Newly minted head coach, Les Miles, looks to restore respectability to a Kansas program that hasn’t seen more than three wins in a season since former coach Mark Mangino lead them to a 5-7 record after a string of winning at least six games five of the previous six seasons. Needless to say, it’s been a while since the Jayhawks have even sniffed competitive football but the insertion of Miles breaths new life to Kansas football. Kansas has a combined 18 wins since the departure of Mangino in 2009.
Miles, 65, is almost three years removed from the sidelines but with him comes a plethora of accomplishments that instantly makes Kansas at the very least interesting for even the most skeptical of fans. Miles sports a resume that includes the 2007 National Championship, another national championship appearance as well as a number of players that have gone on to play in the NFL.
Knowing the mountains that must be climbed for the decorated Miles to have a respectable football team, the entirety of the roster will have to buy into his program and looking at their recent success or lack thereof, it shouldn’t be too difficult. Despite much of the perception of the Kansas program, the cupboard was not left bare for Miles. Now sophomore running back Pooka Williams spearheads the offense alongside fellow backfield mate senior Khalil Herbert.
Williams was the first Kansas freshman to ever be named the Offensive freshman of the year in the Big 12 as well as being named to the All-Big 12 team after rushing for a team-high 1,125 yards and seven touchdowns. Pooka is elite at making defenders look silly in space and can be heavily factored into the passing game. As mentioned before Herbert will also add in his physical running style to the mix. With a career 277 carries, the senior from Coral Springs, FL is more than capable of spelling the electric Williams. A perfect thunder and lightning duo if you will.
The big question, however, will be, “Who is going to be the quarterback this fall for Kansas?” The obvious answer would be redshirt senior Carter Stanley, the quarterback in place for the historic upset of Texas back in 2016. Kansas also acquired Thomas MacVittie of Mesa community college. MacVittie was the #1 rated JUCO quarterback in the class of 2018, which should excite Jayhawk fans that there is an immediate infusion of new talent.
On the defensive side of the ball, there’s a lot to be excited about given the history of great defensive play under Miles coached teams.
Ultimately the season will come down the progression of the young players and how the offense shapes up in an offensive conference such as the Big 12.
8/31 vs. Indiana State
This one on paper is a should win game for the Jayhawks and will be a small benchmark early in Miles tenure. Many of the criticisms of coaches pasts has been the inability to win games that they should be. Kansas will win this one and set an early tone of resiliency for the season.
9/7 vs Coastal Carolina
Early in the season will be the barometer in which we measure the early of the direction of the program. Having a projected 1-0 start the next question becomes whether or not they can handle early success with a new regime. Coastal Carolina is one of the worst programs in the FBS and this game should catapult KU to a 2-0 start.
9/13 @ Boston College
Likely the first loss of the season, Boston College is a solid football team that does a lot of the little things well. This won’t be a blowout though expect a competitive game throughout.
9/21 vs West Virginia
The opening of the Big 12 schedule and the first major toss-up of the Jayhawks schedule. Both teams are sporting new coaches and with the departure of All-Big 12 performer Will Grier, there still remain a lot of questions for the Mountaineers. I predict a close win for KU given the uncertainty of West Virginia.
9/28 @ TCU
This will be a huge revenge game for TCU after they fell victim to Kansas’ lone Big 12 victory from the previous season. TCU is without question the more talented team but with a lot of questions still remaining in their quarterback room, don’t be surprised if the Jayhawks keep in close.
10/5 vs Oklahoma
Kyler Murray no longer calls the shots in Norman but it’s still Oklahoma. This is the game that’s marked on the calendar as a measuring game. Kansas is not expected to win this game by any stretch of the imagination but this is a great opportunity to see where they stack up early with the class of the Big 12.
10/19 @ Texas
A tough game coming off a bye and another game Kansas is not expected to win. This will be another game used to measure how Les Miles prepares his teams for the mightier opponents of the conference. Despite the magical win of 2016, this game will be another one in the loss column for KU.
10/26, Kansas vs. Texas Tech
This game will be contingent upon the Jayhawks being able to put up the points of the Red Raiders. The loss of Kliff Kingsbury hurts but the firepower still remains. This looks to be another loss for Kansas.
11/2 vs Kansas State
The Sunflower Showdown. A historic rivalry and a game that Kansas felt they should have won last year but this is under the category of games that Kansas should win now. Any coach will tell you that beating your rivals is always at the top of the list of things to do as a football team. Kansas should tally a win this one.
11/16 @ Oklahoma State
A bit of a homecoming for Miles, having coached in Stillwater for four seasons (2001-2004), this game is another one that will be a bit overwhelming for the Jayhawks. Mike Gundy always boasts a potent offensive attack and this is a game that will most likely overwhelm Kansas.
11/23 @ Iowa State
Matt Campbell has done an excellent job in Aimes and it’ll show come rivalry weekend. With Bryce Purdy at quarterback, this should be arguably the best offensive team in the Big 12. Kansas will compete early but this looks like a game where the scoring will just be too much for Kansas.
11/30 vs Baylor
The final game of the regular season and a toss-up game. Baylor has done well in rebounding from the disastrous end to the Art Briles era and was able to sport a 7-6 record last season. However, with a much-improved coaching staff and looking to finish the season strong, I expect Kansas to win a tight one in the battle of struggling Big 12 teams.
Projected Record: 5-7 Projected in-conference: 3-6