Wednesday, September 1, 2010

All eyes on Pick: Gill will be watching QB closely in his first start for KU

Kansas quarterback Kale Pick will make his first start on Saturday against North Dakota State.

Kansas quarterback Kale Pick will make his first start on Saturday against North Dakota State.


Kansas University football coach Turner Gill no doubt will have his eyes in a lot of different places during Saturday’s season opener against North Dakota State.

Football team comes back hoping to break losing streak from last year

The Jayhawks lost seven consecutive games and ended the season that way.

But the one place that figures to get the most fixed gazes from Gill’s direction will be a familiar one.

“I’m just like everybody else,” Gill said. “Quarterback. Quarterback.”

Since arriving on campus in December, Gill has talked endlessly about competition, camaraderie and his passion for developing young men.

Tuesday, at his first weekly news conference of the season, Gill, a former all-conference quarterback at Nebraska, narrowed his focus to his former position.

“Not to try to say another position is more important than the other one,” Gill said. “But how are (KU’s quarterbacks) going to respond on gameday? Everybody always sees every snap that he does, and so it’s just good to see how he responds. We’ll find out. Kale Pick’s our guy and we’ll go from there.”

For Pick, Saturday’s start will be his first since the opening game of his senior year of high school in 2007. In that one, a broken thumb sent Pick to the sidelines for the rest of the season, a place he’s spent most of his time on gamedays for the last three years.

However, during that time the KU quarterback has found a way to grow. While occupying one of the best seats in the house to watch former KU great Todd Reesing work his magic, Pick spent the past two seasons absorbing the nuances and tricks that made Reesing so great. When to scramble, when to throw, how to buy time and how to push the tempo all are elements that Pick fine-tuned while waiting for his turn.

Although almost no one was watching while the Dodge City native was adding to his arsenal in those days, the 6-foot-1, 208-pound righty seems fully comfortable now that all eyes are on him. Even Gill’s.

“I wouldn’t say (there’s) pressure,” Pick said. “Obviously, when he named the starter, we knew that he was going to be analyzing what the starter does on gameday. So I’m excited for that opportunity.”

Pick has had plenty of time to flash the intangibles that ultimately won him the job. Ball security, toughness, command in the huddle and experience all have been key. But the thing that seemed to impress his coaches the most was that he didn’t stop working after winning the job.

“We always believe competition is healthy and right now it’s a very healthy, competitive situation still at quarterback,” said offensive coordinator Chuck Long, referring to the relationship between Pick and backup Jordan Webb. “Kale, when we named him (the starter), he said, ‘Yeah, right. I’ve got to keep working.’ And that’s what you want to hear.”

Of course, neither Long nor Gill have been shy about pushing their starting QB while preparing for North Dakota State.

“I like it,” Pick said. “It keeps me on my toes. (Gill) will tell me if I am doing stuff wrong and I like that, too. He is there to help me get better and he will help me improve if I am doing something that he doesn’t like.”

For the most part, the KU coaches have liked what they’ve seen from Pick. They believe he’s got what it takes to lead the Jayhawks to victories this season and, whether those come through the air or on the ground, they’ve put the ball in Pick’s hands.

“We have to allow him to be good at what he is good at and that’s running with the football,” Long said. “He has some good speed and he has some moves. He’s a shifty guy out in space. We look at him as kind of a hybrid running back. When he’s tucking the ball, he acts like a running back and he runs like one and that’s very rare. And he throws pretty well. That is a nice weapon to have.”


KU_Alumn_2000 8 years, 5 months ago

Just by listening to Gill's comments regarding our offensive strategy this season...we may be difficult to predict at times.

We may see some two tight-end sets...straight into a spread formation with 4 wideouts and a slot receiver...and then back into an option. Given our experienced offensive line, combined with the young talent we have with our skill players...I'd be willing to bet that we put up some decent points this season.

Our defense on the other hand has their work cut out for them. This has got to be one of the most unpredictable KU football teams in a while.

Speaking of predictions...did anyone see the latest ESPN's Big 12 pre-season power rankings ? They have us dead last behind Colorado. Are you kidding me ? I know we're not national championship caliber...but dead last ? C'MON ESPN...really !

Andy Tweedy 8 years, 5 months ago

I have seen predictions of as high as 3rd in the North and as low as last, backup up your comment about how unpredictable this season will be. As for the defense, I really believe it will come down to two things. injuries on the line, and a running game...keeping them off the field and rested. But last? No way, CU is CU, ISU is ISU, and KSU is KSU. I see no reason why we can't be as good or better than any of those three teams.

