Tom Keegan: Why does Carter Stanley keep drawing the short stick?

photo by: Mike Gunnoe

Kansas junior quarterback Carter Stanley throws the ball downfield to a teammate on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018.

If you found watching Kansas football on television even more excruciating than usual Saturday, consider how lucky you were compared to redshirt junior quarterback Carter Stanley.

He had to fly all the way to Lubbock to watch it in person. At least you had the option of changing the channel. He was forced to pay attention.

Not only that, he had to watch Peyton Bender, his friend and teammate, suffer through one of the rougher games of his career (18 of 41, 5.4 yards per pass attempt). Stanley had to wonder if the ringer on the bullpen phone had gone dead.

He’s done a good job of keeping his focus trained on the right things and seemingly doesn’t get sidetracked by excessive thoughts of why he gets such a short leash. Still, he’s only human. It has to be keeping him awake at night, or at the very least has him checking his breath and the effectiveness of his deodorant.

Might he snore on the team plane? Could it be he reclines his chair all the way back on the team flight? If so, then I understand, and I wouldn’t play him either. What is with people who do that? Do they think others want to study the backs of their heads?

Anyway, it’s not that Beaty has it in for quarterbacks who played high school football in Florida. Bender played in Fort Lauderdale, Stanley two hours to the north in Vero Beach.

It can’t be that Bender throws better passes in practice than Stanley. Mobility isn’t a factor in practice because the pass rushers aren’t allowed to rock the quarterback. No coach is going to ignore game performance in favor of practice play.

What then?

In Beaty’s four seasons on the job, no quarterback had a game as effective as the one Stanley produced in a 48-28 loss to Oklahoma State. He completed 24 of 32 passes for 247 yards, threw three touchdown passes and did not throw a pick. The 28 points stand as second-most in a Big 12 game under Beaty (behind 34 vs. West Virginia in 22-point loss last season), who has a 1-30 record in conference games.

The very next week, Stanley gave way to Bender after throwing just four passes. It’s so weird it creates suspicion that it’s personal.

Beaty is one game into his second stint as self-appointed offensive coordinator and his return to multitasking was a predictable mess. The best stat: KU scored three points out of two turnovers inside the 10 gifted by the defense in the 48-16 loss to Texas Tech.

The Kansas defense leads the nation in turnovers with 21, and KU is tied for first with Georgia Southern with an average of +2.0 in turnover margin. Of the 11 schools with a turnover margin of higher than +1.0, Kansas (2-5) is the only one with a losing record. The record of the other 10 schools combined is 62-12, which tells you it’s hard to lose when you consistently win the turnover battle, except for Kansas.

Give Beaty credit for one thing: He used Alabama transfer wide receiver Daylon Charlot, who made a spectacular one-handed catch on a 44-yard throw and led the Jayhawks with 67 receiving yards, instead of leaving one of the team’s most talented players on the bench, where he has spent most of his two seasons at KU.

But don’t credit Beaty with being conniving enough to fire Meacham as a means of insulating himself from a midseason canning. If Beaty is fired, that theory goes, nobody is left to coordinate the offense.

Nonsense.

Garrett Riley, assistant coach in charge of tight ends and fullbacks a year after serving as quarterbacks coach is Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley’s younger brother. Unless he’s the football version of Jerry Van Dyke, Billy Carter or Roger Clinton, he couldn’t do any worse than what we saw Saturday.

For now, Beaty controls the team, the offense and the quarterbacks and will put in long hours this week in hopes of improving his 3 percent mark in Big 12 games.

TCU visits David Booth Memorial Stadium for a 2 p.m. kickoff Saturday. Tens of thousands of tickets remain available.

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