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Sunday, December 1, 2019

Jayhawks contend progress was made in Les Miles’ 1st year in charge

Kansas head coach Les Miles gets the attention of an official as he disputes a call during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach Les Miles gets the attention of an official as he disputes a call during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

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Minutes after his first season as head coach at the University of Kansas concluded, Les Miles obviously was not at all pleased with the Jayhawks’ finale, a 61-6 home loss to Baylor.

“That’s not the way you wanted to see this team go out,” Miles said.

Still, the head coach had a different view of the past year as a whole, after returning to the sidelines out of semi-retirement to try to rebuild the KU program.

“I enjoyed the players’ work ethic, the way we took the field and how hard they played,” Miles said. “And today was not that day. But those days were much more (prevalent). Our guys worked hard more than a lot of great teams I’ve been around.”

The Jayhawks’ 3-9 mark goes down as the worst record for a Miles-coached team in his 16-plus seasons as a head coach, dating back to a 4-7 debut year at Oklahoma State, in 2001, his only other losing season.

The KU players who have worked under Miles and his staff since he took over attest that the 2019 season actually was beneficial for the program.

“I still think fans and recruits have a lot to be excited for,” senior safety Bryce Torneden said on the night his college career ended. “Just the way (Miles) carries himself and the way he really prepares us as a team, the way we approach everything. I would definitely play four more years with him.”

Added senior quarterback Carter Stanley: “Today was by no means a reflection of where this program’s heading. It’s just a tough way that it ended.”

The Jayhawks’ optimism didn’t mean they were turning blind eyes to the team’s results. Sophomore running back Pooka Williams Jr. said they let fans down this year.

“But I promise,” Williams added, “we’re going to overcome this season next year.”

The goals team leaders spoke of for the past few months centered around a winning record and reaching the program’s first bowl game since 2008.

Instead, the Jayhawks finished with the same record as the 2018 team, the last one coached by David Beaty.

Asked what his message would be to fans of the program after another three-win campaign, Stanley spoke of the progress he witnessed throughout the year instead of focusing on the 12 days in the past three months that accounted for their win-loss record.

“It’s so many things internally that these coaches have done that have been incredible for this program. I’m super jealous that I’m graduating and I won’t be able to play here anymore. But I truly feel like there’s a great foundation set. And these coaches, there’s some great guys in that locker room, but they’re also going to go out and recruit some great players,” Stanley said. “There’s a bright future for this program.”

The 66-year-old Miles, who spent 2017 and 2018 out of the coaching profession after LSU fired him four games into the 2016 season, was asked if he was having fun and planning on keeping his KU job for a while.

“Yeah,” Miles said. “I’m having the enjoyment of relationships. I'm enjoying the team that would go on the field prepared to play. I'm enjoying going into homes (Sunday) to talk about Kansas and talk about the future.”

According to the coach, he and KU assistants, after one team meeting and one staff meeting Sunday, planned to hit the road to recruit.

“And we will be in homes right on through (the week),” Miles said of his immediate plans.

Comments

Eric Brunner 1 week, 5 days ago

So Rutgers just brought back Schiano, is it really that far-fetched of an idea to bring back Mangino in 18 months?

Dale Rogers 1 week, 5 days ago

Why on earth would we want Mangino back? It took him a few years to rebuild the program, too. And look at his last season... five consecutive losses to end the season.

Len Shaffer 1 week, 5 days ago

Yes, it really is that far-fetched of an idea -- thank God.

Dale Rogers 1 week, 5 days ago

It seems to me anyone who cannot see the progress made has not been paying attention for the past 10 years. Besides the things that have already been mentioned in various articles, THIS team did not give up when behind by a margin impossible to overcome. Even this last game, they kept playing their hearts out right up to the final second. In my mind, all we need now is good recruits to add to what we already have. I don't expect a bowl game next year but hope for 4, maybe 5, wins. Anything more than that will make me ecstatic for a second year of the turnaround.

Brian Wilson 1 week, 5 days ago

3 wins. One less than I predicted, 2 more than what a bunch of you thought.
Good job to all of the Seniors for helping the team make improvements.

Time to move on. Coming off of the scholarship I count 24 Seniors graduating, 11 are transfers. leaving 1 more Junior transfers that will graduate next year and then Beatty's transfer train will be over. Soon the majority of players will four year recuits and they will have been in the KU system more than two years. Next year I expect 4 wins shedding off the old an establishing the new again.

