Three days into KU’s football season, we have ourselves a very confusing situation at QB for the Jayhawks. Really, the confusion started last week when all indications were that preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Jalon Daniels would be starting against Missouri State, despite back tightness greatly limiting his participation in fall camp. Rumors picked up Friday afternoon, hours before kickoff, that Daniels’ lingering back problem might be a bigger deal than initially indicated, and that backup Jason Bean, already familiar to Kansas fans from last year’s accomplishments, would be QB1. Daniels would be announced as the starting QB to the stadium crowd, but it was Bean who both started, and took every meaningful snap of the game until the reigns were handed to true freshman Cole Ballard late in the blowout win.
After the game, coach Lance Leipold indicated the overall lack of reps throughout camp was what led to Bean getting the starting nod, despite Daniels being in full pads with helmet in hand on the sideline. He gave no meaningful update on the nature of Daniels’ injury, which is generally assumed to be more of the nagging than the acute variety (though given the way these things work in college athletics, all we can rely on is internet speculation for injury specifics), and gave no firm indication of who will start this Friday as Kansas hosts Illinois.
Brett McMurphy, longtime college football reporter currently working for Action Network, tweeted out Sunday morning that it would in fact be Jalon Daniels getting the start against the Illini:
Kansas QB Jalon Daniels, who missed last week's game vs. Missouri State w/back tightness, expected to play Friday vs. Illinois, source told @ActionNetworkHQ. Daniels is Big 12 preseason Offensive Player of Year— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) September 3, 2023
This would lend some credence to Leipold’s words that last Friday’s absence was simply a matter of preparation. KU’s coaching staff likely felt the Jayhawks could handle Missouri State under the leadership of former-starter Bean, and give Daniels one extra week to rest up and prepare for the first Power 5 matchup this season. According to McMurphy’s sources at least, Kansas fans can prepare to see Daniels for the first time this year on Friday night.