Yes, it’s a small sample size. And yes, the bar is low. But doesn’t it feel different at quarterback for Kansas with Jason Bean?
He still has room to grow and areas to clean up. But we’ve also seen Bean do things that no one else on the Jayhawks roster can do. On Friday, Bean captivated fans with his running ability.
But he also made some huge throws when he needed it—often using his legs to get out of the pocket and give time for his receivers to break free from defenders.
Put those together and Bean’s performance against Coastal Carolina was one that Kansas fans hadn’t seen for nearly 20 years. Throwing for at least 175 yards and running for at least 100 yards in the same game? That would be Bean on Friday and Bill Whittemore twice in 2002. That’s the list since 2000.
Like I said, it hasn’t all been perfect. Bean has missed receivers and has been in a position to turn the ball over more than what has shown up in the stat sheet. But you live with that for the explosiveness that no one else can provide. The third-and-long conversions. The 30-yard sprints for touchdowns.
It’s in those down moments where he puts the ball on the ground or shorts an open receiver that I wonder how this would have played out with past coaching staffs. Bean was by no means a sure starter coming into the season. We debated on this site whether he would overtake Miles Kendrick, who also received a lot of praise out of camp. And then, of course, there’s Jalon Daniels, who played the majority of the final games of last season.
Quarterback consistency has not been a luxury for Kansas in recent years. We got a full season of Carter Stanley in 2019, and it was the most productive the offense had looked in a while (again, it was still a low bar). But it hasn’t always been that way in recent years. Last year, Kendrick and Thomas MacVitte each attempted at least nine passes in the opener, and then, after Jalon Daniels played the entire game two against Baylor, Daniels only got five attempts in game three as Kendrick took the majority of the snaps.
In 2018, Peyton Bender played the majority of the first two games before he and Kendrick split time against Rutgers in game three. Then Stanley got in the mix as well a week later against Baylor. The point being, Bean’s ability to play through the rough patches and given the opportunity to show off those athletic skills is going to be critical to establish consistency and get the most out of both him and the offense.
Bean’s ability to make things happen with his legs is a valuable commodity considering the offensive line is one of the team’s bigger weaknesses. Speaking of that, the fear is Bean’s health. There are games where he is going to take a beating, and it will be important for him to know when to protect himself rather than trying to do too much in extending a play.
This is a foundational year. The coaching staff got a late start and is trying to get some sort of stability within a team that has had very little of it over the past decade. So, we as fans will likely have to rely more on moral victories than victories on the scoreboard. The emergence and improvement of Bean could be one of the bright spots this year and glimpses of hope for the future. That is, as long as the coaching staff continues to trust him and the offensive line can protect him.