Monday, April 26, 2010
Pick finishes spring with flurry
By ESPN.com staff ESPN.com
Entering spring, Kale Pick was one of six quarterbacks vying to open the Turner Gill era at Kansas as the starting quarterback. He took his divvied-up snaps and by the final week of spring, joined Jordan Webb as the two front-runners for the job.
But Pick still held the advantage of being the only quarterback coaches and fans had seen on the field, albeit in a limited capacity. In Saturday's spring game, he gave those coaches and fans one final image to replay over and over until camp re-opens in the fall.
Kale Pick is one of the candidates to be Kansas' starting quarterback.
Trailing 10-7 with just over two minutes to play, the sophomore hit Christian Matthews -- now a receiver after Pick beat him out for the job, too -- for a 34-yard touchdown and a 14-10 win.
Gill made it clear earlier this spring what he wanted from his first quarterback at Kansas.
"You definitely want a guy that’s going to be able to make plays, whether it’s with his legs or with his arm," he said. "Obviously, it’d be ideal to have a guy that can do both."
Pick didn't do much of the former (seven carries for minus-14 yards and three sacks), but the latter should meet Gill's requirement, giving Pick a push into fall. And besides, he showed he could run plenty in his niche role as a freshman, when he ripped off three runs of over 10 yards in Kansas' first game last season, and a run of 55 yards in the second.
"It was frustrating to a point when you'd just come in at the end of games," Pick said. "As a QB, obviously, you want to throw the ball."
But sitting behind Todd Reesing, who left Kansas with nearly every school passing record, Pick knew his role.
"When I came in and the game was closer," Pick said, "we wanted to establish the running part of the offense."
It often needed it. Kansas ranked 11th in rushing during conference play, but now Pick hopes his speed is only part of his threat.
"I can run and throw," Pick said. "I think I can give defenses some headaches worrying about the run."
Saturday was his first chance to show off his arm, and Pick impressed. Suiting up for both teams, Pick threw for 214 yards and two touchdowns on 14 of 22 passing. Forgot to mention what else Gill wanted in his quarterback. A simple idea some quarterbacks never master.
"No matter what offense you’re running, you definitely want a guy that can take care of the football," Gill said.
Pick didn't throw an interception. Juco transfer Quinn Mecham and Webb did, despite throwing the ball fewer times.
Pick has been comfortable in the new system, which varies widely from the spread-based attack the Jayhawks racked up yards with while Reesing was throwing to Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier.
Kansas plans to run about half of its offense from under center, giving way to unfamiliar facets of offenses like two-back sets and something called a "tight end."
Gill also wants a less tangible attribute from his quarterback.
"The main thing is, just being able to raise the play of the guys around him," Gill said.
It's too early to tell if he can do that just yet, but Pick is certainly trying.
"I need to become a leader. I think what we need right now is some leaders to step up," he said. "We’re a really young team."
Although it's working with new coaches, Kansas' offense brings back eight starters, including the entire offensive line. Pick could be the key to making sure the transition comes easy once he can't suit up for both teams.
"If he’s able to do all three or four of those things, then you’re going to have an outstanding quarterback," Gill said.
Pick won't win the starting job because of one throw on a Saturday in April, but it's certainly a start. And it's given the position a bit more clarity entering the fall.