Each week, MetroNews will hear from a writer who covers West Virginia’s opponent. Today we’re joined by Austin Meek of The Topeka Capital-Journal, for whom he covers the Kansas Jayhawks. You can follow him on Twitter (@austin_meek):
METRONEWS: With basketball season underway and Jeff Withey posting triple-doubles, what sort of buzz — if any — is this game generating among Jayhawks fans?
Meek: Yeah, football season usually ends sometime in mid-October as far as most KU fans are concerned. Charlie Weis drummed up some enthusiasm for KU’s senior night by buying tickets for students and switching up the uniforms, but that evaporated pretty fast after Iowa State destroyed Kansas in Lawrence. Having a bye week before this game gave KU fans an easy excuse to forget about football.
METRONEWS: How has Dayne Crist handled such a disappointing senior season? And did that long-ago five-star recruit rating, and the presumption Charlie Weis could scheme up some big passing stats, lead to unrealistic expectations?
Meek: Crist has handled this season as well as anyone could expect. KU fans viewed him as a program-changer, and Weis didn’t do much to discourage that notion when he talked about Crist before the season. After KU’s first game, though, it was apparent that the passing game had major problems. It wasn’t all on Crist – he’s got a big arm, but Kansas doesn’t have receivers who can make plays down the field. When receivers did get open, Crist had trouble hitting them and avoiding the pass rush, which ultimately led KU to bench him in favor of freshman Michael Cummings.
METRONEWS: What was your preseason wins-and-losses forecast for KU? Did you think this team would reach 20 straight Big 12 losses?
Meek: I predicted 4-8 this season, which wasn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. It’s reasonable to think that, had James Sims not been suspended for the first three games, the Jayhawks could have beaten Rice at home. They also had every chance to beat Texas and Texas Tech in Big 12 play.
METRONEWS: Do you have any sense that running back James Sims might enter the NFL draft early?
Meek: I don’t get the sense he’ll leave early. He has been really good this season, but he’ll benefit from having a full season next year to show his improved speed isn’t a fluke.
METRONEWS: This KU senior class has endured a miserable stretch. Who are some of the players you’ll miss covering as they culminate their college careers?
Meek: All the guys who transferred from Notre Dame – Crist, linebacker Anthony McDonald, tight end Mike Ragone – have been great to cover. They’re all pretty mature guys who’ve been through a lot and have interesting perspectives. Toben Opurum and Bradley McDougald are always very accommodating with talking about losses, which is something they’ve had to do far too frequently.