All season, Jason Bean said he’d been watching film on his own to prepare each week as Kansas’ starting quarterback.
Before the Oklahoma contest, though, he called an audible, bringing in the team’s receivers to watch tape with him.
The reason for that? Bean says KU’s coaches pushed for him to be a better leader.
“Just throughout the week (they were) on my head heavy about making sure that I’m locked in every day,” Bean said. “At practice, it wasn’t too much different, but they were just ... more emphasis on the small details and just trying to make sure that everyone is on the same page and making sure that I’m on the right page myself.”
That urgency was likely needed, especially given Bean’s previous performances in Big 12 play.
Before Saturday, Bean had only averaged 87 passing yards in three conference games. That likely led to at least some internal discussion about whether he should be considered the team’s quarterback of the future.
“I think a week ago, we sat in here, and you’re essentially asking but not actually asking if we’re contemplating a change,” KU coach Lance Leipold said Tuesday. “And he goes out and he plays his best game yet.”
It certainly was that.
Bean excelled in nearly every area during KU’s 35-23 loss to Oklahoma, completing 17 of 23 passes for 246 yards while also rushing for 59 more.
“I just saw great confidence, great ability and what he’s capable of,” KU center Mike Novitsky said. “When we give him time up front and do our jobs, he can do his job, and the wide receivers can do their job. So I think it all plays together, and I just saw great confidence from our whole unit.”
Bean credited preparation for the offense’s success Saturday. He said a major emphasis for offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki going into the week was eliminating negative plays, whether that was mental errors or guys missing assignments.
KU was noticeably better with that while averaging 6.3 yards per play.
“I think we kind of set the standard for ourselves,” Bean said. “And I think that’s just something that we want to continue to build off of and continue to keep going.”
Bean likely set a new ceiling for himself in the process too.
His adjusted QBR score — an all-encompassing stat meant that aims to take into account the entirety of a signal-caller’s performance — was second-best in the Big 12 last week among eight conference QBs. Bean’s mark of 86.6 also was the highest single-game total by a KU quarterback since Carter Stanley in 2019.
“He was real comfortable back there, calling the plays. Even the run plays, he looked comfortable,” KU receiver Kwamie Lassiter said. “I feel like when you’re comfortable in football, then I feel like it’s over with.”
Bean is still working through the rest when it comes to being KU’s quarterback.
He said coaches — that included Leipold and QB coach Jim Zebrowski — had spoken last week about what else the team needed from him.
“Just wanting me to be more vocal,” Bean said. “I’m not the loudest guy on the team.”
The urging seemed to have worked, with KU’s offense executing at a much higher level under the new-look Bean that performed Saturday.
“We challenged him and he knew he needed to play better for us and for himself,” Leipold said. “I’m really proud of the way he responded.”