Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pick ’em: Freshman Webb still co-leader with sophomore Pick for KU starting QB spot

Kansas quarterbacks Jordan Webb and Kale Pick are still in the lead for the position.

Kansas quarterbacks Jordan Webb and Kale Pick are still in the lead for the position.


About this series: This is the seventh in a series of previews of Kansas University’s football team by position. The series will run Wednesdays and Sundays in the Journal-World. Coming Sunday: tight ends.

Kansas University offensive coordinator Chuck Long has a simple theory on quarterbacks that might help explain why the KU coaching staff has yet to pick a starter for the 2010 season.

“Quarterbacks are like tea bags,” Long told the Journal-World during a summer breakdown of the position. “You never know what you’re gonna have until you put ’em in hot water. And you gotta find out when you put ’em in hot water what they’re really all about.”

To this point, there’s not a quarterback on the KU roster — if you don’t count the coaches — that has experienced the kind of pressure cooker that Long is talking about.

Sophomore Kale Pick and red-shirt freshman Jordan Webb took the majority of the snaps in the spring game in April and they emerged from spring drills as the co-leaders at the position.

Both Long and KU head coach Turner Gill have said since they arrived that they would like to keep the competition going into the fall. But the way the calendar laid out had as much as anything to do with the battle moving into preseason practice, which opens at 2:30 p.m. today.

With Pick and Webb being deadlocked atop the depth chart, there really was no way for either player to take the lead over the other this summer since NCAA rules prohibit coaches from working with players.

“Summer’s a great format for quarterbacks in regards to developing their leadership skills because they have to do it on their own,” Long said. “It’s a good time for them to lead on their own and organize and get all the guys together and do what they need to do.”

For the KU quarterbacks, that included mostly physical stuff such as working on conditioning and getting bigger, stronger and faster. Long said all of KU’s quarterbacks — junior college transfer Quinn Mecham currently is listed as the team’s third-stringer — participated in seven-on-seven drills this summer. However, because he could not watch, he could not comment on who looked good and who might not have.

“It’s hard to tell right now,” Long said. “Unless you’re there on a daily basis with them, you really can’t tell at this point in time.”

With that in mind, Long spent the summer dissecting practice film as well as watching and re-watching tape from the spring game. What he concluded was what put the Jayhawks here in the first place.

“Through the course of the spring, they both had good huddle command,” Long said of Pick and Webb. “I thought Kale really had great production in the spring game. Everybody saw that, he had good numbers, he hit some big plays and he did it for both teams. That’s what you like, a guy who will go in on any team and make plays and produce.”

Of Webb, Long said: “Jordan had his moments, he just needs to get better as far as getting rid of the ball quicker. But, overall, I thought his spring was solid. He’s only a freshman so he’s only going to get better. Jordan has that capacity of stretching the field with his arm. He’s got an excellent arm and can throw that deep ball very, very well.”

For the most part, Long knew what type of skills both players possessed before he ever stepped onto the field with them. What, then, was the most important thing he learned this spring?

“You get a good idea of what they can handle and what they can’t handle,” he said. “And scripting and game-planning become easier to do in the fall now that we have a better idea of what our quarterbacks are capable of doing.”

Gill said last week at Big 12 media days in Irving, Texas, that the battle to become the man to replace Todd Reesing could continue for several more weeks.

“As far who’s the starter, there’s no timeline,” he said. “It could be after the first week (of fall practice), it could be all the way up to the day before our first game.”

Long said that stance remains accurate and that he had no news about when a starter might be named.

“The separation will happen in training camp. And we’ve got a lot of training camp practices,” said Long said of the 25 practices that will lead up to gameday on Sept. 4. “It may still be neck-and-neck and coach Gill may shut it down and say, ‘Hey, I wanna go with this guy right now.’ It’s the head coach’s prerogative, and if he feels that’s in the best interest of the football team, and if he feels it’s best to develop more chemistry with the offense as a whole, he may decide quickly. You never know.”

What Long does know is that regardless of which player the staff picks to start the season under center, both QBs better stay ready.

“Everything’s all well and good when you name a starter out of training camp,” Long said. “But they still have to prove it in football games.

“It’s tough. I think one of the most challenging things there is in football is that back-up quarterback position and staying in the game mentally. I can give you stories from the years that I’ve been a coach where that position has changed for whatever reason during the course of the season. So that back-up has to stay hungry and be ready to go in there because time is limited when they get in. You’ve gotta prove yourself and show yourself quickly.”

Practice starts today: KU officially opens the 2010 season today with its first preseason practice of the year at 2:30 p.m.

Among the most interesting stories we’ll be following this fall are: the race to replace Todd Reesing at quarterback; how new head coach Turner Gill will run his program; what life will be like around Memorial Stadium without familiar faces like Reesing, Kerry Meier, Jake Sharp and Darrell Stuckey; as well as how the battles for playing time unfold at other positions.

KU, which finished 5-7 in 2009, returns 38 letter winners and 17 starters from a year ago and will open the 2010 season against North Dakota State at 6 p.m. on Sept. 4 at home.

“Our staff is ready and excited to start this great journey,” Gill said.


KU_Alumn_2000 7 years, 9 months ago

My guess is that the coaching staff is about 60% sold on pick. However they still want to see how both QBs handle pressure situations through an entire 25 practice pre-season. 25 days of practice is a long time for a 2nd or 3rd string QB to progress past the first stringer.

Ultimately chuck long, gill, and the rest of the offense coaches are gonna have a good time being entertained with the quaterback competition.

