A QB Hypothetical


For the second consecutive season, Quinn Mecham and Jordan Webb are locked in competition for the Jayhawks' starting QB spot. While I hope whomever is picked to start does well, I'm realistic enough to realize that unless these guys have improved by leaps and bounds in one offseason, we're likely to still be debating who deserves the title of QB1 throughout the season. So if the staff is forced to make a switch, who's the best option?



The most obvious solution would be to replace the starter with the guy who he was competing with all spring.  Both Webb and Mecham had flashes where they looked like D1-caliber QBs (GT for Webb, 4th quarter of Colorado for Mecham), so giving the other guy a shot seems reasonable if the starter struggles. 

However, I think the timing of this kind of switch would be pivotal to whether it would be the best move for the staff to make.  Ideally, I would like to see whoever comes out of camp as the starter to get 2 or 3 games before any switch is seriously considered.  If the guy looks truly awful you could pull him sooner, but when developing a young QB, you have to realize there will be growing pains.  Pulling a guy too soon can shake his confidence and make the new guy feel that he is one step away from getting yanked, too.

If we are late into the season, I think the staff should lean toward staying with or switching to Webb, depending on who the starter is at the time.  Mecham is a senior, so even if he comes in and wins a game or two, next year we are back to square one.  If we're 3 games or so from the end of the year, I think riding it out with Webb is the best option, because best case, the switch finally flips and he is the guy next year and worst case, he continues to struggle, and the staff can move on and give Berglund and Cummings more reps next spring.

There is also the chance that the staff burns the redshirt of Berglund or Cummings.  While I am almost always in favor of redshirting QBs, if one of these guys comes in and impresses in fall camp, the coaches might be inclined to give them some game experience, so they are further along in their development next season, when KU has a more realistic chance of competing.

This is probably what most fans will be calling for if the starting QB struggles, but it's definitely a risky move.  If the pass blocking of the O-line hasn't improved significantly from last season, it could easily cause BB or Cummings to develop ‘happy feet', and while both known for their mobility, a QB needs to learn to pass first and run only when there are no other options.  We've all seen what poor protection can do to a QB (David Carr is the first example that comes to mind), so I'm a little weary of this type of scenario until there is some tangible improvement up front.  And while there are success stories coming from situations like this, (most notably Todd Reesing) those are outnumbered by young guys coming in too soon and getting pummeled by defenders who have the benefit of at least a year of college level playing experience and strength training.

If this were the route the staff chooses to take, I would want it to happen as soon as possible.  It's not worth burning a guy's redshirt for only a couple of games, but if we are only a game or two into the Big XII schedule, and the coaches believe one of the freshmen is ready to step in, I'd be fine with that kind of move.

The last scenario, which is probably the least likely to happen, is to give Jablonksi a chance to win the QB spot.  It's not often that a walk-on succeeds as a BCS-level QB, but by all accounts Jablonksi looked every bit as good as Webb and Mecham during the spring game.  Granted the spring game is little more than a single practice, but if we're assuming that whoever the beginning of the season starter was has already performed miserably; why not give the guy a shot?  Worst case, he shows everyone why he was a walk-on in the first place, and best case, he shows that the spring game was more than just a flash in the pan. 

This is the option that I'd be most in favor of, mainly because it's a low-risk, high-reward move.  If Jablonski turns out to be no better than Webb and Mecham, Berglund and Cummings still have their redshirts, and no one is left wondering what could've been.  And if Jablonski comes in and lights it up, while we might have a QB battle of a different type next season (whether to play a successful walk-on versus two highly thought of scholarship players), I think we'd all take that type of a competition versus the "who do we think will suck less" kind of competition we are having now.

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