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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Oh, the drama

Absences add intrigue to Spring Game

Kansas' Kerry Meier tosses to the end zone in the spring game on April 11. Meier will not make the switch to full-time receiver.

Kansas' Kerry Meier tosses to the end zone in the spring game on April 11. Meier will not make the switch to full-time receiver.

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Fans preview football team at KU Spring Game

The regular season may still be five months away, but Jayhawk fans caught a glimpse of the 2009 Kansas Jayhawk football team on Saturday.

Generally speaking, the Kansas University football team’s annual Spring Game does not involve a great deal of drama.

The rules (and teams, for that matter) are loosely enforced. Players are going against players and schemes they’ve seen countless times before. And, as coach Mark Mangino himself points out, the event is really nothing more than a glorified practice.

Saturday, however, thanks to the notorious absences of two of the team’s most prominent players, the game’s usual low-key nature was put on hold.

Junior receiver Dezmon Briscoe and senior running back Jocques Crawford, two players who figured heavily into the team’s offense during the 2008 season, did not play Saturday and did not appear present at Memorial Stadium during the team’s annual Spring Game.

Shortly after the game concluded — a 20-7 victory by the team’s first-string Blue squad — it came to light that Crawford, a highly touted running back set to begin his second year in the program, might not be part of the Jayhawks’ lineup much longer.

Citing what he called multiple violations of team rules in a short period of time, Mangino told reporters that Crawford has been suspended indefinitely, while the coach left open the possibility of a permanent dismissal from the team.

“He will not participate the rest of spring,” Mangino said. “I just don’t know his status. I’ll be honest with you: I don’t know … whether he’ll be back or not.”

Asked if Crawford’s suspension was related in any way to an incident that occurred last weekend in which KU offensive lineman Ben Lueken was hospitalized after being struck by a vehicle on the KU campus, Mangino declined comment.

“There’s an investigation that’s pending,” he said, “and I can’t speak to that at the present time.”

Briscoe, meanwhile, represented the team’s other notable no-show, although the level of immediacy in his case seemed considerably lower.

As previously reported, Briscoe, a second-team All-Big 12 selection as a sophomore last season, was held out of the majority of spring practice for a violation of undisclosed team rules. Mangino said he would meet with Briscoe on Monday to discuss the player’s status with the team, but that a number of requirements would have to be met before the receiver would be reinstated.

“When he has those tasks completed, when he meets all the guidelines that I set for him, I’ll reinstate him,” said Mangino. “But not until then.”

So, yes, that was how the spring game concluded for the Kansas Jayhawks.

However, the game served its purpose: providing Kansas’ coaching staff with an extended evaluation day following a monthlong session of practice.

In the first glimpse of the 2009 version of the Kansas football team (minus the majority of the 2009 recruiting class), the team’s annual spring scrimmage provided football-starved fans a brief taste before next fall, while ending the way one might imagine a game between the team’s first-string (Blue Team) and second-string (White Team) players would go.

The Blue team — led by quarterback Todd Reesing and the majority of the rest of the team’s starting lineup from 2008 — scored early and often, building a 17-0 lead by the time the first quarter had ended.

A few suprises emerged. Newcomes Jake Schermer (linebacker) and Greg Brown (cornerback) each finished with eight tackles, while Crawford’s absence opened the door for receiver-turned-running back Rell Lewis, who rushed for a game-high 66 yards on 14 carries while playing primarily with the White team.

But mostly it was business as usual for a team that returns nearly all of its skill-position players from a season ago.

Reesing was predictably dominant, throwing for 221 yards and a touchdown in limited action. Running back Jake Sharp averaged nine yards per carry. And Darrell Stuckey, the leader of the Jayhawks’ secondary, grabbed the game’s lone interception in what most players called a productive afternoon.

“We’re not ready to play our first game yet, but I’m not sure anybody is at this point,” Reesing said. “I think we can take a lot of positives out of the spring.”

At least one person, however, might have a little tougher time enjoying those positives.

Faced with the conundrum that is the intrasquad scrimmage — even when one of the units has success, it comes at the expense of another — Mangino grumbled jokingly about the task he has ahead of him in evaluating the game footage.

“Have you ever met a head coach that went home happy after the spring game?” he said. “Never. If it isn’t one thing, it’s something else.”

Comments

chezlog 10 years, 9 months ago

It is going to be long wait until we get to the first game! It is not in August. It isn't until September! September 5th, that's four more days than just waiting for the calendar to roll around to September. That's a long wait. I love KU football and I always have. I love our coach and I would love to kick the A-- of anyone who says that he is fat! He is Big! And Big is what we need. It has taken a big man to put KU football into the postion we are in. I used to hope for our team to win a bowl game and I wanted nothing more. I would look at the schedule and think to myself "we can beat Colorado, they aren't paying attention to us, we can beat K-State, they are pretenders, we can beat Missouri, we always get up for Missouri, we can beat Iowa State, they have to be beat-able or we'll never go to a bowl game!" I hoped when it was hopeless. Now I plan and save for the inevitable, we're going to a bowl. We will contend the Big 12 title. When the Big 12 no longer had a lock on the Orange Bowl I thought we would never go back and redeem ourselves from the pain and shame of losing to Penn State (because of the "too many men on the field" penalty.) Then the Big man got us to the Orange bowl and won it for us. Yes, the players won it, but they were only here because the Big man was here. I love the Big man. I send him my money. He will not die of a heart-attack, he will never die. He is legend. Honor the man, he plans the Xs and Os, and he brings us the Jerrys and Joes. He carrys more weight than any other coach in Kansas football history and I appreciate him for it.

jayhawkinATL 10 years, 9 months ago

I recall KU having some reservations about pursuing Crawford because of some legal issues that occurred back in high school. I also recall that KU managed to reason away those concerns. I guess some people just can't take advantage of second chances!!!

