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Archive for Thursday, October 20, 2005

CU expects ‘someone else’ at QB

October 20, 2005

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It might just be a hunch, or Colorado University football coach Gary Barnett might have consulted with a Ouija Board, Magic 8-ball or Miss Cleo.

Whatever the case, he had what he felt was an educated guess regarding Brian Luke's status as KU's starting quarterback.

"I have a feeling," Barnett said, "we may see someone else."

That in all likelihood would be Jason Swanson, who has received increased practice repetitions and increased praise from KU coach Mark Mangino since the beginning of last week.

Swanson didn't play in last week's 19-3 loss to Oklahoma, perhaps because Mangino made a promise to Luke that he'd stick with him through the whole game.

Now that the vow has expired, Mangino is hesitant to shed much insight on the quarterback situation, other than to repeat "there has been no change as of right now in the quarterback status of this team."

He said it again after Wednesday's practice. But without question, Mangino spoke fondly of Swanson this week to reporters, another hint he might be KU's fourth quarterback of the season to line up on Saturday at CU.

"He's coming along really well," Mangino said. "He's healthier than he has ever been, and his physical condition is better than it's ever been. He's throwing the ball extremely well. I'm very pleased with what he's doing."

Swanson played in seven of KU's 11 games last year, mostly in a reserve role. He threw for 238 yards on 21-of-43 passing with two touchdowns.

One of those touchdowns, though, forever will have KU fans loving Swanson - a pinpoint 31-yard strike that Mark Simmons caught one-handed against Kansas State. It gave KU the lead, and the Jayhawks eventually won, 31-28.

Swanson also performed well against Colorado last year, leading KU to a 14-0 advantage early before getting knocked out for the season because of a shoulder injury. Performances against Iowa State and Oklahoma prior to the injury were less effective.

Regardless, he might be KU's last hope, after inconsistent play at quarterback doomed KU to an 0-3 Big 12 Conference start.

Swanson was sidelined prior to the season with an undisclosed injury that apparently knocked his conditioning off track, as well. He has suited up in every game so far, but hasn't played a down yet this season. He was named scout-team player of the week after the Texas Tech game, the first sign of 2005 that Swanson still was capable of playing quarterback.

After KU's 12-3 loss to Kansas State, Mangino admitted Swanson moved up and was practicing with second-team offense. The coaches are mum on where he's working now, and players were instructed not to divulge any related information.

Mangino, though, did plenty to talk up Swanson this week. Some of the talk was unsolicited.

"He's not a big guy, but he can throw the ball quickly," Mangino said. "He can't throw maybe as deep as some of the quarterbacks in our league, but his arm's not weak.

"The issues with him : we need to get him healthy and conditioned to play. We think he's there now, and I sense that our players have a lot of confidence in him."

Mangino stopped short of saying Swanson was the guy, and his comments of an unchanged depth chart technically mean Luke is still ticketed as the starter.

But Mangino has options, and if his past utilization means anything, it proves that he'll exhaust all of them to find what works.

"I told (Swanson), 'You have to prepare yourself now to get ready to play if we need you,'" Mangino said. "He said, 'I'm ready every week. I'm ready to go.'"

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