Phog Breakdown: The Quarterbacks

As the start of the 2010 football season draws near, Phog.net will be taking an in-depth look at the team, position by position. This week we start under center, and break down the battle for QB1.

Let's talk quarterbacks.

In the past three years, Kansas fans have grown used to a certain level of play at the position, thanks to the talents of one Todd Reesing.

Diminutive in stature but big on moxie, since 2007 Reesing delighted fans and drove at least 27 defensive coordinators to early retirement (unofficially) with his ability to weave magic out of certain disaster. Just ask the Missouri Tigers, circa 2008, as they fell victim to probably the most famous instance of Sparky's supernatural powers.

But Reesing is gone, having become a willing victim of that most predictable of all maladies to target college athletes – "graduation."

No worries. There's another quarterback on the roster just waiting for his turn to throw for more than 7,500 yards, completing 62-percent of his passes and throwing 68 touchdowns to just 23 interceptions. Right?

In reality, the answer to that (albeit loaded) question is almost certainly "no." But here's the thing – that's not what new Head Coach Turner Gill and new offensive coordinator Chuck Long are going to ask their quarterback to produce.

By implementing a system more focused on the run than the spread attack of the previous regime, Gill and Long are stressing dependability and consistency. They want someone capable of moving the chains and managing the offense, without asking them to shoulder all of the responsibility himself.

And it's not as if there isn't some talent on Mount Oread. Sophomore Kale Pick and redshirt freshman Jordan Webb – the two athletes to have emerged as frontrunners in the battle for Reesing's abdicated throne – each possess the talent to keep the Kansas offense running at the level Jayhawks fans have come to expect.

Here, Phog.net takes a deeper look at the guys vying for the role of QB1.

Kale Pick - Sophomore - 6-foot-1, 208 pounds: Of the quarterbacks left on the roster, Pick is undoubtedly the one with whom Jayhawk Nation is the most familiar. Reesing's backup in 2009, the Dodge City native saw frequent action early in the season during the non-conference portion of the schedule at the tail end of blowout victories.

The thing that stands out about Pick immediately is his legs. While probably not much faster vertically than former quarterback-turned-receiver Kerry "Sunshine" Meier, he's a more natural runner. Pick possesses very good lateral quickness and the ability to read blockers to go along with that speed. Last season, he rushed 14 times for 167 yards, and even lined up at running back late in the season in certain offensive packages.

But can he throw the ball? This is a question Kansas fans are still asking, and it's not without reason. Last year Pick attempted just five passes, and though he looked good in the annual Spring Game, throwing for more than 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the sample size is simply too small to make a fair evaluation.

However, the talent is there. With his feet set and time to survey the field, Pick has all the tools to be a high level passer in the Big 12, possessed of solid arm strength and outstanding accuracy, particularly on the deep ball. Some quarterbacks just have that innate ability to drop the ball in a receiver's breadbasket on the fly from 40 yards away. Kale Pick has that ability.

Where he suffers right now is while attempting to throw on the run. He derives much of his arm strength from his legs, and there's a notable loss in his velocity when he's forced to make a throw while moving.

If Pick ultimately wins the job as most expect, look for the offense to feature a higher percentage of designed quarterback runs – bootlegs, traditional options, read options and the like.

Jordan Webb - Redshirt Freshman - 6-foot, 210 pounds: For any who have seen Jordan Webb's high school film, it's impossible to miss the similarities to Reesing's style of play.

A few minutes of grainy footage reveal a spread offense at Union (MO) High School, looking extremely similar to what Kansas ran from 2007-2009, and Webb at the helm – ducking sacks, keeping his eyes downfield and making lemonade out of lemons with astonishing frequency. Even the stats were similar, as Webb threw for 3,100 yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior in 2008, while rushing for another 1,024 yards and 24 touchdowns.

But this isn't small-classification high school football in Missouri, and the offense is no longer the wide-open spread he was recruited to potentially lead. Can he still be effective in the system Gill and Long ultimately hope to employ?

If the coaches themselves are to be believed, that question was answered in the spring.

Locked in a neck-and-neck battle with Pick for the starting job right now, Webb brings a different set of talents to the table. While smaller and not possessed of Pick's overall level of athleticism, he does have one thing the competition doesn't – a bazooka in place of his right arm.

Long has praised Webb's arm strength repeatedly since the spring, and it's easy to see why. The ball erupts from his hand with almost astonishing velocity most of the time, particularly for a quarterback of his size. And the best part? He's no Nuke Laloosh. Webb isn't just a powerful passer, he's a skilled one. Capable of making all the throws and possessed of solid accuracy to boot, an offense with him at the helm is likely to be a little more pass-happy than when Pick is on the field.

Their skillsets may be different, but Kansas fans can rest easy knowing there is plenty of talent in the quarterback cupboard on Mount Oread, and that Gill is confident both can put points on the board.

Other quarterbacks on the roster:

Quinn Mecham - Junior - 6-foot-2, 207 pounds: A junior college transfer, Mecham is currently third on the depth chart.

Junior College: Was a second-team all-conference selection as both a freshman and sophomore at Snow (UT) Junior College... Twice earned national player of the week honors... Earned conference offensive player of the week three times as a sophomore... As a sophomore he completed 202 of 323 passes for 3,091 yards, 40 touchdowns and 11 interceptions... His 257 passing yards per game ranked fifth in the nation... He led the Badgers to a 10-2 record and a national ranking of fifth... As a freshman he played in 10 games completing 128 of 212 passes for 1,851 yards, 25 touchdowns and just five interceptions... Team was 11-0.

Blake Jablonski - Freshman - Unknown Measurements: Freshman from Wichita Collegiate High School.


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