FlaHawk 10 years, 9 months ago

Crawford has had a few more than a second change. Get rid of the cancer by excising from program.Coach Mangino in his own time will carry this out!

I am more worried about Briscoe. He has been in trouble before both in Texas and at KU. Sure hope he get's his butt back in gear and on the football field.

JayViking 10 years, 9 months ago

I don't know about Briscoe, but Crawford was in the stands watching the game.

Nutflush21 10 years, 9 months ago

Ive been told by my source that Briscoe's suspension stems from the fact that he decided to skip virtually every single voluntary workout since the season ended. Hopefully he gets his act together soon.

jayhawkinATL 10 years, 9 months ago

Briscoe would truly be a waste of talent. I honestly think, if he has another year like last year, he will be able to opt for the NFL early.

Robert Brock 10 years, 9 months ago

Two predictions:

  1. Briscoe returns and has a sensational year

  2. Crawford falls a wee short of 2000 yards rushing

jayhawkinATL 10 years, 9 months ago

Thanks for #2, Brock...I fell out of my chair on that one!!!

Nathan Anderson 10 years, 9 months ago

WTF is the purpose of having Dugan cover football? Glorified practice or not, I'd like some freakin' coverage and OPINION about how players look, particularly the newbies. For those who missed seeing/hearing the game, this article has done a bare minimum to get them up to speed. A junior high kid/Keith Langford could have written this schlock.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 9 months ago

jayhawkinatl says... I recall KU having some reservations about pursuing Crawford because of some legal issues

Actually, wasn't it one legal issue, not multiple, and centered around whether some sex was consentual or not. Let's see, did anyone else have consentual sex in HS? Pretty sure I don't want to throw stones on that one.

Not sure what the all multiple violations lately are, though it sounds like hitting a pedestrian isn't one of them as much as having a "pedestrian" fall off your vehicle. Hmm, what sober person would get on top of a vehicle?

Obviously, he has screwed up, or Mangino wouldn't be on him as he is, but at least 2 incidences have other people playing prominent roles. Hopefully, Jocques can straighten things out and be a positive influence on the team.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 9 months ago

Nutflush21 says... I've been told by my source that Briscoe's suspension stems from the fact that he decided to skip virtually every single voluntary workout since the season ended.

That sounds about right. It reminds me of his quote after last year's OU game - Something along the lines of maybe I should be trying every game. He obviously has the talent, but is just beginning to figure out that talent is wasted without focused effort. He obviously has enough to allow him to be very successful collegiately, but he has a rude awakening if he thinks he can skate thru the off-season at the next level.

Hopefully, he can learn the bigger lesson that the coaches are trying to teach - it's not enough even just to try every game, but you need to try every day to prepare for every game, so that he can help not only the team, but himself down the road.

Rock Chalk

Dirk Medema 10 years, 9 months ago

"So, yes, that was how the spring concluded for the Kansas Jayhawks."

Glad the article didn't.

"In the first glimpse of the 2009 version of the Kansas football team (minus the majority of the 2009 recruiting class)"

What about the minority that was present? Haven't gotten to the Sands legacy article yet, but still hoping we'll hear more about the new guys that are playing already.

Gotta love the fact that Rell is averaging 4 ypc behind a 2nd string line against a 1st string D that traditionally is quite strong against the run.

"Newcome(r)s Jake Schermer (linebacker) and Greg Brown (cornerback) each finished with eight tackles..."

While I was rather expecting as much out of Jake, Greg is a really nice surprise. Hopefully he has made a big progression from 1st to 2nd yr, and can be a significant contribution.

Thanks for the coverage Dugan. We're looking forward to lots more in the future.

Rock Chalk

Mangino_Maniac 10 years, 9 months ago

I'd love to hear some more details too... primarily, how did Kale Pick look? Surprised this wasn't discussed in the article. Great to hear Rell Lewis had a good afternoon.

Man, excitement about KU football in April... our program has come a long way and definitely now has a presence! I'm ready for September!

actorman 10 years, 9 months ago

"Junior receiver Dezmon Briscoe and senior running back Jocques Crawford, two players who figured heavily into the team’s offense during the 2008 season, ..."

Huh??????????????????? Jocques Crawford figured "heavily into the team's offense???" Are you serious????? What an absolutely ridiculous comment, to act like Crawford and Briscoe were basically equivalent when it came to their contributions to KU's offense in '08.

Lance Hobson 10 years, 9 months ago

Football players have been acting like thugs and getting in trouble for decades now. Why can't these guys realize that when they arrive on campus they are now out of the ghetto and attending a respected institution of higher learning? Maybe if the coaches and university administration had higher standards they would actually learn to behave like civilized people.

NebraskaJayhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

Briscoe is a waste of talent if he hasn't been working in the off-season.

Eric Schneider 10 years, 9 months ago

Briscoe needs to get his head together if he wants a big NFL contract. He has the size and talent to be a high first round draft pick. But the work ethic could knock him down a long ways.

As for the team. With Desmond we have an outside shot at a BCS game. Without him. About like last year. But it sounds like he will be there.

cathleen 10 years, 9 months ago

I hope the coach stays the course so we can have confidence that the entire team represents the university and themselves/family in the best light. We don't need trips to Bowls where players make fools out of themselves. The last two bowl games and of course the win over Missouri last year is soooooooooooooooooooo exciting.

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