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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Tait

Matt Tait: Biggest job for new Kansas OC Chip Lindsey: Get Pooka the ball

Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr. reels in a pass from quarterback Peyton Bender Saturday.

Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr. reels in a pass from quarterback Peyton Bender Saturday.

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New Kansas offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey has been on the job for barely 48 hours and already extended a scholarship offer to a four-star, dual-threat quarterback from Alabama.

That’s a terrific start. And recruiting, no doubt, will be a huge part of Lindsey’s job at Kansas.

But no matter how things work out for Lindsey at KU during the next several years — whether he reignites the Kansas offense and ultimately becomes the program’s next head coach or goes down in flames — no job will be easier, or potentially more important, than the one he will be tasked with 12 times next fall.

That job? Get Pooka Williams the football.

Give credit to the previous coaching staff for landing a player like Pooka in the first place. They got him to Kansas, helped him make a splash in the Big 12 as a true freshman and used him to show the world that serious talent had returned to the KU football roster.

Now, it’s time for Lindsey and company to make Pooka a star. What an exciting first challenge. And, let’s be honest, doing so should not be all that difficult.

Podcast episode

KU Sports Hour

Looking at Les Miles' hires, recruiting and future of KU football

The first couple weeks of the offseason have been busy ones for the KU football program and new head coach Les Miles. Beat reporter Benton Smith is joined by Matt Tait and Shane Jackson to discuss Miles’ first two hires for his staff, offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey and defensive backs ...

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Pooka’s speed, vision, toughness and swagger — not to mention his name — make him the perfect player to serve as the face of a program. Pooka’s overall talent and versatility make him the perfect player to build an offense around.

Lindsey, of course, will have other duties, roles and responsibilities, particularly as he gets started and helps Les Miles try to rebuild the foundation of Kansas football.

That list is long and includes: Both finding and developing a quarterback; bringing an aggressive edge back to KU’s offense while maintaining the ball-control mindset that will help KU compete as an underdog; fitting scheme to personnel; knowing how and when to use timeouts (and when not to); being balanced, creative and unpredictable with play calls; and utilizing the other talent you actually do have (see: Daylon Charlot).

So it’s not as if Lindsey will be operating from the mindset of Madden’s Franchise mode and can just make Pooka the best player in the game and thrash all comers. But he can and should put Pooka in a position to do more.

Last season, in 11 games, the Kansas freshman finished with 1,125 rushing yards on 161 carries and 289 receiving yards on 33 receptions, with nine total touchdowns and one passing TD. On average, Pooka gained 7.3 yards every time he touched the ball in 2018.

All of those numbers, except the average yards per touch, should go up in 2019, and, for my money, Pooka’s catches should come close to doubling.

After all, the Jayhawks will be looking for a replacement for always-reliable senior wideout Steven Sims Jr., and quick strikes of Pooka magic will help fill that void and be an easy way to emphasize getting the ball to the team’s best playmaker.

Beyond that, pumping the ball to Pooka more through the air would allow Lindsey to complement Pooka’s ability in space with the threat of Khalil Herbert and/or Dom Williams running between the tackles.

All three backs likely will and certainly should continue to fill a variety of roles. And call me crazy for dreaming of an offense that, at least a decent chunk of the time, features all three players on the field together.

Regardless of what that is or how it looks, as long as it starts with Pooka touching the rock as many times as possible each week, the Kansas offense will continue to have a chance, fans will continue to want a peek and Lindsey will be cheered and revered, not jeered like so many others who have held the title of KU’s offensive coordinator during recent years, only to live up to just the first word of the title.

Comments

Eric Eakins 6 days, 10 hours ago

Hopefully they have a replacement for Sims and other senior contributors already on the team. This is a 4 year rollover system. Sophomores and Juniors should be ready to step up. Freshman (on average) are coming in to replace players a couple years down the road. Of course, a few exceptions like Pooka. Fortunately all the other teams are going through the exact same thing. Unfortunately, most of them have been building depth along the way. Hopefully Miles and Company will solve that in the next 4 years.

Joe Ross 5 days, 23 hours ago

Stop. Zoom out and see the big picture.

It's December and there is buzz about Kansas' football program among the fans.

Last time that happened was under Mangino.

This just in: Kansas fans WANT football!!!

Dirk Medema 5 days, 17 hours ago

The one exception (not sure if that's the right word) to the notion of getting Pooka the ball more is his size and durability. Granted he doesn't have a history of injury or anything like that but it would seem that part of that has to do with a careful workload.

I definitely agree with the idea of using multiple RBs at the same time though not so sure about 3. Definitely think that they create wonderful versatility for the O love the idea of any of them in space with a LB.

Dirk Medema 5 days, 17 hours ago

Definitely agree with the parenthetical comment about Daylon. It was great to see him start to get some action at the end of the season. The TD catch against ut(?) was one that no other player on the team would have made. Ultimately it is the difference between success and failure (timeouts aside).

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