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Kansas' Charlie Weis has messed-up situation at tailback

Poor Charlie Weis. As if his Kansas team wasn't going to be bad as it was, he's now dealing with a total mess at tailback.

Follow along:

» Projected starting tailback Taylor Cox suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in practice Monday and will miss the season.

» Cox had been the projected starter for less than a day when he was injured. He ascended into the starting role after Brandon Bourbon sustained a torn ACL in a scrimmage Sunday.

» There's more. After spring ball, it appeared as if Darrian Miller would be the starting tailback. Alas, he left the team in June, which made Bourbon the top guy heading into camp.

» Kansas' top high school signee in February was Traevon Wrench, a consensus four-star recruit and one of the nation's top 25 high school running backs. He's talented and explosive. But he didn't make the academic grade and now is at a junior college.

The likely starter at tailback now? Good question. It seems likely to be true freshman Corey Avery or junior college transfer De'Andre Mann, both of whom arrived on campus over the summer. True freshman Joe Dineen also could get in the mix; he signed as a safety and was playing that position until Tuesday, when he was moved to tailback. It also could be Tony Pierson, a wide receiver who began his KU career as a tailback. One issue with Pierson is that he has had concussion problems, and he obviously would get hit a lot more often at tailback than he would at wide receiver.

Weis professes not to be worried, even though inexperienced backs will be running behind an offensive line that returns just two starters and is expected to be the worst in the Big 12.

"While De'Andre and Corey lack experience on the Division I level, they both have had excellent camps," he told reporters Tuesday. "The team is well aware of this situation and is excited to make the run game successful."

Then again, what else is he going to say? A coach can't say, "We were going to be bad offensively anyway, and now we appear doomed," though KU's offense certainly looks as if it won't even be as good as last season's unit, which ranked last in the Big 12 and 117th in the nation in total offense at 294.5 yards per game.

Kansas also could be without starting tight end Jimmay Mundine for the opener. He had what the school called a "minor" procedure on his knee last week, though he is expected to be ready for the Sept. 6 opener against FCS foe Southeast Missouri State. KU is one of the few schools nationally not opening the season on Aug. 30, so in this case, the late start date is working in the Jayhawks' favor.

Kansas has a chance to be adequate on defense, but unless sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart has made huge strides in the past year, the Jayhawks appear to be a team that can win two or three games at most.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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