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Why Jordan Webb is the right QB for Kansas
By now, you’ve surely heard that Kansas University football coach Turner Gill has named sophomore Jordan Webb his starting quarterback for the 2011 season.
And, by now, I’m sure you’ve formed some kind of an opinion about this move. Maybe you think it’s the right move. Maybe you’re appalled. Maybe you think it’s the right move — for now, or maybe you think it really doesn’t matter much either way.
I, too, have formed an opinion and, from where I sit, Webb is 100 percent the right choice. I’d go more if that were possible. But despite what those athletes or coaches who say they give 110 percent will tell you, you just can’t give more than 100 percent. So, in this case, I’m 100 percent sure that Webb is the right choice for the Jayhawks.
Here’s my list of the top five reasons why.
1. He’s earned it — Gill said as much Friday night and, to me, this one means something. All offseason Webb put one foot in front of the other and made sure he got better each day. During the winter months, he was inside, lifting weights, working on routes and studying film, searching for deficiencies in his games and racking his brains for ways to make himself a better quarterback. During the summer months, Webb led the charge in summer conditioning and seven-on-seven drills. While all of this was unfolding, a funny thing happened. His teammates started to respect him. Last year, they liked him. They enjoyed his energy, his drive and his demeanor on the field. This year, they respect him, even when he’s not around. That’s crucial for a QB and, without question, the No. 1 reason that Webb’s the guy heading into the season. That’s not to say senior Quinn Mecham didn’t do his part, too. But, in this case, Webb’s overall talent and the fact that he’s just a sophomore played a huge role.
2. He’s more mature — Last season, Webb made — or tried to make — way too many plays on his own. He pressed even when he didn’t need to and, far too often, tried to make plays that either were out of the system or simply were not there. Most of the time the result was tragic and led to an interception, a bounce pass 10 yards short of the receiver or a sack. Nobody’s seen those plays more than Webb in the days since last season ended, and, because of it, he learned that playing that way isn’t the way to go. So he studied film, spent another year working with his new coaching staff about what they want and what they expect and then went out there and delivered. We saw it this spring and it’s showed up again in camp. Add to that the fact that Webb’s a year older and wiser and it’s easy to see why the coaches are saying he’ll be a smarter QB this season.
3. He’s talented — I know we didn’t see a ton of positive things from Webb last season, but not all of that was his fault. He rarely had time to throw, didn’t have a strong or experienced running game for at least half of the season and was forced to play from three or four touchdowns behind most of the year. All that said, the guy has talent. He’s mobile and quick on his feet. He’s tough as all get-out. And, above all, he has a strong arm. Offensive coordinator Chuck Long was one of the best QBs the college game has ever seen. When he says over and over that Webb has a great arm, I tend to believe him. Of course, Long and Gill aren’t the only ones saying that. Even the old coaching staff raved about Webb’s arm. With more talent around him and more time to make decisions, Webb will be able to show off some of his skills this season.
4. He’s unflappable — I know the popular thing for KU’s coaches to do would’ve been to stick true freshmen Michael Cummings or Brock Berglund into the starting role right away and let ’em learn on the fly. That might have helped their development — might have — but it wouldn’t have helped KU win games. Webb might not be the most talented or touted QB in the conference, but he’s definitely one of the toughest, both mentally and physically. Think of all those hits he took last year. Now add to them all of the miserable Saturday afternoons the Jayhawks had to endure. Now think about all the times you heard Webb complain, gripe or whine about any of it. Exactly. None. And I didn’t hear him do it once either. After every game and during every press conference, Webb walked in with his chin up and answered every question thrown at him. Most weren’t much fun to answer. But he did it. Every time. I don’t think he got enough credit for how well he handled such a horrible season.
5. He wants redemption — The nature of football says the quarterback gets all the glory during the good times and all the blame in the bad. Assuming that’s true, it’s safe to say that few people took last season’s struggles harder than Webb. Because of that, he’s likely to be the most driven to make up for it this season. That’s certainly the case among all the quarterbacks. Mecham may feel the same, but he’s only been in town for one season. Webb’s heading into his third. And the other QBs on the roster have yet to take a snap in an actual game. They may not have loved what they saw last season, but are they going to be as hellbent on making up for it as Webb? Doubtful. So give him the ball, give him a chance to make up for last year and give him your support.
Don't get me wrong; Webb is not the perfect quarterback. He still has a lot to prove and there are some things he just can't do. But, given all the other options, he is the perfect QB for KU right now. Like it or not, he’s your quarterback. And, if things go well, he might be for the next three seasons.