LAWRENCE, KANSAS – The Kansas Jayhawks begin their season on Saturday at 6 PM versus the Rhode Island Rams. Kansas did not win any games in 2015, and will look to capture their first victory of the David Beaty era versus an FCS team that only won one game a year ago.
The biggest story in anticipation of this contest is the quarterback battle between sophomore Ryan Willis and junior Montell Cozart. Both have been starters at different points of their careers.
Cozart began both the 2014 and 2015 season as the starting QB, and Ryan Willis took over the reigns from Cozart to finish the year in 2015.
Cozart has 7 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on a 51.7% completion percentage in his career, while Ryan Willis is sporting 9 TDs and 10 INTs on a 52.1% completion percentage.
It is extremely likely that we will not know the identity of the starter until the KU offense takes the field for the first time.
No matter who the quarterback is on Saturday, one KU receiver should see a lot of balls coming his way. That receiver is LaQuivionte Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is a former 4 star recruit who played at Texas A&M in 2013 and 2014. The transfer will be making his Kansas debut on Saturday, and his speed figures to help out in the passing game in a big way.
The Jayhawks are facing an FCS team in Rhode Island who not only are in the midst of a major roster shift (28 of 84 players were not on the roster last year), but also only mustered one victory last year in the CAA conference.
While this is one more than Kansas, the victory came against Delaware, and the Rams only managed 13 points per game last year, finishing 119th in total offense.
Rhode Island will look for their offense in the form of junior RB Harold Cooper. Cooper was the team’s leading rusher in 2015, and he also led the team in receptions. Cooper also returned a kick for a touchdown last year.
Some KU fans will have flashbacks to the season opener a year ago, when Kansas lost to another FCS team in South Dakota State. However, the Jackrabbits won 8 games last year, and 9 in 2014.
Rhode Island is 2-21 in their last 2 seasons since head coach Jim Fleming took over. And of course, that is against much lesser competition than what Kansas consistently faces.
Nothing is a guarantee with KU Football, we all know that. But the Rams has been one of the worst teams in FCS play over the last few years. The Jayhawks should be able to earn their first win in the David Beaty era on Saturday.