Monday, June 25, 2018


Tom Keegan: Does anybody care who wins Kansas QB job?

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) throws to Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) during an open practice on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) throws to Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) during an open practice on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.


Nobody knows the identity of the starting quarterback for the upcoming Kansas football season. Nothing new there. That has been the case pretty much every summer since gunslinger Todd Reesing hopped on his horse and rode it back to Austin.

The problem, I fear, is that few care anymore as to the identity of the winner of the quarterback derby, which this time has three contestants.

It’s as quiet a KU football offseason as I can recall since we moved to Kansas in August of 2005.

The gap in interest between basketball and football feels greater than ever. It’s almost as if the most effective way to get somebody to talk about football is by drawing some sort of comparison to the basketball team. So I’ll get that out of the way first by inviting you to ponder this question: Which team could field a better offensive line, KU football or KU basketball?

Easy. The football team, but the fact that you actually thought about it long enough to put Udoka Azubuike and David McCormack at the tackle spots says plenty.

In an effort — probably a futile one — to generate interest in the upcoming football season, I’ll take a stab at trying to guess the 11 starters on offense and 11 on defense for David Beaty’s fourth season-opener, this one vs. Nicholls State, 6 p.m. kickoff on Sept. 1.


Quarterback: Peyton Bender, senior; Running back: Khalil Herbert, junior; Outside receivers: Steven Sims, senior, and Evan Fairs, junior; Inside receivers: Kerr Johnson, senior, and Quan Hampton, sophomore; Left tackle: Hakeem Adeniji, junior; Left guard: Malik Clark, sophomore; Center: Andru Tovi, junior; Right guard: Chris Hughes, sophomore; Right tackle: Kevin Feder, senior.

If a tight end is on the field for the first offensive play of the season, my guess is it will be James Sosinski, who scored six points in nine minutes for the basketball team.

Tough, tough call at quarterback, but since Bender started eight games last season, compared to four for Carter Stanley, that gives him the edge over Stanley because the same coaches will be making the decisions. The tougher call is whether junior college transfer Miles Kendrick can beat him out to start the season. He’s far more mobile than Bender and has impressed the coaching staff with his Type-A personality and Grade-A brain, qualities that make him a natural leader. If Kendrick wins the job and it’s announced a couple of weeks before the opener, it’s possible curiosity over a never-seen QB could bring some KU football fans out of hibernation.

Also, curiosity over true freshman running back Pooka Williams from Louisiana could motivate local football fans to visit the ticket window.

It’s possible that one or two offensive linemen who were not yet in the program during the spring could win starting jobs. Adeniji, Tovi and Chris Hughes are the safest best to earn starting jobs on the O-line.


Nose tackle: J.J. Holmes, senior; Defensive ends: Daniel Wise, senior, and Foster Dixson, junior; Linebackers: Joe Dineen, senior, Denzel Feaster, junior, Kyron Johnson, sophomore; Nickelback: Bryce Torneden, junior; Safeties: Mike Lee, junior, and Tyrone Miller, senior; Cornerbacks: Shakial Taylor, senior; Hasan Defense, junior.

Kansas identified which recruits from junior college it wanted to sign to improve the depth of the defense and landed most of its targets. As a result, intense battles will be waged in practice to try to earn spots on the two-deep chart.

Isi Holani and Holmes will alternate at nose tackle. Wise has one D-End spot locked down in the three-man front KU will use as its base defense. Several competitors will vie for snaps at the other spot next to the nose tackle, including Dixson, Willie McCaleb and Keyshaun Simmons.

Kyron Johnson and Najee Stevens-McKenzie will be among those vying for snaps at the hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker spot, and Feaster, Osaze Ogbebor and Keith Loneker will compete for snaps at linebacker.

All five starters return in the secondary, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll earn the majority of the starts. At safety, Emmanuel Moore and juco teammates Davon Ferguson and Jeremiah McCullough will battle for snaps. Redshirt freshman Robert Topps backs up Torneden at nickel, and the most crucial battles will take place at cornerback.