Len Shaffer 1 week, 5 days ago

Let's also not forget that Dearmon hasn't had a chance to install his complete offense yet. He didn't want to change too much in the middle of a season, so he kept the playbook pretty similar. That will change a lot next year.

Steven Haag 1 week, 5 days ago

We took a step backwards from last year in terms of points scored and points allowed. Dale......if you can’t see that, then you are blind or can’t read stats. Most, I say again most people at the beginning of the year were saying it couldn’t get worse than Beaty and were actually expecting more. We didn’t get it. We will end up in the bottom tier in terms of recruiting again......can’t keep getting 2 and low 3 stars and expect to compete with the big boys. I will give Miles the same time I gave Beaty.....4 years, although Miles inherited better talent than Beaty did. We need a new DC and a good replacement at quarterback if we want to win 3 games next year.

Lucas Town 1 week, 4 days ago

Steven, you are spot on about the points allowed/scored. The offense was about the same but the defense gave up on average a full touchdown more per game than last year. No change in the win/loss column is fine with me for a year 1 staff. I saw more fight in this team than in years past. However, if we can't find a QB with an OL, I fear next year will resemble the past few. There are playmakers on the outside and we have depth at RB. If Stanley was the best we had this year, next years first year QB might hinder the offense. As far as the offense went this year I think Dearmon will be good moving forward, but we played Texas and Tech at the right time. Both of those defenses were awful. Give this staff time, hopefully they stick.

Austin Lopez 1 week, 5 days ago

I don’t see how we took a step back when last year we didn’t have a power 5 win away at all and most people on this blog only had Ku winning 1 game. Miles went into the season without his guy at offensive coordinator, and obviously the new OC wasn’t going to change much of the playbook half way through the season. Miles will be judged once he has his full recruiting class in. Stats are only stats, stats don’t show heart, commitment and drive. You can look at this team play and see they play hard for miles unlike they did for Beaty.

Steve Corder 1 week, 5 days ago

Yes, and stats do not reflect the buildup of internal staff support and money to run it. Never forget how woefully behind the program was in overall staff and money allocated when compared to all other B12 programs.

Not all is perfect now, but there are people today at Alabama that are complaining about the same things.

Phil Leister 1 week, 4 days ago

It's all about recruiting. Nick Saban wouldn't have won more than 3 games with this team.

David Robinett 1 week, 4 days ago

If not for the last minute OC making bad calls we’d have beaten Coastal Carolina too, possibly leading to 4 wins.

We led in the final minutes at Texas and ISU, both on the road. That’s progress.

Robert Brock 1 week, 4 days ago

Progress was on display when Kansas scared the Longhorns half to death in Austin.

Dane Pratt 1 week, 4 days ago

Encouraging words from the players. I would say the last two seasons have shown signs of life that have not existed this decade but I don't think anyone knows what our talent level is going into 2020. Is it getting better? Do we have a viable replacement for Carter?

Armen Kurdian 1 week, 4 days ago

It's definitely the 'best' season we have had since Mangino left. We had one of the toughest schedules in the country. Won 3, competitive in three others. Our defense is virtually non-existent, we need a new kicker, and offense is hot or cold.

But I agree w/the sentiments shared about the games we started off behind in, especially the BC game which was our biggest shocker since we beat Georgia.

Mason was 1-10 his first year, Mangino not much better, but you could see real progress in those years. You didn't see that with Gill, Weis, maybe a bit with Beatty, but no follow-through.

Give Miles a free hand in everything football. I'd say chances for a bowl next year at 1 in three, but definitely will win at least 4 games with fewer blowouts.

Freddie Garza 1 week, 4 days ago

Progress was made. This is a 1 win team with Beaty. With Miles, we boast wins against BC and Texas Tech.

KU football is the most difficult job in Division I college football, at best it's one of the 3 most difficult jobs. So maybe some of us should quit with the unrealistic expectations. Turning this morbid program around was never a 1 year job, it's going to take a decade AT LEAST. I might remind you, we play in a league with: Oklahoma, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, K State, Iowa State and Baylor. Where any of you saw 4 wins, I don't know.

We're lucky though, to have a guy like Les Miles in charge. That goes a LONG way in giving this program some legitimacy. Becoming a mid table program in a league featuring the above mentioned teams though...that is going to take some time. Have some patience, because for once, it finally seems like we have the right guy in charge.

Steve Grimm 1 week, 4 days ago

Uh... A decade? Lord, I hope not!
Look, I have always heard the key to a winning program is: 1) a solid program infrastructure and 2) sound recruiting. Even bad coaches win when they have these working for them.

