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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Still the one? Webb remains in position to take starting QB spot

Kansas University Quarterback Jordan Webb prepares to pass to a receiver as the Jayhawks run through plays during practice on Tuesday at the KU practice fields. Kansas coaches haven’t officially named a starting quarterback, but the sophomore Webb figures to be the favorite entering the fall season.

Kansas University Quarterback Jordan Webb prepares to pass to a receiver as the Jayhawks run through plays during practice on Tuesday at the KU practice fields. Kansas coaches haven’t officially named a starting quarterback, but the sophomore Webb figures to be the favorite entering the fall season.

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With just 18 days remaining before Kansas University’s first football game of the 2011 season, the battles for starting spots in preseason camp are starting to heat up. But few seem as hot as the competition at the team’s most visible position — quarterback.

As was the case a year ago, KU coach Turner Gill and offensive coordinator Chuck Long continue to evaluate their options at QB as camp moves into its third week.

Little has changed from a week ago, when Gill said sophomore Jordan Webb and senior Quinn Mecham were at the top of the depth chart at QB, but, with the days leading up to game week dwindling, the time is nearing for the coaches to name a starter.

As has been the case since the end of spring ball, Webb has the slight lead in the race. But Gill said Mecham remained close and that the competition would continue for a little longer.

“We want to go through three or four more days and then maybe sit down with Chuck and see where we’re at,” said Gill, when asked if he was ready to name a starter. “I feel very good about Mecham and Jordan Webb being the catalysts to run our football team. We’ll make a decision here sometime soon.”

For Long, the ideal timing for an announcement would come sometime early next week.

“Within 10 days of the first game, that’s what you like to do,” Long said. “That way you give him a chance to talk about it with the media and do some other things. But coach Gill may extend that. He may go to the week before. He may do it tomorrow. But 10 days is always optimal, just because he can settle in a little and then focus on the opponent that next week.”

While some of the battle has played out in practice with performance in drills, leadership and overall demeanor all being closely scrutinized, the other part of the evaluation has taken place during a pair of scrimmages, the most recent of which came last Saturday night.

“Both guys have really done well in the scrimmages,” Gill said. “And it’s kind of good for me because we continue to have competition. That always puts a smile on my face.”

Another QB who has emerged recently is true freshman Michael Cummings, of Killeen, Texas. While Gill seemed to indicate that Cummings remained behind Webb and Mecham in the race to become the starter, he also said he had been impressed with how good Cummings had looked in limited time.

“He’s done some good things, and I think every day he’s gotten better,” Gill said. “That’s all you can ask for from a freshman. I think every single day (we’ve been) impressed with what he’s able to do. He has some running skills. He’s shown some good throwing ability. And I’m very pleased with what he’s shown. He’s got tremendous upside and we’ll see how it all fits as we continue to evaluate our guys.”

Gill wasn’t the only one lauding Cummings, a 6-foot, 196-pound dual-threat QB who missed the second half of his senior season of high school because of a knee injury.

“Great,” said Long, when asked how Cummings had progressed. “He had a nice 50-yard run in the scrimmage, and he was live. We wanted to see him live and in some Wildcat stuff, and he’s impressed so far. We’ll see how that all shakes out by the end of camp.”

Added junior wide receiver and former QB Kale Pick: “The big thing that’s really impressed me with Michael is his arm strength. He can wing it all over the field, and he can make every throw.”

The thing that seems to separate Webb and Mecham from Cummings is the fact that the two older guys have actual game experience.

“Having both of them with starting experience really helps,” Long said. “That has really shown up this fall at training camp. But it’s been a very competitive battle. Jordan’s really done well and probably has an edge at this point in time, but we feel very solid about our two guys.”

As for Cummings’ injury, for which he had surgery last December, that’s a non-issue.

“I wouldn’t say anything is wrong with him,” Gill said. “He’s not injured, he’s not favoring the leg at all. That’s really not even a discussion anymore. He’s 100 percent healthy and ready to go.”

Pick thought back to his experience in last year’s quarterback battle and said he imagined Webb and Mecham were ready to find out who had won the job.

“I definitely remember the feeling,” Pick said. “I remember I wanted to know right away. I’m sure Jordan and Quinn do, too.”

As for any longing for his old position or the infamous red jersey that QBs don during practice, Pick said he hadn’t thought about it in a while.

“I don’t look over there as much anymore,” he said. “I’m pretty much focused on what I’m doing at receiver. But every now and then I’ll see Jordan or Quinn walk by me and I’ll tell ’em, ‘Keep it going, keep the hard work up,’ and I’ll try to keep them motivated.”