Based on schools that showed interest in them at various points in recruiting, the two most talented defensive backs in the program are newcomers at cornerback. Can true freshman Corione Harris and juco transfer Elijah Johnson show enough over the summer to win starting jobs vs. Nicholls State? Possibly.

Taylor was praised for a strong spring. Defense’s ticket to keeping his job lies in showing that he can stick to his assignments and not go off script forever in search of the big play. A defense can never have too many reliable corners to face Big 12 offenses, so it was encouraging to hear that junior Kyle Mayberry made strides during spring football.

Defensively, the team’s depth definitely is much improved. Loading up on recruits from junior colleges will make Kansas better this season, but since it won’t result in anything close to a bowl-eligibility season, it amounts to short-term gain that augments long-term pain.

Maybe the lack of a plan that builds toward a sustainable better future for KU football is as much to blame as anything for the lack of enthusiasm from the fan base.


Parker JH 4 years, 1 month ago

You don't envision Corione Harris starting at CB? Seems like everything we have heard this spring is that he is on a different level compared to the other corners on the team.

Tom Keegan 4 years, 1 month ago

He might start the opener but he'll have to earn it. He's a good athlete but not a freak. He's a serious player, but just a freshman so a little raw still. If I had to guess, I'd say he'll start at least half the games, but the opener? Maybe, but if I had to guess I'd say probably not. He'll play plenty though.

Daniel Kennamore 4 years, 1 month ago


To answer your question, nope.

I spent more then my fair share of time following KU sports and I didn't even know there was a QB battle. I gave up on this program last year. Once our new AD gives Beaty the boot he should have gotten last season I'll consider paying attention again.

Tom Keegan 4 years, 1 month ago

Daniel, I sense many are in the same boat as you. It definitely has the feeling of a lame-duck season.

Joe Ross 4 years, 1 month ago

I don’t care who starts the opener, but if Miles doesn’t see action in the game then I wouldn’t let Beatty coach another one.

Joe Ross 4 years, 1 month ago

A new quarterback needs to adjust by getting his feet wet when the stakes are much lower. Beatty All but sabotaged Willis by playing Cozart exclusively early in a season and inserting Ryan against top tier teams. Shock to the system!!! Experience is going to have to come quickly for Miles, and you don’t want that experience to be OU or WV right out of the shoe. If the coaching staff doesn’t understand this. Reesing did it, sure. But how many Todd’s has Kansas ever had? Get Miles in the game for significant time during meaningful minutes.

Doug Cramer 4 years, 1 month ago

Yep - I remember that and had the same opinion.

Len Shaffer 4 years, 1 month ago

Beatty has shown absolutely no ability to develop QBs (or even make a good decision on who to play and when) in the past so why should we expect to see anything different this year? I'll still pay attention and root for them (while expecting nothing but pain and misery), but I look forward to the day when KU can even have a halfway decent coach again.

[''] 4 years, 1 month ago

BOOM! Zenger was sold (or sold himself) a bill of goods hiring Beaty and his supposed QB grooming prowess and non-existent Air Raid offense. Just like his so-called TX recruiting in-roads. Pffffffttttt!

Bryce Landon 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm with Daniel Kennemore; I gave up on Kansas football after the Jayhawks were blown out at home by winless Baylor. But it's going to take way more than a coaching change for me to care about KU football again. KU has had plenty of coaching changes since Mangino was forced to resign, and not one of those changes has produced more than 3 wins a season, more than 1 conference win a season, or any victories away from Lawrence. When and if KU shows tangible progress in football, I'll consider getting back on board with KU football. But until then...


Bryson Stricker 4 years, 1 month ago

You may be the only person I know who brags about being a bandwagon fan...

Bryce Landon 4 years, 1 month ago

You may be the only person I know who is proud of giving blowjobs to Zenger and Beaty.

