The Les Miles era begins tomorrow at 11am against FCS opponent Indiana State.
This won’t be a normal FCS team, though.
Indiana State returns their entire offense except for a left tackle. One of those returning players is their QB, Ryan Boyle, who won the 2018 MVFC Newcomer of the Year Award. He also threw for 1,627 yards, 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Boyle also added 610 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.
On the defensive side they have a bit more work to do as they have to replace two defensive backs and two defensive lineman. But they do return their returning tackler in LB Jonas Griffith. He had 132 tackles last year.
Overall this is a team that has a lot to prove as they missed the FCS playoffs last year after a solid 7-4 season. They felt they should have been in, so they have a bit of a chip on their shoulder.
Indiana State will come into this game ready to play and ready to prove they belong in the FCS playoffs this year.
Their strategy will be to control the ground game and beat up on an inexperienced Kansas defensive line. They have two quality running backs, a starter returning from last season and a transfer from Toledo, and a QB who is a running threat.
On defense their goal will simply be to slow Kansas down in the run game as much as they can. Having to replace two starting defensive lineman won’t be easy especially going against an experienced Kansas offensive line and arguably one of the best running back cores in the Big 12.
On the other side Kansas lost their starting QB and three top WR’s. But they do return their top three RB’s in Pooka Williams, who’s suspended game one, Khalil Herbert and Dom Williams. It’s unknown at this time who the starting QB will be, but head coach Miles mentioned on Hawk Talk that they have their guy.
The offensive strategy for Kansas will be similar to that of Indiana State where they’ll run the ball and run the ball often. We may even see them toss the ball around with Indiana State having a few new faces in their defensive backfield.
And on the defensive side of the ball, if Kansas can contain the QB and slow down the running game, this won’t be as tough of a game as it appears to be on paper. It’ll be up to the inexperienced defensive line and the new linebacker core. Guys like Kyron Johnson and Azur Kamara will definitely need to step up.
If we’re looking at advantages I’d say Indiana State has the advantage on offense and Kansas has the advantage on defense, although slightly.
I think the coaching for Kansas will make a huge difference in this game, though. Miles prides his team on not making stupid mistakes and playing tough and disciplined.
This will show on both sides of the ball and will make it difficult for Indiana State to take advantage of any mistakes.
I have this game being a close game through the first half, but come the second half Kansas breaks away and really shows its superior level of talent.
I boldly have the Jayhawks winning 42-17.