How far away is QB Carter Stanley from moving up KU's depth chart?


Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) heaves a pass around Baylor linebacker Raaquan Davis (19) during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) heaves a pass around Baylor linebacker Raaquan Davis (19) during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

Down 49 points on the road in the third quarter this past Saturday at Baylor, Kansas football coach David Beaty got an extended look at backup quarterback Carter Stanley.

The redshirt freshman checked in for starter Ryan Willis to begin KU’s final drive of the third quarter, and though other skill players, such as true freshman running back Khalil Herbert and sophomore receiver Steven Sims Jr. deserve even more credit, the offense did score its first — and only — touchdown of the game with Stanley at QB.

The Jayhawks (1-5 overall, 0-3 Big 12) already had picked up two first downs on Herbert runs and moved the ball 25 yards before Stanley, a 6-foot-2, 196-pound freshman from Vero Beach, Fla., attempted his first pass.

Out of a typical KU shotgun set, with four receivers, Stanley quickly spotted Sims breaking open out of the left slot for an easy throw, roughly five yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

From there, Sims, one of KU’s top play-makers, juked his man and sped away to a 34-yard gain that got Kansas inside BU’s 10-yard line for the first time all game.

Stanley missed his next attempt to big red zone target Chase Harrell, a 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman. Then, after Bobby Hartzog drew a pass interference penalty to give KU a first down and move the ball to Baylor’s two-yard line, Beaty called on freshman Maciah Long to come in for a snap as a wildcat QB. The Bears stopped Long for no gain and Stanley threw another incompletion (intended for Sims) before Herbert finished the drive with a two-yard touchdown run.

On Tuesday, Willis praised Stanley for helping the Kansas offense finally break through.

“He did a good job, put us in a good opportunity. He drove the ball down the field. He did a great job. I’m proud of him,” Willis rattled off. “I’m good friends with him. We have a lot of good quarterbacks who can move this offense, and whoever’s in there is gonna do a good job.”

The remainder of Stanley’s snaps came in the fourth quarter, with fewer results. Kansas picked up just one first down on four possessions over the final 15 minutes. Stanley threw incomplete passes intended for Evan Fairs and Keegan Brewer, and had another throw intercepted by Clay Johnston after KU got the ball in good position, thanks to a Damani Mosby fumble recovery.

Stanley went 2-for-5 on fourth-quarter passes, with minimal gains: five yards for LaQuvionte Gonzalez and six yards for Harrell. He finished his longest appearance of the season 3-for-8 with one interception and 45 passing yards.

As you might expect, Beaty didn’t rave about Stanley’s performance, calling it average.

“There were still a lot of things that we saw that we need to get a lot better at. Particularly the pick. Just eyes in the right spot, understanding what coverages are doing to you, not picking a route out, that will get you in trouble,” Beaty said, sounding similar to his review of Willis’ bad outing at Baylor.

Beaty thought Stanley did some things well, referencing the QB’s decision-making on plays featuring run-pass options. But the head coach/offensive coordinator/QBs coach also said Stanley didn’t always properly prepare his receivers before snaps.

“We had a couple times when we weren't on the same page with those guys and that comes down to communication and that’s, there’s no excuse for that,” Beaty said. “Communication errors, they’re not tolerated. So we gotta get that taken care of.”

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) throws against the Memphis defense during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn.

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) throws against the Memphis defense during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn. by Nick Krug

The appearance marked Stanley’s fourth this season. He didn’t play in either of KU’s home losses, to Ohio and TCU.

- vs. Rhode Island: 3-for-4, 56 yards, 1 TD

- at Memphis: 4-for-6, 26 yards, 0 TDs

- at Texas Tech: 2-for-2, 11 yards, 0 TDs

- at Baylor: 3-for-8, 45 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT

- SEASON: 12-for-20, 138 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

At KU’s practice sessions, Beaty says Stanley has shown steady improvement, week by week.

“It was good to be able to get him in the game and be able to give him a quarter and a half to really see what he can do and run some offense — some real offense — other than just handing the ball off. We needed to be able to do that,” Beaty said, “and in that situation, hey, unfortunately, it was what it was. We were where we were. You'd love to be able to get young guys in the game when you're up by a bunch. But in that situation it gave me an opportunity to see what he could do and I wanted to do that and we wanted to do that. So it was good to be able to see him a little bit more. He’s got a long way to go, just like all of ’em. But he works hard at it and I appreciate that.”

Based on what we’ve seen thus far from Stanley, it’s hard to see Beaty moving him up KU’s depth chart to No. 1 any time soon — let alone for Saturday’s homecoming game against Oklahoma State (4-2, 2-1). I mean, let’s not get crazy.

It seems it would take unexpected injuries or further regression from Willis for the head coach to start Stanley in the immediate future. But if Stanley really is making progress behind the scenes and keeps doing so, and if Kansas keeps getting blown out, maybe Stanley will get his first college start in November.

As has been said so many times regarding KU’s quarterback situation this season: Who knows?


John Fitzgerald 5 years, 8 months ago

Willis is a gunslinger, and he tends to force things when they're not there so he makes a lot of mistakes and will continue to. He's still young, and by Beaty not starting him early on in the season it slowed his progression down. Although I don't think Willis is the QB of the future, as I believe this type of offense doesn't suit him the best, I do think he's our best option at the moment. The only guy we haven't seen is Starks, and I think it's best we red shirt him and see what he has to offer next year. Until then, Willis should be the guy.

Kevin Robert Fest 5 years, 8 months ago

Start whoever (Except Cozart) and hope for the best. I still hope that they still have a TCU type game left in them and can pull one out. TCU game gave me hope, Balyor game brought me back to reality.

Michael Lorraine 5 years, 8 months ago

Ryan has a bit of Bret Favre disease in him and tries to force plays that are not there. Just needs to learn to throw the ball away and accept the fact that every pass play does not have to be completed.

Humpy Helsel 5 years, 8 months ago

With our need for our best (we don't have many or enough), when do you say to Montell to learn another position in addition to QB. Slot receiver? Carter Stanley just looks like he fits our offense better than Ryan Willis. Willis looks like he fits more of a "pro style" attack. Stanley and the young man from New Orleans seem to fit more into this offensive scheme. Does't mean Willis can't be effective, because he has been at times, albeit inconsistently.

As an old guy, it seems so interesting old school football doctrine (actually not that long ago) was to "establish the run to open up the pass." Now, it is all "establish the passing attack and it opens up the run." I'm old. I like "old school," as in be physical up front, always pick up positive yards on first down, and avoid "second down and ten," or worse...third and eight." Seems like we are in second and ten, and third and long all the time. We have a nice punt formation! Nice punter. Be a punter and go to KU to showcase your talents. Maybe we could become known as a "punter factory" for the NFL. KU football lore would mention John Hadl, Gale Sayers, John Riggins, and a host of punters who have starred in college and the pros. I like it. Sounds good. Or not.

Jim Stauffer 5 years, 8 months ago

Let's not overreact to the poor play of our QB on the road at the League leader's home. We need to sustain the good play at home we established against TCU and soon enough it will translate on the road.

Try to imagine the level of confidence of our players that day in Waco compared to the confidence level of theirs. No comparison.

Continue to start Willis. If and when he loses his composure replace him with Stanley. This will continue to get Stanley some experience without the game resting on his shoulders.

We need a definite rotation of QB's that can lead the team successfully next year and this year is the time to develop them. Cozart is out. Starks in being redshirted. Let's spend this year working with Willis and Stanley and eliminate one of them for the duo that will lead us next year. These guys are currently playing for the right to complement Starks next year or have him complement them.

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