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Say something nice about Kansas football: Quarterback forecast for 2017 best in years

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Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) heaves a long pass from the Jayhawks' own end zone during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) heaves a long pass from the Jayhawks' own end zone during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. by Nick Krug

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.

Comments

Steve Corder 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Jon Kirby of Jayhawk Slant believes that Beaty has "made strides", especially when compared to the spring of 2015 (flipping roster faster than expected). To this point, Kirby believes that a contract extension of a year or two may be considered, providing additional coaching security while showing visible support from the administration as well as a positive recruiting message from Beaty to prospects.

What do you think, Tom?

Tom Keegan 8 months, 3 weeks ago

As long as the buyout stays $1.6 million there would be no downside to extending him. But first, make him agree to hiring an offensive coordinator and make him commit to keeping every recruiting class high school-heavy.

Shawn Schaller 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I've heard Zenger is going to push for him to relinquish his offensive coordinator duties, despite being happy overall with the progress made. Not that I loved Likens calling plays, but I imagine Beaty's impact being far greater if he were to step back out of the role.

Also, I hope Bender wins the job in a good way - I hope he shows up and is clearly the best guy, for once, during both practice and games - but I refuse to place much personal vested interest in second-chance guys. I'm not trying to make a statement about recruiting; I'm just saying that even compared to Cozart, Willis or even Starks, Bender has to show up and earn, from scratch, the level of respect those returners already have as FCS student-athletes in general. Fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice...

Brett McCabe 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I read Kirby's post and about fell out of my chair. One FBS win, with a 2-22 record and we are going to extend? Really one of the most brain-dead articles I've ever read.

First, Beaty hasn't earned it. Second, there is no market force pushing us to extend - is someone else calling about hiring Beaty that we don't know about? Third, the idea that recruits would be concerned about longevity is ridiculous. He's got three years on contract right now - which covers most of their collegiate careers.

To Toms article - I agree that Bender will likely be the starter with Stanley backing up and Starks competing for the QB2 spot. Not a bad situation. That gives you Bender for two years, Stanley for three and Starks for four. Another QB will need to be signed next year - but not in the current class.

Another commenter posted that we are too heavy on QB scholarships but I would imagine that Willis is out shopping right now, which will open up one spot. There is the possibility of Cozart also coming off the books - if he's able to graduate this academic year.

The most important news that needs to come out of the football office, though, is the naming of a new O.C. Then, we might really have the foundation necessary to really build the program and win some games next year.

John Fitzgerald 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I've been impressed with Stanley. Best QB we've had since Cummings. And I agree with Brett, we need a new OC. Has to be a guy that has proven to be successful and that we can throw some cash at. We have the talent to make a bowl game next year. But we need better coaching, more execution and lots of confidence.

Lance Cheney 8 months, 3 weeks ago

What about Garrett Riley, our "offensive analyst"? His brother, Lincoln, is doing good things as the OC down at OU. And I doubt he could be any worse than Beaty or Likens.

John Fitzgerald 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I wouldn't mind that hire. But I'd like to see if we can get any interest from guys that have OC experience with the Air Raid and have been highly successful with it. If we don't get much interest or can't find a good fit, then by all means give the guy a shot.

Michael Bennett 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Look, I can't get too high or low on the QB. As for the comment about the O-line looking better, no it didn't. Our O-line is a much bigger problem than our QB play. We don't have a lineman that would be on the 2 deep of any of the top 4 teams in the league.

Tom Keegan 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Got better late, in part because Stanley is a far more decisive QB who processes more quickly than either Cozart or Willis. Each year, linemen should improve based on getting stronger, football-smarter.

Andy Tweedy 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Michael, I thought our OL was in fact better later in the season; however, I thought that was in large part due to the fact it was atrocious earlier on...so I'm not sure it was something I'd call much of a positive. And to me, this QB talk is meaningless without improvement there, and big time! I'm assuming the young guys will get a year better and the trx from 'Bama will be good enough that we should have a better line next year...God I sure hope so.

I do agree with Brett about the Kirby article, what in the world would prompt us to extend right now? I'm hopeful we've got the right guy, to say we've seen enough to extend seems ludicrous!

As for this season, I feel like there were some positives, but I don't think any were more noticeable than the fact that the players clearly never quit on this season, and there were times in the middle of the season where it would have been hard to blame them if they did!!! I really do think things are about to be better...PLEASE let them be better!

Tom Keegan 8 months, 3 weeks ago

O-line still will be youngest in league next season, even though it's a year older. Will it still be a weakness? Yes, just not quite as glaring because a year older means a year stronger. Plus, there are enough scholarship blockers in the program now that one or two guys might break through. With any luck, one of those guys will be Charles Baldwin, the Alabama transfer who didn't seem to generate much of buzz as practice player during season.

Bob Bailey 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Likelihood of a GOOD OC under Beaty is virtually nil. Nor under Zenger either! Hell, if they had the talent to recognize one, he would have been here 2 yrs already! They don't recognize a good DC either, just a Jayhawk supporter, Significant improvement is determined by the life expectancy of Zenger, Beaty, and our DC.

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