If you are feeling nostalgic about some of the old Kansas offenses under Mark Mangino, then this Saturday's game against Rice should scratch that itch. Rice's offensive coordinator is John Reagan, who was previously an offensive line coach under Mark Mangino from 2005 - 2009.
It's not a surprise Reagan runs a version of the spread offense that's comparable to what Kansas ran under Mangino. Defensive lineman Toben Opurum played under Reagan on the offensive side of the ball and recognized the similar style of offense.
"Our offensive scout team ran a play that I remember running at running back when I was playing so it's fun to see the similarities but I am sure Coach Reagan has revamped some things to make it better than what it was back then," Opurum said.
Reagan has a speedy dual threat quarterback at his disposal in Taylor McHargue. Rice likes to run a lot of zone read which can test the defense - especially the linebackers - in staying consistent in their reads and keys.
"Anytime you are playing option football you want to make sure everybody is doing their jobs," linebackers coach DeMontie Cross said. "As linebackers sometimes we think we have to make all the tackles and that's not what the defense is designed for."
The best teaching point for the defense in that regard might be the memory of last week when South Dakota State running back Zach Zenner busted a 99 yard touchdown. The primary cause was a linebacker hitting the wrong gap.
"I quickly gathered the linebackers and reminded them that our fits and techniques are so key to every play," Cross said. "Now the proof is in the pudding. They know if we do one thing wrong then it can hit us for 99 yards."
On Rice's offensive line, Reagan will have his hands full this year trying to deal with their lack of experience. Defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt knows John Reagan quite well. Reagan got his coaching start as a GA at Oklahoma State when Wyatt was on the staff. Wyatt also remembers when he was a defensive line coach at Nebraska and had to go up against Reagan's o-lines at Kansas.
"I think John does a good job of getting guys and developing them," Wyatt said. "He may not get the best recruits in there to play but he always seems to put a good unit on the field."
Rice's top receiving target is Sam McGuffie, who was a highly touted prospect who committed to Michigan before later transferring to Rice.
"He is dangerous in a lot of ways because he can be used as a runner as well as a receiver," defensive coordinator Dave Campo said. "He is one of those guys that everytime he touches the football he tries to make it a home run."
More Jayhawks on Rice's Staff
In addition to Reagan there are several other former Jayahwks on Rice's coaching staff. Former offensive linemen Ryan Cantrell and Adrian Mayes are on the staff as graduate assistants. Current offensive linemen Tanner Hawkinson and Duane Zlatnik remember going up against those two their redshirt years in 2009 when the two freshmen were originally on the defensive line.
"They would get on me every once in a while to make sure I was giving them a good look but they were both guys who you knew would come to work every day," Hawkinson said.
A more recent Kansas football alumni to join the staff is former tight end A.J. Steward.
"Me and A.J. talk here and there and we joke about if he is going to give me some of his plays and there will be a little talk before the game," Opurum said. "Really we just want to settle things on the field and not worry about the past and worry about this game on Saturday."