Webb safe - correct - choice at QB

When fall camp opened, Jordan Webb immediately set about tightening the tenuous grip he established around the throat of the starting quarterback job during the spring. Friday, he succeeded - as Head Coach Turner Gill formally announced the sophomore from Union, Mo. as his QB1.

"After evaluating our quarterback position with (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach) Chuck (Long), we decided at this time to announce that Jordan Webb will be our starter at that position," the second-year head coach said, via press release. "Jordan has shown great leadership and consistency all throughout fall camp. His improved quarterbacking skills put him in the position to lead our team."

In addition to little things such as depth, speed and health, the 2010 Kansas Jayhawks were short one other element typically important to success - continuity under center.

That's why Head Coach Turner Gill'S Friday announcement that Jordan Webb would be his starting quarterback in the season ahead is not just the safe choice, it's the right one.

Webb had his moments last season, throwing for 1,195 yards and seven touchdowns during his redshirt freshman campaign. The problem is that, despite the numbers he put up in Week 4 versus New Mexico State, his best game came during his first game as a starter in the upset victory over Georgia Tech.

After that, things became a little bit of a roller coaster - if they weren't already. Webb replaced Kale Pick under center in Week Two, and dealt with the ups and downs so common in freshman signal-callers until he was injured in Week 7 versus Texas A&M.

His sidelining thrust a third quarterback into the starter's role - junior college transfer Quinn Mecham - who held down the spot for three games and change before Webb returned in the penultimate contest of the season versus Oklahoma State.

Stability - the Jayhawks had issues with it all season long, and certainly not just under center. The offensive line, defensive line, linebackers and secondary all dealt with turnover and injuries of their own. But at quarterback those problems are magnified tenfold, because rare is the team capable of winning without a solid, dependable presence under center.

It would be a mistake to overlook the role Webb played in his own ascendancy during the past few months. Once the season ended, by all accounts he got healthy and got to work - physically and mentally - and the progress showed, both on the field and in press conferences with his coaches and teammates.

During the annual spring game, excepting one ill-advised pass that ended in an interception, Webb looked confident and in command of the offense, completing 8-of-14 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown, and also scrambling for 39 additional yards on the ground.

Solid, if unspectacular, numbers - though if everything goes according to plan that's all the Jayhawks will need to improve as a program while Webb improves as a quarterback. A healthy offensive line, a plethora of talent at running back and more dynamic receivers - not to mention the return of one of the most dependable tight ends in the conference in senior Tim Biere - should combine to make his life much easier.

Webb might not be Todd Reesing, but he shouldn't have to be, and he is capable.

Fans may wonder about the program's two talented freshmen - Brock Berglund and Michael Cummings - and where they fit into the plans for 2011. Berglund's off-the-field issues have been highly-publicized, and each day he misses makes it more and more unlikely he will be a factor this season.

Cummings may be a different story. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound dual-threat quarterback from Killeen (TX) High School has impressed with his athleticism of late, and his stock looks to be trending upward.

"He has done some good things, every day he has gotten better," Gill said. "That is really all you can ask about a freshman. Obviously, he isn't going to look as sharp early on. But every single day I have been impressed with what he has been able to do. He has shown some good throwing ability and has a tremendous upside."

Cummings may see the field situationally this season, in packages such as the Wildcat that can make use of his unique abilities. Then again, he may not. The coaches may see more value in painting a redshirt on him, and it would be hard to argue such a decision.

Bottom line? It would be wrong to assume at this point that anyone other than Jordan Webb will be the man in 2011.

And, honestly, that's as it should be.

Kansas football opens its season Sept. 3, when FCS opponent McNeese State rolls into town.

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