We talked with Rock Chalk Talk about this weekend matchup down in Lawrence. Can Iowa State get back on track this weekend?
1- Kansas has started off 0-5 on the season, if there has been a bright spot to the start. What is it?
There have actually been a couple. The first would be Jalon Daniels, who has been able to show flashes of ability despite his youth and lack of OL in front of him to block. He’s made some mistakes early, as most freshmen do, but there is at least hope that he could be the quarterback of the future. The second is the KU defense, as weird as that sounds. A lot of young guys are rounding into form this year, especially Karon Prunty and Kenny Logan Jr. in the secondary, and DaJon Terry on the defensive line. There is still a long way to go, but the defense has been very stout through early in the second half before the lack of offense wears them out entirely.
2- Is Les Miles safe for another year if Kansas ends with no wins?
Absolutely. Despite the grumbling from various fans about the lack of progress in the wins department, there isn’t (and shouldn’t be) any appetite for a coaching change this year. To put it bluntly, Les is doing exactly what he was brought in here to do: generate excitement among recruits and fix the scholarship situation that has persisted for so long. Miles’ recruiting classes have been almost exclusively high school recruits, which has them in position for a full roster of scholarships as early as next year. Given that a lot of the issues this season has been a dearth of experienced Big 12 quality talent, it’s big that a lot of the young guys are seeing time on the field and starting to develop, no matter how painful the final product has been to watch so far.
3- Jalon Daniels appears to be the future at quarterback for Kansas, what should Iowa State fans know about him that they may not already know?
Did you know that he is only 17? Apparently, the broadcast thought you needed to know that eleventy billion times last week.
Daniels was an overlooked guy that was hand-picked by Brent Dearmon for his offensive system, but given that he wasn’t able to come in for spring ball (and it was canceled anyway), there was some concern about how long it would take him to grasp the offense and develop rapport with his playmakers on offense. He has the most arm talent that I’ve seen in a Kansas QB in a long time, but the decision making needs some work, which shouldn’t be surprising.
Also, fun fact. Despite playing in 4 games so far, Daniels has yet to throw for a touchdown. He’s run it in twice (both against K-State last week), but he’ll be looking for his first passing TD Saturday.
4- So when Donovan Jackson hit that corner three at Allen Fieldhouse....oh sorry, side tracked a bit. Kansas played Iowa State pretty tough last year and they attacked the safeties last year over the top. Can this Kansas team exploit this Iowa State team anywhere?
I think they are going to try and test the waters deep early in the game, but I’m concerned about how well the Kansas OL is going to be able to protect Daniels. If they don’t give him time, expect to see some bootlegs or quick shots deep to try and take advantage of the speed that they have in their receivers. But I haven’t really seen many places in the this Iowa State defense that can actually be “exploited”, so it’s going to take mixing it up well to try and create some confusion if the Kansas offense is going to be successful.
That being said, the Iowa State offense definitely has some holes that can be exploited. With only one deep threat that QB Brock Purdy seems to trust, Kansas should be able to keep most of the play in front of them. This defense has really shored up it’s open field tackling, so if they can keep Iowa State to short passes, that should help slow down the game and keep it within striking distance. The run defense is surprisingly stout early in the game as well, so while they won’t keep Breece Hall completely off the scoreboard, they should be able to frustrate him early.
5- Besides Jalon Daniels, who is someone Iowa State fans will know of that they may not have known about before the game?
Karon Prunty. He has been an absolute stud in the secondary, and his ability to read the opposing QB and anticipate throws has steadily gotten better. I’m expecting multiple PBUs and perhaps a pick this game. There is a good chance you see him on Xavier Hutchinson for a good portion of the as well, so ISU fans paying attention to his game should see Prunty’s work quite often.
6- What is your prediction?
As much as I love to see chaos, especially when my Jayhawks are able to bring it, I just don’t see this game ultimately ending very close. This feels like one of those “closer than the final score” games though, as Kansas should keep this one close through the 3rd quarter before the defense finally wears down. Kansas should have some early success on both sides of the ball, and may even lead this one after the first quarter, but despite the lack of offensive explosion this year from ISU, they ARE the more talented team. Give me Iowa State 34-17