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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

KU coaches keeping it simple for QB Jordan Webb

Kansas university quarterback Jordan Webb watches the final moments against Southern Miss from the ground last Friday in Hattiesburg, Miss. The Jayhawks’ coaching staff has tried to take the pressure off Webb as much as possible since he’s still a red-shirt freshman. Results have varied.

Kansas university quarterback Jordan Webb watches the final moments against Southern Miss from the ground last Friday in Hattiesburg, Miss. The Jayhawks’ coaching staff has tried to take the pressure off Webb as much as possible since he’s still a red-shirt freshman. Results have varied.

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The first three weeks of the Kansas University football season have been anything but a smooth ride, particularly for the offense. Young players have been put into prime-time roles, play-calls have been slow to get to the huddle and the offensive line has struggled to move together as one unit.

Jayhawk football needs to get better at the fundamentals

Coach Turner Gill said KU needs to execute their plays better during game time.

Every decision made by the KU coaching staff takes into consideration just how little college game experience red-shirt freshman quarterback Jordan Webb has. The staff’s attempt to compensate for Webb’s lack of live action puts an even greater premium on the communication chain that starts upstairs, moves to the sideline and ends on the field.

Clearly, the chain needs polishing.

“When you have a young quarterback, you try to take as much off of his plate as possible,” offensive coordinator Chuck Long said. “As he grows, and as young guys grow in the system, they’ll be able to do more on their own. What we’re trying to do is take it off of them, in just about everything we do, and put it on us, which is why you see some slow pace at times and them looking back and getting calls and things of that nature.”

That’s not a knock on Webb or the rest of the KU offense. It’s just reality. In fact, Long, a former college quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist, said he was impressed with a number of things Webb had done in the early going. Long is excited to see more.

“We’re just trying to make it as simple as possible for him, being a first-year player in our system,” Long said. “As we get better, as we get older, then it gets faster. Things start to slow down, he’ll see it more. He’ll be able to say, ‘Hey, coach, I got it,’ and he’ll be able to take over those checks, those audibles, those recognition things. It’s just part of the process.”

Asked if focusing too much on simplifying things for Webb may have cost the Jayhawks during their most recent loss, Long whole-heartedly agreed.

“Looking back on it, we probably did,” he said. “I’m just trying to take as much off of his plate as possible and just let him perform, just let him play and put the calls on us.”

That’s what makes Webb’s start to the season all the more impressive. Though he has not set the college football world on fire with his numbers — 40-of-66 for 376 yards and four TDs in nine quarters — his inexperience has not cost his team. Despite facing serious pressure every week, Webb has turned the ball over just once, and that came on an interception that was bobbled by a KU receiver before being picked off.

“This is probably the first time I’ve been around a team that had a freshman quarterback and a freshman running back (and) was not turning the ball over,” Long said. “We went through the (Southern Miss) game with no turnovers and one penalty on offense, and that speaks well to their discipline and how they’re protecting the football.”

Long went on to say that taking care of the football tends to keep teams in games. Despite losing two of their first three, the Jayhawks have been in all three contests. Many players believe it’s just a matter of time before the wrinkles get ironed out for good.

“We’ll just have to get the plays in quicker and execute better,” sophomore wide receiver Bradley McDougald said. “The coaches felt we were a no-huddle offense last year and we would easily be able to transition to a no-huddle this year, but with just a little longer play titles and play calling it was a little tougher for the players to get used to. We’ll be better this week.”

Added Webb: “Once I play more, I’ll be more aware of the pocket. I think it’s just about getting the ball into my receiver’s hands a little quicker and making my reads a little faster and then we’ll be all right.”

Comments

khummel60 4 years ago

Great article! It gives us an inside glimpse into the realities of grooming a red-shirt freshman quarterback, and explains some of what we've seen on the field. At the risk of jinxing us, I think its pretty impressive that he hasn't thrown a true interception this year. I'll be interested to see how he improves his reads, getting rid of the ball, timing, and ability to sense pressure.

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JayViking 4 years ago

I wouldn't be too thrilled with the 0 turnovers at USM. Didn't Webb throw some tailor-made interceptions that were dropped by USM players?

