LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Les Miles era will commence Saturday when Kansas hosts Indiana State. The former LSU coach who won the national championship in 2007 will be tasked with turning around the Jayhawks, who haven't won more than three games in a season since 2009, as the journey begins against the Sycamores - an up and coming FCS squad.
TV: Noon, ET, FSN. LINE: Kansas -4.5
As much as Miles, who owns a 142-55 record as coach and only one losing season in 16, wants to put the focus on the players, he will get most of the attention, at least in the first season. "I'm complimented when people think too much of me and I'm mad when somebody thinks too little, but the reality is it's the team," Miles, who last coached in 2016, told the media. "I am going to set up an environment that encourages success." The return of Pooka Williams, Jr., who rushed for 1,125 yards as a freshman, will help to achieve that success, but Miles has yet to announce a starting quarterback between returnee Carter Stanley and junior college transfer Thomas MacVittie. Curt Mallory enters his third season at the helm of the Sycamores looking to build on last season's 7-4 mark, which came on the heels of an 0-11 campaign in 2017, and has quarterback Ryan Boyle back to help lead the charge.
ABOUT INDIANA STATE (2018: 7-4)
Led by Boyle, the Sycamores return 10 of 11 starters on offense, including all five offensive lineman. Boyle had a solid first season in Terre Haute, accounting for better than 2,000 all-purpose yards and 18 touchdowns, and Titus McCoy is positioned to pick up where leading rusher Ja'Quan Keys left off last season while just missing a 1,000-yard season. Jonas Griffith, who led the Missouri Valley Conference with 132 tackles last season, is back for his redshirt senior season and is a candidate to take home the conference's Defensive Player of the Year award, while sophomore Dakota Caton gives the Sycamores one of the top return specialists in the FCS.
ABOUT KANSAS (2018: 3-9)
As he looks to improve a defense that permitted 30 points per game last season, Miles will likely call on freshmen to play big roles. Steven Parker, a freshman defensive end/linebacker out of Dallas, is the highest rated recruit at four stars, but linebacker Gavin Potter and DaJon Terry, who is in the mix to start at defensive tackle along with junior college transfer Caleb Sampson, will also be called upon to help anchor the front seven. Senior safety Bryce Torneden, who was named a captain along with offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji and punter Kyle Thompson (Big 12-best 43.3 yards per kick last season), will anchor the secondary along with Mike Lee and Corione Harris.
1. Williams led the Big 12 last season with 1,660 all-purpose yards, the third most all-time for the Jayhawks.
2. The Sycamores were tied with Princeton for the fewest turnovers in the FCS last season with six.
3. Hasan Defense, who had three interceptions as a junior last season, also returns in the secondary for Kansas, which led the Big 12 with 16 picks and was second in the FBS in turnover margin (plus-16).
PREDICTION: Kansas 27, Indiana State 24