Opponent: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
Opponent’s Record: 0-1
Location: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium (“The Booth”), Lawrence Kansas
Game time: Saturday, September 7, 2019 at 6:00 PM
TV channel: ESPN+
Radio: 810 WHB
Line: Kansas -7
Kansas star sophomore running back Pooka Williams returns to the squad on Saturday. For the Jayhawks, that should open up a momentarily stagnant offense. For the Chanticleers, it adds another weapon to worry about. Saturday’s game marks the first matchup for these two programs against the other, and it presents an opportunity for both to prove that they are better than they showed in their opening games.
When Kansas has the ball
The first game of the Jamey Chadwell era for the Chanticleers ended in a 30-23 defeat against Eastern Michigan. Their defense held the Eagles to only 291 yards, but it struggled to stop Eastern Michigan’s quick passing attack. Coastal only forced two incompletions and recorded just one sack. Chadwell’s defense struggled to generate pressure against EMU. If Kansas struggles to protect Carter Stanley against an anemic Coastal Carolina pass rush, the Jayhawks have serious concerns up front.
On Saturday, the big story will be the return of first team all Big 12 running back Pooka Williams. The explosive playmaker should provide some relief to an offense that stalled at various times against Indiana State. Pooka’s one cut-and-go style combined with Coastal Carolina’s struggles up front will chunk some yards for the Jayhawks.
I think Kansas should test the Chanticleers’ front early and often. Les Koenning and crew should attack the middle of the defense to open up some quick passes on the outside to Andrew Parchment. Kansas will move the ball against Coastal Carolina’s defense, but they need to finish better in the red zone.
When Coastal Carolina has the ball
Coastal’s offense is led by sophomore quarterback Fred Payton. Payton attempted 43 passes last Saturday, showing a different look than past Coastal Carolina offenses. Jamey Chadwell’s past offenses have been more run oriented and I expect to see the Chanticleers revert to that philosophy against Kansas’ thin front 7. Coastal will lean on junior running back C.J. Marable more this week as a runner than they did a week ago. Marable has workhorse potential, but only carried the football 19 times in their first game.
Last week the Jayhawks did not rotate their inside linebackers. While Kyron Johnson and Dru Prox had solid performances, I am curious if they will do that again this week. The defensive line needs to get more push up the middle to give these guys some relief. On the back-end of the defense, I expect the Jayhawks to be aggressive. Payton threw four interceptions, and if the Jayhawks can replicate some of their ball hawking from last week, I expect them to snag a few more.
Final thoughts and predictions
Pooka’s return is deservedly hyped. Kansas looked vanilla on offense, but had some success on cutback runs. Pooka will only make those runs more deadly. I think Kansas will look smoother on offense, and Stanley should have more room to operate with his receivers against a relatively weak Coastal Carolina secondary. Coastal has more talent than Indiana State, but Sagarin has the Chanticleers ranked behind the Sycamores. I think Kansas should win Saturday and fairly comfortably. The line has moved a lot and is settling around a seven-point advantage in favor of the Jayhawks. SP+ has the Jayhawks winning by five, and Sagarin has the Jayhawks winning by double-digits. If you’re a gambler, this game is all sorts of dangerous.
Kansas 31(-7), Coastal Carolina 14
Season Record: 1-0 (1-0 ATS)