It is December, and people still care so much about Kansas football.
This latest edition of “Ask us Anything” illustrates how huge KU landing Les Miles really was. A majority of these questions are football-related, and I can’t recall the last time there was this much attention on the football program at this point in the offseason.
It is worth noting, of course, that all these questions came before freshman running back Pooka Williams was arrested on the suspicion of domestic battery and was ultimately suspended from the team. Continue to check our website as more details become available.
Yet the interest and optimism regarding the football program, which has won just 18 games this decade, has been especially apparent to me this week and I mentioned that on the most recent podcast. Part of that comes with the new coaching staff, though, this one just feels different to me.
With that being said, let’s dive into the football-heavy version of today’s questions. And remember, you can hit us up anytime on Twitter by using the hashtag, #AskKUsports.
This will start to become more clear when we get closer to April, but I like this question.
Both players had the option to go pro last year, as Daniel Wise was considered a mid-round pick and Joe Dineen was rated as a seventh-round selection or undrafted rookie. Both defensive players, of course, chose to come back to improve their respective draft stock.
Dineen leads the nation in solo tackles with 109, while the player in second has just 87 stops. According to WalterFootball.com, Dineen is rated as the 20th-best inside linebacker in the 2019 class and is likely anywhere from the sixth-round pick to undrafted.
Based on his numbers, I’m sure fans are wondering how Dineen couldn’t go higher. Again, that could happen following workouts in the offseason. Dineen is tremendous at filling the gaps, and stopping the run. However, NFL linebackers need to be able to cover tight ends/linebackers in the passing game from sideline to sideline.
An NFL team can develop Dineen in that area, and I’m sure a team will select him with that mindset. But that is why Dineen will likely still be a Day 3 selection, despite his impressive numbers at KU.
Wise, meanwhile, is the 16th-best defensive tackle and projected as a third or fourth rounder via Walter Football. Wise will need to improve his run defense for the next level, but he’s displayed a number of promising traits that will help land with an NFL team.
Could you see Miles going away from his old school offensive strategy and using more of a traditional Big 12 air raid offense? — From Sam Bruning via email
This has been talked about at length already via podcasts and articles on our site. In fact, Benton Smith wrote about how Les Miles thought about modernizing his offensive scheme during his time off.
I believe the hiring of Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey backs up Miles’ claim that he wants to adapt on the offensive end. Lindsey gave fans a sneak peak of his offensive philosophy during a one-on-one interview with KU director of broadcasting and play-by-play voice of the Jayhawks Brian Hanni.
“We want to create an exciting brand of football,” Lindsey said, “exciting brand of offense, try to create explosive plays and make us an offense that’s fun and exciting to watch — one that recruits want to come play for — and really put our identity in this league and on this university.”
Lindsey, who is known to run an offense with air raid concepts, is clearly here to help Miles go away from his old-school strategy.
During his two years at Southern Miss, Lindsey ran the ball less than 49 percent of the time in each season. Arizona State ran the ball 52.7 percent of the time in 2016 when Lindsey was the offensive coordinator. With Auburn, Lindsey ran the ball 62.8 percent of the time in 2017 and 56.1 percent of the time in 2018.
To put that in comparison, Miles ran the ball over 60 percent of the time in five of his last six years at LSU. It is clear that Lindsey was brought in to bring more balance to an offensive system that became all-too predictable during Miles’ final years at LSU.
This question came before Grimes’ most recent outing, which was actually quite good. In the win over Wofford, Grimes played 32 minutes and notched 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
Yet it is no secret that highly-touted players have struggled out of the gate in their rookie campaigns. Kelly Oubre didn’t score in double figures until his 10th game during the 2014-15 season. After sitting out for the early part of the season, Cheick Diallo had just two double-digit scoring efforts in 27 games with the Jayhawks.
KU has had other notable early slumps by freshman standouts, and that should be expected on some level. After all, these players are making a tough transition and having to figure out their role on a contending team.
