• WHAT TO MAKE OF KU — Year 3 of David Beaty as head football coach of the Kansas Jayhawks has to go better than the first two.
It just has to. Or once again you’re going to hear rumblings about a coaching change from disgruntled alumni who are tired of watching the Jayhawks get pounded week after week.
Beaty says all the right things. He wears his feelings on his sleeve and the mounting losses of the last two years probably keep him awake all night. He appears consumed with trying to revive this moribund program.
KU was 0-fer in its first year under Beaty and won two games last year. But they can’t live off the revelry of the Texas upset forever.
When I look at the Kansas schedule, it could start 2-0. But after that, I’m having a hard time finding any victories.
There are some decent players. Every team in the Big 12 would like to have Dorrance Armstrong, a legitimate NFL prospect. How he slipped through the cracks and ended up in Lawrence is a mystery to me. He can play for anybody.
Daniel Wise, a defensive tackle, is another good player.
But the rest of the defense is undersized. KU will have terribly smallish linebackers and the secondary that was toasted last year returns only one experienced player. That’s a detriment in the pass-happy Big 12 where teams pass, pass and then pass some more.
Offensively, KU is hoping former TCU coordinator Doug Meachem can breathe some life into the sputtering attack. For all that Beaty is trumpeting the team’s offensive line, it’s still a slow unit and will have a hard time protecting either Peyton Bender or Carter Stanley, with my money on Bender. He’s reportedly an “Air Raid” type of quarterback with a quick release. Good thing because he’s going to have little precious time to throw.
I don’t know what it’s going to take for KU to get back to normalcy, which would be about five or six wins. The talent level caved under Turner Gill and Charlie Weis and while Beaty is trying his best, I just don’t see a lot of progress.
As the saying goes in Lawrence, “can’t wait until basketball.”
• K-STATE POLAR OPPOSITE — Meanwhile, the prospects at Kansas State are the polar opposite.
I’m really high on this Kansas State team. I think the Wildcats, with a break or two, could win the Big 12.
That’s right, I said win the Big 12.
The old-school offense should wear teams into the ground. Jesse Ertz is a Collin Klein clone, but perhaps a better passer. Alex Barnes is a beast that is going to be unleashed, good for about 1,200 yards. There’s speed at the wide outs. With KSU’s ball control, it will be able to keep its defense off the field and keep it fresh.
The defense may not be on par with the offense, but that’s the case for most teams in the conference. It’s a pinball league, with 42-35 games the norm. Kansas State does have some excellent defenders and I’m sure Bill Snyder will have some new diamonds in the rough to make a difference.
This is a Kansas State team that can win 10 games. Put it in the books.
• ROYALS’ STREAK OVER — You could hear the exhale all the way to McPherson.
When Whit Merrifield homered in the third inning on Tuesday against Tampa Bay, it ended the Royals’ 45-inning scoreless streak that seemed to gather momentum nationally the more zeroes that were posted.
With the seal broken, the Royals busted out for six runs and picked up a much-needed victory.
As I said Tuesday, though, the pitchers have to step up and they did. Rookie Jakob Junis gave KC another solid performance, getting into the sixth inning having allowed only one run. The bullpen did enough to make his performance stand up.
Maybe this is the start of yet another hot streak. If the pitching can come around, this team is still capable of reeling off 10 wins in, say, 13 games.