories this fall may come on the recruiting trail.

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Previewing Kansas’ Offense in 2015 


The quarterback competition should be settled in the fall as new coach David Beaty and offensive coordinator Rob Likens seek to find the best fit for their new Air Raid offense. The incumbent is 5'10" senior Michael Cummings, who gave KU some much-needed consistency while starting the final seven games in 2014 and shared the Jayhawks’ Offensive Player of the Year award. Cummings, however, went down with a knee injury in the spring game in late April, and his availability for the fall is in doubt. Dual-threat Montell Cozart is back, and two true freshmen also should be in the mix: late find Carter Stanley and in-state talent Ryan Willis.

The running back position should be KU’s deepest position group. Top returning rusher Corey Avery was dismissed from the team in early June, but the Jayhawks return seniors De’Andre Mann and Taylor Cox. Two newcomers — junior college transfer Ke’aun Kinner and freshman Taylor Martin — also should provide KU with additional quickness.

KU’s offensive line will be rebuilding after losing three starters. Left tackle Jordan Shelley-Smith was one of the highlights of the offseason, as he added 34 pounds to get to 296 after making the full-time transition from tight end to offensive lineman.

The Jayhawks will be inexperienced at receiver, as their returners combined for just seven catches a season ago. Senior Tre’ Parmalee — son of longtime NFL running back Bernie — could provide some stability in the slot. KU also should have two reliable options at tight end in sophomore Ben Johnson and junior Kent Taylor, who was a top-ranked recruit out of high school.

, which includes an in-depth look at all 10 conference teams, features and predictions for the upcoming season.

Previewing Kansas’ Defense in 2015 
 

Beaty said early in spring practices that the strength of his team was its defensive line. KU does have some talent returning, starting with Ben Goodman, who will be asked to be more of a vocal leader. Former walk-on T.J. Semke is an assignment-sound player. Andrew Bolton was expected to give KU some potential at defensive tackle after an up-and-down junior season. However, Bolton left the team in July.

Linebackers coach Kevin Kane didn’t yet have the depth he was hoping for in spring practices, but he did feel confident about his top guys. However, Jake Love - one of Kansas' top contenders for All-Big 12 honors in 2015 - decided to retire in early June. Love's absence will be felt on a defense with just two returning starters. Oft-injured Schyler Miles has shown a natural awareness at middle linebacker, while Courtney Arnick has some versatility after posting 45 tackles a season ago.

The Jayhawks lost both starting cornerbacks and safeties from last season, meaning this year’s group will be a work in progress. At cornerback, KU’s most reliable player might be a newcomer, as Brandon Stewart impressed in spring practices while getting first-team reps. Juniors Fish Smithson, Bazie Bates IV and Greg Allen are the top candidates to play at safety.

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Previewing Kansas’ Specialists in 2015 
 

The Jayhawks have major questions following the graduation of All-Big 12 punter Trevor Pardula. Two-year kicker Matthew Wyman returns, though his 9-of-15 accuracy on field goals leaves room for improvement. At punter, Eric Kahn and Andrew Yoxall will compete to start with no kicks between them.

Final Analysis
 

Though Beaty hopes to start the process of rebuilding a winning football program in Lawrence, it definitely won’t be easy right away. The Jayhawks have suffered through a string of unsuccessful campaigns since an Orange Bowl victory in 2008 — KU has won a total of 12 games in its last five seasons — and this year’s roster seems as depleted as any in the last decade. Following the departure of a rash of junior college players — signed by previous coach Charlie Weis as he tried to quick-fix the program — KU’s numbers are down, and Beaty’s challenge in 2015 should be immense. 

The Debate

What Grade Does Kansas Get for Hiring David Beaty?

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2015 PRESEASON TOP 25

#74 Iowa State Cyclones

NATIONAL FORECAST

#74

Big 12 PREDICTION

#9

HEAD COACH: Paul Rhoads, 29-46 (6 Years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Mark Mangino | DEF. COORDINATOR: Wally Burnham

Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads has cultivated a reputation of being able to do more with less. After a 5-19 record the last two seasons, Rhoads and his reputation are being put to the test. The Cyclones went winless in the Big 12 last season — which, of course, means they lost to Kansas — and rebounding by a significant margin would seem to be a tall task.

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Previewing Iowa State’s Offense in 2015 
 

Iowa State finished last season ranked 89th in the nation in total offense. But with coordinator Mark Mangino’s system now fully in place and an experienced starting quarterback in Sam Richardson running the show, there is reason to believe the Cyclones can be greatly improved. 

One of the main reasons for the optimism is a wide receiving corps that should be among the best in the Big 12. Quenton Bundrage, who tied a school record with nine touchdown receptions in 2013, tore his ACL in the 2014 opener and is set to return at full strength. He will be joined by two large and talented partners in D’Vario Montgomery (6'6", 236) and Allen Lazard (6'5", 218), both of whom showed great promise during the 2014 campaign. 

It’s the offensive line and running backs who hold the questions surrounding this offense. Gone are both of Iowa State’s top tailbacks from last season, Aaron Wimberly and DeVondrick Nealy. Sophomore Tyler Brown and redshirt freshman Mike Warren are expected to share carries this fall. 

Iowa State’s offensive line has been decimated by injuries in each of the last two seasons. However, because of that, there are a bunch of players at the position who have received significant playing time. Jake Campos, forced into the lineup early last season, will anchor the line at left tackle. 

, which includes an in-depth look at all 10 conference teams, features and predictions for the upcoming season.

Previewing Iowa State’s Defense in 2015 
 

There is only one way for this group to go following last season’s final ranking of 125th in total defense. The good news for coordinator Wally Burnham is that his defensive line should be much improved, thanks in part to the arrival of junior college transfer Demond Tucker, who impressed at nose guard in the spring. Devlyn Cousin is a reliable defensive tackle, while Dale Pierson and Trent Taylor gained valuable experience in 2014 and should be viable defensive ends this fall. 

Linebacker is another story. Jevohn Miller was leading the team in tackles before he got hurt last year and is gone to graduation. Luke Knott can’t seem to stay healthy. A bulk of pressure is going to be put on the back of Jordan Harris, a junior college recruit from 2014 who redshirted last year because he couldn’t grasp the defense. Harris had a great spring and is the favorite to start in the middle. 

Iowa State is in good shape at cornerback with both starters from last year, Nigel Tribune and Sam E. Richardson, returning. The Cyclones’ second-leading tackler, strong safety T.J. Mutcherson, was dismissed from the team in the offseason and is expected to be replaced by senior Qujuan Floyd. The Big 12’s Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, Kamari Cotton-Moya, will be the man at free safety. 
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Previewing Iowa State’s Specialists in 2015 
 

There is no controversy when it comes to Iowa State’s kicking game. Cole Netten went 11-for-14 on field goals last year and is back for his junior season. Punter Colin Downing had an impressive freshman campaign, averaging 39.4 yards per kick. The return game will be interesting, but specialist Jomal Wiltz was brought in as a junior college recruit specifically for these duties. 

Final Analysis
 

There is significant pressure on Paul Rhoads, whose program has won a total of five games in the past two years, to show significant improvement this season. First and foremost, for that to happen, the Cyclones have to stay healthy. After that, the offense needs to be more explosive and efficient. The defense should be improved, but not enough to consistently slow down quality Big 12 offenses. Getting to six wins — and reaching bowl-eligibility — will be a challenge for the 2014 Cyclones.

The Debate

Where Does Sam Richardson Rank Among Big 12 QBs?

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