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Kansas’ New-Look Receiving Threats Passed First Test

The Jayhawks’ bigger, more physical receivers made a strong first impression

Indiana State v Kansas Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Let’s get the yeah-buts out of the way.

Yes, it’s a small, one-game sample size. Yes, it was against an FCS school. And yes, the offense is still was nowhere near pristine.

But something looked different on Saturday. Bigger. More imposing.

We knew the running game would be the strength of the offense this year, and that’s still true with Pooka Williams coming back for week 2. The passing game was more of a question mark. Three of the top four receivers in terms of yards in 2018 are gone, including Steven Sims Jr.

Daylon Charlot and Andrew Parchment drew their share of buzz in the off-season as strong replacements, and one game in, the buzz looks justified. Parchment pulled down eight catches for 121 yards—both team highs—and topped it off by throwing the pass on the crucial two-point conversion to put KU up a touchdown. Charlot, meanwhile, grabbed six catches for 79 yards, including the 22-yard go-ahead touchdown.

The Jayhawks have been used to shorter, speedy receivers. Last year, KU’s top receivers all had a similar build: Sims, 5-10, 176; Stephon Robinson, 5-10, 180; and Kerr Johnson Jr. 5-11, 193. Only Jeremiah Booker stood out as a big target at 6-2, 212. And he led the team in touchdown receptions last year. Or, when they have had bigger targets on the outside, the previous coaching staff never really figured out how to utilize them.

In Parchment and Charlot, Kansas has size (Parchment is 6-2, 180; Charlot is 6-0, 193) without giving up agility. And early on, Miles, offensive coordinator Les Koenning, and quarterback Carter Stanley have found ways to use them. The result, at least so far, is guys that can go up and get the ball, even when closely covered by a corner. Just take a look at some of the plays from Saturday:

Sims had exceptional speed and an ability to blow past defenders or create in space. This is in no way a knock on him. But KU offense—the combination of style, offensive line protection, and QB play—didn’t allow for that to be a regular occurrence.

We know Miles will bring a physical brand of football that will start with the running game. But it looks like it will also carry over into the passing game. As was proven on Saturday, there will be plenty of times when the Jayhawks will have a big third-and-long play to keep a drive alive and need receivers that can go up and make a play, even with a defender draped over them.

Parchment and Charlot are the types of big receivers Miles has historically liked, and offer a brand of passing attack we haven’t seen a ton of in recent years.

One game in and the combination of talent and approach has worked out decently in Kansas’ favor.