Lance Leipold on Kansas' quick rise from soccer punchline to Massive 12 contender

Published:Mar 8, 202422:58
Lance Leipold on Kansas' quick rise from soccer punchline to Massive 12 contender

By Bryan Fischer
FOX Sports activities Faculty Soccer Author

Throughout 16 seasons as a head coach, Lance Leipold not often has recognized a time when he hasn’t been busy doing this or worrying about that.

This week, nevertheless, the man in command of Kansas soccer is the "good type of busy," because the No. 19 Jayhawks are off to their finest begin since 2009 and making ready to host No. 17 TCU (Midday ET Saturday on FS1 and the FOX Sports activities app) for a sport that would, somewhat extremely, have Massive 12 Championship Recreation implications down the street.

The college is not any stranger to listening to its title talked about in title speak, however that has usually been together with the way more distinguished basketball program. Regardless of the calendar flipping to October although, the chatter among the many KU fan base has not moved onto hoops — even with preparations being made to hoist one other banner at Allen Fieldhouse subsequent month.

No, the story round Lawrence is firmly on what’s occurring with a workforce picked lifeless final within the preseason convention standings for a dozen years operating. In opposition to the Horned Frogs, David Sales space Memorial Stadium might be offered out for a 3rd straight sport, the primary time that’s occurred in 14 years.

Massive 12 Week 6 Preview: TCU vs. Kansas

Big 12 Week 6 Preview: TCU vs. Kansas

Joel Klatt previews the Massive 12 matchups for Week 6, together with No. 17 TCU's go to to tackle No. 19 Kansas.

Even on a weekend that options the famed Pink River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma, and the dénouement for Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban’s offseason feud, it’s the Sunflower State that's one way or the other taking part in host to one among simply three ranked-versus-ranked matchups throughout the game. 

The faculty soccer world is marveling on the Rock Chalk revival of epic proportions, occurring in simply Leipold's second 12 months after coming over from Buffalo.

"That is the one which's in all probability essentially the most sudden," Leipold, 58, advised FOX Sports activities of his workforce’s 5-0 begin and top-25 rating. "On the identical time, we now have to be sure that we're staying within the second of the every day and weekly preparation, and the routine that helped us get up to now. We've to verify we keep true to it and hold going. And I feel our gamers have."

Leipold actually has an ally in junior Jalon Daniels, his subject normal for this marketing campaign, who's seventh in FBS passing effectivity. The twin-threat quarterback is one among simply 11 signal-callers who've double-digit landing passes and fewer than two interceptions, plus he ranks within the prime 30 nationally in speeding touchdowns and yards per carry.

Amid the intense lights and elevated consideration, although, Daniels is taking issues in stride and looking out ahead to every problem that performs out on Saturdays. 

"For those who’re attempting to take pleasure in it now, then you definitely’re not likely targeted on what else is ready to occur," Daniels mentioned earlier this week. "You’re not essentially targeted on the long run, you’re extra targeted on the previous. Specializing in the previous will not be one thing I actually harp on. I wish to concentrate on the current, hold my ft the place they're and carry on striving."

Jalon Daniels enters Heisman dialogue

Jalon Daniels enters Heisman discussion

Matt Leinart chats with Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels concerning the Jayhawks' quick begin, his relationship with coach Lance Leipold and extra.

The Southern California native launched himself to a lot of the nation final 12 months by authoring a memorable 57-56 extra time upset towards Texas, however has taken his sport — and Kansas’ — to a different stage in 2022. For the primary time since Todd Reesing left campus in 2009, there’s even a bit of Heisman Trophy buzz surrounding the place at KU.

[Joel Klatt's Heisman Trophy Tiers]

"Jalon is such an impressive younger man and the way he goes about it," Leipold mentioned. "He has been an enormous a part of our success. It would be laborious to say the place we would be with out him. That’s not taking away from anybody else. I feel the buy-in has been big."

Daniels’ growth underscores the rebuilding effort that’s gone on inside a program that was one of many worst Energy 5 groups over the previous decade. He arrived at campus as a little-known three-star participant in Les Miles’ solely full recruiting class, a late flip from Center Tennessee State. {The teenager} wound up beginning six of the Jayhawks’ 9 video games through the 2020 pandemic season, however agreed to redshirt final season after an arm situation throughout camp put him behind North Texas switch Jason Bean within the QB pecking order. 

