As a reeling Kansas football team aims to recover from its eighth consecutive defeat, it could enter this weekend’s game at Texas down a starting quarterback.
KU head coach David Beaty stated Tuesday at his weekly press conference first-string QB Carter Stanley, as well as starting defensive backs Mike Lee and Shakial Taylor, are questionable for the Saturday matchup with the Longhorns (5 p.m., Longhorn Network and Jayhawk Television Network).
The undisclosed injury to redshirt sophomore Stanley, who moved up the depth chart to replace junior Peyton Bender two weeks ago, might not completely sideline the QB at practices this week, according to Beaty, as training staff continue to monitor Stanley’s well-being.
“Well, hopefully we're able to keep repping him,” Beaty said. “The good thing about a quarterback is he's typically not getting hit in a practice. So sometimes that will allow that guy to maybe practice, whereas a linebacker might not be able to practice as much.”
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In his two starts this season — home losses to Kansas State and Baylor — Stanley went 40-for-81 passing, with 573 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown.
Bender, who started the first seven games, has completed 131 of 240 throws for 1,437 yards, with eight touchdowns and nine interceptions.
With Stanley questionable, Beaty expects Bender, who lost his job following back-to-back shutouts, to handle a potential return to the starting lineup if the Jayhawks (1-8 overall, 0-6 Big 12) have to go that route.
“Well, first of all, let me kind of rephrase that, not to go against how you said it, but let me set the record straight. It's not if we have to go with Peyton, right? And I know that might be semantics, but it's reality. Peyton is prepared to play for us,” Beaty said. “He was prepared to play last week. He's expected to prepare like he's going to be the starter, right, and he'll continue to do that. He was supportive while he was on that sideline. So he will be prepared just like he was last week. It won't be whether we decide to go with him or if we have to go with him or not. There might be a decision where we decide to go with him.”
Beaty, though, went on to say Stanley will be KU’s starter at Texas (4-5, 3-3), if he’s cleared to play.
“If he's not, then we've got a really good option there with a guy that's done it, and he understands what we're doing, which will be helpful, and we believe in him,” Beaty added of Bender. “We believe in both those kids.”
Dineen speaks up
At the conclusion of a team meeting Sunday at Anderson Family Football Complex, KU junior linebacker Joe Dineen stepped a bit out of his comfort zone to address the team, the day following a disappointing 38-9 home loss to previously winless Baylor.
“It wasn’t normal for him to get up in front of the whole team and say something because he’s a pretty quiet guy,” fellow captain Dorance Armstrong Jr. said, “and usually when he says something he says it to that one person. But he did something for the team and himself.”
Armstrong broke down Dineen’s message: “We’re obviously not bowl eligible. (The Longhorns) can be if they win a couple more games. And I think that as a team goal we don’t want them to be. We’re just trying to bring that same energy around that we had going into that game (versus Texas) last year and hopefully it kicks in and does something for us.”
Starting center Mesa Ribordy provided more insight into Dineen’s words.
“You’re playing for pride, but we have three great opportunities coming up to prove that we aren’t a bad football team and we can play with the best of our conference,” Ribordy added of what he took away from the speech.
Sophomore running back Khalil Herbert said the Jayhawks needed that type of message a day removed from feeling down about their showing against the Bears.
“Just having one of our players step out and talk to us, especially, Joe, I look to him as one of my big brothers, seeing that he meant it,” Herbert said of how Dineen impressed him. “It’s different when one of your players talk to you, like you really hear it. So having him do that, I think, resonated throughout the team.”
Junior captain Daniel Wise described it as an encouraging and “real” message.
“It went over well,” Wise said. “The guys took it and got the point from it. It means a lot to us.”
Dineen isn’t available for Tuesday media sessions due to his class schedule.
Beaty’s message to fans
As KU heads into the final three games of Beaty’s third season leading the program, the Jayhawks have a 3-30 record under his watch, with just one victory coming against an FBS or Big 12 opponent (2016, versus Texas).
Attendance at Memorial Stadium for this past weekend’s date with Baylor was announced at 21,797 — a figure that comes from tickets sold as opposed to how many actually are in the seats.
Asked Tuesday what his message was for portions of the KU football fan base who might be losing patience, Beaty replied:
“Well, I looked up and I saw quite a few folks there. I don't really look up very often. I should, but I really don't. We're going to do our job regardless.
“But I would say this: that you deserve better, but we need you. We absolutely need you. You are the magic. Just like tonight across the way, you're going to be the magic,” Beaty said, referencing fans attending the KU basketball exhibition in Allen Fieldhouse. “Because if you weren't there, it would be a much different game, I'm just telling you. You're the magic, and we need you, and thank you for staying with us. You deserve better. It's coming. Stay with us, all right. Have courage enough to stay with us.”