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jayhawkintx73 4 years ago

Yes, at least two. That problem is also because of predictability of the plays called. It isn't hard for other teams to prepare to defend a team that only uses a play 10 to 15 times in game. It was the tunnel screen. In that case the defender read it and he knew where the ball was going. And he put himself where the ball went. I know ifs don't matter, but if the player hadn't stepped up 2 or 3 steps Patterson would have caught it and had a big gain. Webb through the ball on time, but the defender also took those 2 or 3 steps on time because he watched the film and read the play.

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truefan 4 years ago

Forrest Gump was a stud at football so I think this is as close to a compliment you have ever made about the football team.

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deathtomizzou 4 years ago

This is a very young program. It is going to be interesting to see how these young kids on offense grow this year. I hope Coach Long will turn the offense loose a little more and push the ball down field. No suprise that Webb hasn't turned the ball over as all during his high school career he took care of the ball extremely well.

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Jonathan Briles 4 years ago

I don't know I would say that we are a very young team on offense. We are young at some very important positions. On offense we have two sophomores starting on the O-Line and there are two sophomores and one freshman on the second string for the O-Line. Other than Wilson and Patterson every single Receiver is either a sophomore or freshman. More importantly our QB is a freshman and our first string running back is a true freshman last week backed up by a red shirt freshman. Last week we had 14 underclassman on the two deep on offense and 5 started. Our defense which we all thought would be terrible is doing pretty good right now. Why? Because they have experience. Once our great athletes (and we really do have some good ones) get some experience this offense will be really good. Thats why I'm really not worried too much about the season and I'm not worried at all about the future of the program. We are still recruiting well and have some young talent. We have a whopping 3 seniors on our offense. This offense will come back great next year.

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KGphoto 4 years ago

Last night, for the first time since the game, I was able to watch the DVR. I actually thought KU played a pretty good game against a team that was racked on crowd noise and purple drank. Subtract a flukie jump shot pass and stupid blocked punt, KU played well enough to win.

Webb had great presence in the pocket. On one play he even looked a little like Reesing, avoiding defenders from three sides and running for a big first down. He has better pocket presence and grit than Matt Cassell. (is that a compliment?)

He looked pretty tough taking the sacks. He held onto the ball and never panicked. If anything, it was his accuracy and supposed arm strength that I questioned. Biere saved him with a great catch early on, and he threw a couple of easy interceptions that were dropped. One was a deep passed to the endzone that was simply under thrown. Basically I found myself cursing the throws and play calling more than the "presence".

That was a tough environment though. The pride of a nine game home streak on the line. Last years loss in Lawrence, and a national HD audience. It was too easy for SM to imagine themselves as the underdog, and get riled up beyond belief. They were so jacked! Tarzan couldn't pound that much chest if he bagged 11 Janes and snorted half a columbian retirement package. I was sure there would be an injury from celebration at some point.

All in all? A great experience for a young KU team. Hopefully Webb and the rest of the youngsters learned how to maintain an even strain, on the road.

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youowethehawks 4 years ago

In a stadium as intimate as the one in Hattiesburg, it is. I've been there and the fans are right on top of the field, not half-a-million miles away across an olympic track, like at Memorial.

By the way, your orca is retard.

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Brad Farha 4 years ago

Let's be real -- mulaza is a Tiger fan. mulaza? short for MU laser or something like that. The odd orca logo is black and gold.....and his posts are at best back handed compliments to the KU teams and fans. A Mizzou Troll by any other name is still a Mizzou troll.

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KGphoto 4 years ago

The point is, SM was feeding off of however many people there were. And the purple drank, of course. And yes, Big 12 crowds will be just as rowdy, but it was a good experience for a young team. Half of our team has never played against an opposing crowd at the college level.

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KGphoto 4 years ago

Oh, hey. How do you spell elohssa backwards?

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Ben Kliewer 4 years ago

KG, I love you. BTW, watched Goonies lately?

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HawkInAL 4 years ago

Mulaza, I was at the game. It was very loud. It was very hot and humid. The fans stayed in it the entire way. If you're an Arizona alum then imagine this- your stadium, except way more humid, a louder (and younger) crowd, and a more physical pass-rush.

