Quarterback Peyton Bender makes good first impression at KU football spring game

Junior college transfer throws for 143 yards, two touchdowns in exhibition victory

LAWRENCE — Peyton Bender may have gotten a slight leg up Saturday in Kansas’ quarterback competition, but he doesn’t expect an imminent end to the ongoing race.

Hearing Bender speak after the Jayhawks’ spring game, though, that may A-OK with the junior college transfer.

“I can’t tell a difference between me and Carter (Stanley),” said Bender, who finished the scrimmage 11-for-15 passing for 143 yards and two touchdowns. “Like I said before, he’s done a great job this spring. I think I’ve done a good job as well. There’s plenty of stuff we need to improve on.

“I don’t see them naming a starter any time soon, and that’s good for the team, because any time you can compete and bring competition, that’s going to make you and the team even better.”

The Bender-led “Team Jayhawks,” donned in white and coached by Tony Hull, earned a 14-7 victory over the Stanley-led “Team KU,” dressed in blue and coached by Kenny Perry. The running-clock exhibition was a brisk 90 minutes and, as coach David Beaty admitted, the Jayhawks didn’t show much schematically.

The smattering of KU fans at Memorial Stadium did get their first look at Bender, though, and in a limited showing the 6-foot-1, 180-pound junior made a good first impression.

Bender found fellow transfer Daylon Charlot, a former Alabama wide receiver, for multiple impressive connections Saturday, including a 28-yard bullet on the sideline that set up his team’s first score. Later, the two hooked up for a go-ahead and eventual game-winning 5-yard touchdown strike into traffic that gave Bender’s squad the edge with 1:59 to play.

Despite the competitive nature of the scrimmage — the teams were divvied up via a draft for the first time — Bender said he approached the spring game as just another practice.

“I really don’t even think I did too much today, to be honest,” said Bender, whose 11-yard touchdown to Steven Sims in the second quarter started at the line of scrimmage. “I just got the ball in my playmakers’ hands and they made the plays for me. But that’s just my job as the quarterback in the Air Raid, to deliver the football and let the other guys make the plays for me.”

Stanley, the sophomore who started the Jayhawks’ final three games last season and orchestrated the team’s upset victory over Texas, finished 13-for-24 passing for 114 yards. To get a true feel for how he performed, he said, he’ll have to watch the game back.

“Who knows,” Stanley said. “I know I did miss some throws that I wish I had back, but no, I’ll have to look back on film to see the reads and what I had and what I didn’t have.”

Beaty also needed to review film, but his “on the hoof” assessment was that both quarterbacks did some things “really, really well” after overcoming poor eye discipline early.

“I mean, they both want to win that job, and you could tell,” Beaty said. “Their leadership was a lot better this week than it had been previously, and I think it’s because with the teams they were kind of dialed in, so you knew what direction to go. But I think the intangibles were getting better with both of those guys.”

Sims noticed, too — at least from Bender.

“He’s quiet — that’s what I take from Peyton. He’s quiet. I try to get him out of his shell,” Sims said. “But today he was a little more talkative. He was having fun.”

An example of that came after a first-quarter touchdown in the corner of the end zone from Stanley to wideout Kerr Johnson. While the play was eventually called back due to a holding penalty, Sims saw the reaction he wanted out of his own quarterback.

“Carter threw a touchdown,” Sims said, “and as soon as they threw it, even though they called it back, (Bender) was like, ‘We’ve got to go score. We’ve got to go match. We’ve got to go get another one.’ ”

That kind of outward confidence comes easy for Sims, who recorded 859 receiving yards and seven touchdowns last season en route to being the No. 1-overall pick in the spring game draft. His reaction to first seeing the list of his fellow “Team Jayhawks” receivers — Charlot, LaQuvionte Gonzalez and Ryan Schadler, among others — was a good example of that.

“I was like, ‘We’re going to torture ’em. We’re going to torture these guys,’ ” Sims said. “But it was fun. The defense held their own today. They made us work for everything we got.”

That confidence and a greater vocal leadership is what the Jayhawks’ top wideout wants out of Bender.

“Just at quarterback, that’s pretty much one of the leaders of the team,” Sims said. “I mean, I feel he’s going to settle in. He’s only been here a couple months and we just started. We’ve only been through spring for a couple weeks.

“He’s going to get out of that shell. I know he is.”

TEAM JAYHAWKS (WHITE) 14, TEAM KU (BLUE) 7

Blue … 0 …7 …0 …0 … — … 7

White … 0 … 7 … 0 … 7 … — … 14

Second quarter

White — Sims 11 pass from Bender (Rui kick)

Blue — Lassiter 24 pass from Starks (Rui kick)

Fourth quarter

White — Charlot 5 pass from Bender (Rui kick)

GAME IN FIGURES

… White … Blue

First downs … 8 … 13

Rushes-yards … 17-19 … 22-54

Passing … 143 … 185

Comp-att-int … 17-11-0 … 27-16-0

Punts-avg. … 5-46.6 … 4-42.0

Fumbles-lost … 0-0 … 0-0

Penalties-yards … 2-15 … 4-15

Time of possession … 23:04 … 38:31

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — WHITE: Herbert 6-27, Thompson 5-2, Randall 1-1, Gonzalez 1-0; BLUE: Martin 7-43, Evans 3-15, Stanley 8-3, Morris 2-1.

PASSING — WHITE: Bender 11-15-0-143, Starks 0-2-0-0. BLUE: Stanley 13-24-0-114, Starks 2-2-0-55.

RECEIVING — WHITE: Charlot 3-45, Schadler 3-37, Sims 2-19, Herbert 1-26. BLUE: B. Johnson 3-52, Harrell 3-51, K. Johnson 3-22, Lassiter 2-40.

PUNTING — WHITE: Moos 4-37.8, Thompson 1-82. BLUE: Thompson 3-47.3, Moos 1-26.

MISSED FIELD GOALS — WHITE: none. BLUE: Rui 39, 40.

LEADING TACKLERS — WHITE: Dineen 3 solo 2 assisted, 5 total; Loneker 3-2-4, Ehambe 5-0-5. BLUE: Lee 6-0-6, Armstrong 2-2-4, Holmes 3-0-3.

SACKS — WHITE: Ehambe 4, Dineen, Ash; BLUE: Wise, Long, Armstrong.

INTERCEPTIONS — None.

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