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Kansas Football: Bold Predictions for 2015

Montell Cozart will stay Kansas’ starting quarterback

The state of KU’s quarterback situation over the past few years can be summed up into this one prediction.

For most teams across the country, the starting quarterback on day one is expected to be the starting quarterback at the end of the season. So saying that Cozart will start and end the season under center isn’t very bold at all.

For the Jayhawks, however, this hasn’t been the case since Todd Reesing did it in 2009. The Jayhawks have benched their day one starter in five consecutive seasons, including last season when Montell Cozart was benched to open up a spot for Michael Cummings. But things will be different this year.

The coaching staff has raved about Cozart’s development as a player, both on and off the field, and expects big things from him this year. His accuracy, confidence, and maturity — things that led to a bench treatment last year — has improved and progress is beginning to show.

Head Coach David Beaty and his staff pegged Cozart as the starter for the season opener against South Dakota State on September 5th and his teammates have elected him as one of three players that would lead the team as KU’s captains for the 2015 season.

Not only does Cozart believe in himself, but he also has gained the support of the coaching staff and his fellow players. Combine that new-found confidence with improved accuracy and strength in his passing game and you have yourself a quarterback that can make it through the season.

Ke’aun Kinner will lead the team in all-purpose yards

With all the preseason focus being centered around the Jayhawks’ new “Air-Raid” offense, it might be surprising to see a running back predicted to lead KU in all-purpose yardage. Fortunately for the Jayhawks, Ke’aun Kinner isn’t your typical running back.

Described as a mixture of former Kansas playmakers Tony Pierson and James Sims, Kinner should create his fair share of highlight reels and bring reluctant fans to their feet. He has the potential to be the big man on campus for the 2015 Jayhawks.

Kinner is no stranger to being a major component of an offense, as he received NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2014 while playing for Navarro Junior College. The young star carried the ball 253 times, and collected a league-leading 1,696 yards rushing and 22 rushing touchdowns in the process. That’s good for an average of 169.6 yards rushing and 2.2 touchdowns rushing per game

Kinner has the motor, the power, and the toughness to make defenses pay. He can take advantage of open holes, use his toughness to break through the line, or roll out for a screen pass and use his speed to make that big yardage play. Having a proven running back could turn out to be the difference between being blown out and staying competitive. Look for Kinner to use his big play potential and work his way to the summit of KU’s all-purpose yardage list.

Transfer Joshua Stanford will lead the Jayhawks in yards receiving

After totaling 640 yards receiving and a touchdown on 40 catches (including a seven catch, 107 yard, one touchdown effort against 14th ranked Miami) in 2013, Virginia Tech had high hopes for Joshua Stanford before his decision to transfer last season. Off-field issues and injuries kept the Canadian wide receiver from reaching his highest potential in 2014, but a change in scenery and a new coaching staff seems to be just what the doctor ordered.

The Jayhawk staff has had nothing but praise for the 6’1, 200 pound wide receiver out of Mississauga (pronounced miss-ee-saw-guh), Ontario, Canada. Stanford has separated himself from the crowd and emerged as a leader for the Jayhawks receiving corp. This is especially important due to the large amount of new, inexperienced bodies making up this year’s wide receiver lineup.

Stanford brings the poise of a veteran along with the pure athleticism of a talented wide receiver, and should give Cozart a nice target to throw to on Saturdays. Couple the fact that so many KU receivers are unproven with the big shoes that Jimmay Mundine left tight ends Kent Taylor and Ben Johnson to fill, and Stanford looks prime and ready to step up as the Jayhawks’ leading receiver this year.

KU will end its losing streak to Kansas State

It’s a campus wide agreement that the sooner this streak ends, the better. Thankfully this will be the year that it happens.

Ever since Bill Snyder’s return to Manhattan, KU has had a difficult time with its in-state foe, losing by at least 21 points in all but one game.

Luckily, the Wildcats also find themselves in a rebuilding situation this season. K-State, much like KU, is faced with the task of using unproven talent to replace key components (specifically on the offensive side) to their team. This should be enough to allow the Jayhawks to take back the series.

If Kansas can find a solid rhythm by November, KU could have all pieces in place and end the losing streak, thus allowing them to go into the 2016 season on a high note.

KU will beat a ranked opponent

The boldest prediction has been saved for last. The Kansas Jayhawks will do the unthinkable and take down a goliath during the 2015 season.

It’s November 15th, 2014. The Kansas Jayhawks are hosting the 5th ranked team in the nation — the TCU Horned Frogs. On a cold, miserable, November afternoon, the Jayhawks surprise themselves and almost upset a top-5 opponent. If it weren’t for a few miscues, that game would have gone down as one of the greatest games in KU football history. Alas, it was not meant to be. But this is the year things will be different.

Home games against currently 4th ranked Baylor and 19th ranked Oklahoma are prime targets for an upset. KU proved last year that, even though they may be outmatched in terms of on-field talent, they could remain stubborn enough to put up a good fight against top-tier teams.

Oklahoma has a three game stretch against the bottom three teams in the conference (vs Texas Tech, @ KU, vs Iowa St) that could have the Sooners snoozing and allow the Jayhawks to grab an upset and send Lawrence into a frenzy.

KU could also trip up the Baylor Bears if they overlook the Jayhawks and KU gets a high-energy crowd in attendance. It was evident last year that sometimes all an underdog needs is a little confidence from the fans.

KU also has the advantage of having nothing to lose and a coaching staff that is bringing fire and passion to its team — similar to what current Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Clint Bowen did last year. Combine everything with the benefit of playing in a state where the weather can change at any moment and Saturdays could get pretty interesting here in Lawrence.