The Les Miles era is underway in Lawrence, and Kansas football kicks off its 2019 season on Saturday. By employing a coach with a national championship ring, there is hope for the Jayhawks this season, but the questions surrounding the offense may hold Kansas back.
The biggest concern for Kansas starts at the quarterback position, which has been a consistent problem over the last decade. Miles has yet to announce a starter, mostly assuming it will be either senior Carter Stanley or junior Thomas MacVittie.
The second issue surrounding the Kansas offense is at the running back position. Sophomore running back Pooka Williams Jr. will miss week one due to a suspension, which means senior Khalil Herbert and junior Dom Williams will get the bulk of touches.
However, once Williams returns, the question becomes how Miles will split carries among the three. Then add in freshman running back Velton Gardner, who is expected to also see touches, and the running back depth becomes more complicated.
With major questions surrounding the offense, the key for Kansas’ success lies within the defense.
A switch to a 3-4 defense is the most important change on the squad. The linebacker core plays a vital role for the success of the defense, and finding suitable replacements from last year's squad will be huge for the Jayhawks.
The defense also brought back key defensive backs, such as seniors Hasan Defense and Mike Lee as well as redshirt junior Kyle Mayberry. In fact, the defensive back core is so talented that former four-star recruit sophomore Corione Harris is actually coming off the bench behind Mayberry.
With senior safety Bryce Torneden also starting at nickel, Kansas returned most of its playmakers from a season ago.
The Big 12 conference is all about offense, thus forcing turnovers will be crucial for the success of Kansas.
With the offense bearing questions at quarterback and running back, the defense has no room to slow down from the success it had last season. And with a coach like Les Miles, the defense could be even more dominant.
Miles running the ship gives the Jayhawks the opportunity to revamp their program and gain legitimacy. Kansas has a lot riding on these next couple seasons and with issues surrounding the offense, it will be up to the defense to keep the Jayhawks relevant.