Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Les Miles notes standouts from final full contact practice of preseason

Kansas running back Khalil Herbert makes a move during practice on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019.

Kansas running back Khalil Herbert makes a move during practice on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019.


Kansas football coach Les Miles left a steamy preseason practice early Tuesday afternoon not drowning in sweat, rather once again in a buoyant mood.

Following what Miles disclosed would be the last camp practice during which the team tackled throughout, from start to finish, he opened his press conference by talking up some top offensive performers.

During the closed KU practice, which Miles said featured roughly 140 plays in total, including special teams work, a senior rusher seemed to leave a large impression.

“Khalil Herbert, he’s a really good player,” Miles said of the fourth-year running back form Coral Springs, Fla., adding that Herbert ran for about 70 yards on just six carries.

“I didn’t want to quite get to 10 carries for him,” Miles added, “because he’s going to play a lot of football as we get going.”

According to the head coach, the offense scored “right around six touchdowns.” Though he avoided naming any KU quarterback during his accounts of what transpired, he said the offense completed about 60% of its passing plays.

Shortly after his press conference, Miles replied “not likely” when asked whether he had named a starting QB.

Even if he wasn’t interested in discussing quarterbacks Thomas MacVittie and Carter Stanley on this day, Miles didn’t mind bringing up a couple of their targets in the passing game. Per KU’s coach, junior receiver Kwamie Lassiter II made three receptions for 100 yards and junior Stephon Robinson Jr. added five catches for 50 yards for the offense.

Although the 15th August practice began, Miles said, with the idea that the heat might force them out of David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium and into the indoor practice facility, some cloud cover and breeze allowed them to stay in the elements.

“It was a nice day,” Miles offered. “It was good, hard work. It was what we needed.”

Areas of concern

Of course, the practice wasn’t totally flawless.

Miles mentioned, as he has in previous media sessions this month, that the appearance of yellow flags during team situations wasn’t to his liking.

“I’m barking about penalties,” Miles related after Tuesday’s practice.

“We still had a couple of motion penalties, but we were much less in pass interference,” the coach shared of miscues for both the offense and defense. “And, really, for that matter we were much less in motion penalties. So I think there’s improvement there and I know there’s a strong want to do that and be a quality football team.”

More praise for freshmen

While briefly touching on some defensive standouts after Tuesday’s practice — Miles noted sophomore linebacker Jay Dineen is “doing a really good job” — the topic seemed to shift his focus to some of the youngest players on the roster.

Just as he did at KU’s media day a few days earlier, Miles spoke highly of some true freshmen from the Class of 2019, who seem in line to contribute this coming fall.

“Gavin Potter’s going to play just a lot of football,” Miles said of the freshman inside linebacker from Broken Arrow, Okla. “So get used to seeing him and being around him, because he runs well and he’ll hit you. He likes to play and he’s got a smile on his face when he does hard things. That’s kind of a key piece.”

According to Miles, KU has other freshmen that are “worthwhile,” as well.

“Mason Fairchild, really, he’s going to be something special, too,” Miles forecasted regarding the 6-foot-5, 250-pound freshman from Andale. “Can run and catch and blocks well. I think he’s going to be somebody that the Kansas faithful will enjoy.”

Miles thinks D-lineman can be effective

It remains to be seen whether KU will find impactful defensive linemen to play at the front of coordinator D.J. Eliot’s scheme. But Miles named Tuesday several candidates he thinks are stepping up during practices.

Freshman nose tackle Da’Jon Terry, listed at 6-4 and 345 pounds, Miles said, has a wide frame that will help him in the years ahead.

“He’s going to take centers in every league and give them headaches,” Miles said of Terry, from Meridian, Miss.

Senior defensive tackle Jelani Brown, KU’s head coach added, is “mobile and uses his hands well.”

Miles called former walk-on Sam Burt, whom he awarded this past week with a scholarship, “strong as a bull” at nose tackle.

