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New Quarterback Boosts Kansasí Hopes
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By Wendell Barnhouse | wendell@big12sports.com
Big12Sports.com Correspondent


2012 record: 1-11, 0-9 in the Big 12.

Returning starters:
Offense: 5; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 2

Top players returning: RB James Sims, RB Tony Pierson, LB Ben Heeney, LB Jake Love.

Needs replacing: OL Tanner Hawkinson, DL Toben Opurum, DB Bradley McDougald, WR Kale Pick, QB Dayne Crist, DB Lubbock Smith.

In Review
After opening with a victory over an FCS team, Kansas lost its next 11 games. Coach Charlie Weis and his staff vow that the losing streak will end and the number of victories will increase this season.

The Jayhawks struggled on offense in 2012. The passing game was particularly poor as Kansas finished last in the Big 12. The brightest moments for KU came when it was running the football and with James Sims back to carry the load, expect a strong running game.

The main reason for hope this season is quarterback Jake Heaps. He sat out last season after transferring from BYU, where he was a starter as a freshman. Heaps is expected to provide a significant upgrade for the Kansas passing attack. In the spring game, he completed 20 of 28 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns.

Wide receiver Justin McCay, a transfer from Oklahoma, will be counted on to be a key factor. The Jayhawks also want to utilize running back Tony Pierson's speed and shiftiness in the passing game.

Under defensive coordinator Dave Campo, the defense was improved but suffered from a lack of depth. The recruiting class includes over two dozen junior-college players and a number of those will be counted on to help on defense. Corner back Cassius Sendish, a JUCO transfer, is expected to start at cornerback.

Quick Slants
Junior Justin McKay, a wide receiver from the Kansas City area, sat out last season after transferring from Oklahoma. He displayed his big-play skills in the spring game and should help a receiving corps that didn't have a touchdown catch last season.

Linebackers coach DeMontie Cross left for TCU this offseason. His replacement is former KU player Clint Bowen who last year coached safeties and special teams. Dave Campo's title was changed from defensive coordinator to assistant head coach for defense. Scott Vestal moves from assistant director of operations and will become an assistant defensive backs coach who works closely with special teams.

Kansas will enter Big 12 play with a 21-game losing streak. The Jayhawks' last Conference victory came against Colorado in 2010 and they haven't beaten a current member of the Big 12 since defeating Iowa State in 2009.

Kansas coach Charlie Weis on ...
Quarterback Jake Heaps, who takes over after sitting out last season following his transfer from BYU:
"What we don't want to do is put any unnecessary pressure on him as 'the savior. "But at the same time, the expectation I put on Jake won't exceed the expectations he puts on himself. He has high expectations for himself and that is a good place to start because normally, the problem I have is, my expectations are higher than the players'."

Running back Tony Pierson, who will have more involvement in the passing game and who Kansas hopes will be a threat similar to West Virginia's Tavon Autin:
"I think Tony has a lot of similar traits that Tavon does. Obviously, Tavon is a much more polished receiver at this time, but as I watched that game last year, and watched how he played leading up to that game with him at running back and wide receiver, I said 'We have a guy like that, but we don't utilize him.'"

On Darius Willis, who lost his job but has fought his way back from the scout team and will play at both defensive end and middle linebacker:
"He's one of those guys that could have thrown in the towel, but he went in the other direction. And kudos to him, because that's why he is where he is right now."

2013 Schedule
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*
* - Conference game
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