Originally published September 1, 2010 at 03:38p.m., updated September 2, 2010 at 12:00a.m.

Opurum OK with switch to LB

Webb’s role still undecided for Saturday opener

Kansas University’s Toben Opurum has made the switch from running back to linebacker in 2010. Coach Turner Gill announced Thursday night that Opurum had sprained an ankle, making him questionable for the game against Georgia Tech.

Kansas University’s Toben Opurum has made the switch from running back to linebacker in 2010. Coach Turner Gill announced Thursday night that Opurum had sprained an ankle, making him questionable for the game against Georgia Tech.


Audio clip

KU coach Turner Gill: Sept. 1

On Wednesday, sophomore Toben Opurum spoke for the first time about his move from running back to linebacker. Though he still has a ways to go in terms of being settled in at his new position, Opurum sounded comfortable with the idea.

“I’m already past the frustrated stage or the being-mad-about-it stage,” Opurum said. “I’ve already went through that. It’s gotten to the point where I look at it more as an opportunity and a chance to help out the team.”

Tuesday, Opurum’s coaches talked about his adjustment thus far. They said he still had a way to go but that they liked what they’d seen from him. Beyond bringing good size and a physical mentality to the position — not to mention much-needed depth — Opurum also has brought a great attitude and relentless work ethic, things that have benefited him even when he wasn’t in the right position.

“I actually got an interception yesterday,” he said. “I messed up the play, but ended up with it anyway.”

As for the physical nature of the position, Opurum said he’s used to that since his running style typically involved quite a pounding. Tackling, though … that’s a different story.

“All my tackles in my life have been off of interceptions,” Opurum said. “I haven’t made a tackle on defense since ninth grade, maybe.”

Though he’s still considered new to the position — especially by college football standards — his coaches and teammates have welcomed him with open arms because of his physical presence and the instant depth, even if they are over the switch.

Said senior linebacker Drew Dudley as he walked off the practice field: “Good, you’re talking to ’em today. I’m tired of them asking me about you.”

Dudley then laughed and headed for the locker room.

Webb’s role still undecided

Although Kansas University football coach Turner Gill and offensive coordinator Chuck Long made sophomore Kale Pick the clear-cut choice at quarterback two weeks ago today, there seems to be some question about what role red-shirt freshman Jordan Webb will have in the offense.

At least early.

Monday, on the Big 12 coaches conference call, Gill was vague about whether Webb would play at all in Saturday’s opener against North Dakota State, be it in mop-up time or earlier in the game.

Wednesday, when speaking to reporters before practice, Gill indicated that he and his staff still were discussing things and that the possibility remained that Webb could play as early as the first half.

“We haven’t decided at this point in time,” Gill said. “We’ll decide here at the end of the week. It could be a situation where (playing Webb) wouldn’t be at the end of the game. We’ve talked about possibly putting him in the game maybe in the first half or whatever. Again, we’re still discussing that.”

Gill did not provide any insight into what factors might influence the decision one way or the other.

“We’re going to keep that between Chuck and I,” he said.

Webb may not play at all or simply might go in late in the game if the Jayhawks are in control.

This news, no matter how small it ends up being, only emphasizes what Gill said Tuesday about being eager to get a look at his quarterbacks in game action.

Looking ahead

Though the game is still 15 days away, KU’s third opponent of the season, Southern Miss, will kick off the college football season at 6:30 tonight with a nationally televised game at South Carolina on ESPN.

Southern Miss, which lost to KU, 35-28, in Lawrence in 2009, is coming off a 7-6 season that included a loss to Middle Tennessee State in the New Orleans Bowl.


Eric Williams 9 years, 1 month ago

I trust our coaches, but being the first game I hope they at least let Pick get a rhythm going before seeing what Webb is capable of.

sevenyearhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Remember those fun and wacky days when KU would have BOTH quarterbacks on the field?


I remember coming back from Emporia and listening to the game on the radio - when I heard both Reesing and Meier called I literally almost ran off the highway!

sevenyearhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

FIRST time they did that, against FAU or someone like that ...

