Reesing moving on from benching

Updated: November 3, 2009, 6:31 PM ET
Associated Press

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Todd Reesing waited for the question he had never heard before, one he didn't particularly want to answer.

Eyes darting between the cameras, recorders and microphones thrust into his face, the typically engaging and confident Kansas quarterback seemed anxious as he waited for someone to ask what it was like to be benched for the first time in his career.

After a few questions about this week's opponent, the Jayhawks' struggling offense, it came. Suddenly, Reesing's eyes narrowed. He looked over his shoulder at the interviewer and then answered the question with the same tenacity he's applied to opposing offenses the past three years.

"Yeah, it was a big deal to me," Reesing said Tuesday. "It is what it is. It's above my pay grade. It's his [coach Mark Mangino's] decision. I'm still the starting quarterback here, there's no doubt about that. This job is not up for grabs."

Mangino put Reesing in this tough spot by benching the senior in the closing minutes of Saturday's 42-21 loss at Texas Tech.

Bothered by a groin injury suffered two weeks earlier against Colorado, Reesing didn't have his usual mobility and was unable to make up for breakdowns by the offensive line, leading to six sacks. He seemed tentative at times, too, throwing for a season-low 181 yards on 20-of-35 passing.

With Kansas trailing by 14 points and just over seven minutes left in the game, Mangino made the surprising move of replacing Reesing with redshirt freshman Kale Pick, hoping it would spark the offense.

It didn't and now, instead of being talked up as a Heisman Trophy contender, Reesing's talking about holding on to his job heading into Saturday's showdown with rival and Big 12 North-leading Kansas State.

"He has done a lot of great things here and we have all taken for granted some of the great plays he's made, some of the things he's done here," Mangino said. "But he's human. He's going to make mistakes. We all do. The good thing about Todd is you know he's going to respond. That's just his personality."

At the start of the season, it seemed preposterous Reesing would ever be in this position.

A three-year starter, he had guided one of the most prolific offenses in the nation, leading the Jayhawks to 12 wins and an Orange Bowl victory as a sophomore in 2007, breaking nearly every school record after that.

Mentioned as a Heisman candidate at the start of his senior season, Reesing played like it through the first five games, throwing for over 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns with three interceptions to move the undefeated Jayhawks up to No. 16 in The Associated Press poll.

Even Mangino, who refuses to campaign for postseason awards, got caught up in Reesing's start, saying he at least had to be in the Heisman conversation.

That proved to be the high point.

Over the past three games, all losses, Reesing has thrown two touchdown passes with four interceptions, including one in each of the first three possessions in a loss to Oklahoma. He's also lost three fumbles and thrown for 405 yards the past two games -- 37 fewer than he had in a win over Iowa State last month.

Some of it is the Jayhawks' shaky offensive line, some of it probably Reesing's groin injury, though he won't use that as a crutch.

Whatever it is, something clearly needs to change.

"We've just got to relax," Reesing said. "I'm not going to get all tense and worked up about this stuff because I think it would be counterproductive if we get tense and try to do too much. We just need to take a step back, take a deep breath and do what we've always done."

The Jayhawks are counting on it.

One thing about Reesing is that he doesn't give up. Ever.

Told he was too small to be a Division I quarterback, the 5-foot-11 Reesing has spent the past four years using his arm and legs to prove everyone wrong. He's had a knack for escaping seemingly inescapable situations and the Jayhawks have no doubt he'll do it again.

"He's got a couple of bumps in the road here lately, but I'm not going to panic," Mangino said. "I've got a lot of faith in him. I have confidence in him and his teammates do. The best in the business have rough areas. He'll be fine. He is a guy that is not happy with the way things are going, so he is willing to change."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press