When Miles joined, KU had ONE verbal commit (a 3-star). His recruiting "team" was one full time staff member and a handful of part time student assistants. This is the life's blood of any team but, until now, it was not treated that way. It was primarily on the backs of the coaches alone to do all the research and legwork.

Now, KU has 24 commits and is ranked in the top 50 recruiting schools. Admittedly, they are primarily just 3-star students, but I understand there are several 4-stars that are contemplating KU. Now that the season is over, the NEW KU recruiting machine will be focusing on this exclusively. With Miles' name (and his coaches), discipline, organization, commitment, charisma and expertise, I see more of a strong promise for KU's future than ever before. I would not be surprised if we see some of those 4-stars agree to be Jayhawks.

It is easy to be a pessimist after the Baylor game. I get it. But, building a winning team doesn't start on the field. It only ends there. And from what I can tell, the Mile regime seems to FINALLY be doing it the right way.

Because of that, it most certainly won't be a decade.

I am expecting to see incremental improvements ON the field next year - translated into more wins.

Brett McCabe 1 week, 4 days ago

Freddie are right. The timetables may differ but the conclusion is the same. If the current class holds, when combined with last year’s commits, we have a base of players who should provide a foundation for a rebuild. Matt Campbell is winning with 3-star recruits, as is KSU. As is OSU and, usually, TCU.

Patience is warranted but so is progress.

Steve Grimm 1 week, 4 days ago

I guess we need to define what we are / are not patient for.

For me, I certainly don't see it taking a decade to get out of the doormat business. If you are talking (dreaming) about conference championship level achievements, then perhaps a decade is reasonable.

Not sure how long Miles will stick around anyway, but if it takes a decade to become respectable, I doubt he will be around when that time comes.

Tony Bandle 1 week, 4 days ago

My brother and sister-in-law are Cyclone alums and die hard football fans, They were at the Kansas game and, despite the score, my brother indicated, "Oh crap, Kansas finally has a coach."

It may be at the grass roots level, but that sure sounds like progress to me!!!

John Smith 1 week, 4 days ago

kansas was competitive in 7 out of 12 games, the other 5 were blowouts. A few breaks and this season could have been 6-6. I saw more competitiveness this year than I have seen in many seasons.

Pius Waldman 1 week, 4 days ago

Well no more games to play so recruiting is the game. Yes a big disappointment losing to Baylor. But wait Baylor might be heading to the final four. Some will transfer as they see the situation but stronger recruiting is necessary. Without proof one can hope for better success with the present coaching staff. Sounds better than crying over the present situation.

Micky Baker 1 week, 2 days ago

No doubt progress was made. We do get Robinson and Parchment back next year. If the recruiting class holds, we'll have a 4 star linebacker along with Prox and Joe Dineen back next year. That group could be pretty salty. I'm interested to see if we're gonna get a good QB that will have more speed and we need a running back to compliment Pooka. The departure of Herbert was a big deal. I would think that we beat Texas and Iowa State if he had stayed. We need another guy like that.

The big questions for offense is QB and Offensive Line. We need a guy who isn't afraid to make quick decisions, even if he makes some mistakes early in his career, and we need an Offensive Line that can and who WILL execute and stay disciplined. I'm not the coach or anything, but if there is a guy wide open, even if he's just 5 or 6 yards down the field, early in the play get him the ball. If they won't defend that I'll take 6 to 7 yards a play every game on offense. Of course, doing that a few times and they bring in an extra defensive back which opens up the run game for Pooka. The O line is going to have to work real hard to get on the same page and stay there. If Les Miles get's this right over the next couple of years, it will bode well.

On defense, I'm not sure what to say. I saw so many times our guys just staring at the QB and they would lose the guy they are supposed to cover. It hurt us so many times, especially against K-State and Iowa State. Cover your man, then react to the QB. There were a lot of times we would have gotten a sack if the db stayed disciplined. Of course, our young linebackers that got starts due to injuries were often way out of position because they didn't stay disciplined enough to stick with their assignments. There are probably 15 to 20 times the last 3 or 4 weeks that we could have had a stop on 3rd down if the linebackers didn't over pursue. Another way of saying that, stay home. Trust your teammates. With that said, Potter getting experience this year could pay big dividends next season and thereafter.

I caution some that we might take a step back next season with a bunch of younger players coming in, or maybe since they won't have the stigma that the veterans had this year, they might not be too concerned about being the underdogs, and might even thrive on it. Time will tell.

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