JJHAWK 8 years, 5 months ago

I predict there is no way we will play below their expectations.

Tim Bingaman 8 years, 5 months ago

JJHAWK: Funny comment, but a lot of truth in it. This team can't really be considered a failure. All the stars are gone and a new coach is in town. Let's just enjoy it and hope that all of the returning players and new guys can get something going. Unless you are delusionally optimistic you aren't expecting a BCS Bowl bid.

Also, that picture looks like a ProActive Ad. Please KU, keep the marketing shots of Turner and let Pick play football.

Keith Kienzle 8 years, 5 months ago

Just when I thought you were sensible, you go way out on a limb again, JJ!

stravinsky 8 years, 5 months ago

I really have a good feeling about this team. I think our offense is really going to surprise some people.

Obviously you don't really expect to be able to replace an all-time record setting qb in a pinch, but Pick has shown some signs that he's going to be able to do some very good things here. It wouldn't really be fair to analyze him based on what he was asked to do in his very limited game time last year (pretty much run the ball), but remember he was a gunslinger in high school and was the scout team player of the year as a true freshman. It's also good to hear that he runs like a back -- too many QBs don't put two arms around the ball when they're in traffic, and that leads to fumbles.

Reesing was an excellent QB, and he certainly wasn't JUST a system QB, but he definitely wasn't hurt by having a very QB friendly system. I think Pick could do very well.

What I think will really show us whether to have faith in this coaching staff is the running game. Angus beat out a starter from last year (Opurum) as well as Rell Lewis, Deshaun Sands, and two very highly touted true freshman. In addition, he was named a captain by his teammates. It's looking very much like Angus's time in the Mangino doghouse may have been unearned. We'll get a little bit of a glimpse this Saturday. But one thing for sure -- either Mangino was very wrong about Quigley, or Gill and co are very wrong about Quigley.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 5 months ago

The Johnson article, and specifically Miller's comments in it, would seem to indicate that the MM doghouse was not necessarily an earned location.

I am so excited to see what happens now that Turner has let the dogs out. I expect it to have an impact on our play via the Quigleys and Johnsons oviously, but their enthusiasm or lack of frustration will have a beneficial effect on the rest of the team as well.

(Can someone que the music? "Who let the dogs out?")

Andy Hess 8 years, 5 months ago

according to Chuck Long himself, our offense has the potential to be better than last year, primarily because we have more speed than we did last year.

KU_FanSince75 8 years, 5 months ago

Pick has the tool to get it done on the field and he has the best coach to help him, in Turner Gill. Nice picture of Kale with the Jayhawk behind him. Great idea for a picture. Nice article, Matt. Nice picture, Mr. Gwin. RCJH.

KGphoto 8 years, 5 months ago

“We have to allow him to be good at what he is good at and that’s running with the football,” Long said.

Wow. That came out of left field. We all knew Kale could run, but the coaches haven't said anything that indicates an option offense, until now. I love this. I've been hoping we would go this direction. A great former option QB coaching a great running QB, with a stable of variously styled running backs.

If this gets on track quickly, the Georgia Tech game could be a barn burner.

BTW, I'm still on record with my prediction. Kale busts a 50+ yard rushing TD this season.

yed 8 years, 5 months ago

Agreed, KG. I can't get the Texas Tech game out of my head when I think of Pick. In that limited action, I saw a running back taking snaps from center, and he looked really fast. I hope that he can work towards being a great passer as well, but Coach Long's comment combined with what little I've seen of Pick leads me to believe that we have either an option QB or a run-first-when-protection-breaks-down-poor-mans-Vince-Young, and that's just fine.

Randy Bombardier 8 years, 5 months ago

Yoo're kidding, right? Just one 50-yarder?

ydoow53 8 years, 5 months ago

Does anyone know if Saturdays game will be on J-TV or is there another place I can watch the game. I can't get the regional broadcast.

hailtoku 8 years, 5 months ago

Pick has to MAKE PLAYS. As generic and vague as that might sound, its true. Do not take a sack. We can't afford it. Do not be timid to make the big throw. We can't afford it. In other words, take notes on Todd Reesing.

Make something out of nothing. It will spark the entire team.

gardenjay 8 years, 5 months ago

Looking for Angus Quigley to surprise all.

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