Tom Keegan: Same starting quarterback still could mean livelier offense

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) rolls out to pass as he is pressured by West Virginia safety Derrek Pitts (1) during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

A same old, same old malaise overcame a segment of the Kansas football fan base after Peyton Bender was announced as the starter for the Sept. 1 season opener against Nicholls State.

Does this mean nothing has changed with the approach KU will take to trying to score enough points to remain competitive into the fourth quarter of games?

Well, maybe not.

It’s only same old, same old if the Kansas offensive game plan again calls for excessive passing and quick snaps, instead of a run-based attack with snaps coming near the end of the play clock, snap after snap.

Some took the naming of Bender as evidence that talk of a shift to an emphasis on running was just that, talk, and nothing more. Miles Kendrick and Carter Stanley can run, Bender can’t.

Again, maybe it doesn’t mean that at all.

Sure, a running quarterback gives the defense an extra helmet to track, but a passing game that earns a defense’s respect also can help to make it easier to run.

Bender’s a better passer than Stanley and Kendrick, and that’s the primary reason he won the job.

Bender’s the one with the greatest chance to give the defense reason to be leery about loading up against the run.

Don’t forget, Bender averaged 343.3 yards per game during the nonconference portion of the 2017 schedule.

Those were the only game films West Virginia had to draw on when crafting a defensive game plan for the 2017 Big 12 opener. The Mountaineers respected Bender’s ability to beat them with his arm and Khalil Herbert ran for 291 yards. Kansas lost, 56-34, but had its biggest offensive output of the season vs. an FBS foe.

Bender’s the best passer on the roster, won the job and has a chance to make disappointed fans happy that head coach David Beaty selected him to make the ninth start of his KU career and 10th overall. The first came in 2015 for Washington State against Washington, when he filled in for Luke Falk.

Bender knows he needs to perform better this season.

"The main focus is costing (fewer) turnovers, getting more crisp with the execution, knowing where to go with the play," Bender said.

Upgrades on the offensive line should give him more time to throw, which will make him more accurate and give receivers who dropped way too many balls last season a chance to look better this season.

Beaty's job isn't to choose the quarterback who would land the coach the most praise for picking him and generate the most excitement. It's choosing the one who gives KU the best chance to win.

Comments

Joseph Bullock

Tom, This is a really good, very honest, and unbiased article! Thanks! I

2 months, 4 weeks ago

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Mike Hart

Thanks for the article, Tom...

2 months, 4 weeks ago

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Cora Smith

The area I am most concerned about is special teams. They frequently gave the opposition starting room about the 40 yard line meaning every field was a short one. If we do not win the special teams war, it will not matter what quarterback we use.

2 months, 4 weeks ago

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David Robinett

Agree. I think that's why HCDB put his most trusted lieutenant, Kenny Perry on the job.

2 months, 4 weeks ago

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['']

Uhhhh....Perry was put in that job of ST because he stunk as a position coach. Don't get your hopes up that he will be any betters as ST coach.

2 months, 4 weeks ago

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David Robinett

Seems simple in retrospect: the best passer gets to be the QB.

As Tom says, if the RB's and OL can perform in the running game, everything will be better and we don't NEED a running QB.

2 months, 4 weeks ago

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Joe Ross

Agree with Tom's take and all of the above comments who take a wait-and-see approach with respect to Bender. It might work out because of upgrades to the line. We simply don't know and so I don't fault Beaty here.

Having said that, if in these first games the outcome is pretty much decided after halftime I'd insert either Kendrick or Stanley. This would have two advantages: 1., you prevent injury to the guy you feel gives you the best chance to win, and 2., you give game experience to the backups. Again, I'd only use this strategy if the game outcome is a foregone conclusion.

2 months, 3 weeks ago

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Todd Seifert

Great points! I'm hoping a change in offensive style will translate into results in 2018.

2 months, 3 weeks ago

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Lawrence McGlinn

There is a reason that most college football programs are turning to mobile quarterbacks. That extra running threat is very difficult to prepare for defensively, and it requires less skill than a top-notch passing game. Unless you have an extremely accurate QB and a solid offensive line it will be hard to make up for that extra running threat. The D can key on the one or two guys lined up behind Bender. And there are interceptions, too. I have 33 reasons to be concerned.

2 months, 3 weeks ago

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Tom Keegan

But don't you think you take those 33 reasons for concern and subtract three, which gives you 30 reasons for concern, just to be fair?

2 months, 3 weeks ago

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John Fitzgerald

I’m predicting Bender to have over 2,000 yards passing, over 20 TD’s, and less than 10 interceptions on the year. Sounds easy but it’s been dang near 10 years since it’s happened at KU.

2 months, 3 weeks ago

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['']

Not with Meacham calling the plays. Ain't gonna happen.

2 months, 3 weeks ago

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