Sunday, January 6, 2013

Former KU coach Warinner: Relationship with Reesing brought out best in both


— Five years into his eight-year reign as head coach of the Kansas football program, Mark Mangino determined the time had come to speed up the tempo of the offense and flood the field with receivers.

Mangino recruited Ed Warinner, who had served him as offensive line coach and then left for Illinois, to return to KU as the offensive coordinator. The next order of business involved using the spring of 2007 as a two-man quarterback competition between incumbent Kerry Meier and challenger Todd Reesing.

“We charted everything,” said Warinner, now co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Ohio State. “Every breath they took at practice was charted. Every throw, every drill, everything. At the end of that, Todd was about 5 percent better in all the statistical analysis.”

More than data contributed to defining Reesing as the ideal man to execute Mangino’s general vision that was tailored by Warinner.

“Todd had some charisma to him,” Warinner said. “He had some intangibles, some leadership. He had an uncanny ability to have real great awareness of what was going on. He loved the game, the X’s and O’s part of the game, the strategy of it. He got why this play was being run vs. this play.”

And Reesing had more than just a good brain inside his undersized body working in his favor.

“He had a little bit of risk-taker in him, a little bit of river-boat gambler, a guy who would live on the edge,” Warinner said. “And that was kind of who he was, and you have to have that. So I always thought my job was risk-management. Todd would go all in on every play and sometimes you don’t want to do that. So my job was to make sure we were playing smart and being real efficient and to help him to know when to take those chances.”

Meier switched to receiver, joining Dezmon Briscoe and the Mangino-to-Warinner-to-Reesing-to-Meier-and-Briscoe chain of command resulted in the most productive three-year run of passing offense in the history of Kansas football.

“There were some plays that he made in his career that take a lot of guts and a lot of confidence to step up and pull the trigger ... ,” Warinner said of Reesing. “You go back and look at them and it’s just amazing. That was his gift. That whole intangible, real smart.”

During a 12-1 2007 season that ended with a victory in the Orange Bowl, Kansas ranked second in the nation with 42.8 points per game and the offense produced a school-record 479.8 yards a game. Even during a 5-7 2009 season — marred by Reesing playing with a groin injury and Mangino’s authority with the players being undermined by an investigation into his treatment of players ordered by athletic director Lew Perkins — the Jayhawks passed for a school-record 310.3 yards a game.

Warinner was quick to point out that Reesing had plenty of tangible talent as well.

“He had great skills now; nobody could spin it like Todd,” Warinner said. “He was really accurate and he could throw from a lot of different launch points. His feet didn’t always have to be set. His arm was in a different spot a lot of the time. We trained all that because he needed to do that. The size he was, to get the ball in the right places safely, you’ve got to be able to be more versatile.”

The NFL didn’t have any interest in Reesing, but Warinner wouldn’t have traded his quarterback for so many bigger players who received plaudits from scouts.

“In a pure setting with no stress, no pass rush, no internal clock, no bodies to throw around or through or over, there are some guys who can look phenomenal,” Warinner said of what he calls combine quarterbacks. “But then you put four or five guys rushing, and checking the protection and understanding the coverages, and they hide those things so well now. That’s what Todd could do.”

In the manner a skilled pool player sees shots bar hacks can’t, Reesing had extraordinary vision.

“Sometimes, I’d stand behind him in practice and I couldn’t see how he could see it — little bits of movement of jersey colors — I’d say, ‘Why did you throw it there?’ He would say, ‘I could see where he was looking.’ And he was looking at him so I threw it to (another receiver). Little things,” Warinner said. “He’d say, ‘His hips were turned one way, but he was looking over here, so I knew he couldn’t make the play over there.’ Little things that are third-and-fourth-level quarterback play.”

Reesing, according to Warinner, made him a better offensive coordinator in more ways than by accurately executing scripted plays and using his creative feet and brain to go off script to make big plays on the fly. Reesing, Warinner indicated, made him better from the moment the coordinator reported to work early in the morning to the moment he went home late at night.

“He challenged you in a good way,” Warinner said. “All he wanted to know was why? ‘Why are we doing this?’ If it made sense to him, he was all in. So it made me be really smart about how you coach him. You were well-prepared when you’d go into meetings. You’re right on top of your game. There’s no guess work and your stuff better be pinpoint on. And so he forced me to be at my best every day because he was that sharp. And I forced him to be at his best, so it was two really highly competitive people and neither one wanted to look bad ever, so we were always prepared.”

