Vernon: Jake Heaps has the chance to make football fun
- Apr. 23, 2013
- 1 Comment
I do not envy the role of new Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps this year. And neither should you. His task hasn’t been successfully accomplished since 2009’s Todd Reesing kept Kansas football treading water.
It’s as tough a spot as any to be in. The odds are against him. Jake Heaps is the key to making Kansas football fun this year. Winning a few games will go a long way, but improving a passing offense that was ranked 113th in the country last season will make Jayhawk football much more bearable to the average fan.
Sure, it’s tough to say Heaps is the sole key. The offensive line’s protection will be crucial and his wide receivers will have to do a better job getting open, which won’t be too hard considering last year’s group caught zero — yes, zero — touchdown passes.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a statistic like that,” Heaps said in early March. “We expect a lot more from our receiving core, and our receiving core themselves expect a lot more.”
That’s not fun football. It’s not fun to watch. It can’t be fun to play. And it can’t be fun to coach, either.
Heaps’ job is to fill what’s been missing from Jayhawk football the past three seasons: a quarterback.
His coach, Charlie Weis, is a supposed quarterback and passing guru, so he does have that going for him — but recent history sure isn’t.
Ever since the departure of coach Mark Mangino and Reesing, the Kansas offense has had a gaping hole of a passing game. In 2009, the duo’s final season, the Jayhawks’ passing offense was ranked No. 7 in the nation, averaging 310 yards per game.
The passing offense hasn’t surpassed a top 100 spot in the nation since that season. The quarterback spot has been a rotating door with names such as Pick, Webb, Meachum and Crist.
Its best year was 2011, when it ranked No. 101, averaging a meager 167 yards per game.
With the modern era of college football turning more toward spread offenses that energize crowds and players, the Jayhawks have been flat. In defense of last season’s 113th ranking, the rush offense cracked the top 25, averaging 211 yards a game.
It was better, and those pieces that made the Kansas backfield strong are still in Lawrence.
Now it’s up to Heaps to finish the job. A strong passing game will only help the running game and vice versa.
Jake Heaps can make Kansas football appealing. He can help make it respectable. And most of all, he can help bring the fun back.