Say something nice about Kansas football: Quarterback forecast for 2017 best in years
It's not a reach to project for 2017 the best quarterback play Kansas has had in the post-Todd Reesing years.
Redshirt freshman Carter Stanley, the third quarterback to start a game for Kansas during a 2-10 season, easily was the best.
It's no coincidence that the offensive line performed the best it has during David Beaty's two years as head coach once Stanley became the starter. O-lines always look better protecting a quarterback and opening holes for running backs when a decisive QB is at the controls of the offense. Having a running threat at quarterback also helps an offensive line and Stanley is a better scrambler and runner than the faster Montell Cozart and the slower Ryan Willis.
Stanley's statistics weren't mind-blowing by any stretch, but they clearly were better than his predecessors.
Statistical comparison for this season's 11 games vs. FBS competition:
Points per start: 1 - Stanley 22.3; 2 - Cozart 15.1; 3 - Willis 15.0.
Touchdowns/Interceptions: 1 - Stanley 5/6; 2 - Cozart 4/8; 3 - Willis 1/7.
Yards per attempt: 1 - Willis 6.18; 2 - Stanley 5.94; 3 - Cozart 5.31.
Passes attempted per sack: 1 - Cozart 63.3; 2 - Stanley 19.5; 3 - Willis 7.3.
Completion percentage: 1 - Willis 60.2; 2 - Stanley 59.2; 3 - Cozart 57.0.
Yards per rush attempt: 1 - Stanley 3.90; 2 - Cozart 3.08; 3 - Willis -0.83.
Stanley ranked first in 3 of 6 categories, second in the other three. Cozart ranked first in one category, second in three and third in two. Willis ranked first in two, third in four.
The emergence of Stanley alone ranks no better than second among reasons for a bullish 2017 outlook at quarterback.
My guess is juco transfer and former Washington State quarterback Peyton Bender will win the job in the spring. For one thing, Bender has the arm strength to put more zip on the sideline passes that are a big part of Beaty's Air Raid offense.
Those familiar with the extremely entertaining, insightful Netflix docu-series "Last Chance U," know that East Mississippi Community College plays big-time football. Well, Bender, playing for Itawamba, threw for 566 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-42 loss to Buddy Stephens' talented squad. Bender completed 39 of 59 passes and did not throw a single interception.
The addition of Bender and emergence of Stanley gives Tyriek Starks more time to add seasoning. A dual-threat QB from New Orleans, Starks has four seasons of eligibility remaining. Unlike Stanley and Bender, Starks had no experience in an Air Raid offense before coming to Kansas. Bender played in Air Raid attacks in high school, at Washington State and at Itawamba. Stanley's high school ran the Air Raid as well. No point in rushing Starks, who needs more seasoning.