Just before Kansas football's brutal 47-14 loss against Baylor Saturday night, the Jayhawks surprised many by selecting true freshman quarterback Jalon Daniels to start the game. Daniels edged out junior Miles Kendrick and senior Thomas MacVittie for the start Saturday.
Starting at quarterback for the Jayhawks, No. 17 Jalon Daniels pic.twitter.com/QqekYokKSc— Kansas Football (@KU_Football) September 26, 2020
The Lawndale, California, native exhibited some growing pains throughout his first career start, with lowlights including a sack that led to a Baylor safety. Daniels finished 19-for-33 for 159 passing yards, along with 23 rushing yards, against the Bears.
Kansas football coach Les Miles said he selected Daniels to start based on the freshman's arm talent and Daniels' potential.
“You probably saw his arm, but you didn’t see the highlights of his arm,” Miles said. “We got stuck with it and we know the highlights that he is capable of producing, so I mean that’s why we started him.”
Even though Daniels had an up-and-down first start, junior running back Pooka Williams Jr. complimented Daniels for maintaining his composure throughout Saturday's game.
“We’ve seen a lot of energy, and a lot of focus [out of Daniels],” Williams said. “He’s doing everything right. Keeping the offense up when we’re down, he’s doing everything a veteran would do.”
In Kansas’ home opener against Coastal Carolina on Sept. 13, both MacVittie and Kendrick traded off snaps. Kendrick finished 15-for-24 for 156 yards and two touchdowns, while MacVittie finished 5-for-9 for 20 yards.
This quarterback decision by Miles and his staff provides insight into what the future of the quarterback spot will look like for Kansas football. Miles said MacVittie was not healthy enough to play against Baylor. He added that despite the coaching staff choosing Daniels to start Saturday, Kendrick may still have another opportunity to start later this season.
Miles said Kansas will look to utilize Daniels' dual-threat abilities more and more as the season progresses. Miles added that the final score didn't impact how proud he was of Daniels' performance.
“We’re not going to [make our offense] that one-dimensional,” Miles said. “We’re going to make that man just what we anticipate him to be, and that is talented at both run and pass and a guy who’s got leadership that can step in and do some special things. I’m not displeased with him in any way.”