With the Oklahoma Sooners set to face one final opponent before the pre-Bedlam bye week, Andy Mitts of Rock Chalk Talk is here to give us some insight pertaining to the Kansas Jayhawks. We talk about their QB situation, Les Miles, the loss of Pooka Williams and, of course, the current state of Mark Mangino!
True freshman QB Jalon Daniels has earned three starts this year, including the nod in Kansas’ past two games. What does he bring to the table at the position, and at which areas does he still need to develop?
There is a lot of room for him to develop, especially when it comes to reading defenses and knowing when to test the limits of his arm. But that is something that will only come with experience, which is in short supply given that he is a true freshman that didn’t have spring practices or basically any normal camp reps.
But the talent is there. A true dual threat with an absolute cannon for an arm, he has already started to show some flashes in his limited time on the field. He’s made plays that no one else on the roster can, and his running ability is a huge asset. It’s only a matter of time before we start to see what is actually capable of.
Pooka Williams is a name that’s quite familiar to Big 12 fans, but with him opting out following the loss to West Virginia, who are Kansas’ best remaining offensive weapons?
It may sound crazy, but I think they actually gain by not having Pooka on the field. Don’t get me wrong, he was the most talented guy on the roster, but he was far from the only really talented guy on this offense. Velton Gardner is an extremely similar type of runner and he was actually slightly more productive before Pooka left. But now Daniel Hishaw is getting more playing time, and his power running is a true change of pace that lets them mix up looks and formations.
Plus, with Daniels getting more comfortable in the offense, Kansas is actually in position to get the ball to their extremely talented WR corps. Andrew Parchment, Stephon Robinson and Kwamie Lassiter are all good enough to play for any team in the Big 12, and Luke Grimm has been a pleasant surprise.
In many instances during the 2019 season, Brent Dearmon’s offense seemed to inspire a glimmer of hope for the future. However, the offense currently sits 119th nationally in SP+. Other than the fact that the Jayhawks had to replace Carter Stanley at QB, what factors have played into this drop-off?
It’s pretty easy to put this one all on the offensive line. They lost Hakeem Adeniji to graduation, and Antoine Frazier (who was likely going to be the starting left tackle) transferred just before the season started. It’s taken more than half the season, but the rest of the offensive line is finally starting to gel. They’ve been able to provide some more protection, but they still have a long way to go.
Les Miles has obviously had a rough go of things in Year 2 (both on and off the field). At his age, he was probably never seen as a long-term hire, but are people still confident that he has the desire to stick it out for very long with this rebuild? Does he still seem invigorated, or do you sense that any burnout is setting in?
It was a pretty good bet that the Les Miles window was always going to be the length of this contract. In an ideal scenario, he fixes the scholarship situation, gets a bunch of talent in to allow his coordinators to shine, and then hands the keys off to one of them (whichever one doesn’t take off for a head coaching job elsewhere). He still seems highly invested in the program, and I suspect he would leave voluntarily if burnout started setting in.
Do you think Kansas wins the Big 12 in basketball this season? Baylor looks pretty loaded…
Probably not, at least not outright. But with how strong the rest of the conference is, to I wouldn’t be surprised if the top five teams are all within a game at the end of the season, with two or three of them sharing the title.
Other than the Orange Bowl, what was your favorite win of the Mark Mangino era?
The 76-39 throttling of Nebraska that same season comes to mind pretty quickly.
Speaking of Mark Mangino, what thought do you think he is going through his head at THIS EXACT MOMENT in time?
I cheated. I peeked at his Twitter and it’s been non-stop election stuff. Which, given everything that’s going on, I can’t really blame him.
Who’s your least-favorite Missouri Tiger of all time?
Trick question. They are all equally bad.