Starting Kansas QB Todd Reesing handed the keys over to RS freshman backup Kale Pick with 8:18 left in KU's 49-3 win over Northern Colorado Saturday night.
One play later, first-string RB Jake Sharp took a seat on the KU bench,
giving way to true freshman Toben Opurum.
No one's going to be calling Reesing or Sharp "Wally Pipp"
this week, but garbage time for their backups was anything but.
Pick guided the Jayhawks on touchdown drives of 72 and 48 yards on
their final two possessions to put an exclamation point on the victory.
He helped his own cause by rushing three times for 47 yards and
completing both passes he attempted for 11 yards.
Meanwhile, Opurum was impressive in his own right, rushing for 79 yards
on eight carries, including TD runs of 10 and 26 yards.
Pick showed some signs of rust, but he settled in nicely. The Dodge
City product said it was good to be back.
"It was exciting, I haven't been out on the field in a while. For only
playing two games my senior year and being redshirted my freshman year,
it was an exciting moment," Pick said.
Opurum was pleased to get the opportunity to play and to have made the
most of his chance, but two touchdowns and 79 yards were beyond even
"It felt awesome," he said, smiling. "It was an opportunity that I've
been waiting for to come around. I didn't expect it, but when
your opportunity comes around, you have to be prepared to take care of
KU head coach Mark Mangino was somewhat guarded in his assessment of
the heirs apparent to Reesing and Sharp, but he was clearly pleased
with their opening night performances.
Mangino said, "Toben did a good job. He ran a little high; he's gotta
get his pads down a little bit. But you can see he's powerful and he's
quick and he can read lanes pretty well and set up blocks. For his
first game of college football, he did a good job."
"Kale – he's a work in progress," the coach continued. "He doesn't get
a ton of reps on the practice field; he gets the reps the twos get.
Tonight we were able to get him on the field. You can see he's talented
and he's learning. We have high hopes for Kale. He throws the ball well
but you can see he's a tremendous athlete, and he can beat you with his
Neither Opurum nor Pick confessed to any butterflies in their Jayhawk
debut, even though Pick uncorked a backwards pass about 63 feet over
the head of his intended receiver and out of bounds for a loss of six
yards on KU's final drive. That was about the only thing either of them
did wrong, though.
"Actually, (C Jeremiah) Hatch asked me right before the series, 'Are
you nervous at all?' I was like, 'Not really.' I was just looking
forward to getting out there and playing."
Opurum sounded like a veteran, too, when asked about butterflies.
"I actually was not nervous, I kept my calm tonight. It was more
excitement. I have been thinking about this game for a very long time."
Strong Debuts for Pick, Opurum
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