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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Keegan

Jordan Webb shows off improvement

KU quarterback Jordan Webb describes the game-winning touchdown pass to D.J. Beshears following KU's 45-42 victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 10, 2011.

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KU receiver D.J. Beshears said he wasn't worried that his final TD would be overturned

KU receiver D.J. Beshears said he wasn't worried that his final TD would be overturned after a replay in KU's 45-42 victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 10, 2011.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Turner Gill

Kansas coach Turner Gill talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 45-42 victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 10, 2011.

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Reader poll

Who was KU's most valuable player against Northern Illinois?

  • D.J. Beshears: 7 receptions, 70 yds, 2 TDs; 197 kick-return yards 35% 663 votes
  • Jordan Webb: 21/30, 281 yds, 3 TDs 50% 953 votes
  • James Sims: 26 runs for 110 yds, 2 TDs 10% 191 votes
  • Darrian Miller: 10 runs for 57 yds, TD 0% 9 votes
  • Kale Pick: 3 receptions, 55 yds, TD 1% 34 votes
  • Other 1% 35 votes

1885 total votes.

Players and coaches in the Kansas University football program are not allowed to answer this upcoming question. For the hundreds of thousands of the rest of you who follow KU football, a show of hands please: Who thought Jordan Webb ever would look as good at quarterback as he looked in directing his school to a 45-42 upset victory Saturday night against Northern Illinois at Memorial Stadium?

If your armpits are exposed, you’re a liar.

It was a proud night for Webb and his tutor, Chuck Long, one of the greatest college quarterbacks of his generation, a Heisman Trophy runner-up to Bo Jackson while playing for Iowa.

Webb doesn’t match the prototype of a BCS quarterback. He’s not tall enough to see all the receivers all the time, and he’s not fast enough to pile up big rushing numbers. To succeed for Kansas, Webb was going to have to make the most of a strong arm and a football brain eager to absorb whatever Long could teach him.

“Very proud of Jordan Webb tonight,” said Long, who dialed up the right play at the right time all night long. “Very proud. One of the greatest efforts I’ve been around. The young man’s growing. He’s growing.”

Not vertically, of course. He’s still listed at 6-foot, 210 pounds. In every other way, he has grown from the red-shirt freshman of a year ago who didn’t look very accurate. In every interview during spring football and fall camp, Webb said he thought he had become a more accurate passer as a result of grasping the offense better. He put those words into action Saturday.

Webb made several throws on the run, hit eight different receivers, didn’t throw an interception. Thanks to a couple of drops, Webb’s numbers, though exceptional, don’t quite reveal just how accurately he zipped the ball into tight spots. He completed 21 of 30 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns.

“Jordan was really sharp all night,” Long said. “He was on point. I just don’t recall any misreads at all on his part. The young man is growing, he really is. It’s right before your eyes, and it’s nice to see that.”

On a made-for-football night that recalled the basketball games Paul Westhead coached at Loyola Marymount, both offenses made scoring look too easy. Northern Illinois senior Chandler Harnish felt little pressure from the locked-up KU D-line and had little trouble hitting receivers who found large openings in the Jayhawks’ defense. No surprise there. Harnish long ago proved his elite status as a college quarterback.

Webb’s progression had to take the Huskies, favored by nearly a touchdown, by surprise, especially since the Kansas coaches only asked him to throw 10 times in the season-opening victory against McNeese State.

Kansas wisely still put the emphasis on running the ball and got another terrific night from the offensive line and the talented pack of young running backs, but when throwing downs arrived, Webb embraced the challenge.

“Third and long was exceptional tonight,” Long said. “I think we were 13-of-18 (correct) or something crazy like that. That is a quarterback down, and he made the most of it.”

On the game-winning play, Webb moved right to side-step mounting pressure and zipped a perfect strike to D.J. Beshears, a scoring strike with nine seconds left. Beshears was Webb’s third read on the play.

“That shows you how well Jordan’s come along,” receiver Kale Pick said. “I was the first read, and I saw a bunch of guys coming out on my flat route, and I turned around and saw D.J. had the ball. For a kid like Jordan to go through three different reads in that amount of time with that much pressure, that just shows you there on that single play how much he’s come along.”