Comments

Ferd Magellan 3 years, 3 months ago

The age old dilemma of talent vs experience. Not to say that Webb doesn't have talent, but with Cummings you have more speed and potential. If one year of experience in a 3-9 season is the only reason they're ahead of the freshman, you should probably play the freshman.

I want to give Webb the opportunity to showcase his talents behind a healthy OL and with a superior running game to aid him. But when those losses begin to pile up (and they will), I would like to see Cummings on the field rather than redshirting him. The goal is to win now, not in the future.

GridironHawk 3 years, 3 months ago

I couldn't agree more. I want to see what Webb can do when he isn't running for his life or taking hit after hit. People seem to forget that he played most the season injured. However, I also wouldn't mind seeing Cummings on the field some. I don't think it is worth wasting a redshirt (especially if he has the talent to get on the field at some point - wildcat formation). We have some decent QBs already committed next year and I think it's a spot that Long and Gill should be able to win some recruiting battles (much like Mitchell has been able to do at RB)

Ben Kliewer 3 years, 3 months ago

I like to call it "The Todd Reesing Effect" Ripping the redshirt off of a Freshman halfway through the season. He takes over and leads you to victory! Previously it was called "The Adam Barmann Effect" but it didn't have as much of a positive result...

KCHawk81 3 years, 3 months ago

Berglund has the potential to be great, and I hope he realizes it. But we probably don't even recruit him if Michael Cummings doesn't get hurt. Cummings got lost in the shuffle because he committed so early, but he's legit. The fact that he's been impressive in camp shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

KCHawk81 3 years, 3 months ago

Actually, we also know he wasn't in attendance at the start of practice yesterday, per Slant. I hope it means only that he's getting things straightened out in Colorado. But Berglund's status should be very low on our list of concerns. We have a probable starter in Webb, a great freshman in Cummings, a potential competitor in Jablonski, and two solid recruits committed for 2012. The injuries to Lewandowski and Dorsey are (or at leat should be) far bigger news than anything our fifth-string QB might be up to.

Matt Tait 3 years, 3 months ago

Only reason I didn't include anything about Berglund was because he's a non-factor at QB right now.

He was not at the start of practice yesterday and I'm told that he's back in Colorado again, continuing to deal with his legal issues.

We're to the point now where this is the norm for Brock and he probably won't be reported on much until he plays his way into the conversation. Because of all the time he's missed and continues to miss, it's likely that that won't be this season.

We'll keep an eye on him, but Webb, Mecham and Cummings are the ones worth writing about right now.

Chris Bailey 3 years, 3 months ago

So Matt Brock is on the team and they are comitted to him and him to us? I'd really hate to lose out on him. If he red shirts so be it. But just don't wanna lose him as a recruit. Is that a possiblity or is he a Jayhawk? Keegan's article about him really through a snag in this whole thing and I guess I like many wanna know if he's with us! Thanks Matt!

Chris Bailey 3 years, 3 months ago

So what you're hearing is he's completely committed and he'll be here full time when this legal drama is over? I can't believe a punch to some kid has caused this much crap! Don't kids fight all the time in high school? This is crazy.

rob4lb 3 years, 3 months ago

There's probably more to it than a punch in the face.

Matt Tait 3 years, 3 months ago

No question. The last thing HE wants to do is leave the team every couple of days, but, unfortunately, that's not up to him right now.

Tough situation. I know he wants to be here and, clearly, the coaching staff wants him. It's just a matter of putting this all behind him and getting back to football.

Again, could take a while. Remember, the trial, should it occur, is scheduled for December.

ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 3 months ago

Even I have stopped caring about BB...that's saying something.

Chris Bailey 3 years, 3 months ago

No that's not saying anything cause you don't care about any of the football players!

John Penka 3 years, 3 months ago

Is Brock even back in Lawrence? I knew he went back to Colorado two weeks ago and I haven't heard anything since.

jhawkrulz 3 years, 3 months ago

1-Long don't use "wildcat" for a KU interview.

2-I hope that Cummings wins the battle. That is actually a good sign for KU for the fact that the other two QBs talked about did not perform well last year, and knowing that a true freshman would have an uphill battle to get the starting job; this would mean that he is head and shoulders above the other two QBs and would bring (at least to me) some real optimism to the season. I think knowing what our two QBs brought last year, unless if there has been some miraculous improvement, this could be a long season.

3-There is always the long debate of whether the Offensive line makes the QB or the QB makes the offensive line. And last year there were questions on both. This year with an increase in the O-line (at least based on articles on this site), I would hope that helps the QB significantly, but if the QB makes the offensive line, it could be a long season.

texashawk10 3 years, 3 months ago

3 is only a debate to people who don't know anything about football. A good to great OLine can make a bad QB average, an average QB good, and a good QB great. Just like a good OLine can make a QB look better, a bad OLine can make a QB look a lot worse than his talent level. When a QB plays behind a bad OLine, he is going to be rushing throws, hanging on to passes too long and taking unnecessary sacks, and leaving the pocket and risking big hits. Look at any successful offense at any level of football and a common theme will be a great OLine.

