Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs made his mark on Mount Vernon. Many in town made their mark on him, too. Wirfs and his mother, Sarah, took The Gazette on a tour of his hometown, revisiting scenes around what essentially is the one square mile where he grew up. This story is a little about what can hold you back. This is mostly about what moves you forward.

Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State football look ahead: Kansas turns to Les Miles

Cyclones host hapless Jayhawks in penultimate game of 2019 season

Kansas head coach Les Miles at Big 12 Media Days. (USA TODAY Sports)
Kansas head coach Les Miles at Big 12 Media Days. (USA TODAY Sports)
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AMES — After the run of Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas, Iowa State hosts perennial doormat Kansas on Nov. 23.

Kansas is not good at football.

When the Cyclones traveled to Lawrence, Kan., last season, there were more Iowa State fans in attendance than there were Kansas fans.

Even when Iowa State was bad during the back half of the Paul Rhoads era, the Cyclones could still count on Kansas as being a winnable game.

Kansas hasn’t had a season with more than four wins since 2009 and it hasn’t been bowl eligible since 2008, when former Iowa State offensive coordinator Mark Mangino was the head coach.

Since Mangino’s tenure ended in 2009, Kansas has had four coaches (Turner Gill, Charlie Weiss, Clint Bowen and David Beaty) go a combined 18-90 overall and 4-74 in the Big 12.

Beaty was replaced by former LSU head coach Les Miles in the offseason. Miles won a national championship at LSU in 2007, but Kansas isn’t LSU and 2007 was over a decade ago.

On the field, Kansas does have Pooka Williams, who is an outstanding running back. As a freshman, Williams rushed 161 times for 1,125 yards and seven touchdowns en route to being named Big 12 offensive freshman of the year. Williams was also Kansas’ second leading receiver with 33 catches for 289 yards.

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Off the field, Williams has gotten himself into trouble. He was arrested and charged with domestic battery in December after he punched and choked his then-girlfriend.

Kansas suspended Williams for one game against FCS Indiana State as punishment.

Miles attempted to justify the punishment at Big 12 Media Days during his but ended up giving a discombobulated opening statement that sounded like he was trying to explain how bad Williams had it.

“I know that there is an issue that we must discuss so let me get to it if you will,” Miles said. “First of all, there is no proper way to put it, there is no violence. Violence will not be accepted with women, period.

“Action was taken immediately. We felt like a strong point was made, not only with Pooka Williams Jr., but with the team. For 7 1/2 months, Pooka was going through a process and he didn’t have the opportunity to spend time with his team, go to the weight room, you know, just be a part. Pooka went through a legal investigation with the legal community. Pooka also had a proceeding that went through the conduct board at the university, and he basically understood very much that if he did not meet the criteria that the board asked that this would not last long and he really met every criteria that he could. He has taken responsibility. He’s been remorseful. He’s learned from this experience as has our team.

“We’re thankful to have him back, and, again, no violence against a woman is okay. I did not make this decision (to suspend Williams), but I stand by it and see it as a right one.”

Going back to on-field topics: Kansas actually had a mediocre defense last season. The Jayhawks gave up 30 points per game and 418 yards per game, sixth in the Big 12. Where the defense legitimately thrived was in turnovers.

Kansas had 16 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries, most in the Big 12 in each category.

It’ll be interesting to see if Miles sticks with the aggressive defense, or tries to reign it in a bit and focus on making the small plays, and not just the home runs.

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Way too early prediction: Coaches and players can’t look past any team. Their preparation has to be consistent and steadfast even against the Kansas and Rutgers football programs of the world.

Fans don’t have to do that. Fans can look past teams and live a stress-free week during football season.

Feel free to have a casual Saturday in Jack Trice Stadium with plenty of hot chocolate on Saturday, Nov. 23, Iowa State fans. The Cyclones will win this game handily.

l Comments: benv43@gmail.com

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