LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Ben McLemore had nine points, 12 rebounds and five assists in his Kansas debut, and the seventh-ranked Jayhawks pulled away from pesky Southeast Missouri State for a 74-55 season-opening victory Friday night.
Jeff Withey finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and freshman Perry Ellis added 15 points and eight boards for the Jayhawks, who have won 40 straight season openers at Allen Fieldhouse.
This one was a bit tougher than expected.
The Redhawks managed to close within six midway through the second half, but Kansas slowly extended the lead behind its slew of freshmen to put the game away.
Nick Niemczyk finished with 14 points for the Redhawks, who have lost seven straight season openers, all on the road, and remain winless in six tries against Big 12 schools.
Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.
That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved.
On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts.
- The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
- The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul.
- The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important.
- The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie.
- The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason.
There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts.
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The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!
After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?
JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.
Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.