Randy Bombardier 9 years, 1 month ago

This is a good move, keeps both players relevant, sharp, and helps Webb particularly to continue to compete having tasted some playing time.

Eric Williams 9 years, 1 month ago

  1. Probably not.

  2. Do you really think Mangino would "work out"?

KU_FanSince75 9 years, 1 month ago

613---the answer to #2 is, NO! Mangino is in Florida anyway, sipping on a Corona.

waywardJay 9 years, 1 month ago

A couple L's early..... either your a prophet or you are an idiot.... by the way, When K-state took a couple L's early did they follow your sage advice..... Oh right.... they had a quarterback change and made some ground in the big 12 north.... Pesky little facts....

DevilHawk 9 years, 1 month ago

It sounds to me like Gill isn't talking about pulling Pick and leaving Webb in for the remainder - if he does put Webb in during the first half. Instead, I think that he would have Pick start, have Webb play the second and/or third quarters, and put Pick back in for the fourth.

You want to see Pick play under pressure, but you also want to give him some mop-up time so that he can work on running the offense against actual opponents.

However, because Pick and Webb are relatively even, you also want to see Webb in full action before playing against Georgia Tech. Pick will then probably play the entire game against Georgia Tech next week.

KU_FanSince75 9 years, 1 month ago

WaywardJay---- I be on yur bandwagon, baby!

OCJHAWK 9 years, 1 month ago

I don't understand why so many are still rooting for Webb. I am sure he is good, but he isn't our starter. I don't personnaly know either one, but Pick is our man and I hope he is for the next three years, leading our program to many victories.

justinryman 9 years, 1 month ago

Haters need not apply!!!

Not sure what your reasoning is, besides perhaps a troll, but.....I'm sure you wanted someone like a Lane Kiffin to coach at KU. You know, someone with no morals.

I'm not saying Gill is perfect, no coach ever has been and never will be, but I think he will do a great job at KU, just have to give hime time. What you want MM back?

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 1 month ago

I'd take MM back in a heartbeat. Don't forget the greatest coach we have had at KU in the last 50 years.

justinryman 9 years, 1 month ago

One great season. 50-48 over all at KU, and took a team with how much talent on it and lost 7 in a row. I don't think players quit on thier coach, they have too much pride, I think he quit on them.


stravinsky 9 years, 1 month ago

"Opurum from running back to line backer???? I new Gill would screw up but, not this soon. This just goes to show that Gill is not a good coach. He showed that while at NU."

Hard to say that before the team has played a snap, isn't it? As for showing that he wasn't a good coach at Nebraska, All he did was coach two All-American QBs, with Frazier winning the Unitas award and Crouch winning the friggin' Heisman, and coach for a team that won three national titles. No big deal.

justanotherfan 9 years, 1 month ago

"Opurum from running back to line backer???? I new Gill would screw up but, not this soon. This just goes to show that Gill is not a good coach. He showed that while at NU."

I had no idea that getting your best athletes on the field was a "screw up."

Let's review this again.

Healthy RBs (not counting Toben) - Quigley, Sands, Bourbon, Sims. That's four backs, all of whom are healthy and capable of getting time at the BCS D-1 level.

Healthy LBs (not counting Toben) - Springer, Dudley, Johnson, Lewis, Farley. Everyone else either redshirted last year or is hurt (Tharp, Fink).

Keep in mind, we play 1 RB at a time, but 3 LBs. We have a luxury of depth at RB. We have no such luxury at LB.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 1 month ago

Toben was the best running back we had last year before the injury.

Why not move one of the yound RBs into that position? Or maybe recruit a LB, just a thought.

Kevin Studer 9 years, 1 month ago

Ummmm, we recruit linebackers. Most of them end up in jail or quitting the team, but hey, we recruit them!

KGphoto 9 years, 1 month ago

Hawkinson didn't want to play OL either. Now look.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.