‘Pass-first’ QB Miles Kendrick assesses his KU debut
During his first game wearing a Kansas football uniform, backup quarterback Miles Kendrick only got onto the turf for six snaps.
The sophomore dual threat QB carried the ball twice, handed it off once and connected on two of his three throws during his cameo, which included a bit part on the Jayhawks’ final offensive play of overtime.
Now Kendrick’s goal is to absorb all he can, both positive and negative, from the small sample size of game footage at his disposal.
“I think I took a lot away from those reps,” Kendrick said. “There were different things that I see as far as the play calls. I could have changed my mind depending on what I saw, maybe change a route, an RPO or things like that. Nothing really major. We’re continuing to learn from every rep.”
On his first play from scrimmage, coming in for one series worth of relief for starter Peyton Bender with 9:14 left in the first half, Kendrick looked as if he may put the ball in the hands of running back Khalil Herbert before keeping it. Kendrick picked up 4 yards.
Next, on 2nd and 6, a little play-action allowed Kendrick to hit Evan Fairs for 8 yards and a first down.
Asked whether, instinctively, he would rather pass or take off and run on, Kendrick described himself as a “pass-first” QB.
“I just think I bring a different skill set to the table than Peyton. I mean, Peyton throws the ball incredibly well,” Kendrick said, “but I’m just a guy that brings a different dimension. Doesn’t mean I can’t pass the ball. I believe I’m a pass-first guy. Just another thing for the other team to prepare for.”
After Kendrick’s first throw at KU went for a 1st down, Herbert ran for 4 yards before the backup got back to testing his arm. On 2nd and 6 Herbert gave a little token fake handoff in the direction of Dom Williams before taking a deep shot down the left sideline to the Jayhawks’ top receiver, Steven Sims Jr.
On a pass that traveled roughly 40-plus yards in the air, from the right hash toward the left sideline, Sims couldn’t come down with a catch after leaping upward to get a hand on it.
KU also was flagged for an ineligible man downfield on the play, so it wouldn’t have stood if completed, but it still qualified for Kendrick as a chance to assess his skills.
“On that play they played press bail. Originally (we) wanted (Sims) to run kind of like a curl route,” Kendrick began. “But I saw the corner was pressed, so I gave him a go route and it was a 50-50 ball. If I were to replay it and try something else, maybe I would have just handed off the ball and see if our line could have gotten the four or five yards that we needed and my drive would have continued.”
A safety moving toward the line of scrimmage gave KU unfavorable numbers in the box, Kendrick said, so he tried to make a play through the air.
“Looking back at the tape, maybe a little bit underthrown, but like I said, 50-50 ball,” Kendrick said. “Those guys make plays and that’s their job. My job is just to give them a chance and hopefully they make me look good.”
Kendrick’s next throw would be his last of Week 1, as Kendrick shoveled the ball to Williams for a 4-yard gain, 2 yards shy of a 1st down.
The 5-foot-10, 200-pound QB left the field with more than 7 minutes to go until halftime. He didn’t return until overtime, on 3rd and 6 at Nicholls’ 21-yard line.
Given the time he spent on the sideline and the situation, was Kendrick surprised when head coach David Beaty inserted him late?
“I’m the type of person, I’m always going to stay ready and I’m always going to want to be in that position,” Kendrick said. “Game on the line, that’s what you play for. I was excited when my number was called. It wasn’t like I was caught off guard or anything. You’ve got to be ready for anything. College football’s exciting. We have a great opportunity this season.”
KU sent five potential receivers out on what proved to be its final offensive play of OT. It was designed for Kendrick to take off and run, ideally for a 1st down or longer. However, Nicholls’ Sully Laiche tackled Kendrick for a 3-yard loss after executing a twist at the line of scrimmage. KU had to settle for a 41-yard Gabriel Rui field goal and a brief 23-20 lead.
Asked by one reporter whether he would do anything differently, now that he has looked back at the unsuccessful play, Kendrick said perhaps he could have checked into a different call at the line of scrimmage.
“At the end of the day I get the call from the coach and they ask me real specifically what they want me to do, and I try to carry out that assignment as best as possible,” Kendrick said.
The QB who provides KU’s offense with some different running possibilities than Bender went 2 for 3 through the air for 12 yards and finished with two carries that netted 1 yard in the opener.
As the Jayhawks (0-1) prepare for Saturday’s road trip to Central Michigan (0-1), Kendrick hopes to take even more in-game snaps moving forward.
“I’m going to stay prepared as much as I can,” Kendrick said. “Peyton is one play away from coming off the field, so either way all quarterbacks in the quarterback room have to be ready to come on the field at any given notice.”