Kansas QB May Lack Height, But He's Got The Jayhawks In The Orange Bowl

With quick feet and a big dose of daring, he was good enough to set 20 school records

Jan. 2, 2008

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - So how tall is Todd Reesing, this kid who was supposed to be too short to play quarterback?

"Tall enough to get us into a BCS bowl," said Kansas offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, adding after a pause, "He's 5-10ish."

Maybe Reesing is actually 5-9. Or perhaps he's 5-9 1/2, or 5-10 1/2. Or maybe he really is exactly 2 inches shy of a 6-footer, which is what Kansas has said every time that question has been asked about its exceptional sophomore.

Aside from forcing Warinner to burn midnight oil devising ways to get Reesing around a forest of towering linemen, the quarterback's height should not matter any more.

With quick feet, quick thinking and a big dose of daring, he was good enough to set 20 school records and slingshot the Jayhawks into the Orange Bowl.

He and his teammates will face Virginia Tech on Thursday night in Kansas' first appearance in a major bowl in 39 years.

"(His height) doesn't seem to be a problem," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "I think the stats speak for themselves."

After wresting the starting job away from the 6-3 incumbent, Reesing burst into the big time more unexpectedly than even his team, which had been picked fourth in the Big 12 North.

In his first start as a college quarterback, he threw for 261 yards and four touchdowns. In the second, he threw for 257 and two. In the third, 313 and four. In the fourth, 368 and one.

By then, it was October and he still hadn't thrown an interception. People were starting to get the idea that this team and its quarterback might not be so ordinary after all.

Still unranked despite a 4-0 record, Kansas went to Kansas State for its first road game. It hadn't won there since 1989 and the Wildcats were ranked No. 24. But Reesing threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns and the Jayhawks emerged with a 30-24 victory in what may have been the breakthrough game they'd sought for years.


 

 

"After that game, our confidence rose a lot, being able to win on the road against a good team in a stadium we hadn't been very good in," Reesing said. "That game was definitely the catapult to get the season going in the right direction for us."

With Reesing at the helm, the Jayhawks come into the Orange Bowl with the second-highest scoring average (44.33) and sixth-highest total offense (491.08 yards) in the nation.

He most certainly didn't do it all on his own. But without him, his teammates would never have achieved a school-record 11 wins.

"They know every time he walks out there with them, there's a chance to score, and they believe it," Warinner said. "He believes it. And that's half the battle."

A big part of the other half is getting Reesing free of those big, tall linemen. No matter how hard he concentrates, it's awfully tough at 5-10 to peer over people who are 6-4, particularly when they're sticking their arms up to block the view.

"Most people talk about windows in the secondary. We talk about windows in the D-line," Warinner said. "So he's fitting the ball through windows in the D-line.

"You'll see him sliding around in the pocket, and he's just finding his throwing lanes. Big guys push the pocket, hands up, he moves around."

Reesing's darting around and throwing on the run might make some coaches wince, but the Jayhawks have adjusted and are thriving.

"You'll see him moving around back there a little bit, which unsettles some people coaching quarterbacks," Warinner said. "They don't like their quarterbacks floating. But he's doing it to find his throw lane. We move the pocket. Play-action to move where the launch point is in the pocket to give him different angles to see around."

Of course, all the scheming in the world would be meaningless without Reesing's ability to get the job done.

"He just knows how to play the game and where to fit the ball," Warinner said.

A fierce dislike of failure helps, too.

"I don't want to lose at anything I do," he said. "That's what drives me. One thing that I have never been really good at is video games. I don't beat a lot of people at video games, so I just don't play them. Because I can't stand losing to them."

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