The Orlando Sentinel's college insider Matt Murschel has ranked all 125 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. The Sentinel staff will take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 125 to our projected No. 1 team.
Today at No. 110: Kansas
Coach: Charlie Weis (1-11, entering second season; 36-28 overall)
2012 record: 1-11 (0-9 in Big 12, 10th in Big 12)
Look back: Kansas struggled in 2012, failing to win a game after beating Football Championship Subdivision South Dakota State 31-17 in the season opener Sept. 1. The Jayhawks did show flashes of potential, leading then-No. 7 Kansas State during most of the first half, nearly toppling Texas and falling to Texas Tech in overtime.
New head coach Charlie Weis, who thrived as an offensive coordinator at the NFL level, has yet to prove his skills translate to the college game. He tried to stick with QB Dayne Crist, a highly-touted recruit he signed at Notre Dame. Crist was hobbled by injuries, then lost any shot at the starting quarterback job. He transferred to Kansas and was immediately eligible because he earned his bachelor's degree at Notre Dame. Weis started Crist, but he struggled and his role diminished as the season continued.
Weis shifted his focus to developing freshman QB Michael Cummings, who played in the final eight games and started five contests in 2012.
Offensive starters returning: 5
Offensive starters lost: 6
Defensive starters returning: 6
Defensive starters lost: 5
Key losses: OL Tanner Hawkinson, S Bradley McDougald, OL Duane Zlatnik, CB Tyler Patmon
Top returnees: QB Michael Cummings, LB Ben Heeney, LB Jake Love, TE Jimmay Mundine, WR/KR Tre' Parmalee, HB Tony Pierson, HB James Sims.
Strengths: The Jayhawks ranked No. 22 in rushing offense last season, averaging 211.7 yards per contest. The run game helped Kansas compete against elite teams. While it hurts losing key members of the offensive line, Weis recruited aggressively to offset the losses and the Jayhawks bring back rushing threats James Sims and Tony Pierson. Sims ranked No. 17 in rushing nationally with 112.6 yards per game.
On defense, Kansas will rely on LB Ben Heeney to lead the group. Heeney ranked third in the Big 12 and tied for 32nd nationally with 112 tackles last season. He also ranked fifth in the Big 12 in tackles for loss, with 12.0 for a loss of 31 yards.
Weaknesses: Kansas can't rely solely on its rushing attack to win games. The Jayhawks desperately need to improve the passing game. The team ranked No. 120, or last, nationally in passing efficiency with a 94.3 rating. The passing offense ranked No. 113 nationally (148.7 yards per game), which made it no surprise the team was ranked No. 115 nationally in scoring offense (18.3 points per game).
The defense wasn't much stronger, ranking No. 109 nationally in scoring defense after giving up 36.1 points per contest.
Outlook: The Big 12 is a tough conference and the path to success won't get any easier for Kansas. Weis needs time to get his player into place to see if he can finally translate his NFL success to the college level.
Sept. 7 South Dakota
Sept. 14 at Rice
Sept. 21 Louisiana Tech
Oct. 5 Texas Tech
Oct. 12 at TCU
Oct. 19 Oklahoma
Oct. 26 Baylor
Nov. 2 at Texas
Nov. 9 at Oklahoma State
Nov. 16 West Virginia
Nov. 23 at Iowa State
Nov. 30 Kansas State