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Kenneth Hillman 4 years ago

Good article. Let's just show improvement week to week.

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jc1306 4 years ago

Does anyone else think that Webb kind of looks like the QB in the movie "Friday Night Lights". I can't remember the characters name, but thats who I picture everytime I see Webb.

He's a freshman, it looks to me like he has the tools to be a good QB in the Big 12. Experience is what he needs, this whole team will grow quickly.

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KURiggins 4 years ago

Great post jc1306. I agree 100%. Webb is going to be a beast. It just takes time and reps. No way to simualte that in practice. He needs more games. Great article too. By the way. If anyone cares to know. Webb's stats as a Sr. in HS at Union Mo. Rushing 143att for 604yards, for 4.22yard per att with 11 rushing TD's. Passing: 281 comp on 446 att for 63%comp pct, with 53TD's and only 6int's. 53 TD's..incredible, in one season. He also took a losing HS team, and made them into a winner. He has skills. He will be a beast, just takes time. ..P.S. great comment about him looking like that dude from Friday Night Lights. He kinda does. you can find those stats at www.maxpreps.com

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KU_FanSince75 4 years ago

@ youowethehawks---100% in agreement about mulaza's orca. Nice one!

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hawk316 4 years ago

KURiggins, I agree. I think, if seen in proper context, Webb's performance thus far has been very impressive. Besides his other abilities, he seems to have that "something" that really good quarterbacks have...call it leadership, the ability to inspire others, never-say-die/don't quit attitude or whatever. As I've said before, I think we may have a special quarterback here.

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JayhawkRock 4 years ago

The only problem with keeping the offense simple is that we are too predictable on offense and easy to stop. I know Webb has three years after this year and so we have him long term but I would like them to let him throw the ball more down the field.

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KURiggins 4 years ago

By the way. Todd Reesing's numbers as a Sr. QB at Lake Travis HS in Austin, TX. 756 rush yards 8rush TD's, 3,343pass yards 41TD's 5 int's. Not comparing Webb to Reesing. Not yet, he has a lot to prove. Just an interesting side note. Similar numbers, and both overlooked because of size. Webb not as overlooked as Reesing, but still overlooked for quite a while. Missouri got on him late. And I am glad, cause we got him.

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hawksquawk 4 years ago

Not to nitpick, but Lake Travis, unlike Webb's HS team, is a well-established football power in the Austin area. Not only did Reesing face stiffer competition every week, but he also played on a multi-dimensional texas football team that was good before he ever played a down.

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DevilHawk 4 years ago

If the other players on the team are good, then it makes the QB look better than he really is. Example: Matt Leinart while at USC.

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KURiggins 4 years ago

Correction: "As a sophomore he was all-state second team... As a senior he threw for 3,100 yards and 31 touchdowns while rushing for 1,024 yards and 24 touchdowns... Team was 11-1 advancing to the state sectionals... As a junior he threw for 3,832 yards and 46 touchdowns". per www.kuathletics.com. My mistake I had misstated Jordan's Sr. HS numbers. However, still in two years he threw 77 TD passes. Playstation numbers.

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kranny 4 years ago

Put Opurum back in the offense!!

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grandpa 4 years ago

I think Webb is doing alright. Not great. I am tired of reading all of this Freshman crap. Has anybody been watching Mr. Martinez, the Freshman QB at Nebraska??

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Kenneth Hillman 4 years ago

Great point and I'm tired of hearing about Webb's high school stats too. They got him recruited, they do not matter anymore. Lets see what kind of college numbers he can put up.

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KuKain 4 years ago

Maybe you shouldn't judge too much till we get a half decent o-line in front of him.

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KURiggins 4 years ago

HS stats are often a reflection of whether or not a player can be good at the next level. I mean..would you want KU to recruit a QB who had twice as many int's in HS as TD's. I don't know, but guessing you don't. Stick to golf Tiger. Football is not your sport

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bigtex 4 years ago

Webb must have a lucky horse shoe in his pocket. Fumble in game 2 that wasn't called by the official on our 7 yd. line early in the game. Game 3 Webb should of had 4 ints. and recovered his own fumble.But we should dominate NM St.,extremely poor defense,they try to run to much man coverage.

