Peyton Bender and Carter Stanley, two reasons to believe KU in better shape at quarterback


Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) loses the ball as he is hit by a Kansas State defender during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) loses the ball as he is hit by a Kansas State defender during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. by Nick Krug

Any team with just one quarterback capable of managing the offense smoothly is doomed for failure. Improved detection of concussions and bigger, faster players than ever on defense result in quarterbacks far more often missing parts of or entire games at some point during the season.

Montell Cozart and Ryan Willis were at the top of the Kansas QB depth chart heading into 2016. Peyton Bender and Carter Stanley top it now. Major upgrade.

Stanley clearly had a better feel for the offense, or for football in general, or both, than his predecessors. The plays were called more quickly and although he doesn’t have the quickest release, he made quick decisions to compensate. The most underrated aspect for any quarterback is what happens between the end of the last play and the snap of the next one. How quickly a quarterback acts on all that needs to be processed in that short amount of time means a great deal, and is almost as important as how quickly he processes what he sees after the snap.

Beaty raved about the quickness of Bender’s release and even said he never saw a quicker one. That’s a physical trait. But does he process things quickly on the mental side?

“I can only go by what I see, but as I watch the footage from his time at Washington State and watching his footage from Itawamba, I think there's no doubt, no doubt,” Beaty said. “Just in talking to the guys at Washington State, the quarterback that won the job there (Luke Falk), it was (Bender and Luke) and that competition from what I understand was very, very tight, very, very tight, and they were happy to have both guys.”

Kansas also has Tyriek Starks, who could use more time holding the clipboard after spending his first year in Kansas as a redshirt, Cozart and Willis at QB.

Beaty all but said it’s a two-man competition. The guess here is Bender wins the job quickly and Stanley plays plenty.

“We obviously finished up the year with momentum going forward and Carter has a lot to do with that. That kid is a tough sucker, boy,” Beaty said. “I’m not going to say it publicly before we play against a team because they will blitz us every dadgum play and hit him, but the kid could barely lift his arm on Wednesday before we played K-State.

“There was one play in particular in the game where his arm locked on him and he couldn't get the ball out. We were trying to throw a shallow to Steven Sims, and if we can get it to him, he's running for a long time. It was a third-down play. But when he ripped his arm up, it locked up on him. He couldn't get it going. That's a tough dude. He played, that dude played through a lot of pain for the last two weeks, and that was very impressive to me and us. He did a lot of things with his legs.”

Falk, the QB who beat out Bender at Washington State in a "very, very tight" competition, has thrown 75 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in the past two seasons combined. Those are amazing numbers.

‘Job Season’

Other programs raided three assistant coaches from Beaty’s staff after his first season at KU.

Keep an eye on how Major Applewhite assembles his staff at Houston because it’s KU receivers coach Jason Phillips’ alma mater.

Beaty addressed coaching changes in general, without talking about any specific coach.

“It's one of those times of year where, hey, we call it job season. It's job season,” Beaty said. “I feel mostly for our wives more than anything because they are sitting at home with the kiddos going: 'Is daddy going to come in with that look on his face?' or whatever. But look, I said it last year: If you don't have guys inquiring about your guys, you've got the wrong guys.”

Beaty indicated that if he loses any coaches, it won’t be because Kansas isn’t competitive salary-wise.

“Our administration here gets it,” he said. “They have been proactive in making sure that we are competitive with the market. There's a market out there and we've got some dang good ones here, and they have been proactive in taking care of our guys. So from a market standpoint, our guys are in really, really good position, and I just want to say thank you again to Sean Lester and Dr. Sheahon Zenger for having the foresight and the forethought to make sure that we were not reactive, that we were proactive.”

Beaty offered no guarantees.

“Now listen, I don't know what the future holds,” he said. “There are going to be some situations out there, some guys out there, that might be able to have places that better their situation and if they do, it's like I said from the very beginning, as long as they do everything we ask them to do here and they give us a fair chance to talk to them before, we want to help them do whatever they need to do with their families. But right now, I feel good about where we're at and I'm looking forward to the future with all these guys.”

USA Today recently published assistant coaches’ salaries for public universities in the FBS. Kansas had the lowest of any public school from a power-five conference, which could be rectified with 2017 raises. We'll stay on top of that situation to let you know if you should be looking for KU coaches to pick up the tab for you on your next lunch break.


Buck Bukaty 1 year, 6 months ago

Here's hoping that the release of a 7-game home schedule for 2017 portends as a tradeoff for Memorial Stadium upgrade construction commencing during 2018. Start the rumors!


Brett McCabe 1 year, 6 months ago

I still think that Willis is the best QB on the roster by far (not counting Bender), but that's water under the bridge. If Stanley is our starter, I'm worried, and would have to tamp down my expectations quite a bit. He looked about the same as the other two and, without 6 Texas T.O.'s, he'd look that way to pretty much everyone else. Yes, he brings some mobility and toughness but gives up some on the passing side. It's a lukewarm wash.

Most importantly, Beaty has got to change how he handles the situation, or we'll have the same problems next year that we had this year.

One way to keep Phillips would be to promote him to O.C., which would help greatly in the consistency area.

Also, unrelated, Bryce Torneden will be the breakout player on the defense this fall. Mike Lee was this year (Dorrance wasn't so much a breakout as he was a guy doing exactly what we thought he could do). Torneden is a gamer, and I could actually envision him handling punt returns because, as a high school QB, he handled the ball a lot, and handled decision-making, a lot. Look for a big step-up and two really good safeties patrolling for us.