Joseph Bullock 4 years, 1 month ago

Actually Tom, myself, and a lot of others are very enthusiastic about this upcoming football season. Also, if KU Basketball were at any other school, they would most likely be by far, more popular. And stop your childish shots at the Program, such as who would field the best line. All people talk about is how big and strong our basketball is going to be this coming season, so people may pause at that question, at most schools, if they were not big time football programs-also, you forgot Silvio!

[''] 4 years, 1 month ago

"...myself, and a lot of others are very enthusiastic about this upcoming football season." So that makes 4 people .....

Chris Condren 4 years, 1 month ago

Players names, coaches names, Athletic Director’s name all mean nothing. The only thing that matters is winning games. I have no expectations and I could care less about the football program. All the losses and poor performances are the result of bad decisions by KU. Until KU can earn it then few fans will pay any attention to football.

Marcus Balzer 4 years, 1 month ago

Get to three wins this year. That is all I'm asking. THREE. Every other game. Be competitive.

My guess for starting QB: Bender

The real questions for me are: at what point in the season do they make a move to another QB and who will be the starting QB at the end of the year?

Eric Eakins 4 years, 1 month ago

Get Three and Compete. I can get on board with that. I do believe it is going to take 4 or 5 (1 road win) for the coach to save his job.

John Fitzgerald 4 years, 1 month ago

Should be another season filled with LOL's if Bender starts again. He's a system QB and unfortunately the system Beaty has instilled is broken.

Jeremy D. Morris 4 years, 1 month ago

IMO we need a QB that can improvise and manage to keep a drive alive occasionally by sheer will and trickery. I'd take a poor man's Bill Wittemore at this point, which seems like Miles Kendrick may the closest to in style of play. Stanley can do it some as well but unless the OL is DRASTICALLY improved I don't see Bender being a viable option.

Michael Sillman 4 years, 1 month ago

I don’t really believe that even those posters professing total indifference won’t keep at least one eye on the football team during the early season. Hope springs eternal in the summer break.

Matt Kenton 4 years, 1 month ago

Wait, there's a football player named Elijah Johnson?? How many KU football players have there ever been with the same name as a basketball player?

Elijah Johnson

Mike Lee / Michael Lee

James Sosinski


John Brazelton 4 years, 1 month ago

Both Meacham and Beaty will determine the starting QB together. If Coach Riker produces a Big 12 capable offense line, Bender has the talent and experience to be the starting QB. Had Willis started behind an experienced offense line as a Freshman, he would be KU's starting QB this season. All KU coaches know that without wins, this will be everyone's last season. Hopefully, everyone including senior and junior players will be giving it their best shot this season.

Eric Eakins 4 years, 1 month ago

Nobody should care who I think the starting QB should be. What concerns me is does our head coach know who the starting QB should be? Based on pass seasons I suspect not. I hope the best for these young men giving KU their all and will cheer them on.

Bryson Stricker 4 years, 1 month ago

I care who the starting QB is going to be.

Maybe it's because I care about my school's success. Maybe it's because I won't give up on the school that never gave up on me.

It's easy for the people who have no tie to say they're Iowa fans now or are done being fans.

As mentioned above, there are plenty of people who are excited and care because this is their school. It sits on their resume, their work desk and probably somewhere on their car.

Mark Bowers 4 years, 1 month ago

That gets a slow clap Bryson, a very slow clap.

Joe Norgay 4 years, 1 month ago

Lol psycho Bryson white knighting always makes me laugh.

Jay Scott 4 years, 1 month ago

Is Brett McCabe filling in while Keegs plays golf?

Galen Holston 4 years, 1 month ago

“Maybe the lack of a plan that builds toward a sustainable better future for KU football is as much to blame as anything for the lack of enthusiasm from the fan base.” That’s been your rant for the last 6 months. All people care about is changing the 3-33 record by winning.... that means winning NOW. Beaty attempted to win now by changing the recruiting.... just as Charlie did. It appears Beaty at least recruited guys that showed up unlike the crew Weis recruited. Clearly they both knew their jobs were on the line if they didn’t win now.... so it goes at KU. Hirem and firem then repeat.

