Though Kansas football hasn’t named a starting quarterback, Southeast Missouri State coach Tom Matukewicz said he’s more worried about someone else when it comes to preparing for the Jayhawks: offensive coordinator Doug Meacham.
“That’s the part that’s a little scary,” Matukewicz said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Matukewicz says Meacham’s arrival — he was co-offensive coordinator at TCU last season — changed how the Redhawks decided to gameplan for Saturday’s 6 p.m. game at Memorial Stadium.
“Because it’s a new offensive coordinator, we haven’t approached it from, ‘Hey, let’s make it all about KU.’ Really, we’ve approached this whole thing, ‘Let’s make it all about us and about our preparation and about how we go about our business,’” Matukewicz said. “We haven’t made it a big focus on KU, so maybe that’s why I’m not as concerned (with the starting QB).”
In this situation, Matukewicz believes there are diminishing returns when it comes to extensive study of the quarterbacks.
“I think once you get some film out there, and obviously you know who you’re trying to defend, you know if he flushes on third down … all these things you try to get into when you’ve got a quarterback,” Matukewicz said. “But Game 1 with a new OC? I just kind of gave that one up, like, ‘We’re not going to know,’ so let’s just work on our fundamentals and our attention to detail.”
Peyton Bender, a junior-college transfer who previously played under coach Mike Leach at Washington State, is expected to be KU’s starter. The Jayhawks’ other candidate, Carter Stanley, played in the team’s final three games last season.
KU coach David Beaty deflected questions during Tuesday’s press conference when asked about his starting QB.
“No advantage for us to tell anybody who's playing that position until we go out there,” he said.
Southeast Missouri State is secure at quarterback, as Jesse Hosket started all 11 games in 2016 while earning Ohio Valley all-newcomer team honors.
“I wouldn’t trade him (Beaty). I think as coaches, when you bring your quarterback, and you know who your guy is, that feels really good. We do, and we feel great about ours,” Matukewicz said. “I think coach Beaty and his new offensive coordinator, I think they both believe in the system. Whoever is that quarterback, I think it’s going to look similar.”
Matukewicz understands the opportunity for his team, as SEMO has never beaten a Power Five school. The Redhawks were picked seventh out of 10 teams in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason poll.
“I’ve been an underdog my whole life. A lot of my players have been underdogs,” Matukewicz said. “It’s a familiar story line, and we’re going to try to prove to the country that we belong.”