Lance Leipold Embracing Elevated Expectations for the Kansas Jayhawks

    The Kansas Jayhawks are coming off their first winning season in 15 years. Can they do it again? Head coach Lance Leipold believes so.

    Lance Leipold has quickly built up the Kansas Jayhawks since taking over in 2021, going 2-10, 6-7, and 9-4 in his three seasons at the helm. But with success comes heightened expectations, and all eyes are on how the program performs in 2024. At the Big 12 Media Days, Leipold said his squad is up for the challenge.

    What To Expect From the Kansas Jayhawks in 2024

    “Expectations have definitely changed for us,” the 60-year-old head coach said.”We can’t forget what got us to this point and make sure we take the confidence of the past season or two of success and stay grounded enough to take another step.”

    Last year featured the Jayhawks’ first winning campaign and bowl victory since 2008, as the team has largely been a Big 12 bottom-feeder since Mark Mangino’s departure in 2009.

    Yet, Leipold has turned the program around, as Kansas holds the fourth-highest odds of winning the Big 12 Championship this year, according to FanDuel. The only teams in front of them are Utah, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State, although Iowa State and UCF are not far behind.

    Adding further intrigue, the team will have to play its home game outside of Lawrence as renovation continues on David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Kansas will play its first two home games (against Lindendwood and UNLV) at Children’s Mercy Park — home of the MLS’ Sporting Kansas City — and its four conference home tilts at the Kansas City Chiefs’ GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

    The Jayhawks landed at No. 6 in our 2024 Big 12 Power Rankings, as the conference’s parity is at an all-time high. However, with dual-threat QB Jalon Daniels and 1,000-yard rusher Devin Neal back in 2024, Kansas could continue its linear progression — and continue to get out under the shadow of the Men’s basketball team.

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    Daniels has missed 14 games in his career due to injury, so his health is a major factor in the team’s performance. Losing OC Andy Kotelnicki to Penn State hurts, but QBs coach Jim Zebrowski was promoted to co-OC alongside former Baylor assistant Jeff Grimes, maintaining a semblance of continuity.

    Six starters return on offense and five on defense, including senior CB Cobee Bryant, who snatched four interceptions in 2023. And with only a couple of transfers expected to join the first-teamers, Leipold and Co. are comfortable with 2023 rotational pieces receiving more reps.

    An Update on QB Jalon Daniels’ Injury Status

    As mentioned, Daniels has struggled with injuries throughout his career.

    After helping Kansas breakout in 2022 with 2,014 yards, 18 TDs, and just four INTs, plus 425 yards and seven scores on the ground, Daniels was nearing “premier dual-threat” territory. Unfortunately, he only played in three games in 2023 due to an offseason back injury that nagged him all season long.

    But there’s hope that the 2024 campaign will be Kansas’ first without losing their starting QB due to injury during Leipold’s tenure.

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    “Our expectation is that he’s able to play every snap he can play,” Leipold said. “It’s well documented that when he’s on the field, we are a lot better football team. We can be pretty explosive.”

    If Daniels can stay healthy and reach his 2022 form, the Jayhawks won’t just meet their elevated expectations, they’ll exceed them and cement their place among the Big 12’s elite.

    College Football Network has you covered with the latest news and analysis, rankings, transfer portal information, top 10 returning players, the 2024 college football season schedule, and much more!

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