“I think he’ll be able to play great in this back end of his career,” Miles predicted for Burt, a junior.

Though 6-7 senior defensive end Darrius Moragne, the coach revealed, has missed some time with a “nick” of some sort, Miles expects Moragne’s size and speed to prove useful.

Miles also mentioned junior Caleb Sampson (6-3, 280) before concluding: “There’s a number of guys that are there that give us an opportunity to play significantly, play at a high level.”


Brian Wilson 3 years, 1 month ago

So Buckle up!! At this point I up my prediction from 3 to 4 wins and won't be surprised if its more.

Greg Ledom 3 years, 1 month ago

Ah what the hell Brian, I’m in!! Plenty of room on the band wagon y’all. Might as well get on! Les is more, ROCK CHALK!!

Steven Haag 3 years, 1 month ago

Wish I shared your optimism, but I’m sticking with 3 wins. I expect to be more competitive with still a couple of blowouts. It’s going to take Mikes a while to get the talent that he wants in. This year it’s about “changing the culture” as he likes to say.

John Fitzgerald 3 years, 1 month ago

I think 2-3 wins is a solid bet, but we'll see this team compete more and make a lot less mistakes. For once they'll actually look like a real football team. We've waited nearly a decade to see that again.

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 1 month ago

Interesting...the Big 12 averages around 80 plays per game for the faster octane offenses. I'm guessing we would be a hair lower, so the 140 plays would be about 2 games worth. About 6 touchdowns would result in 3 touchdowns per game. I don't know scenario situations and or movement down the field or not, but it seems like if we could consistently put up 3 touchdowns add a field goal or two and we would be setting up for some wins. It worries me when our running backs are getting such good yardage against our D-Line. I'm not sure if I should take that as we just are above average at running back or if it is going to illustrate a potential weakness.

I'm excited for the season, I'm drinking some Kool-Aid, so I think the following factors. I like our non-conference schedule (tough, but not outrageous). I'm hoping for 3-0. I think typically we surprise one big 12 team to get a win. All of the first year coaches we play at home, I think we sneak one of those as well. I also think over the past 10 years there seems to be one win that slips away because of Head Coaching issues. I think that will help us with a seasoned veteran coach. Long and short of it, 4-6 is my range.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 1 month ago

If we got 3 Ws last year with a coaching staff that “did everything wrong” and this year we have a coaching staff that is of NC doing “everything right” shouldn’t we expect more Ws?

Weren’t there 3 Ls last year of 1 score or 10 pts or something like that? Surely the better leadership is worth an extra TD or so?

BC will definitely be tougher W than Rutgers but it still seems crazy to expect more of the same. Were there really that many bad Ls last year? Are people just stuck in the past?

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 1 month ago

Last year we had three wins. You are correct we should see some improvement. Nicholls State was a lost and we should gain a win there. Two non-conference wins including one on the road. I hope we could likewise get those. Then comes the gauntlet of Big XII. Last year we were close with WVU, which ended 38-22 that didn't end as close as the game was. This will be at home with a new coach, so this should be a hope. Baylor, OSU, TTU, ISU, Oklahoma were blowouts, so improvement would be great. KSU and Texas were 1 score games. I'm hopeful against KSU, but Texas might be a big time risk. TCU we beat by a point, it goes from a home to a road game. I'm still hopeful about that, but look at the schedule and there is some favorability this year.

To think that all of the close games get flipped, it would be a great year.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 1 month ago

What are the chances of being undefeated at home?

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 1 month ago

West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Baylor are our home games. WVU, TTU, KSU all 3 have new coaches. I would hope we could win 1-2 of these games. However, I'm not optimistic about Oklahoma, we would have to have a perfect game on offense and our defense would have to figure out how to stop that machine at least once.

So undefeated at home would be difficult.

3 years, 1 month ago

yall r crazy. 3 wins tops. goin w 2. 3 is a vegas push anyway. rcjh

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