LAWRENCE — Les Miles hasn’t explicitly identified the position group that’s short-handedness caused Kansas football’s upcoming home contest against Texas to be postponed to Dec. 12.
It isn’t difficult, however, to read between the lines of the second-year Jayhawk head coach’s comments on the situation, specifically in his response when asked how players responded to receiving that disheartening news.
"Well, it certainly didn’t make anybody happy," responded Miles, speaking Wednesday during his weekly "Hawk Talk" radio program. "But again I think there’s a point in time where they say, you know, we’re missing a bunch of guys on that defensive line (and) we might enjoy lining up against a quality opponent with our best team."
A combination of injuries and contact tracing wiped away the tilt with the No. 22-ranked Longhorns, originally scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Instead, the Jayhawks (0-7, 0-6 Big 12) will have a second consecutive bye week ahead of a 7 p.m. Nov. 28 contest against TCU, also set for Lawrence.
The Big 12 prior to the season announced minimum thresholds for players available on game day both as a team and for specific position groups, with KU unable to meet the threshold for the latter this week. Citing the "ongoing surge" of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the region, the university on Tuesday barred fans from attending all athletic events for the rest of November.
"I think it was a wise decision," Miles said of the postponement. "I know our players wanted to play, but they didn’t want to play if they didn’t have their best team, and I think this team wants to play with their best team, especially against a quality opponent in Texas."
KU announced Wednesday that it had conducted 825 COVID-19 tests over the previous 10 days, with five total positions coming out of that testing.
"Four of five guys in a position group is a huge number," Miles said, "and not one that you can sustain over time."
The Jayhawks were without the services of four defensive linemen in their most recent contest, a 62-9 defeat to Oklahoma on Nov. 7 in Norman, Okla. That group included redshirt freshmen and expected starters DaJon Terry and Marcus Harris, who were on the team’s did-not-dress list for undisclosed reasons.
"Our guys know if somebody steps away from their position who it is," Miles said "Well I can tell you, we need ’em, and our team knows we need ’em, and so when they show up we’ll be a better team."
It isn’t all doom and gloom for KU from an injury perspective, however.
True freshman quarterback Jalon Daniels, who suffered an ankle injury late in the loss to the Sooners, returned to practice this week and should be good to go for the matchup with the Horned Frogs, Miles said.
"He doesn’t have a tight ankle," Miles said. "He’s really ready to play."