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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Notebook: After missing TCU game, Khalil Herbert’s status with KU is uncertain

Kansas head coach Les Miles on the sidelines early in the game as the Kansas Jayhawks play the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. TCU won 51-14.  (David Kent/Star-Telegram via AP)

Kansas head coach Les Miles on the sidelines early in the game as the Kansas Jayhawks play the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. TCU won 51-14. (David Kent/Star-Telegram via AP)

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Fort Worth, Texas — The Kansas football team had to play its Big 12 road opener at TCU Saturday without its leading rusher, senior running back Khalil Herbert.

A 5-foot-9 senior from Coral Springs, Fla., Herbert missed what ended up being a 51-14 loss for the Jayhawks at Amon G. Carter Stadium for what a team spokesperson described as “personal reasons.”

Head coach Les Miles didn’t provide many further details regarding Herbert’s absence after the game.

“I don’t know exactly what caused his issues,” Miles said. “He was not with us. I really just want to speak and talk about the guys that are here that played in the game.”

In KU’s first four games, Herbert (384 rushing yards) provided 8.9 yards per carry, 96 yards per game and two rushing touchdowns.

Theoretically, having played in only four games this season, the senior could sit out the remainder of the year if he so desired and then transfer to play elsewhere in the 2020 season.

Miles was asked about that exact possibility, given the timing of Herbert not being with the Jayhawks (2-3 overall, 0-2 Big 12). The coach didn’t rule out such a scenario.

“What I’m saying is I don’t want to spend the time here on anybody other than people who played in the game,” Miles said. “I will say this: I’m sure that this is the fourth game that someone would be allowed to play in or not play in and still redshirt, though. It makes sense to me.”

NCAA football players can play a maximum of four games in a season and still take a redshirt, by rule.

Starting KU quarterback Carter Stanley paused upon being asked when he learned Herbert wouldn’t be with the team.

“Today,” was Stanley’s one-word response.

“Khalil’s a really good friend of mine. Great football player,” Stanley continued. “I don’t know too much about it. It just kind of seems like a personal deal. For us it’s all about next man up. We’ve got to be able to move on from that.”

In Herbert’s absence, true freshman running back and Dallas metroplex native Velton Gardner served as KU’s No. 2 running back.

The 5-foot-9 back from Dallas Skyline High was the only Jayhawk in the first half to pick up more than 10 yards on one play, doing so with both a run and a catch.

Long after the game was all but over, Gardner also provided KU with it only scoring play of the lopsided road loss, rushing for a 45-yard touchdown with 12:10 left in the fourth quarter. Gardner finished with 72 total yards.

Missing Prox

KU’s defense had to do its best to get by at TCU without starting inside linebacker and leading tackler Dru Prox.

Prox, who accounted for 39 total tackles in the first four weeks, was unable to play after suffering an injury late in KU’s Sept. 21 home loss to West Virginia.

Without junior Prox, KU started true freshman Gavin Potter in his place. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Potter completed a long afternoon for the Jayhawks’ defense with 11 total tackles (nine solo). Those numbers surpassed his combined production from the first four games, when he had seven total stops while seeing his role and playing time expand as a reserve the previous two weeks.

Sosinski returns

Injured and unavailable to play each of KU’s past two games, senior tight end James Sosinski returned to the lineup at TCU.

Sosinski didn’t play much, as Jack Luavasa started at tight end and freshman Mason Fairchild appeared at the position, too.

A 6-7 senior, Sosinski didn’t record a catch in the loss. Luavasa caught one for 8 yards and Fairchild had one for 23.

Mane starts

The Kansas offense started Api Mane at center for the first time this season. Though Mane played each of the previous four weeks, it was as a backup to Andru Tovi, who started.

KU still used both centers, with Tovi entering for the first time on KU’s third series.

Wise in the house

Former KU defensive standout Daniel Wise attended Saturday’s game, watching the second half from KU’s sideline.

Wise, who went undrafted this past spring, is on the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad.

1 more Big 12 road loss

Although the Jayhawks won a nonconference road game this season and last, the program’s longstanding Big 12 road losing streak remains alive.

The next time KU football wins a conference game on the road, it will be the first time the program has done so since a victorious trip to Iowa State, on Oct. 4, 2008.

The drought didn’t end Saturday at TCU, where the Jayhawks dropped their 46th true conference road game in a row.

Adeniji, Torneden Senior CLASS nominees

Two of the Jayhawks’ most prominent veterans this week were named among the 30 FBS candidates nationwide who are up for the 2019 Senior CLASS Award.

Both starters, left tackle Hakeem Adeniji and safety Bryce Torneden were considered worthy due to their involvement in the community, their work in the classroom, their character and their play on the field.

Both are team captains for Kansas.

Torneden also was named to the AFCA Good Works Team earlier this month and is KU’s nominee for the Wuerffel Trophy, for community service.

In-state RB plans to walk on

The KU football team’s 2020 recruiting class is a crowded one, with 26 high school prospects committed to Miles’ program at the moment as possible signees.

