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CFB

Offensive Stars Leading Kansas, Syracuse To New CFB Heights

  • Ryan Fowler
  • September 28, 2022
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Two universities known for their success on the hardwood, the Kansas Jayhawks and Syracuse Orange enter Week 5 unblemished on the gridiron. While many of each program’s fans often wait for the dead of winter to celebrate success in sport, the tides have changed, headlined by two of the country’s premier offensive attacks in 2022.

Kansas Jayhawks

Behind a record of 2-19 the last two seasons combined, there hasn’t really been a light at the end of the tunnel in Lawrence for a long while. A winless season in 2020 under Les Miles and not a single campaign with more than three wins since 2009, it’s been bleak, to say the least, for Kansas each and every fall. However, with Lance Leipold in the building and a shiny new toy under center in Jalon Daniels, the Jayhawks are firing on all cylinders after taking down the likes of West Virginia (on the road), Houston (on the road), and Duke last week. 

Daniels, a third-year impact athlete for the Jayhawks, has progressed into one of the nation’s most enjoyable dual-threat talents to study each and every week. By no means is he expected to win the Heisman or evolve into a day-one NFL draft talent, but he’s been the hefty straw that stirs a Kansas offense that ranks fourth in the nation averaging 48.8 points per game. 

A pass-first signal-caller that uses his legs when defenses are forced to drop bodies into coverage, Daniels is a nightmare to defend in space. Molded in the frame of a running back at 6-foot and 215 pounds, his ability not just to create with his lower half but dominate in space offers a wrinkle to Leipold’s offense teams have yet to counter.

He’s not alone, however, as running backs Devin Neal and Daniel Hinshaw Jr. provide a nice 1-2 punch to complement him on the ground. Out wide, it’s a two-man show led by junior Luke Grimm and redshirt sophomore Lawrence Arnold, who make up a majority of the Jayhawks’ success through the air. 

Up front, an uber-experienced group leads the way highlighted by three seniors and a pair of third-year redshirt sophomores. That experience, rapport with Daniels, and confidence have been a recipe for success early this fall as Kansas steamrolls its way into a showdown with the 3-1 Iowa State Cyclones this Saturday.

Syracuse Orange

You know the drill, this is where I’ll berate you with how unique a prospect running back Sean Tucker is. HOWEVER, it’s much different this time around for a ‘Cuse offense that is well-rounded in all facets of the game. 

Led by Mississippi State transfer quarterback Garrett Shrader, Syracuse is one of the most difficult offensive units to game plan against in the college game. From Shrader’s dual-threat ability to both sling it downfield with zip and tuck it and go, Tucker’s burst to take it the distance from any spot on the field, and the rapid progression of wideout Oronde Gadsden II on the outside, Syracuse has begun to cook with gas for head bench boss Dino Babers.

While Tucker brings the crowd, it’s Gadsden who’s opened eyes. A 2024 draft-eligible pass-catcher, his explosiveness at 6-foot-5 has been remarkable to watch early this year. He’s hauled in 13 catches for 219 yards and two touchdowns the last two weeks combined against the likes of Virginia and Purdue, and only now looks to be just scratching the surface of his elite potential on the boundary as a true sophomore.

Two programs without recent success, 2022 has provided a breath of fresh into the lungs of each roster. While both remain outside of the AP Top 25 as we approach Week 5, continued success should see the committee quickly come around on two of the country’s best stories this fall.

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Ryan Fowler