After nearly nine months since Kansas last took the field in a regular season game, the Jayhawks will return to Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Playing host to the Indiana State Sycamores, who finished 2018 with a record of 7-4, Kansas will look to jumpstart the Les Miles era in a positive direction.
Listed as a 5.5 point favorite over the Sycamores according to OddsShark, the Jayhawks will attempt to avoid a similar fate they suffered in last season's home opening 26-23 overtime loss to Nicholls State.
Indiana State Sycamores: 0-0, (0-0)
Redshirt senior linebacker Jonas Griffith - ★ ★ ★ ★
Indiana State’s defense is led by All-American middle linebacker Jonas Griffith. A year ago, Griffith not only led the Missouri Valley Conference in total tackles with 132, but he also led the nation with 7.4 solo tackles per game.
Coming in at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, Griffith brings a physical presence few can match up to. How much success the Jayhawks’ rushing attack will have on Saturday will largely depend on how well they are able to block Griffith.
Redshirt senior quarterback Ryan Boyle - ★ ★ ★
On offense, the Sycamores run everything through their dual-threat quarterback Ryan Boyle. Last year, Boyle earned the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Year award, throwing for 1,627 yards, 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
Boyle also was the second leading rusher for Indiana State last season, recording 610 yards and six touchdowns.
Junior running back Titus McCoy - ★ ★
Last season, McCoy played a backup role for Indiana State. This season, with last year’s starter and All-Conference selection Ja’Quan Keys gone, the Sycamores will lean on McCoy to shoulder a heavier load in their run-heavy offense.
If the Jayhawks can stop McCoy and the other backs, it could force Indiana State outside its comfort zone.
While the quarterbacks struggled, Kansas football's running backs impressed in the first annual Late Night Under the Lights.
Kansas Jayhawks: 0-0, (0-0)
Senior safety Bryce Torneden - ★ ★ ★ ★
Returning for his fourth and final year at Kansas, Torneden brings versatility and experience to the secondary. An honorable mention for the All-Big 12 team, the Lawrence native started in all 12 games, ranking second on the team with 91 tackles. He recorded his first career interception against Rutgers in week three of 2018.
Senior running back Khalil Herbert - ★ ★ ★
With sophomore running back Pooka Williams Jr. suspended for the first game, it will be Herbert shouldering most of the workload in the backfield. He was also second on the team in rushing last year, carrying the ball 113 times for 499 yards and five touchdowns.
Herbert will receive the first opportunity to operate as a starting halfback in the new offensive game plan.
Junior wide receiver Stephon Robinson Jr. - ★ ★
In his first season after transferring from El Camino Community College in Alondra Park, California, Robinson hauled in 28 catches for 330 yards. Earning an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound receiver started in 10 of Kansas’ 12 games, averaging 11.8 yards per reception.
Beat Writer Predictions:
Jakob Katzenberg: Kansas 30, Indiana State 20
Jack Johnson: Kansas 34, Indiana State 17