Carter Stanley beat Texas as a redshirt freshman—only his second game attempting more than 11 passes—by completing 50% of his throws for 220 yards, zero touchdowns, and an interception.
On Saturday, Stanley didn’t beat Texas for a second time, but his performance was one of the main reasons Kansas had a lead on the road against a top 15 team with a minute left. Stanley threw the first four-touchdown game of his career while tallying 310 yards on 27-47 passing.
These are two games near the bookends of his career that speak well to the potential and evolution of Stanley as a Jayhawk.
Saturday was an impressive performance during what’s been the best season of Stanley’s career. It’s also been the most consistent season of his career. After splitting time with back-and-forth opportunities his first three years, Miles announced Stanley would be his quarterback to start the season and has stuck with him since. In return, Stanley isn’t just on pace to put up the best numbers of his career, he’s already done it.
Stanley has still made a handful of what-were-you-thinking plays this season—many of which came early on in the year—but he’s won over the fanbase with plenty of great plays, as well as a win-at-all-cost mentality and willingness to lay his body on the line. And now the QB who could never secure the starting job or the confidence of David Beaty for long stretches is becoming one of the most productive quarterbacks in recent history.
It goes without saying that the bar for quarterbacks at Kansas has not been very high. It’s Todd Reesing and then a steep drop off to everyone else. But that misses the point. This is more about Stanley’s perseverance and ability to get better with a better system around him.
First, a look at Stanley’s numbers.
2019: 129-204 attempts (63.2%) for 1,485 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions
Career: 357-592 (60.3%) for 3,856 yards, 29 touchdowns and 18 interceptions
Now to what those mean.
Stanley needs just less than 500 more passing yards to break into the top 10 all time for passing yards in a single season. He is averaging 212 yards per game this season, meaning if he continues that pace for the remaining five games, Stanley will have 2,545 yards, which would be good for sixth in KU’s record books.
In terms of passing touchdowns, Stanley’s 16 are already good for fifth all time in a single season. And while he’s not likely catching Reesing’s top two spots of 33 and 32 touchdowns, third place is well within reach at 23.
Stanley’s career as a whole could look even more impressive.
He is already eighth all-time in passing yards, and could break the top five with a strong end to the season. He’s also fifth in career touchdowns, and eight more touchdowns (less than two per game the rest of the way) would put him at No. 2 behind Reesing. Side note: it’s hard to imagine a KU quarterback getting anywhere close to Reesing’s 90 career TDs anytime soon.
Stanley spent most of his time at KU battling for time and validation, but by the time he leaves it looks like he’ll have had just enough of the first and plenty of the second.