But Grimes displayed his talent on the national stage in his debut during the win over Michigan State, and was a non-factor over the next five games. Self even pulled him in the second half of a pair of games, because KU was better without the lottery-level talent.
I do think the four-guard lineup, which Kansas will defer to without Udoka Azubuike, is better suited for someone like Grimes. With the space, Grimes can be more aggressive and attack the rim off high-ball screens. It is also possible that Grimes was more passive due to how hot senior Lagerald Vick was for that five-game stretch.
In the end, I think better days are ahead for Grimes. And he will be an important part of the team’s tournament run.
As of now, KU has not revealed any plans to add more parking.
I personally haven’t had to worry about parking, so I’m not sure how bad it really is. The perks of covering these games is that I get to park in the garage, which seems fairly open when I arrive. Prior to this year, I lived nearby and just walked to KU games.
Quick aside: Seeing people sell parking spots at nearby houses is one of my favorite things about driving to the stadium. I like to compare prices, but most of the time it seems like prices are very similar. Why would someone pay the same price to park off ninth street, as they would to park one block from the stadium? I’d be selling a spot for less if I lived farther away from the stadium, but that's just my opinion.
That being said, if KU parking is as bad as you say it is, it is certainly something the program should address. If not, based on the recent buzz, I’d suspect parking will be even tougher during Miles’ first year at the helm.
This doesn’t seem likely, seeing as she just tweeted about a new job last week.
When Les Miles was introduced as the new head coach, I had the opportunity to talk to Smacker Miles after the press conference. She told me then that she was passionate about sharing stories of student-athletes, which appears to be her role with this new gig.
Smacker Miles certainly knows a lot about football, which was evident in our conversation and on her podcast with her dad. But she seems to prefer being involved in a media-related role rather than working directly with a football program.
Also of note, Smacker Miles recently tweeted out a photo of a Raising Cane’s Christmas ornament. As an avid fan of Raising Cane’s, the only question I have is if Smacker Miles goes no slaw and extra sauce.
No. 2 Kansas has a perfect 5-0 record to date, but it has been anything but flawless.
KU needed overtime to finish off Tennessee in a battle between a pair of top-five teams. Kansas held off a second-half surge by Michigan State in the season opener to claim a victory in the Champions Classic. Senior Lagerald Vick went bonkers during the team's only two home games to fend off Vermont and Louisiana in Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas has a pair of home games and a contest in the Sprint Center remaining before its much-anticipated rematch with Villanova. The Wildcats downed the Jayhawks in the Final Four last year before eventually winning the national title.
That leads us into the first question of the latest edition of Ask Us Anything.
Well, based on recent reports, it looks like Kliff Kingsbury is going to be finding employment elsewhere. As a result, I will dive into the question about Kansas slipping up against anyone before Villanova.
If I were a betting man, and I certainly am, I wouldn’t bank on KU dropping a game before the rematch of last year’s Final Four. According to KenPom, Kansas has at least a 95 percent chance of winning in each of its next three games that lead up to the showdown with Villanova.
The Jayhawks play two of those three games in the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse, while facing New Mexico State in the Sprint Center. That game is the most likely loss for Kansas, though even that seems far fetched.
No. 2 KU has yet to really put all together during this 5-0 start to the season. The first half against Michigan State was the closest Kansas has looked to being worthy of its No. 1 preseason ranking.
At some point, you would think the Jayhawks demonstrated that dominance again, and I’d bet fans see a version of that during this three-game stretch. As a result, it just doesn’t seem likely that KU will have a loss on its resume ahead of the home meeting with the defending champs.
All three of these are great questions, so I’m going to go ahead and make this a questions No. 2 through No. 4 for this edition of Ask Us Anything, and you can’t stop me.
No. 2: The first and most important step for the Les Miles regime is ___ ???
I suppose the easy answer would be filling out his staff, seeing as he can’t coach the 2019 season all by himself on the sideline. Wouldn’t that be fun to see though?
