Lance Leipold is a Known Degenerate Pig Farmer
And it's time for his Jayhawks to start acting like it.
Lance is a known degenerate, an avid pig farmer, and a ferocious competitor. But most importantly, he’s the best man I ever met.
- VP (November 28, 2020)
The legend of Lance is not a hard one to come by if you speak to those who’ve been playing this game of ours since at least the 2020 season. In one of the most mind boggling performances ever witnessed on a football field, Leipold’s old Buffalo Bulls repeatedly and mercilessly bludgeoned Kent State’s porous run defence in the final regular season game of the 2020 season (November 28, 2020, to be exact).
His RB1— Jaret Patterson, finished the day rushing for over 400 yards, and punched in a pig-gasmic eight (fucking eight mate!) TDs on 36 carries—because why the hell not, right? That tracked to a cool 88.9 points in my league’s format. Safe to say, if you had Patterson, you probably won your league’s championship that year too.
It wasn’t an anomaly. Leipold’s Bulls were known as a safe haven for College Fantasy Football (CFF) assets in the seasons leading up to the COVID year. One of the most shocking stats of all during Leipold’s tenure in upstate New York came in 2019, when, in the team’s 13 games, the Bulls rushed 659 times (average of 50+ times per contest). When looking at the individual stats of that year, we see that there were two RBs who carried the rock 200+ times. Even crazier, one of them toted the pig 300+ times, and the other sat at 227. That is pure degeneracy on a level that I didn’t even know existed prior to that year.
So of course, it was worth the wait to draft Jaret Patterson the following year even when the MAC announced it wouldn’t start playing football games until November of 2020. What he and the Bulls did in only seven games that year is — like I said — the stuff of legend.
The Bulls have since fallen off considerably since his departure, while Leipold’s new program— the Kansas Jayhawks, has ascended in just a few short years under their coach within the BIG-12. Notably, they recruited a special young man out of a local high school in Devin Neal.
Neal immediately played a healthy amount of snaps as a freshman, and carried that momentum into his sophomore year in 2022. In 2023, he broke out as a legitimate CFB star, and many presumed that he’d be moving on this offseason to the NFL Draft. That wasn’t the case, and — lucky for us — Leipold’s alpha pig returns for one more year of carnage.
Coaching & System
While Leipold the Legend remains with Kansas, the OC did move on to Penn State this offseason. His replacement— Jeff Grimes, comes over by way of Baylor, where he served as OC from 2021-23. Prior to his stint in Texas he served as the OC at BYU from 2018 to 2020. And prior to becoming an OC, he served as the run game coordinator (RGC) at LSU from 2014 to 2017.
On an aggregate level, there is not much to write home about in the last two seasons at Baylor. Richard Reese started to crack out in 2022, but then there was puzzling rotation happening later in the season. He finished that year rushing for 972 yards and 14 TDs on 198 carries as a true freshman that season. 2023 was forgettable.
The 2021 season was a gem, though. That year, Abram Smith rushed 257 times for 1601 yards and 12 TDs. He was a true volume pig under Grimes.
The previous season, BYU’s RB1— Tyler Allgeier, rushed 150 times for 1130 yards and 13 TDs in 11 games. Surprisingly, he never surpassed 20 carries in a game that season. The production is good, however, despite low carry volume.
That’s great for Allgeier, but not really great for our purposes, as we’re really trying to track coaches with heavy volume. 150 over 11 doesn’t really cut it, and not everybody (perhaps even the Devin Neals of the world) are as efficient as Tyler Allgeier. More importantly, we’re not going to bank on anyone being that efficient ahead of time— if it happens, great, if not, that’s what we expected.
What limited Allgeier’s TD production that season was that Zach Wilson (oh—you’ve heard of him?) stole a total of 10 rushing TDs on the season. That’s almost one per game.
Both of the 2018 and 2019 backfields were full blown committees at BYU. So Grimes isn’t exactly a king-maker at the position (stealing Nate’s term there). Personally, I prefer the term ‘pig farmer’— it’s more self explanatory. Grimes had some bright moments, but overall, looking at the carries specifically, I’m not highly impressed, though I’m not too disappointed either.
After all, the King himself, Leipold remains as the head master of the Jayhawks program. Need I even go through Leipold’s history? Just take my word for it that this guy’s pig farming antics are quite exhaustive. In addition to what he did at UB, check out these numbers from Wisconsin Whitewater in 2011.
The one thing I will note — as mentioned briefly earlier in this article — Leipold’s pig farming patterns have become less prolific during his time at KU. While it’s true that he would also use two runners at UB like he does at KU, this was offset by extremely heavy run usage overall.
Last year, the top runners for the Jayhawks finished with 203 and 121 carries in 13 games. Neal led the way with the 203 (average of 15.6 per contest). Adding receptions to the mix, he averaged over 17 touches per game. That’s not bad, but not special either. As far as I know, last year’s RB2— Daniel Hishaw, returns in 2024.
Similar to Allgeier under Grimes at BYU, Neal overcomes his lack of elite touch volume with elite efficiency. He’s averaged over six yards per carry in back-to-back seasons now. Again, I don’t like to count on that.
QB Jalon Daniels is also returning to the Jayhawks this upcoming season. That’s not ideal, given that he tends to score rushing TD too.
According to CFBWinningEdge’s database, the offensive line returns about 48% of snaps from a season ago. That’s not exceptionally high (some return 100%), but it’s not horrendous either. With Leipold, I generally trust that his teams will find a way to run the ball effectively.
In terms of the output numbers, Neal averaged over 21 PPG (1PPR) last season. He rushed 203 times for 1280 yards and 16 TDs, and caught 25 of his 32 targets for 217 yards and a score. Of the 13 games he participated in, he scored less than 20 points in only four, so that 21 PPG average is real. I haven’t been a believer in Neal the past few seasons, in 2022 I was right, however last year showed that even without the touch volume, he can be elite as a producer at RB.
My primary concern, as mentioned above, is the split in volume with QB Jalon Daniels and fellow RB Daniel Hishaw. I don’t like to project on efficiency, but Neal has been quite efficient under Leipold, and Leipold’s run games usually are effective.
I like Neal as a third round or above selection as of writing this article. Even though he’s returning off a 21 PPG average, the above concerns loom large still for me, forcing me to discount his profile somewhat. As a hypothetical, if I had to choose between Neal and his instate rival— DJ Giddens of KSU, I’d probably roll with Giddens simply due to there being a clearer runway there.
You can make the counter argument that Neal was able to produce 21 PPG, even with these other obstacles involved. The problem with that line of reasoning is that Jalon Daniels was injured in September, and never returned. His replacement— Jason Bean, wasn’t quite the runner that Daniels was.
So what does a full season for Neal look like with a healthy JD? Perhaps closer to the 2022 output of 16 PPG. In which case, I think the discount I’ve placed on him is justified. On the other hand, JD has yet to complete a full season healthy, so you can argue that Neal will likely get a bump in value at some point in 2024 when JD goes down again. I don’t like to project off notions like that, so I’m going to assume JD will be healthy all year.
But here’s the good news for all the Neal shareholders out there—I’ve instructed my secretary to fax a message to Leipold’s office ASAP telling him — emphatically — that his Known Degenerate Pig Farming (KDPF) license is at risk of being revoked should Neal not see 250 or more carries this season. How will he respond? Only time will tell…
If you enjoyed this content, I encourage you to join the Pig Pen (subscribing), and follow me on twitter.
Have questions? Find out what people are saying about VolumePigs here.
VolumePigs is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.