Kansas coach David Beaty planned to use freshman quarterback Ryan Willis on Saturday at Iowa State, but an injury to starter Montell Cozart opened the door for a longer cameo.
Willis, a Bishop Miege graduate, completed eight of 16 pass attempts for 100 yards — most of which came after Cozart left the game with a left shoulder sprain. Beaty said Cozart would undergo a medical evaluation when the team returned to Lawrence.
With backup Deondre Ford already sidelined with a thumb injury, Willis was serving as the No. 2 quarterback on Saturday. He entered the game late in the first quarter, logging one series before returning to the bench.
“We had some things designed to go ahead and put him in the game in the first half,” Beaty said. “Obviously, I think that paid some dividends for us as he did get inserted toward the end of the game.”
Earlier in the week, offensive coordinator Rob Likens said Willis was still working on moving through his reads and progressions on passing plays. On Saturday, Willis connected with fellow freshman Steven Sims on a 38-yard gain late in the second half, showcasing his big arm. Depending on their health and availability, it’s possible that Kansas could return to Cozart or Ford this week against Baylor. But Willis, Beaty said, will continue to be part of Kansas’ plans at quarterback.
“Real-world experience,” Beaty said. “That’s the only way you learn. You got to get in there and play.”
Taylor Martin, a true freshman running back, made his first appearance in the back field. Martin finished with four carries for 11 yards. Senior De’Andre Mann had just two carries for 3 yards while battling illness.
Junior cornerback Chevy Graham, a walk-on, recorded a career-high eight tackles while making the first start of his career.