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Peyton Bender identifying mistakes of debut and striving for perfection

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Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) throws a touchdown pass to wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. (11) during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) throws a touchdown pass to wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. (11) during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

No one expected Peyton Bender’s Kansas football debut to be a flawless one. Aside from perfectionist Peyton Bender. For all the positive plays the program’s new starting quarterback made during his introductory performance, as he prepares for his second game Bender is most concerned with his shortcomings — and fixing them.

By the end of a four-touchdown, 364-yard outing against Southeast Missouri State, the former Washington State and Itawamba Community College (Miss.) QB had thrown 14 incompletions and two interceptions — one in each half.

Those are the plays he’ll study and learn from most frequently in KU’s quarterbacks room this week; not the TD passes to Steven Sims Jr., Chase Harrell and Ben Johnson.

On Bender’s first turnover, in the second quarter, with the Jayhawks aiming to improve upon a 14-7 lead, he looked for junior receiver Jeremiah Booker, who had lined up wide right, and began breaking toward the middle of the field roughly 15 yards from the line of scrimmage. The ball went behind Booker, and into the hands of SEMO corner Shabari Davis.

[Check out Scott Chasen’s video breakdown of Bender’s debut at the conclusion of the blog.]

“On the first one,” Bender said Tuesday of his first major mistake with the Jayhawks, “I tried to throw it a little bit too early and didn’t let Booker get into his route long enough.”

Not that he was perfect for the ensuing two quarters, but Bender’s next costly blunder came on a throw in the fourth quarter, with the Jayhawks in position to officially put SEMO out of reach.

The QB looked deep down the left sideline for long, agile wideout Chase Harrell. Bender should have put the ball out farther in front of his target, because Harrell had no one in front of him and the speed to beat his man in a foot race to the end zone on a longer throw. Instead, Bender left it short, Harrell tried to slow down and make a play, but lost a tug-of-war for the ball to SEMO’s Al Young.

Southeast Missouri cornerback Al Young (1) picks off a pass to Kansas wide receiver Chase Harrell (3) during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Southeast Missouri cornerback Al Young (1) picks off a pass to Kansas wide receiver Chase Harrell (3) during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

“Then on the second one I just under-threw Chase,” Bender admitted. “Those are fixable. My eyes are in the right spot on both of them. I just didn’t make the best throw.”

KU’s head coach was more forgiving of his quarterback in his assessment. David Beaty thought Bender “did a really nice job” throughout the KU win, the two interceptions notwithstanding.

“As we go back and look at the first pick that he throws, I think we were a little deep on that route, which that will affect the timing sometimes,” Beaty said. “It's just got a chance to keep you off of being on the same page when you're not at the right depth. So we've got to be better there.”

Among Bender’s 14 incompletions, Beaty admitted some balls looked under- or over-thrown as he watched from the sideline. But the coach said when he reviewed the game footage on video, missed assignments often were to blame.

“The guy just misread what was going on with the safety, and (Bender) put it right where it was supposed to be,” the coach said of his general takeaway on perceived off-the-mark passes. “If he'd have been there (a receiver read a route option correctly), it would have been a big play.”

— PODCAST: KU Sports Hour review of Jayhawks' season opener —

Outside of his two give-aways, which Bender and his coaches vow to learn from, Bender felt encouraged by the offense’s 437-yard night in the first game for both the quarterback and offensive coordinator Doug Meacham.

“I thought we converted on all of our third-and-mediums, but we put ourselves in bad position on third-and-long, so we have to do a better job on first and second downs. So that’s an emphasis going into this week,” Bender said ahead of Saturday’s non-conference matchup with Central Michigan. “We just want to clean up what we can do on first and second down and make it easier for us on those third downs.”

The lack of consistency stood out to the quarterback when he went back and reviewed the video, a sign he’s striving for perfection, even after putting up the best numbers from a KU quarterback since the days of Todd Reesing.

“I think we did a lot of things well as an offense, but we also have a ton to improve on, which is a good thing,” Bender said. “I think overall we just saw glimpses of how good and explosive we can be.”

— Bender breakdown video from Scott Chasen:

Comments

Randy Bombardier 1 month, 1 week ago

I think it was a very solid debut and expect to see more of the same. Yes, we will face more competition but i also believe we will not only grow in execution but in confidence also. I think he will put up 300 yards per game, regardless of competition. Glad to see the press that the picks were not altogether on him. The pass to Harrell was a wee bit short but it was a great play from the defender that Harrell could have wrested away. The other route execution adding to the turnover is nothing i would have known but knowing that now puts Bender in an even better light, not that that was needed. Yet, good to know that we can expect to see fewer miscues. Now hopefully our defense will start creating more.

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