Kansas football coach Les Miles was absent from Monday’s Big 12 Conference coaches call. His appearance in Morgantown this weekend is still in question as well.
The Jayhawks are set to call on the Mountaineers at noon on Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown with the game now airing Fox. It originally was scheduled to be broadcast on FS1. Around 15,000 fans will be allowed to attend.
But will Miles, who announced a positive test for COVID-19 last Thursday?
The hope is, by both Kansas and WVU camps, that he will. Jayhawks defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot took Miles’ place on the call on Monday and said all involved are anticipating the head coach to make the trip this weekend.
“Our coordinators are handling their areas and coach Miles is directing us exactly to what he wants us to do and he plans on being there Saturday,” Eliot said. “Coach Miles is continuing addressing the team via Zoom and coaching staff via Zoom. Fortunately, with the technology we’ve developed over the pandemic, he’s been able to continue the process as the head coach. We’ve had one practice without him and that went well, the players are motivated and we’re very prepared for this week and look forward to having a good practice this week as well.”
WVU coach Neal Brown also took a moment to send out his well wishes during his segment of the call.
“Want to send our thoughts out to coach Miles who’s recovering,” Brown said. “We hope he’s recovering and can be at the game on Saturday. I know he’s got a great staff there, D.J. Eliot and I have worked together. I’ve got tremendous respect for them and I know that staff will have those guys ready to go either way.”
In addition to trying to get Miles healthy, one of the main concerns for Kansas has been to make sure the virus didn’t spread throughout the team, putting Saturday’s game into question. As of now, that has not happened and Eliot said that has been the team’s main priority.
“Coach Miles is not the first person on our team to test positive for COVID,” Eliot said. “Every person through the pandemic has concern, therefore, it’s important that all members of the staff do their part to take care of each other and we’ve been able to do that. We are well-versed at handling someone on the team testing positive for COVID. We’ve had a very limited spread at Kansas and feel comfortable with where we are.”
While the Jayhawks have seemed to contain things, at least for now, that obviously wasn’t the case at Baylor. The Bears announced late last week that all football operations would halt due to a rash of positive tests.
On Sunday, Baylor announced that its upcoming game with Oklahoma State, scheduled for this Saturday, would be postponed due to the team not being able to meet roster requirements. That contest has since been rescheduled for Dec. 12.
It marked the first league game to be postponed this season, though Baylor’s scheduled non-conference opener against Houston was wiped out earlier this year due to COVID concerns.
The possibility of such happenings was obviously considered in a Big 12 schedule that included more bye weeks with postponements in mind. But both Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy and Baylor coach Dave Aranda spoke on the issue on Monday now that the theoretical has become reality.
“You just kind of roll with the punches,” Gundy said. “When we started this, we felt like we would run into a game where there would be COVID issues on our team or another team. We’ve been working on Baylor for a week, you take that, put it in a filing cabinet and start working on Iowa State [the Cowboys’ opponent on Oct. 24].”
While the Cowboys begin to prep for the Cyclones, the Bears were sent back to square one, relying on Zoom to have positional meetings with practices off the table for now. And while Aranda admitted it has been frustrating, he also said he’s learned about his team as well.
“I know they’re disappointed,” Aranda said. “I think they understand that it’s needed, this break that we’re on and I think they also understand the team we’ve got and the importance of staying together and staying focused and staying task-oriented as far as the next steps here this week. My conversation with them individually and in team meetings we’ve had has illustrated that to me, so I feel as for as disappointed and frustrated as we all feel, I’m encouraged by the determination I’m seeing. We’re taking it day-by-day right now.”
Also, during Monday’s call, Kansas State coach Chris Klieman announced that quarterback Skylar Thompson would miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on an upper-body injury.
Thompson, a senior, was injured during the Wildcats’ 31-21 win over Texas Tech two weeks ago and didn’t play in Kansas State’s 21-14 victory over TCU on Saturday.
All told, Thompson has 30 starts under his belt and had thrown for 626 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions for the Jayhawks (3-1 overall, 3-0 Big 12) this season.