Tuesday, August 21, 2018

KU names Peyton Bender its starting QB for season opener

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) passes during the Jayhawks game against Central Michigan Saturday, Sept. 9 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) passes during the Jayhawks game against Central Michigan Saturday, Sept. 9 at Memorial Stadium.


The Kansas football team has its starting quarterback for the 2018 opener.

Two and a half weeks into preseason camp, head coach David Beaty landed on Peyton Bender as the Jayhawks’ No. 1 QB for Week 1, the team announced Tuesday afternoon.

The three-man competition for the job, which began in the spring, with the arrival of sophomore transfer Miles Kendrick (College of San Mateo), officially concluded a little less than two weeks before KU’s Sept. 1 season opener against Nicholls State.

Bender, a senior from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who also opened the 2017 season as the program’s starting QB, beat out both Kendrick and KU’s other returning starter, redshirt junior Carter Stanley.

Beaty, who did not comment on the decision, which was announced via Twitter on the program’s account, pointed this past week to the team’s Saturday scrimmage, the second of the preseason, as a “telltale” stage in the battle for the most visible position on the roster.

The head coach isn’t scheduled to answer any questions on the matter until Monday.

Bender, days ahead of winning the job, said he tried to treat every practice as a big evaluation period.

“At the end of the day, I can’t decide who’s going to be the starter, so I just try and control what I can control and go out there and compete as hard as I can when I get my opportunity,” Bender said.


Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) throws during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio.

Beaty, KU's fourth-year head coach, stressed that the QB who landed the top spot on the depth chart would be the one who gave the team “the best chance to win” and showed through camp practices that he could take care of the football.

In his first season at Kansas, upon transferring from Itawamba Community College (Miss.), Bender started eight games in 2017, completing 54.2 percent of his 273 passes for 1,609 yards, with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

KU’s 6-foot-1, 205-pound starting QB, who began his college career at Washington State with one redshirt season and a second year spent as a backup and fill-in starter, said earlier this month one of his biggest areas of focus this offseason was reading and reacting correctly to defensive coverages.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Doug Meacham said Bender, like most Air Raid QBs, has to make a quick read at the line of scrimmage and process his cues just as rapidly.

“Is it zone or is it man?” Meacham said of the first step in that process. “And then you just go through a triangle of 1-2-3. ‘Is he open?’ No. ‘Is he?’ No. ‘Throw it to that guy.’ That’s kind of how they do it.”

Meacham, who took over as QBs coach ahead of the spring semester, thinks Bender will be “safer” with the ball as a senior, in part, due to his studying.

In 2017, Bender threw 10 of KU’s 17 interceptions.

“If you look at the film, eight or nine of them were tipped balls,” Meacham said. “I don’t know if we ever had one tipped that hit the ground. I think the other team caught every one of them. Hopefully, that’s all behind us.”

Throughout preseason reps, Bender thought he and the other QBs in the mix reaped the rewards of approaching the competition with a carefully chosen mindset.

“Try to have a short memory, stay positive, no negativity. That’s been real beneficial to us this camp,” Bender said. “Mistakes are going to happen. It’s football.”

Before playing in Saturday’s scrimmage, Bender described how he planned on approaching the 11-on-11 practice that proved to solidify his spot as KU’s Week 1 starting QB.

“The scrimmages give you the closest thing to a game-like atmosphere, so you definitely want to bring your A game for the scrimmage. But I’m just going to continue to go out there and do what I’ve been doing,” Bender said. “Just try and communicate clearly to the offensive unit and do my job and just get the ball where it needs to go.”

Stanley, a 6-2, 198-pound QB from Vero Beach, Fla., started four games in 2017 before missing the finale due to injury. Playing in nine games overall, he connected on 54.6 percent of his 185 throws for 1,108 yards, with four TD passes and seven picks.

Kendrick, a 5-foot-10, 200-pound dual-threat QB from Morgan Hill, Calif., started nine games, and passed for 1,889 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine picks, while rushing for 417 yards and five TDs at College of San Mateo (Calif.), as a true freshman in 2017.


Brian Leiker 3 years, 5 months ago

We'll see if the interim HC feels the same way after week 4

Gerry Butler 3 years, 5 months ago

Holy Crap - -the least one of the three I wanted to see. - - Thought they were looking more to the running game this year? - just blowing more smoke up the proverbial arse ? - If they truly want to try and run more and they dam well should if you wanna use Pookie like then been talking - Then Bender? - The Bender with the concrete feet? - When is Basketball?

[''] 3 years, 5 months ago

Amen Gerry! Uhhhggggh! Can the new softball coach maybe take over for Beaty? At least she has Texas recruiting prowess and a record of winning.

Jay Scott 3 years, 5 months ago

The softball coach should be the football coach?

Thanks for placing a value on the general worth of all your comments.

