LAWRENCE (TNS) — On Tuesday morning, the Kansas football team returned to the practice field to open its fall training camp, after spending Monday on the water at Clinton Lake as part of a team-bonding exercise.
"Today was a really good start," third-year head coach David Beaty said following practice. "By far, the best start we have had in a long time. We got started with the great team building event yesterday. ... I thought that was a lot of fun and I think the guys really did enjoy it."
With the opening game against Southeast Missouri State at Memorial Stadium just 32 days away, here's an update on Kansas' offensive and defensive units.
The biggest story line for the offense during camp is the quarterback competition, but first, let's address the dismissal of senior wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, who was dismissed from the Jayhawks on Sunday for failing to adhere to the team's standards, finished second on the team in touchdowns, receptions and receiving yards in 2016. He and junior Steven Sims Jr. were expected to lead the charge for the Jayhawks in 2017. With Gonzalez gone, Kansas will turn to Daylon Charlot and Chase Harrell to replace the production. Charlot transferred to Kansas following his freshman year at Alabama and sat out the 2016 season. ...
Offensive coordinator Doug Meacham joked on Tuesday that he would like to wait until kickoff against Southeast Missouri to name the starting quarterback for the season.
The two guys competing for the reins to the offense are incumbent Carter Stanley, a redshirt sophomore, and junior-college transfer Peyton Bender. Stanley appeared in nine games for the Jayhawks last season, completing 59.6 of his passes for 959 yards and six touchdowns. He also threw six interceptions. Stanley started and threw for 220 yards in Kansas' victory over Texas a season ago. Despite that, many expect Bender to take over as the starter.
Bender played his freshman season at Washington State, appearing in five games and passing for 498 yards and three touchdowns. To reopen his options, he transferred to Itawamba Community College, where he passed for 2,733 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2016. He threw just four interceptions and was ranked as a three-star JUCO quarterback.
"They both have skill sets that are good," Meacham said. "One guy is a little bit better than the other at one thing and vice versa.
"We just have to assess which one fits as a whole and which one we can do the most with. ... I think it's great to just continue to watch it moving forward." ...
Beaty sounded pleased when addressing the starting offensive line, calling the group talented and noting they could have four or five returning starters up front. The 2016 unit allowed just 27 sacks, which was fifth best in the Big 12.
Junior defensive end Dorance Armstrong was really, really good in 2016, and he was voted as the Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in July.
Armstrong has the potential to leave Kansas following the 2017 season to enter the NFL Draft, and defensive coordinator Clint Bowen believes he has the potential to be the best end in the country.
"I just tell them (Armstrong and junior defensive tackle Daniel Wise) all the time, 'you got to change your focus at some point in time because it's not just trying to be the best at Kansas or the best in the Big 12, it's trying to be the best in all of college football,' " Bowen said. "Will they be the best? I don't know, but that has to be their mind-set. Wherever there's another defensive end in college football, that's who they're competing against now."
Bowen said there's no clear frontrunner for who will line up at the defensive end spot opposite of Armstrong, but that the depth provides Kansas with flexibility.
Junior defensive end Josh Ehambe had a minor surgical procedure and will miss about eight to nine days. Beaty said he will be back and should be good.
Junior running back Octavius Matthews and freshman tight end Kenyon Tabor were held out for more testing. Beaty said the team will know more about both players as the results of the tests come back.
14 1/2 : The most sacks by a KU defensive player in one season. Ron Warner recorded that number during the 1997 season, and Armstrong will look this season to make it the second most sacks in program history. Armstrong finished his sophomore season with 10 sacks.