As Kansas football heads into its bye week, one thing is clear — the Jayhawks need their QB back

Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels (6) celebrates his touchdown during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022 at Memorial Stadium.

In five halves of football in relief of injured starter Jalon Daniels, Kansas quarterback Jason Bean has completed 48 of 78 passes (61.5%) for 759 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions.

By Kansas standards, that’s pretty darn good.

By Daniels standards, it’s merely OK.

Two things can be true when looking at KU’s quarterback play since Daniels was injured late in the first half of the Jayhawks’ loss to TCU on Oct. 8.

In fact, it’s actually pretty easy to say that Bean has been solid in relief of Daniels and that the Jayhawks have missed their quarterback, as well.

There’s no telling if Kansas would have won any of the three games it lost with Bean in there instead of Daniels. But it’s not a criticism of Bean if you say that KU needs Daniels back.

Yes, Daniels’ numbers and overall production were better than Bean’s, especially as a runner, as strange as that sounds. But the reason KU has missed JD6 goes far beyond statistics.

Daniels is a natural born leader with charisma for days. He’s easy to follow, even easier to fight for and the kind of player who tends to make everyone feel a little more comfortable and play a little better just by being out there with them.

Tom Brady he is not, so we’re not going to spend the rest of this column talking up Daniels like he’s some kind of GOAT. But his confidence and swagger is infectious, and Kansas has been sorely missing both in the two and a half games it has played without him.

This is not a matter of preparation or talk. The KU players and coaches all have said the right things about Jason Bean during the past two weeks. And there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ve believed the words they’ve said.

This team genuinely thinks that Bean is good enough to help them win games. And he might be. So far, though, that hasn’t happened.

And that’s why Kansas needs Daniels back as long as he can get healthy enough to play his game and be the player he was for the first five games of the season.

With Daniels, it’s all about feel. He made plays when there were none there to be made. He picked up yardage and made throws that others might not have even tried. And he did it all with a million-dollar smile and the type of swagger that few players have as naturally as he does.

The confidence and celebrations never seemed forced with him because they were built on raw emotion and genuine joy. Daniels is not Russell Wilson, carefully trying to craft a narrative about who he is as a player and then hoping he can go out and match it with his play.

Daniels just plays. And, for the most part, he lets his numbers and production speak for him.

Bean tries to do the same thing, and the less he thinks about what he’s doing and just operates on instinct the more it looks natural for him, too.

But the two KU QBs are not similar players. They may have similar skill sets and Lance Leipold and Andy Kotelnicki may be able to ask them to execute the same plays.

But when it comes down to actually doing it, the difference is clear. With one QB, KU fans expect the plays to be made. With the other, they hope he can make them.

That’s why the Jayhawks need their QB back.


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