Mike Bennett 3 years, 5 months ago

Bad comment. Really, you don't think Bender can hand the ball off or pitch it on a sweep? The only thing he doesn't give you is the QB read, but neither do a lot of QB's with teams that still emphasis the run. Whether KU emphasis the run will be determined by the O-Line, not the QB.

Gerry Butler 3 years, 5 months ago

Really good comment , and no I don't this guy is the WORST I will repeat the absolute Worst choice of the three. - Yet Coach Beaty knows he is dead in the water anyways so why not Dries out and hung up Coach and a division 2 QB. - -Terrible Terrible QB

Joe Black 3 years, 5 months ago

I'm pretty sure that Beaty is not making this decision on what can harm the program the most. We get it, you don't like the choice but we know Carter Stanley isn't the answer either and Miles Kendrick is an unknown and has most likely not shown that he can protect the ball is practices

Steven Haag 3 years, 5 months ago

It was never going to be Carter Stanley. I believe Bender is the best passer. There is a continuity of sorts between a quarterback and the receivers as well as a quarterback and the O-line. It appears that he was the best mesh so far. Now they can focus in and drive forward.

Bryson Stricker 3 years, 5 months ago

I think this is the safest choice to help Beaty survive the non-conference portion of the schedule. Peyton Bender's arm gives us a floor of two wins (those being in the non-con).

I really hope Miles Kendrick can get an opportunity to play via some route as I do think he is the leader this team needs if they want to get out of the basement.

Edward Daub 3 years, 5 months ago

Good Point Bryson, KU Really Needs a Winning Non-Con Record! And just Because Peyton starts the Season, I am sure Miles will get his Shot. One Key Question is how much improvement will we see on the Offensive Line? I would feel more comfortable if we had the Wisconsin OLine, S.I. showed the Badgers eating Lunch at a Red Robin!

Mike Bennett 3 years, 5 months ago

How would you know if he's the leader the team needs? He hasn't played one minute and I doubt you have been to the practices.

Mike Hart 3 years, 5 months ago

Mike, have you read any of the coaches commentary... fellow teammate appraisals ... or sportswriter observations on how Kendrick has been carrying himself and interacting with the team? That's where the "leader" commentary is coming from. In the view of the OC, Bender is the best fit to start the season, but Kendrick has been praised repeatedly for his voracious review of film and overtime studying of the playbook. You have to hope at some point that he grows into the starting QB/leader role.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 5 months ago

I agree Bryson. I am trying to stay positive here. He did have as many interceptions as TD's last year, but this must be a sign the coaches feel our O-line has improved.

Dale Rogers 3 years, 5 months ago

I think the article's comments about tipped-ball interceptions is a factor along with the o-line. Improve those two areas significantly and then we can see what our QB's can do. Also, remember, isn't Kendrick is a redshirt sophomore? If so, then he's our guy next year and will get his game time this season. I think Kendrick is our QB of the future with that future possibly beginning sometime this season.

Kevin Robert Fest 3 years, 5 months ago

Well a starter was named not all will agree. All we can do now is wait for the season to start and hope for the best for the season (team) not just the quarterbacks.

Joe Ross 3 years, 5 months ago

Amen to this!

A decision has at least been made. Sometimes being decisive--even if it's not the best choice--produces more results than being indecisive.

Year 4 of Beaty's tenure. Every decision is on him and he feels like this is the best decision, so we gotta ride it.

Jay Scott 3 years, 5 months ago

When Joe Ross is the most rational person in one of these discussions you know things have gone off the rails.

Dale Rogers 3 years, 4 months ago

Interestingly, several recognizable football schools named their QB AFTER KU did.

Todd Seifert 3 years, 5 months ago

I'm just glad they finally picked someone to get more reps so he's ready (as best he can) for the season opener. I think we can at least agree that the decision wasn't made lightly. After all, the wrong choice at QB will lead to dismal offense, which would seal Beaty's fate. Let's root for the kid to succeed, because if he does well, the team does well, and the university looks that much better. That said, he has to play better than he did in 2017 or he has to get a quick hook.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 5 months ago

Glad we have a good group of RBs to implement the running game though this might be the first time in history that a QB wasn't an integral part of the ground game.

[''] 3 years, 5 months ago

Frank Seuer. Averaged Negative 1.2 yds per carry

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 5 months ago

I personally think this is a good sign. If the offensive line can protect it has been known that Bender has the best arm, just no one throws well from their back. It seems that with the protection this would indicate that the line is holding and you don't need the feet to escape.

On a negative note, this might mean our defensive line isn't doing a good pass-rush. I hope with Wise that is not the case.

Mike Hart 3 years, 5 months ago

Jeff Coffman: Agreed! Feels good to say that for once! ;)

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 5 months ago

We agree more than that...sometimes I don't communicate my quick thoughts very good on social media, and they might get slightly misconstrued. My thoughts actually do change overtime as well. And from various individuals my thought process evolves.

