Why Bender is not the answer at quarterback for Kansas

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 21: Peyton Bender #7 of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts after being sacked by the TCU Horned Frogs in the first half at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 21: Peyton Bender #7 of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts after being sacked by the TCU Horned Frogs in the first half at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

As David Beaty and his coaching staff slide back into reality following last weekend’s shocking defeat of the Central Michigan Chippewas, moving on from Peyton Bender at quarterback could still be a key component in keeping the Jayhawks relevant this season.

The Jayhawks hosted a quarterback competition this offseason, one that included last year’s starter Peyton Bender (Sr.), Carter Stanley (Jr.), and newcomer Miles Kendrick (Soph.). Bender ended up with the job, again, heading into this season and has flashed moments of success through two games so far.

After announcing his decision on QB1, Beaty, while expressing confidence in his decision, mentioned that he intends to use Kendrick in certain offensive sets and situations throughout the season. And Beaty has held to this statement, but it may have sparked yet another competition.

Despite ending a road losing streak that dated back to 2009 against the Chippewas, Bender’s struggles with turnovers and lack of athleticism may limit his effectiveness in the Jayhawks offense.

To this point, Bender has shown the ability to limit his mistakes, most of which is due to the dynamic abilities of freshman running back Pooka Williams, this season. Bender’s zero interceptions may appear to be a positive for Kansas, and certainly has been to this point in the season, but it should be noted that Nicholls State and Central Michigan haven’t presented the defensive capabilities of most Big 12 opponents.

Bender currently holds three touchdown passes recorded this season, but with last year’s tallies reflecting 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for the season, there should be little confidence in his ability to keep this positive trend going through the remainder of the season.

This reality should remain a subtle thorn in Beaty’s decision for his offensive leader this season and should lead to a change sooner-than-later. Stanley holds the more experienced resume, with his most memorable experience with the Jayhawks having come in 2016 when he lead the team to a shocking victory over the Texas Longhorns. The game, with an outcome of 24-21 in the Jayhawks favor, would put the lid on the Charlie Strong Era in Austin and would be the lone bright spot on an otherwise dismal season.

Stanley’s performance has been adequate at times, though with limited arm strength and mild athleticism, his skill set has been more limited than that of Bender or Kendrick.

The newest member of the quarterback room, Kendrick, will assuredly hold the most opportunity to gather interest as a future starter for Kansas. Given the coaching staff’s confidence thus far into the season to allow him to replace Bender for certain packages, his field time should give him the lead over Stanley if a change were to be made.

Kendrick’s biggest strength may be Bender’s largest weakness: athleticism. Though he was an above average passer for San Mateo junior college as a freshman, netting 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions, his ability to be a duel-threat is something that Kansas is drastically missing with Bender at the helm.

Through two contests, Kendrick has totaled three completions for 27 passing yards and 15 rushing yards on six registered attempts. These stats should not blow anyone’s minds or cause anyone to light any pitchforks in protest for Bender’s removal at quarterback, but neither talent nor potential are reflected in these stats.

Given Kendrick’s limited use to this point, we should look more towards his previous statistical achievements and the fact that he forced Beaty into a true quarterback conundrum this offseason.

Now, Kansas fans should not get too overly “hyped” or critical by the following statement. After having seen Kendrick in practice and over the past couple of weeks, Kansas may have it’s very own version of Russell Wilson on the roster.

Let me explain, stats aside, since they are limited to this point, Kendrick does not present an overly excited amount of arm strength. However, his ability to move outside of the pocket and deliver in the short passing game should stand more important for a team lacking in offensive line depth than the arm strength of Bender.

For those who are National Football League fans, would you rather have Jay Cutler at quarterback or Alex Smith? Most of you would have answered Smith; why is that? Personally, I’d rather have Smith and that is because I’d rather have the security at quarterback; someone who takes care of the football and puts the team in good situations to win the game.

This logic stands true for Kansas as well. Bender’s arm can be impressive at times, especially when someone flies open behind the defense – something that wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. is well-known for. But his arm can get him in trouble with too much faith at times and he does not possess the athletic ability to escape bad situations.

Kendrick’s ball placement and football work mimics what Wilson possessed while at N.C. State, which is not to say that he is ready for the spotlight or would be a perfect mirrored image of Wilson. However, it should be noted that the size and athletic ability are very much alike.

Who would you like to see starting for Kansas moving forward?

Kansas is set to face Rutgers on Saturday, the 15th of September, in Lawrence, Kansas. Kickoff is set for 11:00 AM Phog time and will be televised on FOX.