Ben Kliewer 3 years, 3 months ago

Hey man, the Wildcat was developed by Snyder in Manhattan...for the college game off of a HS offense, but all the same. I love to hate the kitties, but you gotta respek Snyder. The Wildcat is what it's called. We'll use it to beat them in Lawrence this year! Mwa ha ha!

Chris Bailey 3 years, 3 months ago

Matt Tait,

You can't talk about the QB position and NOT mention Berglund! Where is he? What or How is he doing? We haven't heard anything about him for a while. I know I check the message boards quite a bit looking for anything about him. I mean all summer it was Brock this and Brock that, he's coming, he's not and now nothing. Can you give us something? I just wanna know is he on the team and at practice??? At least at practice occationally? Is he gonna play football here or not? I'm dying man. Any tid bit would be nice. Last I heard he was going back and forth between Co and Ks.

Thanks Matt!

Matt Tait 3 years, 3 months ago

You're correct. He's back and forth right now and will continue to be that way until this issue is settled. That could be a while.

Because we're now less than 3 weeks away from the season opener, it's time to focus more on guys who are here and who may play. Nothing against Brock, it's just the way it is.

I thought about mentioning that he missed practice yesterday but that's kind of the norm for him right now. Besides, since they kick us out after the first 15 minutes, I could not be 100 percent certain that he missed the entire practice and therefore I didn't want to touch it.

We'll keep an eye on him, but the season is here now so we're gonna focus more on the players who are here. Sorry.

Chris Bailey 3 years, 3 months ago

Matt,

Thanks for the info! I'm just glad he's here and is a Jayhawk! If he red shirts that's fine with me! I don't see us being a contender this season anyway I think we're a year away from making some real noise. That said I'm hopeful and supportive of our team to surprise me and others this season! Thanks for the great stuff as always Matt! Can't wait for McNeese!

Rock Chalk!

ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 3 months ago

It's pretty standard for a head coach to take a year and a half to pick a starter

Ethan Berger 3 years, 3 months ago

when you have average talent yea. Brian Kelly at ND as taken two years before he stuck with a guy at ND.

KCHawk81 3 years, 3 months ago

That's true. Kansas has done it for all but three of the past 10 years.

jaymar74 3 years, 3 months ago

When coaches pick and when they announce are two different things. Keep the competition going as long as possible, makes everyone better. This year, Webb was picked 4 months ago, he will be announced in a few days.

Randy Bombardier 3 years, 3 months ago

My first thought was to redshirt Cummings, but when thinking about the fire that Reesing brought I have to say no, he needs to start. 2013 is going to be the year so do we want him playing that season as a sophomore or a junior? On the other hand I am superstitious and since Reesing took us to the Orange Bowl as a sophomore...

rob4lb 3 years, 3 months ago

I can't believe how many people here have hyped up Berglund. I doubt that anyone here has seen him play. His potential is all based on what most people have read on the recruiting websites. To read the comments, you'd think he is the second coming of Joe Montana. He originally committed to Colorado- not Oklahoma or USC or Florida. Given his personal issues (and I don't know what they really are), there is no way he can focus 100% on football. He really needs to get through the personal stuff this year, adapt to college life and redshirt.

It really sounds like there is some good competition amongst some player who can focus 100% on football and that should be encouraging. Webb was only a freshman last year. His performance could take a huge step up this year.

David Lara 3 years, 3 months ago

No need to officially put Cummings in a redshirt until we know what we have at the QB position this season. If Webb and Meacham can cover our needs we can always give him the redshirt at any point down the road. Seems to me that Brock will certainly be the best candidate for the extra year since his spring and summer prep time has been a complete waste. I don't really see how he is going to contribute to this season. He's certainly not prepared enough and Cummings, who seems to have had a great camp, brings the same skills to the table. It would take a lot for Brock to see the field this year IMO.

KGphoto 3 years, 3 months ago

Definitely want to see some plays/possessions drawn up for Cummings this year. Reesing got his chance and and we blew it up for years, collected a BCS win and reset the offensive record book. Cummings sounds like he's got that playmaking ability.

Right now I think you have to put him in if any opportunity arises. Certainly Webb deserves a shot to get it going, but I wouldn't hesitate to get Cummings his chance too.

squawkhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

With Webb and Mecham we have a chance to win 2 games this year.

squawkhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

With Webb and Mecham we have a chance to win 2 games this year.

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