The second read?

“Chris Omigie on the corner route,” said Pick, beaten out by Webb at quarterback the second game of the season a year ago. “A bunch of the defense flowed out our way, and Jordan made his third read and he made the throw. ... Chris was covered, and Jordan made a third read and put it right in there in D.J.’s chest.”

Panic didn’t enter the equation all night for Webb.

“Because of his poise and the way he was unflappable, it permeated through our offense,” Long said. “He wasn’t showing that last year. He got too excited at times. He was more calm. He let bad plays kind of linger last year. You’ve got to be able to move onto the next play. He’s showing that right now.”

Not that he made many bad plays he needed to overcome.

“It was definitely fun out there,” Webb said. “My receivers made some great plays. My O-line gave me great protection. It was definitely fun seeing it all come together.”

So fun that all the students who watched Kansas rally from a 21-7 deficit to tie it 21-21 at the half stayed seated to watch a wild finish. Look for the students to stick around all year. This young team has holes — massive ones on defense — but one thing it can’t ever be accused of is playing a boring style of football.

Comments

Randy Bombardier 2 years, 7 months ago

Great game. If you could not see it go to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgHjGs5bu5c

The team is way ahead of where I thought they would be. I thought we would not be competing for bowl games until 2013, but now I think we could be competing for conference championship by then. If we solve our personnel issues on D like we have on the Offensive side, that will be what brings in the championship.

We are going to light it up a few times this year. This GTech game could be the one but we clearly have the capability to score 60 points. We can do it methodically or we can strike in a hurry. We can impose our will. That is huge. I think we are going to win at least half of our conference games. TAMU, OSU, OU will be the toughest tests. I believe we have a very good chance to beat everyone else.

I was just looking for us to close the gap this year. We are way ahead of where I thought we would be. We have already surpassed a number of teams. Great Job, Coaches and Players. We know you believe. I believed in the direction of the team, but now I believe anything is possible.

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catfishturkeyhunter 2 years, 7 months ago

Upset??? How would Northern Illinois ever be favored in a game agains KU at KU? If you ask me, the writting is on the wall for another losing season for the Jayhawks. First they allow 25 points agains nobody McNease and then get in a shoot out with nobody Northern Illinois allowing 42 points.

The losing streak will start this week for KU you can bet on that...

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Jayhawk1116 2 years, 7 months ago

Like someone said earlier, Webb's success (and the running backs too) is because of the improved and healthy offensive line. He looked more poised and confident because he wasn't running for his life all night. The big uglies need a little love too.

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Jhawk100 2 years, 7 months ago

Anyone who drew conclusions about Webb in his first year behind and atrocious line with no one to throw to and no running game isn't very smart, which I believe covers the majority of football fans.

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William Blake 2 years, 7 months ago

Jordan was great... very much improved from last year!

I think he'll have to learn to fall back deeper and expand the pocket a bit to prevent sacks. But I'm sure we'll see him continue to improve as the season progresses.

That was one of the most-exciting Jayhawk games in a long time!

Rock Chalk!

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Keith Hummel 2 years, 7 months ago

Just to underscore how well Jordan Webb has played so far, he is currently ranked 4th in the nation in Passing Efficiency (2nd in the Big-12 behind Griffin).

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deathtomizzou 2 years, 7 months ago

I've been watching this kid since he was in grade school. One thing I say about this kid is he's a winner. I was a bit suprised last year at some of the throws he missed. All during high school he was always very accurate on his deep and mid range throws. I am not a bit surprised by his performance and expect the KU offense to continue to put up good numbers. The real question is how long can the offense cover the defense? This is a real problem with no answers in sight. Go Jayhawks!!! Death to Mizzou!!!!!

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bville_hawk 2 years, 7 months ago

I'm a little worried about our defense as well, but after watching the end of the Notre Dame / Michigan game I'm not so sure there aren't a lot of us in the same boat. I couldn't believe how wide open the ND receiver was on their go-ahead score with 30 sec left. And then what did Michigan do but go 70 yds in 2 plays for the winning score?

Bottom line: We're not done winning games this season by a long shot.