That was the plan a minimum of. As Kansas gamers — some on their eighth place coach throughout three totally different regimes — can let you know, plans change. 

Bean was injured final November towards Kansas State, and backup Miles Kendrick went down simply two snaps later. That compelled Daniels again onto the sector forward of schedule, with the quarterback passionate about blowing up the redshirt proposal following the victory over the Longhorns per week later. 

The Jayhawks haven’t been the identical since. The signal-caller, who was beforehand winless in six begins beneath middle, has now guided the workforce to 6 wins of their final eight video games and is threatening to finish a bowl drought that stretches again to 2008.

Each Daniels and his head coach defer loads of the credit score to a workers that is aware of what it’s wish to win, even when such a sense has been fleeting in Lawrence. A lot of the coaches have been with Leipold relationship again to his championship groups at Division III powerhouse Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski is on his third tour beneath the pinnacle coach and tutored a number of gamers to all-conference honors. Veteran line coach Scott Fuchs has led a exceptional transformation within the trenches, because the Jayhawks have gone from lifeless final throughout FBS in sacks allowed previous to his arrival to giving up simply two to date in 2022. Offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki has been within the group for a decade and earned rave critiques from others for his scheme that includes RPO’s, full choice ideas and a superb old style downhill run sport. 

On the opposite aspect of the ball, coordinator Brian Borland has overseen a protection that has gone from giving up 42.2 factors per sport to simply 24 per sport this season.

The workers has additionally been strategic about utilizing the switch portal to bolster positions of want and figuring out the proper matches to complement a roster that was usually devoid of expertise earlier than they took over. Defensive finish Lonnie Phelps, for instance, arrived from Miami (OH) and is sixth nationally with 5 sacks. 

Then there’s beforehand unheralded guard Dominick Puni, a switch from Division II Central Missouri who has since turn out to be one of many workforce’s highest-graded performers. Ought to Kansas hold rolling on the gridiron to a bowl sport or past, the senior might be celebrated round Lawrence because the second-best arrival from throughout the border in Warrensburg (a century or so after a sure Phog Allen made the identical transfer).

"You already know there have been instances on either side of the ball that you would see this workforce being higher. I mentioned it to my spouse, 'We're higher, however I simply do not understand how a lot better,'" Leipold mentioned. "All people has alternatives to enhance their two-deep with the portal. With that although, is as you’re making enhancements, you don’t understand how a lot the competitors is getting higher.

"The enhancements that we have made, as a lot as we now have with our first group, is that we're taking part in loads of children and our drop-off from the primary to the second unit will not be essentially going to a younger freshman anymore. That is what's actually helped us make the strides that we now have."

Can Kansas, UCLA, and Tennessee keep undefeated?

Can Kansas, UCLA, and Tennessee stay undefeated?

RJ Younger is joined by Geoff Schwartz to preview the most important matchups in Week 6 of the school soccer season.

We’ll see simply how far they’ve come on that entrance for actual towards a TCU outfit beneath new coach Sonny Dykes that's rolling into city recent off a message-sending 55-24 dismantling of Oklahoma. The Horned Frogs are averaging a nation-leading 8.33 yards per play on offense, and so they've picked off as many passes as they’ve allowed accomplished into their finish zone.

Will probably be far and away the hardest problem forward for Daniels, Leipold and the remainder of the Jayhawks. It’s why the workforce has been steadfastly targeted on hitting the sector able to go this weekend, with loads of further work beneath their belts regardless of all of the hoopla arriving in Lawrence forward of an exceptionally significant Massive 12 sport.

For the primary time in an extended whereas at Kansas, they’re staying busy within the coronary heart of soccer season, aware of how candy it's that it’s the great type of busy at this level within the 12 months, too. 

Learn extra:

- What we're watching in Michigan-Indiana and different video games this week

- Can Kansas, UCLA or Tennessee stay unbeaten?

- Pink River Showdown: Storylines to look at in Oklahoma-Texas

- Inside Steve Sarkisian's magic contact growing QBs

- Michigan-Indiana, Oklahoma-Texas: CFB Week 6 by the numbers

- Massive Midday Kickoff: The whole lot to find out about Michigan-Indiana

- As elite groups reveal flaws, alternative arises for Ohio State, USC, others

Bryan Fischer is a school soccer author for FOX Sports activities. He has been overlaying school athletics for almost 20 years at retailers corresponding to NBC Sports activities, CBS Sports activities, Yahoo! Sports activities and amongst others. Observe him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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