Kansas QB Carter Stanley performing well against different types of pressure
There was a lot to like about Carter Stanley’s first touchdown strike in KU’s 37-34 win over Texas Tech last weekend.
Stanley linked up with receiver Stephon Robinson for a 48-yard touchdown late in the first half to help pull the Jayhawks within a field goal.
Robinson made a tough catch, and was off to the races after snagging the ball in stride.
Perhaps the most impressive part of that sequence was Stanley’s ability to make that throw with a Texas Tech player charging at him.
Stanley wasn’t bothered by the blitz, though, delivering what was arguably his best ball to that point in what turned out to be a strong performance.
Stanley was eventually named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week for his impressive showing against the Red Raiders.
That particular play illustrated what has made Stanley so effective in this offense over the last two games since Brent Dearmon was promoted to offensive coordinator. It doesn’t seem to matter what type of pressure opposing defenses throw at Stanley, he’s always locked in on his reads in this RPO (run-pass option) offense.
Stanley tossed 310 yards and four scores in a 50-48 loss to Texas, which threw a lot of different blitzes at the senior signal caller. Texas Tech also pressured Stanley in a game where he finished with 415 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
But Stanley has a grasp of this offense, which helps him stare down blitzing linebackers to make tough throws. It is something that other Big 12 coaches have taken note of, too.
“He knows where he's going with the football, the pressure doesn't get there because he knows how to get the ball out,” Kansas State coach Chris Klieman told reporters during his weekly availability. “He sees coverages really well. He sees matchups really well. I think he throws the deep ball extremely well.”
For the purpose of this blog, I went back and charted every drop back by Stanley during the Texas Tech game and broke it down into number of pass rushers on a given play. The Texas game was not included for this blog, but it still shows how well Stanley has handled the different types of pressure as of late.
Stanley went 26-for-37 for 415 yards and three passing touchdowns against the Red Raiders last week. Texas Tech used a three-man rush on 13 of his pass attempts, while sending four players on 12 different occasions. TTU also sent five players after Stanley on five different pass plays, while using six-or-more pass rushers on seven different snaps.
With that, let’s take a closer look at how Stanley performed against all the different types of pressure in the win over Texas Tech:
Stanley vs. 3-man rush
- Stat line: 9-for-13, 175 yards, 1 TD
In terms of yards per attempt, Stanley was at his best when facing a three-man rush.
Stanley threw for over 13 yards per attempt when Texas Tech pressured with its three-man front. For comparison, Stanley is averaging 7.9 yards per attempt this season and has an average of 6.8 yards per attempt in his career.
Many of the long passes came on these occasions, which allowed Stanley to set his feet and launch the ball down the field. Stanley’s first big completion of the night was a 53-yard bomb to Robinson, who was ultimately taken down at the 1-yard line.
One play later, Stanley scored on a quarterback sneak to put the Jayhawks on the scoreboard for the first time after falling into a 17-point deficit to start the game.
Stanley vs. 4-man rush
- Stat line: 12-for-12, 144 yards, 1 TD
Stanley was lethal against a four-man rush, completing all 12 of his pass attempts in those situations.
The first touchdown of the night, which was a 48-yard strike to Robinson late in the first half, was against a four-man rush. However, the linebacker went at Stanley on a delayed blitz after running back Pooka Williams ran out into the flat.
It is actually something the Red Raiders employed multiple times in those situations, and Stanley always read it perfectly. Earlier in that drive, in fact, Stanley picked up the first down on a 11-yard scamper on 2nd-and-5 when the Texas Tech linebacker came charging toward him.
Stanley vs. 5+ blitzers
- Stat line: 5-for-12, 96 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Based off the numbers, Stanley wasn’t as good when Texas Tech utilized a pass rush of five-or-more defenders.
But three of those blitzes took place in the first quarter alone, when Stanley completed just one pass for no gain. After a slow start, KU’s entire offense played much better over the final three quarters.
Stanley’s 65-yard touchdown to Robinson in the third quarter came against a five-man rush by Texas Tech’s defense. He also faced several blitzes against the Longhorns, and seemingly always delivered.
Toughest test yet
All of this is to say that Stanley will need to have similar success against the blitz this weekend.
Kansas State recorded two sacks and five tackles-for-loss in a win over Oklahoma last weekend. The Wildcats have 35 stops behind the line of scrimmage to go along with 10 sacks so far this season.
So the Wildcats have the players to wreak havoc in what figures to be a highly-anticipated Sunflower Showdown. It is up to Stanley and the rest of the KU offense to ensure that doesn’t happen if the team wants to end 10-game losing skid in this series.