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What Losing Out On Zack Stoudt MeansTo Kansas And The Quarterback Position

Nothing!  To short for a post?  Probably and honestly it's a little over simplistic.  Adding Zack Stoudt at the very least meant that Quinn Mecham or more likely Jordan Webb would have had to beat out legitimate competition in order to maintain the Kansas quarterback job.  That's probably something that would have made us all feel a little better.

At best Stoudt takes control of the Kansas offense and leads us to a much improved 2011. But that certainly wasn't a guarantee.

It's been pointed out that Stoudt's junior college rating and numbers were actually less impressive and inspiring than Mecham's but I think the fact that he has the physical tools was enough for coach Gill and coach Long to take that chance.  A junior college player is a chance and to give some indication of Stoudt's place in the grand scheme of things, let's look to the fan base that he'll be going to play in front of.

From the Red Cup Rebellion(SB Nation Ole Miss Affiliate) talking about Stoudts commitment:

It was down to KU and Ole Miss for the former Louisville signal caller out of [some junior college in Iowa] college, with the Rebels bettering the Jayhawks for the quarterback's commitment. Juco(author) and I don't really know why we went after this guy but, hey, he's a warm body who maybe can throw things so I guess we'll take him. Welcome aboard, Zack! We're probably going to make fun of you a lot!

Interesting that a player billed as a savior by some among the Kansas fanbase is viewed as a warm body that they can make fun of while he rides the bench at Ole Miss. 

Either way Zack's next two years will speak for themselves.  He'll have an opportunity to prove it in the SEC and make his mark on his way to the NFL if he's lucky.  Or perhaps he'll find out what many a quarterback have under Houston Nutt and ask himself how this guy sold him the dream.

Moving back to what it means for Kansas.  Saying it means nothing isn't too far off.  The problems and areas needing improvement are far greater than those at the quarterback position.  Making strides in all those other areas probably can have just as much of an impact on improvement in 2011 as anything.

Obviously the biggest cause for concern is that we were even targeting Stoudt to begin with. The other concern is the fact that we started targeting him in "Octoberish".  What that means is that somewhere along the way Turner Gill and Chuck Long sat in a room at the football complex, looked at eachother and said, "We don't have the guy".  Well, now they have to turn the "don't" into a "do", and they have to do that without a new body.

Kansas started with Kale Pick, moved to Jordan Webb, an injury forced in Quinn Mecham and Webb returned to the lineup for the finale.  At this point Pick appears sold on moving to receiver, which is a great move for him.  That leaves Mecham, Webb and a longshot with incoming freshman Michael Cummings competing for the job. 

Scenario #1: Jordan Webb Develops Into "The Guy"

Let's assume first that Webb does have that great offseason.  If Jordan Webb wins the job and takes the field in 2011 as a new player, most Kansas fans would be thrilled. 

Let's assume Jordan sees the field better, get's more time from his offensive line and has more productive weapons working around him.  Webb takes a look at his first, second, even third progression before tucking to run.  He does a better job of settling for the check down man out of the backfield and gets 4 yards for a 3rd and manageable instead of forcing an incompletion or taking a sack.  Two years ago everyone pegged their hopes on Webb being a poor man's Todd Reesing.  If he gets even close to that, no worries Kansas can be fine WITH IMPROVEMENT AROUND HIM. 

Scenario #2: Quinn Mecham wins out

Don't get me wrong the mighty Quinn played admirably in 2010, but he doesn't have the physical tools to be a Big 12 quarterback.  The portion of the field that can be attacked under his guidance is limited, the deep ball is out of the equation and while he had a couple nice runs it's certainly not his strength.

Quinn beating out Webb or whoever else stands on that practice field with a red jersey is probably a clear signal that as Jayhawk fans we're in for another long year.  Again, he did some nice things in 2010, but it's all relative to what you have to compare to. Just remember, until we saw injuries across the board Mecham wasn't even in the conversation.

Which Brings Us to Offseason Requirements 

Any way you slice it right now there aren't many quarterbacks that are going to step onto the Kansas football field and single handedly change everything.  Todd Reesing is one of those rare players that can do that, most will need something around them and that's what makes everything else on the offensive side of the ball SO important this offseason.

Offensive Line

It started up front with Kansas in 2010.  Injuries decimated an offensive line that should have been a strength and players expected to lead in that group failed to meet those expectations.  What Kansas had was a group that couldn't execute an effective run block on a consistent basis and looked overmatched in pass protection.  Injury, physical conditioning and inexperience all played into the struggles but it was a piece. 

