Six days before the Kansas football team’s road game at West Virginia, junior quarterback Carter Stanley learned on Twitter that he would maintain his newly acquired starting spot for the Big 12 road game.
Four series into the Jayhawks’ loss at WVU, senior Peyton Bender took over at QB. But Bender didn’t do enough for head coach David Beaty to say the senior QB had won back the No 1 slot on the depth chart.
Now, headed into KU’s bye week, is it safe to say that the position is as up in the air as ever?
“Yeah, you know, I’m not exactly sure where the coaches’ mindsets are at,” Bender admitted following KU’s 38-22 loss at WVU. “I just have to go out there and prepare like I’m going to be the guy and do the most I can to get ready.”
Between now and the Jayhawks’ Oct. 20 game at Texas Tech, Bender, who started the first four games of the season, and redshirt junior Stanley, starter in the previous two, might have to outperform sophomore Miles Kendrick, too, to win the job.
Asked Monday morning during the Big 12 coaches media teleconference if he could envision Kendrick starting against the Red Raiders in Lubbock, Texas, Beaty said he “certainly” could see that hypothetical situation playing out.
“I don’t know that he will, but I certainly could see him taking it,” Beaty said of Kendrick becoming KU’s third different starting QB in the seventh game of the season.
Although he played during key stretches for the Jayhawks (2-4 overall, 0-3 Big 12) each of the first four weeks, Kendrick hasn’t taken nearly as many snaps at QB as Bender or Stanley, and hasn’t appeared in a game since suffering a shoulder injury during the second half of KU’s conference opener at Baylor, on Sept. 22.
Kendrick suited up and was deemed available at WVU after missing a home loss to Oklahoma State. Beaty had said leading up to the Jayhawks’ trip to Morgantown, W.Va., that he expected Kendrick to be out.
“You know what, that kid is a super, super kid. I don’t know that many guys could’ve gotten themselves ready to even be available like he did,” Beaty said of Kendrick, a dual-threat QB who transferred to KU from College of San Mateo (Calif.), “and it just speaks to the volume of what kind of work he puts in. We’re really not surprised. I mean, the guy’s a warrior. And we really, really like this kid a lot.”
Kendrick’s most productive game for KU to date came in a home drubbing of lowly Rutgers, when the sophomore handled the offense’s second-half snaps until the game got out of hand. Kendrick provided a 6-for-11 passing day in the nonconference finale, throwing for 66 yards and a touchdown. He ran for another 28 yards and a TD.
The plan, Beaty revealed before the season began, was to incorporate Kendrick into the game plan every week.
“We were trying to make sure we didn’t put too much on him too fast and obviously needed to see him play in a game. That’s critical. There’s a lot of things that go on in practice that you can’t simulate in a game,” Beaty said.
In four appearances, Kendrick has completed 11 of 19 passes for 100 yards and a TD, and hasn’t thrown an interception. He’s only been sacked once.
“I think, seeing Miles in a game was just the final piece for us seeing his growth,” Beaty said. “It’s unfortunate that he got hurt, just because I thought he was progressing well. But at the same time, the thing I loved about him was he continued to progress just like he was playing and he got himself back ready to go.”
Bender, who has played in five games, has completed 60.5 percent of his 114 passes, netting 681 yards and six touchdowns, with one interception. The least mobile of KU’s three QBs, Bender has suffered 12 sacks, six of which came in the season-opening loss to Nicholls State.
Stanley, only given extended playing time in his start against Oklahoma State, when he connected on 24 of 32 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns, has appeared in four games. Stanley has completed 72.3 percent of his 47 throws, for 304 yards and three TDs, with one interception. Five of the six sacks he has taken came against OSU.
If Beaty is leaning toward one QB in particular starting his team’s next game, he wasn’t going to reveal so 12 days before facing the Red Raiders.
“The good news is, we have several guys that can do it and do it at a high level,” Beaty said, noting he and KU’s assistants would look at the situation more this week. “There’ll still be competition, like there always is. I thought both of the guys (Stanley and Bender) did some good things (at WVU). There are some things we can do to help them out, and we’re certainly going to do that as we move forward.”
On Monday, Beaty and his staff weren’t at the Anderson Family Football Complex like they typically would be.
“We’re all out on the road recruiting right now,” KU’s fourth-year head coach said the morning after prep tight end Clay Cundiff, a three-star in-state talent in the Class of 2019, flipped his commitment from KU to Wisconsin.
The Jayhawks, who have lost three straight following their 2-1 start, next take the field at Texas Tech, on Oct. 20. The Big 12 announced on Monday the game will begin at 2:30 p.m. and air on FOX Sports 1.
KU’s next home game isn’t until Oct. 27, when the Jayhawks play host to TCU. That will mark the team’s first game in Lawrence in four weeks.