However, I’m going to go a different route with my answer. I think the first and most important step for Les Miles is recruiting. KU Athletic Director Jeff Long said he made the move when he did because he knew how important recruiting was, particularly with the early signing period inching closer.
Miles is not only starting late in the game, but he’s also dealing with a limited number of available scholarships. That’s what makes this so important, because Miles really has to hit on a good majority of his recruits in order to turn this thing around sooner rather than later.
Of course, the real answer is making sure Pooka Williams stays at KU. Yet I don’t think he’s likely to leave, so focusing on putting talent around Pooka should be the most important thing Miles does in the next month.
No. 3: More of a concern for KU hoops — Dok’s inability to stay on the floor or 3-point FG defense?
My first thought was to go with Udoka, because he is arguably the team’s most important player. After all, 10.4 plays per game for Kansas end with a post-up by Azubuike. The Jayhawks lead the country in post-up usage with a rate of 19.7 percent, according to Synergy.
That being said, I’m more concerned with the team’s inability to defend the perimeter. Per KenPom, opposing teams are shooting 37.8 percent from deep against Kansas. That mark ranks 285th in the nation.
More than that, though, teams are going into the game against KU with an emphasis on shooting the long ball. Louisiana forward Justin Miller admitted that after he recorded a career-high 22 points against KU. Marquette drilled 11 triples on 21 attempts in the first half alone against KU’s defense.
Azubuike, meanwhile, is averaging just two minutes less per game than he did last year. For me, the answer to this question is pretty simple. The Jayhawks need to fix their perimeter defense if they hope to cut down the nets in April.
No. 4: What do the offense efficiency numbers look like going 2 bigs and 3 guards vs. 1 Big and 4 Guards?
This is a tough question to answer, because it is impossible to find lineup-based efficiency numbers on Synergy or KenPom.
I do think it is easy to tell that KU’s offense looks more comfortable in a four-guard lineup, which is probably because that’s what this team has done the last two years.
In fact, KU averaged 1.015 points per possession while using mostly a one-big lineup last year. That mark ranked 16th in the nation. This season, the Jayhawks have used more two-big lineups and are averaging 0.984 points per possession through five games. It is the 61st-best clip in all of college basketball.
So, it’s safe to say that KU should try to incorporate more four-guard lineups.
At first glance, I thought it was surprising when watching the game, but K.J. Lawson did very well in his 19 minutes of action.
To put that in comparison, Lawson had a total of 17 minutes in his previous four games. This goes back to what I was saying in the previous question, but I would like to see KU use more four-guard lineups, which could include Dedric Lawson at the 5 and K.J. Lawson at the 4.
Of course, that’s not to say K.J. Lawson should and will play 19 minutes again, but he did well and even collected six rebounds. More importantly, it allowed KU to create some space and let Dedric Lawson go to work as the lone big man inside.
Mitch Lightfoot, who is still the first player off the bench, will get his opportunity to make an impact late in the game at some point this season.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on whether or not the Les Miles experiment will work at Kansas.
Regardless of your belief, most people seem to agree that it is going to take some time for the Jayhawks to climb out of the bottom of the Big 12 conference. KU has not posted a winning season since 2008, but there seems to be optimism around the program in the first time in a long time.
Whether or not that optimism turns into success remains to be seen, of course.
But a large part of that will ultimately come down to whether or not Les Miles can prove the game has not passed him by since being fired from LSU midway through the 2016 season. Sure, Miles won't get the same players at Kansas that he did at his previous stop, but he's succeeded at multiple places in his career.
Miles will have to prove that the time away from college football was beneficial, and that he's ready to coach in the Big 12 again. That leads us into the first question of the latest edition of Ask Us Anything.
From Sam Bruning, via email Could you see Les Miles going away from his old school offensive strategy and using more of a traditional Big 12 air raid offense?
This is obviously the big question, right?