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flyingfinn 4 years ago

With all of the downsides to this year's football program Webb's showing with practically no protection in front of him has been more than expected...he will continue to improve and I beleive be a top notch QB in the future

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jaymar74 4 years ago

Go to the Big 10 with your State school. You have had it against Gill from Day 1. What did he do, steal your girlfriend in High School? Stay off of my University's site. Don't tell me its yours too.

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mtdewjunkie 4 years ago

more questions that you probably wont answer: who do you want to replace coach gill? would that person even want the job? would any coach take this job if they thought they could be fired this quickly? how many recruits would ku lose if they make another coaching change? get better....compared to what? do you think 3 games is a large enough sample size to determine if coach gill is doing a good job?

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kureader 4 years ago

... another good article by Tait.

Long's comments make sense.

As for Webb: He's 40-66 and 4 TD's ... with one turnover on an interception that bounced through a receiver's hands. That's respectible performance for a first year quarterback, and he'll only get better.

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KU_FanSince75 4 years ago

@grandpa, kenhil and fllyingfinn----all good points! I see Webb inexperienced but improving. All things considered, he has done a respectable job. Now, don't get me wrong---he has plenty of areas to improve upon.

Keeping it positive,

Fan75

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Tony Bandle 4 years ago

Did I see the line was 22 1/2 in KU's favor this week against New Mexico State??!!

Is this a misprint or is NMS really, really suck?

Aren't they Division One?

What was the line for our first game against North Dakota State?

We better win the "State" games [Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico] or we are screwed!

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DevilHawk 4 years ago

NMSU is one of the worst teams in the country. The 22.5 might be a little bit high, but it is about what it should be. Of course, which team shows up on game day is anybody's guess.

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waywardJay 4 years ago

Good Jayhawks. Think it's going to be a two week cycle... Hopefully we can start to break that trend after tis weekend.....

w,w,w could go a long way to ailing this team's current issues.

Keep in mind naysayers... neither baylor or K-state can throw the football consistantly..... they won't be TOO much diffeerent from GEorgia tech.

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KU_FanSince75 4 years ago

@ Oakvillle---A couple clarifications----first of all, there was no line on the North Dakota State game because Vegas doesn't give predictions (a line) on teams that play a FCS school. Other examples: When K-State played Missouri State, you know, the team that was coached by Terry Allen, there was no line---Nebraska plays the dreaded Jack Rabbits from South Dakota State, this Saturday, which happens to be their Homecoming, btw, there is no line because SDSU is a FCS school. New Mexico State is a D-1 school, and yes, like in the "Waterboy" movie, they suck! The line I saw this morning was 23 points.

I have a comment and question for you-------okay, I am reading Lindy's college basketball preview magazine----the magazine has K-State at #4 and KU at #17. So, I pick up the Sporting News college basketball preview and they have KU at #4 and K-State at #6. Quite the difference, don't you think? That was my question, btw.

Marcus and Markief will be at my local Sports Clips store on October 2nd---can't wait---Marcus is on the cover of the Sporting News basketball preview and hopefully, will autograph it for me---I'm like a kid at a candy store! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

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Tony Bandle 4 years ago

Ratings are as much based on a popularity contest as to factual analysis, thus, don't pay atention to them until January when league play starts.

Possible explanation of your specific example..Kansas State has a highly rated recruiting class and has been averaging up recently [thus KSU 4 and KU 17] versus Kansas has beaten the snot out of KSU for what seems like the last century[ thus KU #4 and KSU #7}.

Different strokes for different folks.

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gardenjay 4 years ago

Well, you're in the wrong candy store!

KU basketball is such a win-at-all-costs affair anymore that it almost requires a different kind of fan. Following the character failings of the national championship team members in the sports pages is like reading about over-grown teenagers. What might help is if they actually stay at KU for 4 years like Manning did. He was worth being a fan of B-ball.

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CatsEatBirds 4 years ago

That's the irony of being one of the best roundball programs in the country:

You get the best athletes. But they are much more likely to leave early and not be quality student-athletes.

Characters like Manning are so incredibly rare in today's roundball.

Good luck finding the balance. Even UNC and the cheating schools are battling that and sometimes losing.

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