The Les Miles era at Kansas has gotten off to an unceremonious 3-12 start, and on Saturday the Jayhawks won’t have their coach on the sideline when they take on West Virginia at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown.
Miles tested positive for COVID-19 last week, and on Friday morning Kansas announced the Jayhawks’ head coach will not make the trip to take on the Mountaineers.
After finishing the 2019 season 3-9, the Jayhawks have gone winless in their first three games of 2020. KU has struggled mightily so far, averaging just 14.7 points per game while allowing an average of 44 points per game.
Part of Kansas’s issues this season have come from a lack of consistency. Injuries have forced the Jayhawks to use three different quarterbacks already this season. While junior Miles Kendrick has been tabbed as the started for Saturday, Kansas’s consistency issues are not solved, although this time it goes higher than the starting quarterback.
On the field, KU’s offense runs through junior running back Pooka Williams Jr. At 170 pounds, Williams is significantly smaller than other Big 12 running backs, but he is just as dangerous.
So far this season, Williams has paired with sophomore Velton Gardner as KU’s two-headed rushing attack. Gardner leads the team with 182 yards and Williams is close behind with 175. Both have a pair of touchdowns.
“I think it all starts with them at running back,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said. “Two really talented running backs. Pooka Williams people talk about a lot, deservedly so, two years in a row all-league player. He’s electric, not only as a running back but as a kickoff returner as well. And then Velton Gardner…I think he’s been really good in the early part of the season.”
Kendrick has passed for 246 yards on a 60.5% completion percentage with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Kansas’s leading receiver thus far has been senior Kwamie Lassiter II, who has 171 yards and a touchdown on 15 receptions. Senior receiver Andrew Parchment has been quiet with just 75 yards so far this season, but had 831 yards and seven touchdowns last season and was a Preseason All-big 12 selection this year.
Although Parchment’s numbers have been down to start the season, WVU co-defensive coordinator Jahmile Addae said it’s important not to forget about him.
“It’s pretty obvious that the kid has talent, has big-play ability,” Addae said. “Our guys aren’t going to take it lightly, we understand the challenge that’s presented with the receivers that they have on the skills positions on offense and so we’re going to lineup like we do every week and make sure that we’re zeroed in and playing technique-sound football. If we do that we’ll like the result, if we don’t we won’t.”
KU’s leader on defense is sophomore safety Kenny Logan Jr., who leads the team with 26 tackles. The Jayhawk defense has just three sacks so far this season and has yet to intercept a pass.
WVSN spoke with Matt Tait from the Lawrence Journal-World for this week’s From the Other Side to hear what he had to say about the type of team these Jayhawks are.
Because of cancellations, WVU and Kansas will be the only Big 12 teams in action Saturday. The game will kick off at noon from Morgantown and be broadcast on FOX.