Les Miles was asked multiple questions about his offensive strategy during his introductory press conference. It was a reasonable concern to wonder if Miles, who is 65 years old, is able to adapt to the modern age of college football. Forget the Big 12, this was a concern for wherever he ended up.
During Sunday’s conference, Miles insisted that he used the passing attack when he had a competent quarterback. Benton Smith wrote about it the other day, of course, but there is some truth to that. In 2013, LSU senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw for over 3,000 yards.
That being said, I don’t expect KU to start slinging the ball around at a rate similar to some teams in the Big 12. Perhaps my opinion will change depending on the offensive coordinator that Miles selects.
LSU ran the ball at least 60 percent of the time over the last six full seasons under Miles. In fact, the Tigers never ran less than 55 percent of the time in a single season with Miles at the helm. At Oklahoma State, however, Miles ran the ball just 51 percent of the time in 2001 and 49 percent of the time in 2002.
As a result, it is not hard to imagine Miles being able to throw the ball more than he showed during his stretch at LSU. However, personnel influences this more than anything else, and KU will have a loaded backfield led by Pooka Williams for the near future. It might be more wise to lean on the ground game and control the clock, as Kansas tried to do against Oklahoma this past weekend.
Obviously, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder would never agree to this in a million years.
More importantly, it would be foolish for KU to even consider it, which I don’t think it would. Sure, Snyder has been tremendous at player development, and has dominated in-state recruiting for a long time. But there would be reasonable skepticism if Kansas hired 79-year-old Snyder for a prominent role after tabbing 65-year-old Miles as the head coach.
That whole situation has been a sour end to a legendary career. Snyder, who has won 215 games in 27 season, deserved to ride off into the sunset after what he accomplished for the K-State program.
But this entire season has been bizarre in Manhattan, with Snyder keeping players from speaking to reporters during the last two weeks of the media availability. Earlier this season, Snyder snapped at KMAN radio sports director John Kurtz for asking about the quarterback situation and told him, “you write what the hell you want to write.”
Multiple publications, including the Kansas City Star, have published columns calling for Snyder to retire.
None of this would make KU fans excited about the prospect of Snyder joining the program in some capacity. More than that, though, it has been disappointing to see this is how a legendary coach will close the book on his illustrious career.
This is an interesting question, because we all assumed that the loss to Nicholls in the season opener marked the unofficial end to David Beaty’s time as the head coach of Kansas.
After seeing what Williams did over the next two weeks, I’m certain that KU wins that game if he is able to play in Week 1. Yet I’m not so sure that changes the course of the season, even if that is a lame answer to this hypothetical scenario.
Because of the relationship that Les Miles and Jeff Long have, I think it is safe to assume this was always going to be Miles’ job if he wanted it. You can argue that KU should have beaten K-State with a better coaching effort, but I’d counter with Kansas should have lost to TCU if it weren’t for a fortunate fumble late in the game.
In the end, I think Pooka Williams playing in the season opener only changes just that. KU would have one more win, and Beaty still would have been fired sometime in November. I certainly don’t think the Jayhawks starting 3-0 would have changed much about the Big 12 games, if at all.
Why stop there? KU should try keeping Steven Sims Jr. and Daniel Wise for another year as well. All jokes aside, I do feel for someone like Dineen. He loves this program deeply and has given so much for it. Dineen, more than anyone else, deserved a chance to play for someone like Les Miles and been around when KU had a shot to have more success.
Of course, Dineen and Wise wouldn’t even consider coming back for another season if they could trick the NCAA into letting them since both players are headed for the NFL.
I must admit, I have never once thought about this question.
So I went and took a BuzzFeed quiz about which animal should be my new favorite. Based on my answers, I got sea turtle as my outcome. Can I just go with that?
Actually, I do love sea turtles and that probably would be my answer. How does BuzzFeed know me so well? When I was kid, I had an aquatic turtle as a pet and his name was Crush. He’s the only pet I have ever owned that was all mine, and I was responsible for taking care of him.
Thanks for your question, now I miss Crush.