LAWRENCE — Through a disaster first four weeks of the season, the Kansas football team had at least avoided a quarterback controversy.
Consider that box now checked following a 65-19 homecoming loss to Texas Tech on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
To be fair: Not even Tom Brady likely would’ve saved the Jayhawks in this game — not when a costly fumble, inconsistent run game and shaky defense were completely out of the signalcaller’s control.
Still, KU was able to add a new story line to its early-season collapse by playing backup Carter Stanley the entire second half.
In reality, neither Stanley nor Peyton Bender was particularly effective against Texas Tech, which entered with one of the Big 12’s worst pass defenses.
Bender — he started KU’s first five games this season — completed 12 of 24 passes for 146 yards with a touchdown. The bad plays were costly, though. He threw an interception directly to Texas Tech linebacker Dakota Allen and also missed badly on red-zone throws to Earl Bostick and Jeremiah Booker, who broke wide open in the end zone on consecutive plays late in the second quarter.
Stanley couldn’t spark KU after halftime. He had one third-quarter pass tipped before it was intercepted by Justus Parker, then later had a backwards throw deflected and recovered by Texas Tech’s Riko Jeffers.
The backup’s final line: 11-for-19 passing, 110 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.
Again, there was plenty of blame to go around as KU was blown out in a game it entered as a 15-point underdog.
Following a 291-yard rushing game against West Virginia, KU running back Khalil Herbert was limited to five carries for 1 yard in the first half. He later left with an apparent leg injury following a long third-quarter run.
KU’s defense put the team in an early hole, allowing Texas Tech touchdowns on the team’s first three drives. And the Jayhawks’ offensive line wasn’t good enough, surrendering pressure that directly led to two of KU’s four turnovers.
There were physical errors, too. Receiver Chase Harrell couldn’t fully secure the football while getting gang-tackled in the third quarter, putting the ball on the ground before Parker scooped it up for a 20-yard fumble return touchdown.
Perhaps the worst part of the stinker was that it came after KU’s bye week — giving players an additional week to heal and coaches extra time to prepare.
It wasn’t helpful in this game. KU dropped to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the Big 12, and the schedule doesn’t get easier from here. The Jayhawks travel next week to face Iowa State — the team that went on the road to defeat No. 3 Oklahoma on Saturday — before a road game at TCU and home contest against Kansas State.