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Archive for Friday, April 23, 2010

Webb not scared of change

April 23, 2010

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More than just the identity of the quarterback will change in the Kansas University football offense. Where he’s standing also shifts.

Jordan Webb, seemingly armed with just the right amount of confidence, is a 6-foot-1, 210-pound red-shirt freshman who hasn’t worked out of anything but the shotgun since before high school.

Webb has spent the spring working under head coach Turner Gill and offensive coordinator Chuck Long learning new terminology while working with several different centers on a team full of players who haven’t used a snap count since coming to college. It’s a lot to absorb, but Webb seems like the sort of athlete who embraces a difficult challenge.

In high school, and in practice during his red-shirt season at Kansas, Webb stood in the shotgun, receiving the ball where a drop-back quarterback would have it after the third step. In the shotgun, the quarterback catches the ball and can see the whole field right away. Dropping back, he turns his back to half the field. It’s a serious adjustment. NFL teams are having a tougher time guessing right on quarterbacks because so many of them played in the shotgun in college.

Competing with Kale Pick for the starting job, Webb isn’t as short as Todd Reesing, but he’s slightly undersized for the position. Working out of the shotgun enables shorter quarterbacks to see throwing lanes more easily.

Yet, Webb certainly doesn’t sound freaked out about having to make the change. He seems to look at it as having a new toy, a learning challenge he’s enjoying figuring out.

“Actually, it’s been pretty good,” Webb said of working under center. “I was a little nervous about it coming in because I’ve never really done it since junior-league football. It’s been different, but it’s been good. I like it a lot.”

He said what he likes best about working under center is “you can do a little more with play-action, taking shots down the field.”

If Webb wins the starting job despite not having any game experience, at least he can take comfort in knowing he will be protected by an experienced offensive line. All the key blockers are back from last year.

“That’s definitely an advantage,” Webb said. “They’re working hard, too, getting everything down. They’ve got to learn the new offense, too. It’s just as hard for them because they’ve got to do a different thing on every play. They’ve got to hear what we’re saying, and they’ve got to pick it up fast.”

Hearing alone is a new concept. During Reesing’s time, silence was golden. Signals weren’t barked, they were flashed with a lift of the leg, sometimes a clap, maybe two consecutive lifted legs, always silent. If the offenses get flagged repeatedly for an offside penalty, that will be a sign the shift away from the shotgun and the silent snaps hasn’t been super smooth.

It would be asking plenty of Webb to direct an offense undergoing so many changes with so many new faces, but nothing would make him happier than being asked.

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