Archive for Sunday, July 23, 2006

Jayhawks finally set at QB

KU has no controversy for first time since ‘03

July 23, 2006


There are no big battles to be had and no pestering from the media about which quarterback throws the better football, calls the better audible or listens to better music.

No controversy at Kansas University this summer. Kerry Meier is the starting quarterback, and there's not much arguing.

"I think it helps a great deal," offensive coordinator Nick Quartaro said. "We know who's going to get what share of the work when we start practice, and I think the players know to whom they're looking to step in and make the play call and lead them in attacking a defense. I think it's real critical."

It will be a big difference, considering many of KU's players never have entered preseason without uncertainty at the offense's most high-demand position. The last two summers has had the question looming, with names like Adam Barmann, Jason Swanson, Brian Luke, John Nielsen, Marcus Herford and even Meier, a true freshman last year, being thrown around as possibilities.

Not since Bill Whittemore in 2003 has KU had an undisputed starter at QB during preseason. Quartaro, who's in charge of the position, admits it's nice to regain some stability there.

"We didn't plan it that way in previous years," he said. "It was just kind of the way things were. But now that we have Kerry as our No. 1 quarterback, I think it gives all of us a sense of direction."

Meier won the job in spring practices, punctuating the month by throwing for 184 yards, rushing for 36 more and having a hand in all four of the white team's touchdowns in the April 14 spring game.

But even that performance didn't answer every question. All the quarterbacks that night, like in normal practices, couldn't be tackled. That could give a quarterback a sense of security that doesn't carry over into games.

Even on scout team last year, Meier wasn't supposed to get knocked into the next zip code on purpose, though it's rougher down there then it is for first- and second-teamers.

"I think he's got the poise, there's no question," Quartaro added. "We believe he can do it, otherwise he would not have earned the No. 1 spot already. But he still needs to do it.

"In the spring, we put him in a lot of situations that we tried to simulate as a game-like situation, and there's no doubt that he went from ground zero to a continual climb up the charts in terms of his poise and his confidence in what he's doing. And obviously he's got the physcial tools."

Meier, a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder out of Pittsburg, is capable of both passing and running, though head coach Mark Mangino said in the spring that Meier wouldn't run wild like Whittemore did three years ago.

The good news is, Meier's pocket is full of experience, from a battle-tested offensive line to a backfield that includes impact players Jon Cornish and Brandon McAnderson. It helps relieve expectations on the redshirt freshman, though Quartaro hopes he never felt them to begin with.

"I think he just has to be himself," Quartaro said. "He, as a competitor, puts enough pressure on himself to be good and be successful and be a winner, and he always has been.

"The fact is that he's a key member of an 11-man unit, no question. Yet everyone has their job to do. As long as he does his job - which has a ton of responsibility - and does his job only, I think we'll be fine."


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