Kansas head coach Lance Leipold spoke at his weekly press conference Monday, and to no one's surprise, he fielded multiple questions about the Jayhawks' very unclear QB situation. Jason Bean, backup QB extraordinare, took two big hits in the first half of Saturday's loss to Texas Tech. After missing a few snaps due to the first hit he re-entered the game, only to take another upper body blow that resulted in him leaving for the remainder of the contest. After the game, Leipold indicated that Bean suffered a "head injury," but went into no detail beyond that.
Monday, he did discuss the QB situation, albeit in the same guarded, opaque manner with which he's approached it with all. Today's updated depth chart lists Bean OR Cole Ballard Or Jalon Daniels (in that order) on the QB line, so it gives very little insight as to what QBs will be available and playing in the Sunflower showdown in Lawrence against K-State Saturday. When asked for an update on Bean and the QB situation, he gave what appears to be at least a small amount of insight.
#KUfball QB update from Lance Leipold...— Michael Swain (@MSwain247) November 13, 2023
-Jason Bean did not practice last night. Leipold is "optimistic" Bean will be able to play on Saturday.
-If Ballard starts and Bean can't go, Ben Easters or Mikey Pauley will be the backup.
Bean didn't practice Sunday, but Leipold indicated he's "optimistic" that Bean will return this weekend. That may mean he just needs to pass the concussion protocols, if that is in fact the type of head injury he suffered. After Bean's second high hit, freshman walk-on Cole Ballard played the rest of the way. Once Ballard got a few throws under his belt he really settled in and played as well as you could hope for from a freshman walk-on.
With regard to Daniels, no new information was provided, but it's probably safe to say he'll be in street clothes again Saturday. At the press conference, Leipold indicated that Ben Easters or Mike Pauley would likely be backup if Bean is unable to play. Reading between the lines, Leipold was asked about starters and backups at QB, and didn't even mention Daniels' name, an omission that seems to say a lot on its own. It's always possible that there's some gamesmanship going on here, trying to prepare for a sneak attack where JD6 is a surprise starter against the Wildcats, but it seems very unlikely. My recommendation for Kansas fans is to assume the starter this weekend will be Bean, if he's good to go, or Ballard if he's not. Of all the rumors circulating about Daniels right now, none of them involve him returning to action this week, and the coach giving no indication he's in the mix at the position against KSU doesn't make it seem likely.
Ballard looked like a promising talent once he started to feel comfortable in the loss to Tech Saturday, but K-State has a very good team and there's little doubt that a healthy Jason Bean gives Kansas the best shot to win if Daniels is still out. Kansas ends the season against a struggling Cincinnati team in two weeks, so if they find a way to finally take down the Wildcats, a 9-3 regular season is a very real possibility, which is crazy to even think about. But while Ballard looked decent Saturday, the odds of an upset win no doubt increase if Bean returns to the field with a clean bill of health.