Prepared and remarkably productive.


hawk316 9 years ago

Todd Reesing was a very special football player. Such players do not come along very often, and I consider myself blessed to have been able to watch him display his remarkable gifts on a weekly basis. I was in attendance at the Colorado game when Coach Mangino pulled Reesing's redshirt, one of the best decisions the coach made while at Kansas (another great decision was to move Meier to receiver). I can still see that game-winning touchdown pass against MU in the snow at Arrowhead...Reesing to Meier. What an unforgettable moment.

actorman 9 years ago

Yeah, that game against Misuse was incredible -- one of the best I've ever seen. Wish I could have seen it live.

texashawk10 9 years ago

Working for David Booth, the guy who bought Naismith's rules.

jhox 9 years ago

He would, without a doubt, have been a better QB than anyone on the Chiefs roster this year. It's a shame someone didn't give him more of a chance to play in the league. He was the most Doug Flutie like QB I have seen since Flutie himself. I wonder, without the injury his senior year, if someone may have given him a longer look? Mangino did him no favors by never telling anyone he was playing injured. We could all see it. He went from being a guy with a surprisingly strong arm, to someone with a more average arm because of that injury. His arm was much stronger than the media gave him credit for. I saw him throw one about 60 yards one day while backpedaling, and with little or no help from the wind.

stahlin 9 years ago

did keegan really just write 2 articles about the same guy on the same day from the same interview lazy writer is lazy

Bville Hawk 9 years ago

WTF is your problem!!! Both columns were well written and extremely interesting. How do you conclude that is lazy???

Marcia Parsons 9 years ago

The focus of the two articles was completely different. Information about his relationship with Todd Reesing hardly fits into an article about Ohio State.

hawk316 9 years ago

stahlin, are you serious? Can't you see that Keegan had so much great material from this interview that it required two separate articles, and as oldalum correctly pointed out, they had two different emphases?

I think it's time to stop dumping on Mr. Keegan. These were both really good articles..

stm62 9 years ago

I always thought that Warriner was a very good play caller. We had a very balanced attack that kept defenses guessing. There were great hopes after the Orange Bowl season. I never thuoght that things would get so bad in such a short period of time. I'm confident that Coch Weis can right the ship.

actorman 9 years ago

I'm glad Mangino is gone because of how abusive he was, but it would have been interesting to see how different things might have been in Reesing's senior year if he had been healthy.

KU79 9 years ago

Reesing was a magician. He did things that were just incredible. Most QB's when they scramble look to run. Not Todd. He'd keep looking for receivers -- find them -- then hit them with a pinpoint pass from any position. He didn't do this a couple of times -- he did it all the time. You really thought you might score on any play...especially when we scored touchdowns on 10 consecutive possessions against Nebraska. God that was fun. To the question of what he's doing now -- I think he went to work for David Booth, the KU alum from Austin that bought the rules of basketball, and paid for the Hall in front of AFH. Good memories reading this article.

Jeff Coffman 9 years ago

Once the "investigation" began, the five year setback began. Clearly, the 0-7 once the investigation started was the way the program was heading. Turner may have even set it back another year or two. At least Sheahan hired a coach that will get after players both academically and on the field.

Here is hoping that the upward climb begins this upcoming football year.

741hawk 9 years ago

DITTO: I've posted numerous times that Perkins ruined a good thing by undermining Mangino. Glad Warinner documented that for the record.

Then, if that weren't enough, Perkins hired a fraud for a football coach. (Don't want to even mention his name.)

Thank God I chose to take my family to the Orange Bowl game. May not be another KU football experience like that for a long, long time. In the long run, KU athletics would have been better off without Lew Perkins.

kranny 9 years ago

I don't think Warriner documented the investigation in this article. Keegan's the one who is pointing it out.

PSM 9 years ago

Glad Keegan wrote this article. I was recently wondering why Russell Wilson is making it in the NFL and Reesing didn't even get a sniff. If I'm not mistaken, they're the same size. Todd is one of my all time favorite jayhawks from any sport.

W Keith Swinehart II 9 years ago

Interesting reading about old times and old coaches. Personally, I'm looking forward to living in the present, and learning about our own steps to build for the future. Do you suppose Weis and assistant coaches are learning from this article? Opinion: Our coaches are aware of the outside goings on, but focusing on our building our own program.

Lance Meier 9 years ago

He did a good job at KU, in his comments about Magino. I agree he kept them pretty "status quo". He didn't pat him on the back and he didn't bad mouth 'em either. He did his job and thats what KU fans need to focus on. It was a bad way how Magino was sent packing, but none the less he "NEEDED" to go down the road. Magino created the problems himself. My brother coaches high school ball in Kansas and went to a camp for coaches during Magino's time there and in the same summer he went to a Nebraska camp too, in his description of both camps. He said, NU was top notch and KU's was like it was thrown together that morning... Not that that has any berring on anything, U need to woo the HS coaches as much as the players Ur trying to recruit. Magino brought KU football back to where it should be, all the losing here in the last three years is PATHETIC, that last coach, put KU so darn far behind, who knows how long it will take to get back to where they win consistently. I mean 7-8 and many years 9 wins, thats not impossible, I love KU FB as much as anyone, but I'm sick of the losses, I know everyone is! If I have to hear one more times, "Wait til basketball season"... That makes me sick everytime I hear it. I'm EXCITED about KU FOOTBALL, I want to watch a winning program, they have great facilities, great coaches and the campus is one of the most beautiful in this nation. We have a guy here that can get it done, lets all get behind him and get this thing rolling. GO HAWKS!!!

hawkdds 9 years ago

I'll try this article also would somebody update me on what the story is on Koehler? thanks

Commenting has been disabled for this item.