No quarterback other than junior transfer Peyton Bender, officially the Kansas football team’s new starter, threw a pass in the Jayhawks’ season-opening, 38-16 victory over Southeast Missouri State Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
When Bender finally left the game in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, with KU up 22, though, it wasn’t presumed backup Carter Stanley who entered in relief.
Instead, redshirt freshman Tyriek Starks handled the final series for Kansas, handing the ball off to running backs Khalil Herbert and Reese Randall as KU ate up the final 2:39.
Asked why Stanley, a redshirt sophomore who started the final three games of 2016 didn’t play late, head coach David Beaty said KU’s staff wasn’t sure how many chances they will get to provide Starks with game reps.
“We knew there was one drive left, and he hadn't played a lick of (college) football, and we've already used his redshirt, so we wanted to hand the ball off a little bit to Reese Randall,” Beaty said. “Reese did a great job getting that first down there. Great kid, great story (former walk-on) of a guy sticking with it, and I wanted to see what Tyriek can do. I would loved to have seen him throw the football, but we were in a situation where we didn't want to do it.”
The coach added KU already has seen Stanley play.
“Carter didn't need to play in that situation,” Beaty said. “We don't gain anything from it. Not in that situation.”
View a gallery of images from Saturday's game between the Jayhawks and Redhawks at Memorial Stadium.
Saturday’s season-opener marked the first career starts for nine Jayhawks: quarterback Bender, right tackle Antione Frazier, right guard Chris Hughes, receivers Kerr Johnson Jr. and Ryan Schadler, defensive end Josh Ehambe, defensive tackle J.J. Holmes, and corners Hasan Defense and Shakial Taylor.
Junior D-end Ehambe recorded his first career fumble recovery on a high snap in the third quarter.
Bender had the best passing game by a Kansas QB since Todd Reesing put up 498 yards and four touchdowns against Missouri, in 2009. Bender’s four TD’s and 364 yards both qualified as the best in that category since Reesing graduated.
SEMO head coach Tom Matukewicz wasn’t too far away from home for his team’s season opener. Head coach of the Redhawks since 2014, Matukewicz is a native of Silver Lake.
He and defensive coordinator Bryce Saia each graduated from Fort Hays State.
Per USA Today, SEMO received a $415,000 payout for visiting FBS opponent KU.
The Redhawks fell to 0-3 all-time versus Big 12 competition and 0-2 against the Jayhawks. SEMO also fell to KU, 34-28, in 2014. Its other loss came vs. Missouri, in 2008.
Former KU studs cut
Two former defensive standout from Kansas learned Saturday they had been cut by their NFL teams.
Oakland waived former starting linebacker Ben Heeney, a fifth-round pick in 2015 who missed last season with an injury.
Meanwhile, Washington who picked up safety Fish Smithson as an undrafted rookie this past offseason, cut the former KU defensive back on the day teams had to trim their rosters to 53 players.
— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live coverage.