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Why Webb? Why not?

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Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb flashes a smile as he turns to pass during the first day of fall practice, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010 at the practice fields adjacent to Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb flashes a smile as he turns to pass during the first day of fall practice, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010 at the practice fields adjacent to Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Kansas University football coach Turner Gill announced Wednesday that red-shirt freshman Jordan Webb would start at quarterback during Saturday’s game against No. 15 Georgia Tech.

This, less than three weeks after announcing near the end of preseason practice that sophomore Kale Pick was the starting QB for the season opener.

Interesting, to be sure. But not completely out of nowhere. The obvious question here is, “Why Webb?”

Did he show enough in limited time last Saturday to make Gill and offensive coordinator Chuck Long believe he is — all of a sudden — the right guy for this offense? Did he do enough in the practices that followed Saturday’s debacle to warrant getting a real chance to be this team’s QB?

In a word, yes. But the question still remains, “Why Webb?”

Although I backed the selection of Kale Pick as the starter three weeks ago (and I stand by that today), I’m not overly concerned with Gill making the move to Webb. At least not in the way it affects the quarterback position specifically.

How it impacts the team as a whole, what message it sends to KU supporters across the country, and, most importantly, what message it sends to Pick and any future QBs wanting to play for Gill, is a whole different deal. But putting Webb under center is not a bad move.

Here’s why.

Gill said at Tuesday’s news conference that the strength of this team was its wide receivers. Not the experienced offensive line, not the linebackers, not the deep-but-unproven batch of running backs and not the secondary. KU’s receivers — Daymond Patterson, Bradley McDougald, Johnathan Wilson, D.J. Beshears, Chris Omigie, Christian Matthews and Erick McGriff, among others — are the most talented group on this team and, Saturday, in a 6-3 loss to North Dakota State, the only time they were able to show that was when they were given the ball on running plays. That won’t cut it.

So the change became necessary.

I’m not saying Pick could not have made this group of receivers a set of stars. Heck, I picked him as my offensive player of the year in a preseason deal we did on our Conference Chatter blog, and, with the way things are going, he still could be the guy.

But it’s been well-documented that Webb has the better arm of the two KU QBs and it’s also quite clear that the offensive line is better suited to pass blocking than run blocking. So instead of trying to force the square peg into the round hole, it’s time for Gill to find the pieces that fit and take the field with those. If he doesn’t, this season will be one of the worst in school history. He can worry about the shapes he wants to play with in the coming years.

That means more throwing. That means Webb. And that could mean good news for the Jayhawks, who have to show better against Georgia Tech on offense, even if they don’t win the game.

I’ve talked to some guys who have said that the coaching staff has wanted Webb to be the guy all along but that Pick did not do enough wrong to justify taking the job away from him. The interception in the end zone last Saturday along with the eye-popping “3” on the scoreboard, appeared to be enough to make the change.

When Gill and company named Pick the starter in August, they did so because they liked his intangibles and because he took care of the ball. Shaken confidence (whether it was his fault or not) hurt Pick’s intangibles and the costly interception hurt Pick’s reputation as a safe quarterback.

Right now, it’s Webb who has the confidence and, at least until Saturday, Webb who has taken better care of the ball.

Gill said both quarterbacks could play again Saturday. And what that tells me is that this thing’s far from settled.

My advice to the fans out there is to expect this thing to last the entire non-conference portion of the schedule. After all, next week at Southern Miss is KU’s first road game and neither of these guys has truly played in one of those either.

Comments

Richard Payton 4 years, 3 months ago

Could Jason Jeffries sale any tickets after last weeks game? I hope KU fans remember last years team lost the last eight games.

Richard Payton 4 years, 3 months ago

You're right I'm wrong thanks for the correction!

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 3 months ago

One thing these coaches should have is knowledge at the QB position.

I was always surprised that Mangino waited so long to play Todd Reesing when a lot of us could see his talent.

I hope our new coaches don't wait too long to put the right player at the right position.

I am still a fan of Opurun at the running back spot.

What don't they see in this guy that we see?

Original recruiting info on Toben:

"Opurum is listed at 6'2", 229 lbs., and has been clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He will likely make the transition from fullback to running back at KU. As a senior at Plano East, Opurum rushed for over 860 yards on 107 carries for a staggering average of 8.2 yards per carry.

Aside from his ability to run the ball, he has soft hands out of the backfield. As a junior, he had 27 catches for 574 yards. As a senior, his average was down, but he was still a potent threat out of the backfield.

The four-star recruit looks to flourish in Coach Ed Warriner's system. He is athletic enough to push for serious playing time as a freshman. He is the big, between-the-tackles back that KU needed this year to compliment junior RB Jake Sharp."

I know they need linebacker help but is this a good decision?

parrothead8 4 years, 3 months ago

They might see this, also original recruiting info on Opurum: "However, he displays very little burst through the hole and runs without good body-tilt. Will struggle retaining current yards after contact production at the college level and could expose his body to big hits. He is a big target out of the backfield as a pass catcher, but his long body often hinders his suddenness as an in-line runner. Marginal extra gear when he gets outside or finds a north-south seam. Overall, Opurum looks good on paper as a running back prospect but lacks good explosiveness as a downhill, in-line runner and the perimeter speed and quickness to hurt you outside. Tools to develop into an effective tailback but upside may be better as a tight end, full or H-back at a BCS level program."

drnater 4 years, 3 months ago

I believe I made a lot of these points yesterday on one of the articles. glad to see someone else sees the way I see!

CHEEZIT 4 years, 3 months ago

Joe Montana says Rudy is a farse! Saw it just last night on T.V.. He was carried off the filed in his last game as a joke. Did get a sack on the last play of his senior year! Joe said he didn't work any harder than anyone else. Just saying!!!

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 3 months ago

I really could care less what Joe Montana said.

I wish I could put Rudy's heart into this KU football team.

Bob Forer 4 years, 3 months ago

 There once was a Missouri meth head with the proverbial mullet haircut who one fine Christmas morning decided to change the oil on his Harley in the living room while  his wife and first cousin (one person) was cooking up a new batch of meth in the kitchen while his twelve year old daughter was learning to make babies upstairs  with the twenty-two year old next-trailer-over neighbor.  To make a long story short,  moments after lighting up a Marlboro, the trailer shot up in flames and within in New York Minute, was totally engulfed.  Well, they say even a blind sow stumbles over the occasional acorn, and somehow, Mr. MU was able to lead the four of them, albeit badly burned, to safety.

   Giving props to Turner Gill on his choice of Webb is akin to lauding Bubba for saving his family.  After all, he started the fire, the house is on fire, and the entire crew have badly burnt behinds.

Rex Russell 4 years, 3 months ago

Question should be: Why not Webb? Showed more charisma, leadership, and sperk than Kale. A lot of the time Kale looked like a deer in the headlights.

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