Saturday, October 1, 2011
In nearly every way it can be measured, Kansas University sophomore Jordan Webb is a better quarterback this season than he was a year ago.
Through three games, Webb’s 181.53 passer rating ranks him fifth in the nation in efficiency. That’s four spots behind all-world Baylor QB Robert Griffin III and seven spots ahead of the likely No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL Draft, Andrew Luck of Stanford.
Not bad considering Webb has just a fraction of the experience that those guys have. Not surprising if you’re Jordan Webb.
“I’ve been confident,” Webb said. “I knew I could get the job done. Coming into the season I felt really good about where I was. I guess it’s just good to show everybody else and my teammates that the hard work is paying off for me.”
There’s no question about that. In leading the Jayhawks to a 2-1 start, Webb’s numbers have been impressive — 39-of-59 passing, 66 percent completion rate, six touchdown passes, no interceptions.
It’s not just killer stats that have helped Webb emerge as the clear-cut No. 1 quarterback in a program that has struggled to find one since Todd Reesing departed. Webb, whose Jayhawks will go after victory No. 3 at 11 today versus Texas Tech, also has excelled at all of the little things that KU coach Turner Gill likes to talk about.
“He’s really done a great job with his footwork,” Gill said. “We talked about being able to do that and keeping balanced. Whether he feels pressure or doesn’t feel pressure or whether he goes from the first progression to the second progression his feet are always in position to make the accurate throws.”
Webb’s early success goes beyond footwork and accuracy. He also has won over his team. Wide receivers trust him and make plays for him. Offensive linemen fight to protect him and dig deeper to extend each play. And the coaching staff has shown it trusts him.
“Passing efficiency in college football is based on big plays,” offensive coordinator Chuck Long said. “We’re actually calling more of those than we are the quick passing game. We’re almost at 10 yards per attempt, which is really good.”
Before anointing Webb as the savior for this year’s Kansas football team, it’s important to point out that he’s still just a sophomore and still prone to mistakes. They don’t occur as often as they did in 2010 and they’re more forgivable when they do.
In fact, it’s become so rare for Webb to make a poor decision that the ones he has made have garnered extra attention. None more than a third-down incompletion in the first half against Georgia Tech in which Webb chose to look past a wide open Tim Biere in the flat in an attempt to make another big play down the field.
“That was really the only one that stood out this year where he should’ve dumped the ball,” Long said. “He should’ve dumped that ball and got the first down. He’s grown a lot from last year in that regard, but he did miss that one. That’s been the only one in three games, so we’re on a good track.”
The funny thing about Webb’s miss on that play was that his pass was delivered on the money but bounced off of the receiver’s hands. The Jayhawks had to punt.
“I was a little upset with that one, and he’ll tell you that,” Long continued. “But he is making up for it in a lot of great ways. I like where he’s at and where he’s going right now. He’s not quite there yet.”