It appears KU also will add in-state walk-on Caden Cox in 2020. A 5-foot-9 running back from Maize, Cox announced this week his plans to walk on at Kansas.

While thanking several people in a note he posted to Twitter, Cox noted former KU running back Jake Sharp and his training staff at Sharp Performance have helped him with his strength and conditioning.

Comments

Len Shaffer 9 months, 2 weeks ago

"Long after the game was all but over, Gardner also provided KU with it only scoring play of the lopsided road loss, rushing for a 45-yard touchdown with 12:10 left in the fourth quarter. Gardner finished with 72 total yards."

Given how the game went, I can understand how you might have stopped paying attention, but it's a pretty major oversight to completely omit KU's second touchdown ...

Dale Rogers 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I just copied that same phrase to post here but see you already did. Totally agree with you. It's bad enough we lost by so much and played so poorly. Let's not short ourselves on one of the few good things about the game.

Dale Rogers 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Oh, man, I hope Herbert is able to resolve the personal issues and return to the team. I'd sure hate to lose him.

Michael Maris 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Perhaps, Miles statement in the middle of the week (about getting the ball in the hands of Pooka) has something to do with Khalil Herbert's decision to not play today. I doubt Coach Miles was being disrespectful towards Khalil. But, Khalil may have taken it that way.

Bill Kackley 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I am totally disappointed in Coach Miles taking those timeouts at the end of the game, don't blame TCU FOR GOING ALL OUT TO GET THAT LAST TD AFTER BUSH LEAGUE COACH'S DECISION.

Dane Pratt 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Are you serious? Nothing bush league about trying to give your team one more opportunity to gain an ounce of redemption. You want to talk bush league, how about Patterson not taking a knee with a minute left on first down.

Jeff Kallmeyer 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Agree with Bill. Miles poor decision making calling timeouts while TCU has the ball (and hadn't any trouble all day moving on our defense) cost us that last TD.

Jonathan Allison 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I am perfectly fine with both coaches decisions.

If I were in Coach Miles' place I would want my team to play to win on every possession and every snap. No matter what. We're trying to build a winning culture for the program and I don't want to send my team a message that we're bowing out at the end of a game just because we're down big.

If I'm in Coach Patterson's place, I gotta get my backups and youngsters meaningful reps anytime I can. Now if he's got his star players out there padding their stats in the final minutes of a blowout win or he's trying to score 100, for one thing that would be stupid for putting those players in an unnecessary injury risk and I might take offense to him for padding the stats like that.

But blowouts have always ben a part of college football and always will be. Let the pro's worry about etiquette... they are getting paid well for their services. These college kids need to have a chance to play and showcase their skills, even the ones buried at the bottom of the depth chart.

David Kelley-Wood 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm hopeful, but not optimistic, that these personal issues will be resolved favorably for Herbert, and in such a way that he will be returning. And, I believe that the team is clued in to some extent, and that this situation likely affected their psychology going into the game. Yeah, yeah, I know, a lot of speculation. Fingers crossed.

Andy Godwin 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Khalil and Pooka were on Hawk Talk proceeding this week’s game. Everything between the two seemed to be positive showing they had developed a special hand shake and Miles talked about his high character. Pooka did get more accolades and praise from Brian Henney. Khalili was well spoken and even asked coach Miles a dating question. Clearly Pooka is exciting to watch because of his speed but Khalil has been the better running back going north-south. That run at the end of the first half of the BC game was phenomenal and changed the whole tenor of the game. Pooka is clearly less effective this year because KU’s offense has become more predictable when he is the tailback and defenses are keying on him. He rarely has gained big chunks of yards running through the primary “hole”. If the KU coaches were creative they would use Pooka and Khalil together and spread Pooka out and use him more like Tyreek Hill and Khalil as the primary back. The offense is far from creative-just watch the Coastal Carolina game for one of the worst offensive schemes imaginable in the 2010’s.

Bill Kackley 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Dana Patterson did what he did because KU did what they did

Michael Maris 9 months, 2 weeks ago

@ Andy,

I agree with your statements about Khalil and the use of Pooka together at the same time. Evidently, OC doesn't have that kind of vision. Where, the Offensive Analyst from the NAIA School probably does.

Jeff Kallmeyer 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Sounds to me that Herbert is history and will be transferring to another school, taking advantage of the 4-game red shirt rule.

Dale Rogers 9 months, 2 weeks ago

That's a possibility but there's really too little information we have on this to look at that as anything but speculation. It could be some other "personal issue." Or not. We'll have to wait and see.

Dane Pratt 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Would not have suspected that scenario had Benton not suggested it and since he's closer to the program than we are I have to give it some credibility.

Jonathan Allison 9 months, 2 weeks ago

yep the "no comment" comment from Miles seems pretty telling. "It makes sense to me."

Bee Bee 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Go with the guys that want to be at K U, like Gardner. You don't want unhappy, negative people on the team. Good luck to Herbert.

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