If the biggest reason for coach Les Miles not revealing his starting quarterback before the season opener is to keep Kansas’ opponent guessing, well, it’s somewhat understandable.
The Jayhawks, after all, lost at home to Coastal Carolina last season and will play the Chanticleers again Saturday night at Lawrence, Kan. The Kansas schedule, altered by the impact of COVID-19, will then feature only Big 12 opponents.
When asked for his choice between senior Thomas MacVittie and junior Miles Kendrick, Miles said “both could play” as the Jayhawks look to replace Carter Stanley after going 3-9 overall and 1-8 in the Big 12 in Miles’ first season coaching Kansas.
“Nobody knows who is going to play,” MacVittie said. “Nobody knows the strengths the other quarterback brings. They can’t really get a scouting report on a quarterback that hasn’t been announced.”
Fair enough. What Kansas will present is an offensive system Miles said he will not meddle with after announcing during preseason camp that coordinator Brent Dearmon has been given autonomy to call plays from his run-pass-option heavy assortment.
“I’ve said, ‘Hey, we’ve got a great coordinator,’ ” said Miles, “Let’s let him coordinate.”
Dearmon moved into the coordinator position during the season last year, and at times the Kansas attack flourished while capitalizing on the shifty skills of All-Big 12 running back Pooka Williams.
Williams, a junior, became the first Kansas rusher to gain more than 2,000 rushing yards combined in his first two seasons since Gale Sayers (1962-63). Williams’ career average per carry is 6.0 yards.
The Jayhawks also return capable receivers led by Andrew Parchment (65 receptions, 831 yards, seven TD catches) and Stephon Robinson Jr., who posted 727 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 2019. While their quick-strike capability included three offensive outputs of 500-plus yards, the Jayhawks must overcome a tendency to sputter. The 12-7 loss to Coastal Carolina was one of five defeats in which Kansas scored 14 points or fewer.
Coastal Carolina is coming off a 5-7 finish, including a 2-6 mark in the Sun Belt. Although third-year coach Jamey Chadwell recognizes a spark provided by the signature win at Kansas last season, he is more concerned with how the effects of the coronavirus could shake up his travel roster.
“I know there’s a confidence there,” Chadwell said. “But also our guys realize, especially our older guys realize, all of the things we’ve had to go through up to this point.
“They know we can lose somebody today to quarantine or whatever it may be. Until we get on that plane, there is going to be some apprehension about who’s going out there with us.”
Senior CJ Marable rushed for 1,085 yards last season and will work behind an offensive front that returns four starters. The Chanticleers, like the Jayhawks, figure to mix in two quarterbacks after juniors Bryce Carpenter and Fred Payton alternated last year.
Eight defensive starters return for Coastal Carolina, including leading tackler Teddy Gallagher (88), a senior linebacker.
The game will be played without spectators after Kansas barred fans from its home opener in response to COVID-19 safety concerns.
–Field Level Media