Kansas quarterback Jason Bean was put in an unenviable position on Saturday.
Starting quarterback Jalon Daniels re-aggravated his back injury hours before KU’s game in Austin. Bean didn’t officially get word he was starting until about 30 to 45 minutes before the eventual 40-14 loss to Texas.
In fact, KU coach Lance Leipold said Bean “barely got any reps” at the Jayhawks’ hotel walkthroughs Saturday morning.
“It is what it is — can’t do much about it,” Leipold said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever had that happen like that.”
Bean struggled against the No. 3 Longhorns (5-0, 2-0 Big 12 play). He finished 9-for-21 passing for 136 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He ended with a QBR of 17.2, the worst non-injury-affected starting Kansas QB performance since Oct. 30, 2021, a 55-3 loss to Oklahoma State.
It affected things on both sides of the ball.
The Jayhawks’ (4-1, 1-1 Big 12 play) defense couldn’t rely on the offense to give it a breather, because the Jayhawks weren’t moving the ball downfield or stringing first downs together.
Texas dominated time of possession (39:41 to 20:19) and ran 40 more plays than KU (86-46).
After holding the Longhorns in check in the first half, the Kansas defense gave up 20 straight points as the unit appeared to get worn down. It was a far cry from where the Jayhawks have been with Daniels at quarterback since he took over as the starter with a win at Texas in 2021.
“Non-rhythmic,” Leipold said, asked to evaluate KU’s offense. “We just never really got into sync. There were some plays and things (that) were close.”
It was notable when Bean made the decision to return for his super-senior season (in 2023), because it gave the Jayhawks an experienced and poised passer with starting Big 12 experience behind Daniels, who has had injury issues before. Bean impressed last season filling in for Daniels, earning the Jayhawks their sixth win of the season against Oklahoma State.
Saturday’s game did not have those same results.
The Jayhawks entered the day leading the nation in third-down-conversion percentage. KU went 0-for-8 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth down. The Jayhawks missed Daniels’ knack for stepping up on big plays, plus his ability to execute the triple option and make correct reads and accurate throws on passing downs.
The late start undoubtedly contributed to Bean’s performance, and he acknowledged as much postgame.
“I think part of it is me not getting to prepare all week with the ones, and I think that has a little bit to do with it,” Bean said, “But other than that, I think I’ve been in those moments before and I’ve executed before. And I think this was just one of those days.”
Leipold also supported his backup quarterback postgame, asked if the Jayhawks would’ve played better with a healthy Daniels.
“I’m not going to speculate that,” Leipold said. “That’s not fair to Jason, its not fair to Jalon and honestly it’s not fair to this football team.”
Fair or not, though, the Jayhawks’ ceiling appears much different depending on who starts at quarterback. And now Daniels’ health, a story for much of the preseason, will once again be a talking point in Lawrence.