Layne Pierce 3 years, 5 months ago

Well If we run and Bender passes more as the running game opens up the field, then maybe it'll be great, but if this just means more of the pathetic pass offense that we have seen in the past, then it's gonna be a long long season, make that 4 long seasons.


Jim Stauffer 3 years, 5 months ago

I agree, Layne. I want to see some diversity in the offense. Let's run the ball. And let's stick with the run and give our OL time to win that battle. If we don't I fear we will be unable to sustain any passing game.

Titus Canby 3 years, 5 months ago

Nice catch Michael. I assume, like a few others here, that the OL play must be improved if Bender's the starter.

Al Martin 3 years, 5 months ago

This choice would seem to indicate some coaching confidence in the offensive line. Not holding my breath, but boy, would it be nice if it were true.

Michael Sillman 3 years, 5 months ago

You don’t necessarily need a running quarterback to have a running offense. You need good backs and a decent line. Having a quarterback that can pass accurately when needed is the final piece. From this decision, I assume that Bender was the one who was hitting the wide receivers in practice and the scrimmages.

Here’s hoping it works.

Mike Bennett 3 years, 5 months ago

I couldn't agree with you more Michael. Lots of teams run the ball with a throwing QB. Whether you can run the ball or not is up to the O-line and whether they are properly coached. Having a running QB should not make or break your running game as running game.

Stephen Johnson 3 years, 5 months ago

They must see something in practice that we have never seen from Bender in games. Only Carter Stanley has shown the creative ability to makes plays when things break down.

Joe Black 3 years, 5 months ago

4 TD's 7 Int's I'm not sure that is the creativity needed to be successful

Jim Stauffer 3 years, 5 months ago

I was hoping for Miles to win the job. He didn't and with both Meacham and Beaty in on this choice, we must accept their expertise is superior to ours. Especially when they see them every day in practice and we are going on what we saw in games last year.

As has been stated, my hope is this staff will demand efficiency from the QB or replace him. I do believe in today's game of a constant pass rush we will likely see all three before the year is over.

It would be ideal if Kendrick could RS and be ready to go next year.

Andy Godwin 3 years, 5 months ago

So the QB "indecision" promoted by Mr. Keegan of naming a started has been addressed (well before the other positions), and now the complaints are that one of the 3 candidates was named the starter. The opinions regarding who starts seem unfounded, given that one one outside the coaching staff has seen any of the 3 QB in action for 2018 (as have all of the sports writers given that are not allowed to attend practices). Last year many begged for Stanley to replace Bender and that did not make much difference. This year it will be the unknown (Kendrick) that everyone will hope to see if Bender struggles. Therefore, one has to trust in Meacham decision (at least for now). My only hope is they control the ball and shorten the game, so as to keep the other offense off the field and the score closer. These 3 and out under 1 minute have to stop.

Eric Eakins 3 years, 5 months ago

I've been begging for a decision and we got one. I am in no position to know which quarterback should've been picked but I am in a position to say building team chemistry has to start with a known leader (with majority reps) and now we have one. Honestly, any of these quarterbacks, with time to prepare and jell with the offense, should be able to beat the first three opponents. It will be fascinating to see our start to the season compared to last year. Maybe if some momentum can be built then we can have hope in the B12 for a few more wins or at least be in the games. I'm now suppressing my cynical side and promoting my optimism as the season starter gets here. But your going to get burned.....back, back reality, er cynical side. RCJGKU.

Andy Hess 3 years, 5 months ago

This clown again? It's like Beatty is actually daring Jeff Long to fire him at this point.

Joe Black 3 years, 5 months ago

Didn't really have a ton of choices. Carter Stanley was worse than Bender last year and Miles Kendrick hasn't been around long enough to know the playbook. He might move into the position sometime during the season but he is still a huge unknown at this point.

David Kemp 3 years, 5 months ago

Agree that Stanley’s accuracy was lacking even if mobile. Feel like if line blocks Bender stands to be more accurate. Bottom line is Bender will only be as good as the running game keeps us in short yardage situations.

David Kemp 3 years, 5 months ago

Yet stanley threw for 418 and generated only 20 points.

Doug Stahler 3 years, 5 months ago

Stanley wasn't worse than Bender . If Benders stats are slightly better he had 4 tds and 364 yards against SEMO. His real weakness was unveiled vs Ohio and 5 sacks. Stanley threw for 418 against K-State. The serious problem for both qbs was that rushing 4 could create such havoc for our offense. 7 back is not qb friendly.

Randy Bombardier 3 years, 5 months ago

Although I believe a dual threat QB is more appropriate for a running attack, he definitely will cause the dbacks to pause. I hope they know what they are doing but i am skeptical.

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