Benny Armstrong 1 year, 6 months ago

While I agree that when everyone is compared side by side throwing to receivers on the practice field, the guy with the best QB skills that most looks the part probably is Willis (again, not counting Bender), but you can't evaluate the position solely in a vacuum. It requires that you look at each player's skills and attributes and how they fit into the overall offensive scheme and work within the personnel we put out there, in particular the line.

If we had Alabama's line that gave someone all day to sit behind and pick out open receivers, then we'd probably be starting Willis and he'd likely throw for 400+ yards a game. Instead, we had a young and inexperienced line that spent a lot of this year taking its lumps learning how to play as a unit against Big 12 talent. If you were watching the games where Willis played compared to Stanley, you'd see that when the protection breaks down as it often did, Stanley was more suited and capable to slip out of the pocket and turn something into a gain to help move the chains rather than take a drive killing sack. Given that, the comparison between arm strength goes out the window in my opinion because it doesn't matter if Willis can throw it all over the field if he isn't afforded the time to do so. But since you brought up arm strength... I seem to recall Stanley with a bum shoulder throwing a TD to Quiv from 5 yards deep in his endzone out to our 45-50, not exactly like he's got a noodle for an arm and throws ducks.

Additionally, you keep raining on the Texas win like they were the Little Sisters of the Blind, but ignore that our defense played great and forced those turnovers. I don't recall Texas ever hiking the ball and handing it directly to a defender, but maybe the cold that night played tricks on my eyes. Not to mention, on the drive when we needed a field goal to force OT, Stanley had some big plays including a long scramble to keep the drive moving. I guarantee you Willis would have either been sacked on that play or gained less than 5 yards and the game would have been over. I'm not suggesting blind faith and insincere support for the team, but this team played well in a number of games and showed signs of progress. Your posts of recent seem to downplay anything but wins as a sign that we are moving in the right direction and that's just an accurate reflection of this team or where it is at right now. We'll have to take another step forward this season and learn how to close out games where we are leading, but it is far from the dire situation you seem to continually paint. Hopefully you'll attend the games to see this improvement in person, I know I'll be there. RCJH

Brett McCabe 1 year, 6 months ago

Never rained on that win - not one bit. I lauded the defense for an outstanding performance when many on here were crediting the win solely to Stanley.

Your imagination is vivid, though, I'll give you that. Lot's of imaginary scenarios in that post and, not surprisingly, they all work out just how you would imagine they would.

One last thing, if we turned the ball over 6 times to someone in one game, would you hold your offense partly responsible - or just say that the other team played tremendous defense?

No need to challenge my fandom, either, my season tickets are already bought. Unfortunately half the people who sit around me never show up, or don't understand the game, or imagine how the game might be played....

Dirk Medema 1 year, 6 months ago

Turning the ball over 6 times would draw accountability. Heck even turning the ball over 3 or 4 times does. That is why Ryan is not the QB, and it's not the coach's fault.

Lucas Town 1 year, 6 months ago

Peyton Bender's stats at WSU in 2015:

CMP ATT YDS CMP% YDS/A TD INT RAT 53 91 498 58.2 5.47 3 4 106.3

His FBS experience is limited. His juco numbers look good, but KU isn't going to magically find a guy to plug in with the wins to follow. I agree with Brett that Willis is still probably our best bet at QB and all of them will benefit from further coaching. But who knows only time will tell.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 6 months ago

Isn't Phillips the recruiting coordinator? I believe he makes about as much as the OC & DC as well ($400k-ish) though they all could stand to receive raises.

David Williams 1 year, 6 months ago

The assistants definitely deserve raises, as they are the root source of the improvements.

If we can cull down the QB focus to two guys - who are D1 capable - that will overcome a significant long-term hurdle which has hindered the program.

John Brazelton 1 year, 6 months ago

Willis lost his ability to scan the field this season for second and third receivers. He would lock in on one receiver, usually Sims or Quiv and if the primary wasn't open, he usually got sacked. He will only be successful at QB if the offensive line gets better next season.

Michael Bennett 1 year, 6 months ago

Sorry, but I'm not seeing anything here to get real excited about. What was the weakest area of the team last year? Offensive line. Where's the help? There isn't any. Frankly, the LJW writes this same article every year whether its Crist, Heap, Cozart, Willis, Stanley or Bender. Change the name and reprint the article. Most popular guy on any losing team is the backup QB until he plays. One fricking win (sorry but Rhode Island was worse than a lot of high schools) and people act like the world is full of roses. We came close against TCU and ISU, yes and we lost. We almost always have a couple of close games. Heck, someone please tell me the difference in KU's unbelievable come back win over Colorado under Turner Gill and the win over turnover plagued UT. We all know how that turned out. After growing up three blocks north of the stadium and watching KU closely for the last 40+ years, it's going to take more than one win and JUCO QB to get me excited.

Lucas Town 1 year, 6 months ago

I watched the 2015 Apple Cup which Bender started the game at QB for #20 Washington State. They were routed by a 5-6 soon to be 6-6 Washington team. The offense scored 10 points and Bender tossed 2 pick 6's. I agree that all the previous articles about QB's have the same feel. We had two 5-star guys that couldn't win a game in Crist and Heaps. I will continue to support this team with reserved optimism.

Brian Hosfelt 1 year, 6 months ago

I agree that the offensive line was our weakness last year. But they were the youngest of all the groups of KU's team....We have the Alabama transfer plus whoever redshirted this last season....ITS got to be better.

Randy Bombardier 1 year, 5 months ago

I saw enough play out of Carter Stanley to recognize he's the guy. From the comments here i don't see bender beating him out. As for Willis, please, i thought Cozart was better.

But all of out guys have got to start looking off their targets.

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