LAWRENCE — With its first game less than a week away, Kansas football’s starting quarterback competition remains unresolved.
That statement may remain true when the season opener kicks off — and perhaps beyond.
Thomas MacVittie and Miles Kendrick remain locked in a battle at signal caller as the Jayhawks prepare for a 9 p.m. Saturday clash with Coastal Carolina at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. MacVittie, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound senior out of Cincinnati, appears to have the edge in downfield passing ability, while Kendrick, a 5-10, 205-pound junior out of Morgan Hill, Calif., is seen as the more mobile option.
Year 1 of the Les Miles regime saw one player — then-senior Carter Stanley — start all 12 contests and handle virtually all meaningful snaps for the Jayhawks, but Miles indicated a similar approach may not materialize, at least not against the Chanticleers.
"I would think there’s a good possibility that both quarterbacks would play," said Miles, speaking Monday during his weekly video news conference. "... A couple of quarterbacks could play, you bet."
MacVittie joined the program after a successful 2018 campaign with Mesa (Ariz.) Community College, where he threw for 1,064 yards and 16 touchdowns in just six games. That effort earned him recognition as the No. 2-ranked pro-style quarterback at that level by junior college outlet JCGridion.com.
"Just rotating in general, any position not just quarterback, it’s just tough to get a groove," MacVittie said. "But with whatever coach Miles wants, that’s how it’s going to be. And I think there’s kind of an advantage for the Jayhawks then because nobody knows who’s going to play, nobody knows which strengths the other quarterback brings. They can’t really get a scouting report on the quarterback if there hasn’t been one announced or if both will play."
Kendrick, meanwhile, came on board under former head coach David Beaty after an impressive 2017 at College of San Mateo (Calif.), where he piled up 1,889 yards and 18 touchdowns through the air and 417 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
"I think everyone on this offense, especially during this 2020 season with the pandemic and (coronavirus), everybody has to be prepared, everybody has to be ready to go out and perform to help this team win," Kendrick said. "That’s my job. I’m always going to carry myself that way. I’m going to go about my business that way. I’m always going to be prepared and be ready for my opportunity wherever."
Neither MacVittie nor Kendrick have been able to break through since arriving at KU.
"It’s nothing but respect between me and Miles," MacVittie said. "You know, me and Miles, we’ve been through our own struggles and we understand what struggles we’ve both been through. That’s where the respect comes. But it’s nothing but love between the two of us."
Miles said his team will likely rotate quarterbacks on a series-by-series basis, with the head coach taking input from offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon and assistant coaches on the timing of each switch — "I think both Thomas MacVittie and Miles Kendrick are really in position to play and play well. Let’s see. Let’s see how they perform before we judge them," he said.
Asked whether he’d prefer to see one of the two frontrunners take the reins after Coastal Carolina or if a two-quarterback look could persist throughout a significant chunk of the Jayhawks’ 10-game schedule, Miles’ response instead zeroed in on the opener.
"If they start and one starts fast and stays at that speed, we might make a change anyway just to see how the other responds," Miles said. "I can’t imagine that we won’t enjoy the play of one or two of those guys. I figure that they’ll play and play well."
Senior wide receiver Andrew Parchment, who broke out last season with Stanley at quarterback, had kind words for both Kendrick and MacVittie, lauding the former’s speed and ability to improvise and the latter’s attitude and energy.
Parchment said the quarterback battle is ongoing because Miles "wants to get the job done."
"Everybody around here is tired of losing," Parchment said. "The most important position in football is the quarterback room, so we want to make sure we get that right before the first game. The whole entire team is behind whoever wins the job."