Archive for Wednesday, September 10, 1997


September 10, 1997


What Matt Johner didn't do last Saturday didn't cost him his starting job, but what he managed to do just might have saved it for him.

Though Kansas University football coach Terry Allen waited until Tuesday to officially announce that Johner, a senior lefty, was still KU's starting quarterback, his mind was made on Saturday, when Johner -- dehydrated and dizzy -- benched himself.

"The team concept is pretty important to me," Allen said. "We judged throughout the spring and the preseason and thought Matt was our starter. When you get in a situation in a game where you get Matt stepping forward and saying, 'Coach, I can't go,' that speaks volumes about what we've said about the team concept. I have a tough time saying to that individual, 'Well, Zac (Wegner, sophomore backup) came in and was 5-for-6 and led us to a touchdown so he's going to start.'

"We discussed it as a staff and concluded that Matt is going to be our starter. You've got a guy trying to do the best he can and he's white as a sheet. ... I'm not going to second-guess myself and say after one Saturday afternoon we're going to change direction."

Allen stressed again that there is no quarterback controversy. If ever there was one, it surfaced because Wegner has put up better stats.

Johner, who started KU's first two games this season and eight games a year ago, has completed 15 of 31 passes (48.4 percent) for 115 yards and no touchdowns. Wegner is 10-for-12 (83.3 percent) for 164 yards and KU's lone passing TD.

Allen conceded Tuesday that he likely will play both quarterbacks on Saturday against Missouri (1-0). Kickoff for the Big 12 opener for both teams will be 11:37 a.m. at Memorial Stadium.

"I told them today we very easily could play both of them, but Matt will be our starter," Allen said. "As long as we have enough presence of mind in how we approach it, I think it takes away from the controversy. There's no question our football team has confidence in both of them."

Allen didn't shed much light on how he would play two QBs.

"It depends on what Missouri does," he said. "Because of the situation, I'm not going to divulge that. ... There are certain things Matt does and certain things Zac does, so we may use them in different capacities.

"Matt is the veteran. He's got a little more quickness, a little more elusiveness. Zac is a more prototypical-style quarterback. We've got multi-dimensions from both of them."

Johner said Tuesday that the malaise that led to his self-imposed benching Saturday had run its course. He fought a cold all last week, and the heat of the day caused his dehydration, cramping and dizziness.

"Everything's fine," Johner said. "I feel a lot better. I'm ready to go beat the Tigers."

Johner played through the first half as KU and TCU played to a 7-all tie. He hooked himself after the first series of the second half.

"I felt like I was going to pass out on that first series," Johner said. "I thought I'd only hurt the team if I stayed in. I think it would be a little different if I was pulled out because I wasn't playing well. But I decided to come out because I wasn't playing well, and I wasn't helping the team. They gave Zac a shot, and he did real well."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.