What that means is first and foremost THIS GROUP is the key to being better regardless of who the quarterback is. 

The first step is being taken.  The oft rumored laissez faire approach in the weight room has changed.  In the weeks since the season ended it's a new program and come spring we will hopefully see noticeable change in that respect. 

The second step will rest on JB Grimes and his ability to improve technique.  The third piece will be getting Jeff Spikes and Trevor Marrongelli back at 100%,  having Jeremiah Hatch ready to play from day one, a leaner more agile Tanner Hawkinson and a comfortable Duane Zlatnik entering his third year at the position.  That's good enough to be ready to go.

Any extra boost the line can get from an incoming freshman like Bryan Peters, Dylan Admire or on of the other assorted commitments would be icing on the cake.  Riley Spencer will be out of spring ball but getting him involved down the line should be in the plans and certainly Gavin Howard or Chad Kolumber figure to be part of the much needed depth as they mature physically. 

It will be a wait and see approach because as a fanbase we've anointed an o-line the anchor and watched that wall crumble.  Regardless of the pieces and the potential it must be proven and respect earned.

Running Back

Kansas has to feel like they are on the right track here.  James Sims is a player and will be entering his sophomore year.  Brandon Bourbon will be a redshirt freshman and is expected to be a player for Kansas after an impressive summer entering 2010.  Throw in Deshaun Sands with limited carries and perhaps Darrian Miller can make a move since he will be on campus this spring. 

In an ideal world you can redshirt Miller and Dreamius Smith, but that won't be decided anytime soon. 

The other player that Kansas is still pursuing that could change the position a bit is Kevin Grooms out of Florida.  He's being pursued by several big schools in the Florida area as a corner, Kansas is offering a shot at running back which is where he wants to be.  He fits the mold of what Turner Gill wants; a speedy playmaker.

Reciever/Tight Ends

All the blame for that deer in headlights, who do I throw to look from our quarterbacks this year didn't rest with those quarterbacks.  The receiver position took a fairly substantial hit with the departure of Meier and Briscoe.  Kansas receivers weren't getting open, they weren't getting off the line in some cases (Nebraska) and they weren't blocking downfield the way Kansas receivers have in the past. 

There are players that can make an impact in the group.  Daymond Patterson and DJ Beshears have already shown that.  Chris Omigie and Erik McGriff also had flashes during the season.  Kale Pick was easily the best blocker of the entire group and he only played in a pair of games at the position late in the year.  That will earn him minutes if others don't buy into that level of commitment. 

It's a deep unit, one with some size, one with a pair of speedy playmakers, but they still have a lot of improvement to make in order to help improve the Kansas running game, which in turn only helps the passing game.  This is a group that has to buy into the blocking downfield and a group that has to be prepared to fight off the line and find openings. 

The wild card rests at tight end where Kansas will have Tim Biere, Trent Smiley and Jimmay Mundine all at their disposal.  If the offensive line doesn't improve, then we'll have another season where Biere spends all season in max protect.  If the offensive line gets to where they need to be, this position can be a huge weapon as we all hoped it would be this year.

Who Wins Out?

Mecham, Webb, or Cummings. Odds are that Michael Cummings won't be ready.  A knee injury will keep him out of most of the summer preparation one would assume and at that point you have to be a major surprise in order to work your way from high school to starting quarterback with that little preparation time.

Mecham would also seem to be a guy at Kansas that provides depth, but isn't the answer.  Based on the fact that Mecham stepped in and played as well as any Kansas quarterback all year and still found himself back on the bench in favor of Webb tells you that Mecham has a major uphill climb.

That brings us to Webb.  Right now the world is pretty down on Webb and as it goes with recruiting, everyone was very high on Stoudt.  They are different players physically, and in the wait and see world of Kansas football it's easy to know what the ideal could have been, but it's impossible to predict exactly what will happen.

What Kansas hoped to have was two quarterbacks competing for the job just like last spring.  In my opinion we now have one and that's Webb.  I've said it before; there are two types of teams, those with a quarterback and those looking for one.  Right now Turner Gill enters year two and he's looking for one.  The contract is five years and he's entering an offseason between year one and two.  The ability to develop or recruit a quarterback might just be the determining factor in his success or failure at Kansas.  The clock is ticking.