It’s been a summer of tough decisions for new Kansas football head coach Lance Leipold, and the inevitable choice of a starting quarterback is beginning to round the corner.
Between experienced returners and incoming talent, the Jayhawks will be looking for an offensive leader that will put this team in a position to win football games, something the program failed to accomplish in 2020.
Coach Leipold has recently commented on what he’s looking for in a starting quarterback to run his show this fall.
“We’re going to look for a guy that can make great decisions and put us in the right position to move the football, execute the offense,” Leipold said. “And I say, make great decisions. We can’t turn the ball over.”
Lance Leipold on what he’s looking for in a starting quarterback. (JayhawkSlant)
With new leadership from former Buffalo quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski, there’s room for more dependability this season from the QB room. This summer should be serving as an excellent time frame to work out each prospect through the offense and see where comfort levels are.
Multiple coaches will be involved in the final call, more specifically Coach Leipold and his offensive coordinator, Andy Kotelnicki. Kotelnicki has spent seven seasons at Buffalo under Leipold’s staff, which should help this staff collaborate on an educated pick.
Kotelnicki’s offense will also be a change of pace for Kansas, which will open doors for prospective starters to explore and learn a new playbook.
There’s plenty of names the ring
Both returning from the Les Miles era, senior Miles Kendrick and sophomore Jalon Daniels will be lending their efforts to the Jayhawks again this season. However, they won’t likely see the same kind of rotation they got last season.
Following a Week 1 home loss to Coastal Carolina, Daniels would assume the starting job at just 17 years old. Kendrick would find more playing time following an injury against Oklahoma.
One could argue that fans weren’t treated to this pair’s full potential due to the dumpster fire that was Kansas’ 2020 season. The duo was largely unproductive due to issues with the offensive line, making for scarce highlights.
However, this upcoming year will bring more normalcy, and a chance for these two to put a more respectable product on the field.
March gifted Kansas a much-needed break with North Texas transfer Jason Bean, who started in seven games for the Mean Green in 2020. The move was surprising given the uncertainty surrounding the Jayhawks program at the time, but it seems Bean is committed to working with Kansas.
This offseason added two new names to the quarterback conversation at Kansas, as both Ben Easters and Conrad Hawley would join the roster earlier this spring. They’ll be mixed in with the experienced competition and shouldn’t be counted out, even if they’re not taking many snaps this fall.
A true starter needs time
It’s important to remember this is a rebuilding process at Kansas, one that’s been struggling to get off the ground for over a decade.
When Leipold makes his choice, we should expect to see a solid amount of snaps taken before we say “Alright. That’s enough.” Fans shouldn’t expect the first guy to make a splash out of the gate, and maybe not even for his first couple of starts.
What Kansas should be looking for is consistency in both growth and production. If you see no development in either of those areas, then it’s back to the drawing board for a quarterback. In 2020, the Jayhawks may have been attempting this approach.
In Week 2 last season, then-head coach Les Miles put the ball in the hands of young quarterback Jalon Daniels, whose talents lie in his athleticism and ability to make space. The California native has an arm, despite throwing only one touchdown pass during his freshman campaign.
However, Daniels wasn’t able to make a complete first impression due to an early-season injury and forced Kansas to make more changes while the offense was just getting settled in.
The goal for Leipold will be to find someone who is both proven and dependable. Currently, the most fitting name would be Jason Bean, based mostly on his experience/exposure. However, this isn’t the best judgment call either, as every player meshes with offenses differently.
That is what will make Leipold’s decision both difficult and interesting, as it will be giving fans his pick for someone he believes has both the fundamental skill and mindset to lead Kansas into his inaugural season.