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Season Preview: Kansas Leads the Big 12 in Returning Production

Can Kansas lean on a wealth of experience to step out of the Big 12’s basement?



This is not a way-too-early preview of Round 4 of Mike Boynton vs. Bill Self. Boynton’s in the lead currently by the way. No, we’re talking football and believe it or not, Kansas still fields a football team.

In a strange turn of events, we are now five games into previewing Oklahoma State’s schedule, and into Week 2 of Big 12 play, and the most intriguing matchups for the Pokes have all been from the opponent’s defense.

This edition will be no different. Kansas’ defense might have been a bit undervalued in 2017, and, frankly, there’s not a ton intriguing that the Jayhawks are doing offensively.


If there is one thing the Jayhawks have going for them, it’s experience. SB Nation’s Bill Connelly has a pretty strong metric for quantifying returning production that goes beyond just counting last year’s starters still present on a given roster. And in that metric the Jayhawks come in ranked No. 2 as a team (No. 4 each in offense and defense).

That obviously puts KU at the top of the Big 12 in this category against Oklahoma State who ranks dead last.

We can debate whether or not a 1-win season’s experience helps or hinders a team trying to climb out of one the worst decade’s in Division I history. But for the purposes of forecasting their challenge to OSU, we can call it a strength.

Star Power

That’s not a typo. There is some star power in Lawrence, even after the departure of current Dallas Cowboy Dorance Armstrong, Jr.

A big part of that aforementioned returning production on defense comes from two preseason all-conference selections in defensive tackle Daniel Wise and inside linebacker Joe Dineen, Jr. Kansas joins Texas Tech (three) and Texas (two) as the only Big 12 schools with multiple defenders on the list. Oklahoma and Baylor were left out completely.

Wise was a load for most Big 12 interior linemen he faced in 2017. His 16 tackles for loss was fourth-best in the conference, as were his seven sacks. He allows just a 17.3 percent success rate for opposing offenses and recorded 18 stuffs according to Football Study Hall.

Simply put, success rate includes plays in which Dineen made a tackle and the lower the number the better. Stuffs are stops at our behind the line of scrimmage in which he recorded a tackle.

Dineen, an All-American last year, was downright disruptive last season leading the nation in solo tackles (7.8 per game). He also led the Big 12 with 25 tackles for loss, which tied with fifth overall pick Bradly Chubb for second nationally. Offenses were held to a success rate of just 30.7 percent against Dineen and he boasted 34 stuffs.

The pair of Wise and Dineen helped KU finish 14th nationally in stuff rate in FSH’s defensive line rankings. But the loss of Armstrong will be tangible even with all of the returning lettermen at KU.


When it comes down to it, Kansas’ defense will probably take a slight step back from last year, which may be hard to tell given its in ineptitude on the other side of the ball.

There are few signs that KU’s offense is about to experience some kind of transformation before fall. And any defense that routinely gets rewarded for a stop with a three-and-out from its offense is a ship launched to sink.

The Jayhawks return a lot on both sides of the ball and definitely have a couple of ball players on defense. Will that be enough to get them out of the Big 12’s basement or to cause problems for a retooling OSU offense five weeks in? That’s a hard sell for me.

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