Blog Entry

Spring Practice Primer: Kansas

Posted on: March 31, 2011 12:31 pm
Edited on: April 1, 2011 12:04 pm
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Posted by Tom Fornelli

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice  . So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Kansas, which starts spring practice on Friday.

Spring Practice Question: Can Turner Gill find a quarterback worthy of keeping the job this season?

Turner Gill's first season at Kansas was not a success. In fact, it was something that most Kansas fans have probably spent the last four months trying to completely erase from their memories. While the players did their best to adjust to the new lifestyle choices that Gill was instituting -- how does a college kid survive without a cell phone and girls, anyway? -- the results on the field showed that this is a process that is going to take some time.

It was a season that began with a 6-3 loss to North Dakota State at home, and was followed by eight more losses and only three wins. Of those eight losses, five came by 20-point deficits or more. To put that in perspective, Kansas couldn't even manage to score 20 points in nine of its twelve games.

The offense finished 111th in the country in points per game with 17.1, while the defense came in at 103rd with 34.4 points against per game. Not exactly a winning formula.

So, clearly, if you are expecting some great turnaround with Kansas this season, you should share whatever drugs you're on with everyone around you. Your world seems like a wonderful place.

Instead of focusing on winning the Big 12 this season, Turner Gill will be best suited looking to improve his team, and finding answers for the future. The first position he'll be looking to improve, however, is usually the hardest one to get right.

The Jayhawks had a bit of a quarterback carousel through 2010. Through the season, Kale Pick, Jordan Webb and Quinn Mecham all got time at starting quarterback. Gill does not want a repeat of that in 2011, and he's answered part of the question a bit by moving Pick to wide receiver this season.

Unfortunately, even though spring practice hasn't even begun, the Jayhawks have already had a setback at the position.

Quarterback Brock Berglund was the biggest recruit that Kansas landed in its 2011 class. There was some thought that the 6'4 dual-threat quarterback from Colorado could come in and start his freshman season. He even graduated from high school last December so he could enroll early at Kansas. Sadly, due to what the school referenced as "personal circumstances," Berglund has returned home to Colorado and won't be around for spring practice.

Which means that April will be a two-man battle between Webb and Mecham. Neither player was fantastic for the Jayhawks in their time, but given the fact that Turner Gill is focusing on the future, I'd have to give an edge to Webb.

Big 12 Primers
He'll be a sophomore this season, while Mecham will be a senior. Normally the experience of a senior might mean something, but Mecham has thrown less passes in his first three years (102) than Webb completed in his freshman season (121).

Webb also played pretty well at times for the Jayhawks. In a four-week stretch following the opening day loss against North Dakota State, Webb completed 67 of 110 passes (61%) with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. It's just after that nice start, Webb only completed 48 of 93 passes (52%) with 1 touchdown and 5 interceptions. Which is the kind of swing you'd expect to see from a freshman playing in the Big 12 for the first time.

So, in that sense, while Kansas will not have its quarterback position settled by the time spring practice ends, I think the next month of practices will be very important for Webb. If he can show improvement and a greater grasp of the offense, he'll enter the summer on top of the depth chart.

Which will give him an advantage over Berglund, who will be in Lawrence this summer, and will have to make up some time if he hopes to wrestle the job away before the season starts.
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