against the Jackrabbits. While you wait around for this evening — and make your tailgating plans — here are three under-the-radar story lines to watch for.1 The receivers. Quarterback Dayne Crist’s transition to KU — and what he could mean to the program
— was a dominant theme of fall camp and the first month of practice. Crist will get plenty of chances to do his thing on Saturday night, but who will emerge as his most effective target? KU will start seniors Kale Pick, Daymond Patterson and D.J. Beshears at receiver, and all three made noise during August.
Weis, at one point, called Pick the No. 1 player in fall camp; Patterson is finally playing again after taking a medical redshirt last season; and Beshears’ speed and shiftiness make him a threat to pick up chunks of yardage after the catch. If you’re looking for a dark horse to stand out against South Dakota State, sophomore Andrew Turzilli appears to have made a step during August. Finally, there’s true freshman Tre’ Parmalee, the Bishop Miege grad who played his way onto the two-deep roster with a strong fall camp. The diminutive Parmalee may not play much, but put him in the right spot, and he may just wind up in the end zone.2 The guards.
It’s hard to evaluate offensive-line play in one game — especially against a Division I-AA opponent. But the Jayhawks have two intriguing players manning the offensive guard spots on the O-line. Senior Duane Zlatnik was one of the few bright spots during last year’s 2-10 debacle, and at 6 feet 4 and 306 pounds, Zlatnik now appears to be bigger and stronger.
Speaking of big, juco transfer Aslam Sterling will make his KU debut at right guard. At 6 feet 5 and 360 pounds, Sterling was a definite curiosity for most of fall camp. (In short: He made the word "girth" relevant around the KU practice field again.) Now we’ll finally get to see him in action. As senior rush end Toben Opurum said earlier this month: “I think he’ll be a huge asset to our team, no pun intended.”3 The secondary.
So much attention has been paid to the revamped defensive line, that the Jayhawks’ secondary has slid along mostly unnoticed during the last few weeks. One reason: This is a veteran unit made up of seniors Bradley McDougald and Lubbock Smith at safety, and senior Greg Brown and junior Tyler Patmon at cornerback.
This is mostly the same group that was part of KU’s dead-last defense in 2012. But the vets do have a few arrows pointing in their favor: One more year of experience, a new defensive scheme and a likely more competent defensive line that could take some heat off in the passing game.