Athlon Sports speaks to college football coaches on an anonymous basis each year to get a candid look at various programs. This season is no different as the publication spoke to coaches from the Big 12 about each opposing team. As a result, the publication got some unfiltered thoughts Lance Leipold and KU soccer as the 2022 season approaches.
In Leipold’s first season as head coach, KU took a 2:10 lead. The Jayhawks opened the season with a win over South Dakota. KU subsequently suffered an eight-game losing streak that included multiple blowouts. But the Jayhawks rallied and knocked Texas off the road. KU then ended the season strong. Although the Jayhawks lost both games, they were very competitive in both competitions.
Despite the record, a trainer raved about the work of the KU staff in the first 12 months in Lawrence.
“That was one of the best coaching jobs in college football last year,” said coach number one. “Think about it — the guy shows up on this program after spring training, then the backers go, the receivers go and then fast-forward a few months and they beat Texas. It’s incredible.”
The coach refers to the transfer portal departures from wide receivers Andrew Parchment and Stephen Robinson after changing coaches. Additionally, Velton Gardner entered the transfer portal after the first weeks of the season.
KU went into the Texas game 1-8 and earned a win in a shootout game.
Even with the win and a strong offseason, two opposing coaches see the KU in a development phase.
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“They are still undergoing long-term restructuring, you can see that on the defensive,” said coach number two. “The defensive line was bad, there was nothing they could do about it. We were aggressive in the portal and were able to turn on some Buffalo guys, but that speaks to how bad the situation was before he got there.
“Honestly, it’s way too early, but I think the staff are doing a better job than the previous one,” coach number four said of four-year-old high school-level talent, but they’re at least another season away from not showing up to exit the portal.”
Last season, KU’s defense was the worst in the conference. KU averaged 487.2 yards per game and averaged 42.2 points per game, ranking bottom of the conference. KU’s run defense was the worst in the conference, allowing 250.3 rushing yards per game and averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
On the recruiting front, KU hit hard on the transfer portal and junior college ranks, landing 19 players from those two paths. KU only accepted six high school prospects in 2022, and the staff has eight high school players engaged in the Class of 2023, which is the fewest of any Big 12 team.
Finally, an opposing coach sees Daniels as someone KU fans should be excited about.
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“If you’re looking for a bright spot, it’s the QB,” coach number three said. “The quarterback game got better as the season went on. [Jalon] Daniels is really raw, but he threw sparks. When you’re in a situation like Kansas, look for the rallying point, the way to get people to believe. He can do that because he had the offense in better shape after a couple of games. They’re going through a couple of transfers that are likely to start immediately.”
At the start of preseason camp, Leipold said he was expecting Jalon Daniels to be a starter. In the last three games last season — all of which were starts for Daniels — he completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 706 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions.
The KU starts in the second year of the Lance Leipold Era against FCS program Tennessee Tech. The game begins Friday, September 2 at 7:00pm CT and will be televised on ESPN+. The Golden Eagles went on a 3-11 season last season. The program played only one Power Five team in Tennessee last season, losing 0-56.