A lot of the talk this offseason focused on the new offense that first-year head football coach Turner Gill would run at Kansas University and how Gill and his coaching staff would ask its quarterbacks to go under center more than KU fans were used to seeing.
That still might be the plan, but it certainly wasn’t part of the recipe for upsetting No. 15 Georgia Tech on Saturday.
With red-shirt freshman Jordan Webb taking over for sophomore Kale Pick as the Jayhawks’ starting quarterback, the Jayhawks relied a lot more on the shotgun than expected.
Webb, who finished 18-of-29 for 179 yards, with three touchdowns and an interception, worked primarily out of the shotgun during the first three quarters, going under center only on obvious running downs.
In the first half alone, 34 of KU’s 38 plays were run from the shotgun. The funny thing about that stat was that two of the four plays that came with Webb lining up under center went for touchdowns.
“We can do a lot of things in this offense,” Webb said after the game. “But with their defense, it just suited us best to go shotgun. We ran well out of the shotgun, and we threw it well, too.”
Despite running 76 percent of its plays from the ’gun, the KU rushing attack still gained 141 yards on 41 carries and was especially effective when running the draw out of the passing formation.
The disparity between the two formations changed a little in the second half, largely because the Jayhawks shifted to the run to eat away at the clock. Still, KU ran 20 plays from the shotgun and 13 from under center in the second half.
“It’s not necessarily that we’re going shotgun exclusively,” Gill said. “I think that just fit what the gameplan was. As we continue to get to know our players better and (figure out) what fits our personnel, then that’s what we’re going to do.”
As long as Webb remains the starter, the shotgun likely will be the featured formation. Webb played his entire high school career in the shotgun, and Gill has said on more than one occasion that he believes KU’s wide receivers are a major strength for this team.
Asked if he thought Webb looked more comfortable when setting up behind the line of scrimmage, Gill leaned toward yes.
“I guess I can’t say that at this point in time,” Gill said. “As we continue to move on, we’ll find that out. He probably is a little bit more comfortable (in the shotgun) just because (he’s used to it). But I think he can do both. We’ve seen him do both in practice, and he’s been able to be comfortable dropping back and in shotgun.”
Springer honored by Big 12
KU linebacker Justin Springer, a senior co-captain from Los Fresnos, Texas, was named the Big 12 Conference defensive player of the week on Monday.
“They recognized Justin Springer, but I think our whole defense should get credit, too,” Gill said. “Justin is the leader of our team and a captain, but, man, our whole defense played well. It means a lot to our program just to get recognized (for having) good football players.”
Springer posted a career-high 15 tackles — including three for loss and one sack — in KU’s 28-25 victory against No. 15 Georgia Tech Saturday.
Through two games, he is averaging 11 tackles per game, which ranks second in the Big 12 and 20th in the nation.
KU to play in 37th state
When KU plays at Southern Miss on Friday in Hattiesburg, Miss., it will mark the first time that the Jayhawks have played a football game in Mississippi.
In its 120-year history, KU has played games in 37 states and Washington, D.C. The states KU has yet to kickoff in: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Vermont.