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33 Days Until KU Football: Previewing the QBs

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The quarterback group is full of question marks coming into 2021.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 17 Kansas at West Virginia Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2021 will be just the second year post-Carter Stanley, and the Jayhawks are still searching for stability behind center. Kansas went through three quarterbacks last year, and when combined, their final stats looked like this: 155-282 (53.5%), 1389 yards, 7 TDs, 10 INTs.

Can I say it again?

Yikes.

The Jayhawks have seven quarterbacks on the roster coming into 2021, three of whom will have a legitimate shot at winning the QB1 job in fall camp., and two more who have a chance to surprise. Let’s take a look.

Projected Depth Chart

Again, no official depth chart is out yet, so I’m ranking these by where I think hope they’ll be when camp breaks.

QB1: RS-JR Jason Bean

Bean transferred in from North Texas over the summer, meaning he wasn’t around to participate in spring ball. However, I believe he still projects as the Week 1 starting QB. While his production last year was eerily similar to the KU QB totals in the opening paragraph above, although he did post a 14-5 TD-INT ratio, and added 346 rushing yards as well.

Bean was immediately one of the fastest athletes at KU once he stepped on campus (and that includes the track team). He has the physical tools and the game experience to solidify the QB position at KU for the next two seasons. (Or three, with the Covid waiver? Not sure how that works.)

QB2: RS-SR Miles Kendrick

Kendrick started two games for the Jayhawks last year, while playing in seven of KU’s nine games. Like all of KU’s quarterbacks last year, he struggled behind the porous offensive line. He saw action in four games before redshirting in 2018, coming to KU as a three-star Juco recruit after a freshman season that saw him pass for 1889 yards and 18 TDs while also rushing for 417 yards for San Mateo.

QB3: SO Jalon Daniels

One of six true freshmen to start on offense in the season finale last year, the then-17-year-old Daniels was quite literally thrown to the wolves in his first collegiate season. He made six starts for KU, seeing action in seven total games. Daniels has the arm talent and the legs to make a serviceable D1 quarterback; it will come down to how quickly he picks up on the new offensive schemes and his decision-making as to whether or not he can claim the primary backup spot over the more seasoned Kendrick.

The Depth

True freshmen Ben Easters and Conrad Hawley, I believe, will also have the opportunity to make the top-3 on the depth chart. Easters was one of Les Miles’ first commits, coming to KU despite the coaching change as a 3-star recruit. Conrad Hawley, also a 3-star recruit, garnered tons of awards as a high school senior, including all-state nominations and the Simone Award, which is given to the the best prep player in the Kansas City metro. Both of these guys were on campus for spring ball, and should have a chance to impress in fall camp.

Miles Fallin and Jordan Preston round out the KU QB room.

Coaching

Jim Zebrowski begins his first year at KU after spending the last four seasons at Buffalo with Leipold. Prior to his time in Buffalo, he was the QBs coach at Minnesota from 2011-15. He has also coached quarterbacks at Northern Illinois as well as a handful of D3 schools, including Wiscsonsin-Whitewater under Leipold.

Cause for Optimism

How much faith do you have the Jason Bean will come in and do well from the get-go? Because that’s where pretty much all of the optimism I can muster comes from. The old saying goes, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t,” but I don’t think that applies to depth charts. We’ve seen what Kendrick and Daniels bring to the table, albeit under a different coaching staff. Regardless, I’d really like to see what Bean can do this fall, preferably with a rather long leash.

Cause for Pessimism

We’ve definitely got pessimism covered here at KU. Quarterbacks were a pretty big disaster last year for Kansas, but once again, a lot of that is due to the offensive line as well as play-calling. You can only run so many bubble screens before defenses creep up. And once you show you aren’t willing to throw the ball downfield, playing defense against anyone becomes pretty easy.

The worry is that we’ll just see more of the same from last year despite a transfer quarterback and a completely new offensive staff (HC, OC, and position coach). You’d think that would be silly, then I would remind you, this is Kansas.