Still gotta believe that pick is their man with his speed. Sounds like Webb has a better arm, but pick will run gill's option better.

NebraskaJayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

If they run the option, and I think they will.

Jeff Coffman 7 years, 9 months ago

Another good article....Thanks.

Another idea or two is about how the offense or defense will change. For instance, from the spread to whatever we are going to run and the differences between the two types of offenses, same with defense.


Andy Hess 7 years, 9 months ago

nice work, mr. tait. i find myself rooting for Jordan Webb for some reason, but so long as we can get wins and run the offense, I won't really object to either one as the starter.

jhawk23 7 years, 9 months ago

Um, Coach Long, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but perhaps you should stop analogizing your quarterbacks to "tea bags." See for the reasons why.

KGphoto 7 years, 9 months ago

Yeah. Perhaps tea leaves would be the preferred terminology.

Unless one of them jumps over the line of scrimmage and tea bags a linebacker as he scores a touchdown, "tea bag" should be left in the cache. In fact, scratch that. Tea bagging in football involves a helmet. Just lose it all together.

Ben Kane 7 years, 9 months ago

even if they were 100% sure on who they wanted, best to increase the level of competition in practice but declaring them even anyway!

OCJHAWK 7 years, 9 months ago

Whoever gets the nod will have pressure to produce from the first game. I hope we don't end up with musical QB's, unless it is because of blowout time for the backup.

Benjamin Piehler 7 years, 9 months ago

yea, i wouldnt be surprised if both qbs got to start before the end of the season, unfortunately I think thatd be after a few losses.

stravinsky 7 years, 9 months ago

“Quarterbacks are like tea bags,” Long told the Journal-World during a summer breakdown of the position. “You never know what you’re gonna have until you put ’em in hot water. And you gotta find out when you put ’em in hot water what they’re really all about.”

I am morally opposed to Chuck Long dunking our quarterbacks in hot water. Say no to waterboarding!

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 9 months ago

I guess maybe it also depends on how hot the water gets. Is it scalding hot? Is it deadly hot? I would be concerned about cold water too, just because we don't want the "tea bags (QBs)" to experience any shrinkage at the quaterback position.

Tim Bingaman 7 years, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 9 months ago

My totally irrational feeling is that a Quarterback couldn't have a worse last name than Pick [as in picked off, interception] unless is was Joe Ifumbledthesnap, Mike Sackedforaloss or Brett Favreiamretiring.

Therefore I vote for Jordan Webb

tis4tim 7 years, 9 months ago

I once knew a Joe Ifumbledthesnap. He was a beat poet.

Ostertagsfoot 7 years, 9 months ago

tea bags get tossed after 1 use... unless you are indigent.

bearhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

Concerning OakvilleJHawk....I heard Pick's middle name is nada...Kale Nada Pick! Maybe he will pull a Chad Johnson.

Both quarterbacks have strong arms, both can make all the throws, both look stronger than Reesing when throwing the ball. Pick looks much smoother when throwing the ball down the field, but still has great velosity. Webb can throw hard but it looks like he puts everything into it everytime to get results, which makes him less accurate. Pick definintely has the edge with quickness, speed, and mobility. Spring game showed Pick can lead the team and perform at a high level.

Mark Lindrud 7 years, 9 months ago

Enough of the tea bag jokes lol. Anyway, it seems the coaches maybe favoring Kale, but since Webb looks good it is fine to make sure that you have the best guy for the job. Besides, to start your new regime you want to make sure you know who will be the face of your team 100%. Since Kale is a sophomore and Webb is a freshman whomever is chosen will be the face for years to come so this choice is an important one and it is best to make sure once they have made their decision that they stick with it and not play musical chairs at the QB position

Tony Bandle 7 years, 9 months ago

Ironic that with a frosh and soph being the two leading QB candidates that ad above the photos is for diapers!!!

Where's Dickie V??..."Hey, hey, hey Kale and Jordan are my diaper dandies!!!"

Mike Kendall 7 years, 9 months ago

It might be good, in one regard, that the coaching staff not name a starter until late--it would be harder for opponents to prepare for the Jayhawks. Any thoughts? Makes for a little drama.

Larry Ewart 7 years, 9 months ago

If you were at the spring game and know anything about QB's and their movement in the pocket, spotting receivers, etc. then you would know that Pick is the more solid choice between the two. He also had three drops that day. It remains to be seen how he will perform in games but for now he is ahead of Webb. Pick was not known for his running ability in high school, it was all about his arm and passing ability. While at KU he has become much more of a runner which is a bonus for us. He is highly motivated and will perform at a high level I am sure of it.

davelass 7 years, 9 months ago

Are you all high?? He was the 13th rated dual threat quarterback out of high school ...number one was Terrelle any arguing point and Kale has Webb beat...Height, expierence, passing ability...the guy ran a 4. 5 IN HIGH SCHOOL PEOPLE!! I know he was injured his senior year but seriously this guy will run the option for way Coach Gill takes youth, inexpierence, and a slower first step over someone who resembles Gill back in the day.. the under center offense will be fun to watch this year...especially if the O-Line gells, Opurum gets healthy, Quigley finally breaks through, and Brandon Bourbon becomes an option back/great tool for chuck long to use to throw off the defense...not to mention Bradley Mcdougled, John Wilson, and Daymond Patterson as the wide reciever core...Option/Reverse city baby here we come!

Randy Bombardier 7 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, I am really looking forward to a seriously improved run game. We were what, 108th last year in the run? Besides the option, which I think we will run very well, would like the see the old toss sweep that Mason's teams ran so well.

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