The Kansas football starting quarterback battle has notoriously been the biggest story of the off-season the last ten years. This year wasn’t much different–but in some ways, it was.
New head coach Lance Leipold made the decision to start Bean against South Dakota four days before game day, giving the team time to prepare. In past years, this hasn’t always been the case with the coach not announcing the starting quarterback to the team until game time.
Leipold said he decided to go with Bean as the starter on the Monday before the Jayhawks beat South Dakota, 17-14, and the coaches informed the quarterbacks simultaneously this past Tuesday.
This decision would pay off and left Kansas with a defined starting quarterback moving forward into the season. In order to gain any momentum and consistency within the program, this step was absolutely necessary.
And even though Bean is known as a quiet and reserved guy who tends not to flash his emotions, Friday night proved he is willing to step up when he needs to. Bean said, “Being the quarterback, you can’t really be — I mean, you can be emotional, but you can’t really let your teammates see it.”
For a quarterback that had never played in a Power 5 conference before with a Power 5 program, Bean held his composure pretty well. He ended the night against South Dakota with 163 yards passing, two touchdowns, and 54 yards rushing. But it was the last drive that really allowed his leadership to shine.
Before the drive, Bean let his leadership take over and entered the huddle with one thing on his mind–victory. “Nah, we’re going to do this,” Bean said. “We’re gonna run a play, we’re going to score, and we’re going to win this game.”
The game wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Bean, though. He made some mistakes early on, but when it came down to crunch time, he made the necessary corrections and capitalized on the opportunity. In speaking to the media, offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki expressed how impressed he was with Bean’s in game development.
In the past, I’ve dealt with scenarios where guys struggled to make those corrections from week 1 to week 2, let alone within the same game. So for him to do that tells me that his upside is still just rising.
Had Bean not made that final winning drive, the Kansas football program would be in a different place right now. It took guts to step into that situation and not worry about the level of the opponent or what was on the line for the program. It takes a special kind of leader to take a situation like that and rise above it victorious.
For Kansas fans that Friday night, they got to witness what could be the future of this program moving forward–a team filled with guys who are tough, gritty, and will never let a situation get the best of them.
And after this victory and witnessing his quarterback step in the game ready to lead his team to victory, Leipold came away confident in the future.
The fact is this team came from behind when it had to–it had a 4th and 10 and other things and we found a way to win a football game. That’s the part of having some resolve and perseverance that I found out that I didn’t know how we would respond.
The Jayhawks and starting quarterback Bean will have a much tougher test tonight on the road against a Coastal Carolina team that went 11-1 just last season. Their grit and toughness will certainly be challenged once again, but confidence remains within the coaching staff that the team will be ready.