University of Kansas

KU coach David Beaty wants more out of quarterback Ryan Willis

Kansas quarterback Ryan Willis is fun to coach because “you can get after him,” said KU coach David Beaty. “He absorbs it, and he tries to move forward.”
Kansas quarterback Ryan Willis is fun to coach because “you can get after him,” said KU coach David Beaty. “He absorbs it, and he tries to move forward.”

The fact that the Kansas football team lost a one-point game to TCU as a 30-point underdog didn’t make things any easier for quarterback Ryan Willis with coach David Beaty.

“He got on me in the film room a little bit,” Willis said Tuesday. “That’s because he expects me to be great. I think I can be great with his help and coaching.”

Willis, who was the full-time starter Saturday, had an up-and-down performance in KU’s 24-23 loss. His 348 passing yards were a career best and also good enough for a top-20 effort in Jayhawks history.

Then again, his four first-half turnovers — including three interceptions — were a few of the miscues that kept KU from building a first-half lead.

Beaty, who labeled Willis’ outing as “decent” during his Monday radio show, said each of the three interceptions were the fault of his quarterback. During his media session Tuesday, the coach relayed a funny exchange between the two on the sideline after the first turnover.

Willis: “Coach, I saw the safety go to a single-high look, and I threw it right to him.”

Beaty: “Yeah, you did, Bud. You sure did. Nice throw. He caught it.”

Beaty, who told the story with a laugh, has previously talked about the two acting like “an old married couple” on the sideline, with both being unafraid to challenge the other.

“He’s fun to coach, because man, you can get after him and coach him, and it doesn’t affect him in a negative way,” Beaty said. “He absorbs it, and he tries to move forward.”

Willis believes the two have similar personalities.

“We have a very competitive nature,” Willis said. “We both want to win more than anything else in the world. When we’re not winning and not having success, it frustrates both of us.”

Beaty’s main area of focus this week is on what he calls “procedure.” After Willis receives the play call, it’s his job to communicate the protection scheme to the offensive line, the routes to the receivers and the specific responsibility to the running backs.

That’s only Step 1. Step 2 is reading the defense to see which options within a play might be most successful, and a final Step 3 is potentially getting KU into a different call that takes advantage of the defensive set.

For Beaty, Step 1 should be second nature. It should come without extra thought or processing. Willis, though, is still working to get that part of his job down so he can have time to focus on the defense across from him.

“Once all three of steps start clicking on all cylinders,” Willis said, “we’re going to be a pretty dang good football team.”

It’s all part of the continued teaching process with Willis, who started eight games last season — though that was under a different Air Raid system headed by offensive coordinator Rob Likens.

This one is led by Beaty, who is continuing to push his sophomore quarterback.

“He expects a lot out of me,” Willis said. “Once he stops yelling at me, that’s when I’m going to be worried.”

Jesse Newell: 816-234-4759, @jessenewell