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troutsee 2 years, 7 months ago

Long called a great game and Jordan came through big time and the receivers caught most of the balls. Overall, two great offensive performances over the first two weeks. We have some great running backs. I was especially glad to see Rell Lewis get some touches. He has worked hard and does have that X-factor called speed.

The devensive coaches now have to step up.

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JVZMan 2 years, 7 months ago

Congrats to all the JayHawks and to Jordan. I have had faith in him since I saw him as a three year starter at Union High School and turn around that program. He was the talk of the conference, district and state.

The article asked who had faith in Jordan? My arm was raised, I have read all the doubters pre-season, we need BB as QB, we need a 5 star QB, how about a QB that plays hard and is commited to winning? Thats Jordan! I realize it takes a team effort to win, the line played well, the receivers that caught the passes did very well, it was a great team victory, but the QB gets the blame when they lose, so its only fair if QB gets credit for a well played game.

Congrats Jordan and all the Jay Hawks, coaches and fans!

PS: Chuck Long was my childhood hero watching Iowa football as a child with my dad, Jordan has a good mentor!

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Kevin Randell 2 years, 7 months ago

Winning and losing is infectious. I am very pleased as to how we have jumped out to 2-0. It makes me laugh want to go to all those people who have dogged Coach Gill and our Jayhawks. I bet that crow pie is tasting pretty good right now?

Will we win 6 games? Who knows.....but I am excited to see what happens. This team has one of the best running games I have seen in a long time. And that is going to keep us in a lot of those games down the road. The only thing I can critique is that I would like to see us blitz a little more and get some pressure on the QB. That quarterback for NIU was really good, and he pretty much had all day to throw and picked us apart.

But hey....I am going to see the glass half full, and enjoy this Jayhawk victory! Great job guys! Look forward to next week. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!!

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Dyrk Dugan 2 years, 7 months ago

Jordan Webb became a big time college QB last night.....he was the difference in the game, no doubt.

this season is going along about the way i thought it would....except Jordan Webb is doing better than I thought he would. He was the reason we won last night....and it's great to see.

Until the D develops some experience....and also finds guys (recruits) to get up the football field and wreak havoc in the backfield,, then these are the kinds of games we're going to get. and if the D (we're so young, and we play SO many guys) comes along this year at all, then a bowl game is not out of the question.

and if this team makes a bowl game, HCTG is coach of the year in the league. and i don't care what Paul Rhoads does at ISU, or Snyder does down the road.

Go Jayhawks! get them Yellow Jackets again!

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Keith Hummel 2 years, 7 months ago

Couldn't be happier for Webb. Remind yourself of how he was playing last year early on. He panicked on a regular basis, didn't go through his progression - or didn't do it quickly enough, made bad throw after bad throw, had numerous balls batted down, and generally looked out of his league. This year is the total opposite. Everything he struggled with last year, he excels at this year. He has established himself as a weapon that defenses now have to prepare for and worry about at game time. That will only make our running game even more successful, and increase the possibility of more W's. In a game that featured a certain mid-round NFL draft pick in Harnish, Webb at times looked like an equally talented QB. Imagine how he will look by the time he's a senior. While it's tough not to give it to Beshears, my MVP vote for this win has to go to Jordan Webb.

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chezlog 2 years, 7 months ago

Loved the Paul Westhead reference. All offense no defense. Fun to watch but we can't beat Oklahoma that way.

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HAWKTOPIA 2 years, 7 months ago

Hawk fans, the offence has arrived. Don't be confused, it is the offensive line.

The difference between an OK quarterback and a great one is about 1 second in the pocket. The difference between a 3 yard loss, a 5 yard gain, and a 15 yard scamper, is 1,2,or 3 solid blocks. Three cheers for the guys in the trenches, creating the opportunity to let players play. and coaches coach.

Now our defense, that's another story.

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Ryan Shelton 2 years, 7 months ago

Great win against a quality opponent. And might I add that the coaches managed the game clock darn near perfectly on that last drive.

Hey Ahper, do you like apples?

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GridironHawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Congrats to Webb. He's faced doubters ever since trying to fill Reesing's shoes, and although those are huge shoes to fill, he has shown that he might have a little magic in his own ability. That was a great 4th down pass for a game winner. Tough to ask for much more than that....

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