Thomas Green 4 years, 1 month ago

I care who starts, but I do not think the overall outcome will be any different whoever the first guy up is.

I’m not a football coach, but it seems obvious whoever the QB is, mobility would be paramount with our OL.

I’m hoping against hope that some discernible improvement will occur this season but I too believe that lame duck is the reality for this year.

Titus Canby 4 years, 1 month ago

I see a lot of juniors and seniors on that list, and not just juco transfers. That's a positive that we haven't seen in a few years.

Mark Kostner 4 years, 1 month ago

It really is hard to care who's QB. They should change the name of the football team from Jayhawks to Coyotes. A scrawny animal best describes this bunch rather than the lofty Jayhawk and the coyote caught the roadrunner as often as KU catches a victory! Remember WSU put a better football program out of its misery. I sincerely hope the new athlethic director and the coach he hires can resusitate this moribund sport as it rebuilds Memorial Stadium, aptly named because it is a football graveyard. Otherwise we await the arrival of the real Jayhawks each year, the matchless basketball team.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 1 month ago

Since KU is a football graveyard, care to join me in rooting for a thriving football team like the U of I Hawkeyes?

Adam Bengtson 4 years, 1 month ago

No. In fact, I come to this site for Men's Basketball. Even if it's late April when all college basketball has died down, I would rather read about KU basketball compared to KU football even if its week 4 and football was 2-1.

This site pushes football like people care. KU needs to quit dumping money into the football team. You live in an era, where KU is so far behind to catch up in this day in age of media, stadiums, and playoff football. Football has a ceiling on it. 7-5 is the max potential of this football program (speaking historically), this conference is just to loaded with historical college football programs.

For KU to have a chance, they would have to shell and I mean shell (but too risky) out money for an established AD from a power school. If they want to rebuild.

I never use to believe this, I have aged, and now I see the light on the football program.

Dane Pratt 4 years, 1 month ago

I read it and found it troubling. I can’t say the demise of football is inevitable but it is absolutely a possibility. I suspect when NFL players are diagnosed with CTE it may not move the needle much because fans see them as highly paid professionals who know what the risks are. If we start seeing college or high school athletes diagnosed with CTE with significant numbers then I believe football as we know it is done.

Thomas Green 4 years, 1 month ago

That story is very troubling indeed. I do think parents should be extremely concerned about their kids playing football. I love football and all the good things that go with the game, but we all know how brutal and dangerous it can be. Obviously there is a tremendous amount of research yet to be done on CTE, but it’s relationship to football is frightening. Hopefully new protocols for head injuries moving forward will make a marked difference. So many unknowns at this point! Football is big business in the grand ole USA and even with these very real and serious consequences, I don’t see the sport going away anytime soon!

Dane Pratt 4 years, 1 month ago

Fan interest is still there but if moms start worrying about their baby boys then the sport is over.

Jay Scott 4 years, 1 month ago

What research? When every single kid that plays is impacted, will we still need more research?

Football is dead. KU needs to start a men's soccer team next fall.

Mark Bowers 4 years, 1 month ago

Doesn't soccer have the most concussions reported of all sports? That doesn't mean I don't love soccer and would love to see a KU men's soccer team, those would amazing jerseys.

Thomas Green 4 years, 1 month ago

Couple of obvious questions Jay.

So you don’t believe more research is needed? Do we know that every single kid has been or will be impacted? How do you consider football is dead? You did read the end of the story where Tyler Hilinski’s brother plans to continue playing?

John Fitzgerald 4 years, 1 month ago

Last night I thought about this article again and wanted to look up some KU OL stats to shoulder more of the blame on them. And to be honest I was surprised that the OL wasn't as bad as I thought at pass blocking. Which goes to show the QB's have been flat out horrible.

Randy Bombardier 4 years, 1 month ago

I believe it is more important to the team than to us. They know who has the juice but will give pc responses in response. What we need is an undercover reporter, walk on, who can really bring us the story behind the facade. Now that would be good reading. Which coaches have the players respect, which players work, which slack off, etc.

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