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Coach's scouting report: Kale Pick and Jordan Webb
According to Kansas coach Turner Gill, the competition for the starting quarterback job is pretty much down to two candidates: sophomore Kale Pick and freshman Jordan Webb.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of both from a coach's standpoint? That's the question we're going to look at in this segment of "The Breakdown."
For help with this blog, I have consulted a Division-II defensive assistant coach, someone we'll just call "Coach" in this blog.
I edited video of KU's football spring game to show only the plays where KU's top two QBs threw a pass or had a QB draw. The videos are below.
I then sent that tape to Coach, who took a look at it along with the wide-receivers coach on his staff — one that has experience as an offensive coordinator at the college level.
After watching the film, the two coaches wrote down observations about each quarterback.
Here are Coach's notes from the film, starting with Pick.*
* — It is important to note that our two assistant coaches could only evaluate from what they saw on the tape. The spring game is often labeled as a "glorified practice" and is one of 15 practices during the spring. Therefore, KU's coaches will have had many more opportunities to evaluate the two QBs.
“On the film that you gave me, (Webb) didn’t play as well as Pick did," Coach admitted.
• “He seems like he’s a pretty good ball-handler, especially with fakes to running backs. He has the ball where you want your quarterback to have the ball ... in a good throwing position on the pass drop.”
• “He’s a pretty accurate passer. When I say accurate passer, that’s a pretty general term for the outside public, that you can throw it within a however-many-yard circle, and the receiver can catch it. Sure, but it goes a little bit deeper as well. It gives your receiver a chance to run after the catch. Throwing the ball out in front of the receiver and giving him a chance to run with the ball after the catch.”
• “In the pocket, it seems like he has pretty good feet and uses good footwork and fundamentals with his footwork. Whether it’s a three-step drop or a five-step drop, getting your depth on your drop, then trusting that your offensive line is going to create that pocket for you, and being able to step up and throw that accurate pass.”
Last year, all of KU's snaps came from the shotgun, so I asked Coach how Pick seemed to be handling the transition to taking snaps under center.
“He looked pretty comfortable with his drops. The other thing about that is, (quarterbacks) are not getting hit in the spring game, either. That sure can make a guy feel a lot better when he knows, ‘The pass rush is coming at me, but they’re not going to kill me if one guy comes unblocked.’"
• “It seems like he has pretty good arm strength. Obviously, neither one of the guys is Brett Favre, because nobody is, but it seems like he has pretty good arm strength.
“There were a couple specific plays on there where the receiver was — I hate to say covered — but the receiver had a defender very near, and he threw the ball with enough zip and with enough accuracy. Let’s say a defensive back was covering me on my left shoulder behind me. Well, he knew how to throw it to my right shoulder and throw it in there with enough zip so the ball’s going to get there before the defender can make a play. He made a couple nice throws like that.”
• “He looks pretty fast and agile in the pocket.”
• “When they ran the bootleg stuff and got him out of the pocket, he seemed to have pretty good feet and was pretty fast. You could really see (the coaches this season) getting him on the move.”
• “It seemed like he might be holding on to the ball a little bit too long. There are certain situations where the defense is going to get you. They’re going to have your receivers covered. Well, you’re going to have to throw the ball out of bounds or throw the ball way too high for a receiver to catch. Sometimes, throwing the ball away is not a bad throw.”
• “Another time, he had a receiver who had a defender very near, and he threw the ball out of bounds and didn’t give the receiver a chance to make a play on the ball (2:34). If you throw the ball four yards out of bounds, your receiver’s not going to be able to catch it. Well, throw the ball basically right on the out of bounds line, and give your receiver a chance to catch the ball and get one foot down before he goes out of bounds."
• “He does have a quick release. He got rid of the ball on time. Instead of having a long, extended delivery, when you see a receiver open, you are able to get the ball out of your hands with good timing. Like a pitcher’s windup. It doesn’t take you a long time to put a lot of oomph on the ball when you get it out of your hand."
Coach also brought up the well-documented problems with Florida quarterback Tim Tebow's release, as in college, he dropped his arm down to hip before releasing the ball.
Coach said that Webb did a good job of having the ball high and getting it out quickly, which is what you want from a quarterback.
• “He did make a couple of really nice throws when he was on the move, especially on the touchdown throw. It was a pretty accurate throw on the run.”
• “A lot of times, he would throw with all arm and not step into his throw and put a lot of zip on his throw. More falling away from the throw than stepping into the throw. You’re not going to have as much velocity on your throw.”
• “A couple of times, he threw to covered receivers when he had other players that were uncovered. He took a deeper throw when he could have made a shorter throw and it would have been a better completion.”
One example of this was at the 2:44 mark of the video.
While Webb's eyes are downfield towards a receiver, tight end Bradley Dedeaux appears to be open in the flat.
Webb delivers the ball downfield into traffic, and his pass — intended for a blanketed Johnathan Wilson — is deflected and falls incomplete.
“It seems like sometimes he kind of tries to force the ball into his receiver," Coach said, "maybe even though his receiver might be covered."
• “One time, he scrambled into the rush. It didn’t necessarily look like there were necessarily any receivers open, but instead of scrambling to where it could have been a better opportunity for him to get a few yards, he kind of scrambled right into where the rush was coming from."
Coach also made sure to point out that Webb also could have been affected by playing with KU's No. 2 offensive line.
• “A lot of times, it seemed like he telegraphed his pass. That’s not a good thing for your quarterback to be doing obviously. Just staring down his receivers instead of looking them away.”
I also asked Coach what he felt were the best throws of the scrimmage.
He came up with three.
I'm sure many fans would have expected Pick's 72-yard touchdown pass to Chris Omigie to be one of the top throws of the day.
Not so, says Coach.
“The one on the sideline, that’s a throw that mainly any average Joe citizen can throw," Coach said. "You expect your fifth-string quarterback to be able to throw that pass when the guy’s wide open."
One of the three best throws according to coach was the aforementioned pass by Webb, who rolled away from pressure to hit tight end Tim Biere for a 25-yard touchdown.
The other two throws were from Pick.
The first throw actually was an incompletion when Bradley McDougald couldn't hold on for a long reception (00:30).
“The guy was covered, but (Pick) threw it over the defender and threw it right in the perfect spot for the receiver," Coach said. “That was one of the best throws of the whole scrimmage right there. Puts it on the line right over the top of that safety’s head and didn’t give him a chance to make a play on the ball. That’s a catch right there ... if you’re a Big 12 receiver, you’ve got to make that catch every single time.”
The other throw was one that Pick made to Biere between three defenders (00:15).
“He threw it just exactly where the receiver was going to be the only one who could make the catch," Coach said, "and the receiver made a nice catch on the ball as well.”
Coach said Pick diagnosed the play well and made the throw with the accuracy that it had to have.
“You see the receiver right below KU, on the bird? He could maybe fit the ball in right there as he lets the receiver clear the linebacker. But see how the linebacker kind of continues to chase that receiver, well that’s what they want," Coach said.
"They want the linebacker to chase the under route so you can throw it right behind his ear. The defense actually covered it pretty well, but it’s a pretty good throw and catch by the quarterback and tight end. That was a pretty good stick right there.”