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Archive for Monday, October 30, 2006

Mangino dismisses quandary

KU coach plays down quarterback situation

October 30, 2006

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Mark Mangino claims he won't play along anymore - and just when the quarterback situation is as intriguing as ever.

Kansas University's fifth-year head football coach reaffirmed Sunday that he doesn't want to speak of his team's quarterback uncertainty, and, specifically, who's starting under center.

"My stance is, we've got a lot of kids that are playing well," Mangino said Sunday. "I think that the constant focus on that position, it really takes away from maybe really good performances and things that our kids are doing both individually and as units.

"I want to be always upfront with you guys and honest. But : the way we're proceeding now at quarterback, I don't think it has a major impact on what we're doing."

After senior Adam Barmann failed to move the offense effectively in the first half Saturday, Mangino pulled the red shirt off Todd Reesing at halftime. The freshman responded by playing an impressive second half in KU's 20-15 victory over Colorado. That opened up a new can of worms as to whether Reesing should be the man even if regular starter Kerry Meier is healthy, which he apparently isn't at this point.

Meier injured his shoulder against Baylor on Oct. 21 and wasn't available for the Colorado game. Mangino said Sunday he hopes Meier can play again this season, but didn't seem to be certain.

"It's our hope," Mangino said. "That's what we're planning on, as I sit here today. That's what we think, and I'll leave it at that."

Until that time comes, though, it looks to be Reesing's job. The freshman from Austin, Texas, passed for 106 yards and rushed for 90 against Colorado, orchestrating three scoring drives that helped Kansas erase a 9-0 halftime deficit.

Reesing wouldn't bite when asked Saturday if he expects to start against Iowa State this week, saying, "I have no idea what's going to happen."

But Mangino confirmed that Reesing's freshman season will be more than just one half of playing time.

"My feeling was, I couldn't just play him in one game if we needed him," Mangino said. "I think that we'll continue to use him and continue to play him. But there's so many other factors involved."

Like Meier, Reesing brings an extra dimension to the offense with his running ability, though the two aren't similar running quarterbacks. For one, Meier (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) is a lot bigger than Reesing (5-10, 190). Reesing is more of a scrambler when the pocket collapses, while Meier has been used more as a straight runner on read plays to complement tailback Jon Cornish.

Meier's ability has opened up the run game, but it has knocked him to the sideline, too - he has injured his shoulder twice running in the open field and has missed four games as a result.

Reesing, meanwhile, showed promising ability to improvise and complete passes on the run - keeping his eyes downfield while scrambling. His arm strength showed through a few times Saturday, too, notably on a 31-yard third-down completion to receiver Jeff Foster.

"He has what you call a very powerful arm," Mangino said. "It's way better than average. He can throw it really hard."

Meier's arm is no noodle, though. Between his injuries, Meier passed for 787 yards and 10 touchdowns, often proving that his arm strength is no liability, either.

But right now, his health is. Mangino wasn't specific on Meier's health status as of Sunday, and it looks like he has no plans to be anytime soon, either.

"I'm not trying to hide anything," Mangino said. "I'd like to see a little more focus on the team itself, and a lot of other kids are stepping up and playing well. I think our fan base : they're going to show up no matter who the quarterback is."

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