It is true that by almost any measurable standard the Kansas Jayhawks fielded an abysmal football team last year. KU’s head coach Charlie Weis was less kind when he recently called last year’s offering, “…that pile of crap out there.” during the Big 12 Conference Media Day
The one very bright exception was James Sims, who rushed for an astonishing 1,013 yards last season. Despite tying for the league lead of 112.6 yards rushing per game and 4.6 yards per carry, Sims was shockingly not selected as one of the Big 12’s two preseason all-conference selections.
Admittedly, 1,013 yards in not a big number for the lead back of a division one college team, and is a full 444 yards behind Kansas’ all time single season rushing leader Jon Cornish. What is astonishing is Sims earned those yards while missing the first three games of the season vs South Dakota State, Rice, and TCU, while everybody including the Waterboy‘s Mama knew the Jayhawks’ only real option was running the ball. Kansas had virtually no other offense, particularly with the inept Dane Crist behind center. Assuming he averaged the 112.6 yards a game versus those three opponents, Sims fell only 107 yards shy of becoming KU’s all time rushing leader in a season.
With what appears to be a vastly improved offense led by quarterback Jake Heaps, a receiving corps featuring Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay and vastly underrated Nick Harwell, Sims should have far more running room than anytime in his Jayhawk career. With the versatile Tony Pierson and Darrian Miller returning at running back, Sims will not only be pushed with good athletes behind him but should get some much needed rest during games. Do not be surprised if Sims has more total yards with fewer touches and breaks Jon Cornish’s single season rushing record.
One of the biggest question marks will be the offensive line, which graduated several very experienced players. However, with multiple upgrades at the skill positions KU fans should still expect another stellar year from Sims and the talented stable of KU backs.
Not to be overlooked in Sims quest is the often motivating “disrespect” factor. With many apparently disregarding the accomplishments of Sims last year, he may well take that disappointment into each game and run KU right into a bowl season, and maybe even an NFL roster spot after graduation. With very talented Darrian Miller and Tony Pierson in the wings KU’s season certainly does not hinge on the performance of James Sims but there is little doubt who the offensive star is coming into the 2013-2014 season.
It should prove to be a very interesting year on the gridiron at Kansas and maybe if James Sims has his way, one for the record books!