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.
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.