Sunday, April 25, 2010

Matt Tait’s Kansas football notebook

Kansas receiver A.J. Steward (11) pushes away linebacker Steven Johnson after pulling in a catch during the second half of the Spring Game Saturday, April 24, 2010 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas receiver A.J. Steward (11) pushes away linebacker Steven Johnson after pulling in a catch during the second half of the Spring Game Saturday, April 24, 2010 at Memorial Stadium.


KU Spring Game draws crowd

More than 12,000 KU football fans attended Saturday's Spring Game at Memorial Stadium. The Blue team won the practice game 14-10.

KU football holds annual Spring Game

Football fans were out and about Saturday for the KU football Spring Game. It was the first time fans were able to get a look at the Jayhawks in action under their new coach, Turner Gill.

Jayhawks taken in 2010 NFL draft

Several Jayhawks were selected in the 2010 NFL draft during the weekend. Darrell Stuckey, Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe were all selected to professional teams.

Atmosphere inspired

The announced attendance for Saturday’s spring game was 12,500 people, and many of those spent the moments leading up to the game tailgating. Although the outcome didn’t count in any kind of standings and was only loosely played during the hour and 40 minutes on the field, the atmosphere around the stadium was near that of what it would be on a Saturday in the fall.

In addition, KU senior Chris Harris and head coach Turner Gill led the crowd in a drug-free pledge at halftime. Harris helped the young people in the crowd through the pledge, and Gill performed a repeat-after-me version with the adults.

Although rain threatened the area for most of the day, the skies never broke open and the game was played under cloudy skies and temperatures around 60 degrees.

Tight ends more prevalent

The KU tight ends made a big impact during Saturday’s game in both the passing game and the running game. Tim Biere led the blue team with 56 receiving yards, and AJ Steward, although he made just one catch for eight yards, made several nice blocks in the running game, including one that broke running back Angus Quigley loose for a 25-yard gain on the longest run of the day.

“You could see out there, a lot of sets had two tight ends and one tight end, so we get used a lot more than we did last year,” Biere said. “Right off the bat, I think I caught more passes on that first day of practice than I did in about a week last year. Right away I knew that we would have a lot more of a role in the offense than we did last year.”

Defensive ends disruptive

They didn’t garner much mention from Gill during the four weeks of spring drills, but Saturday a couple of defensive ends had big games. Red-shirt freshman Kevin Young and senior Quintin Woods each recorded two sacks, and they combined to make six tackles.

A look at starting units

Though it’s still early and might not mean much when the 2010 season rolls around, here’s a look at Saturday’s starters from both sides of the ball.

Offense: OL Tanner Hawkinson; OL Brad Thorson; OL Jeremiah Hatch; OL Trevor Marrongelli; OL Jeff Spikes; QB Kale Pick; RB Angus Quigley; WR Bradley McDougald; WR Daymond Patterson; WR Johnathan Wilson and TE Tim Biere.

Defense: DL Travis Stephens; DL Richard Johnson Jr.; DL Kevin Young; DL Patrick Dorsey; LB Justin Springer; LB Jacoby Thomas; LB Steven Johnson; CB Chris Harris; CB Calvin Rubles; S Lubbock Smith; and S Phillip Strozier.

Speed on display

Although the Jayhawks only showed a little of their offensive playbook, it was clear that speed would be a big part of it. Slot receivers Daymond Patterson and D.J. Beshears combined to make nine catches — for 53 yards — and Gill said both have been impressive throughout the spring.

Draft excitement

With 1:11 to play in the first half, the Memorial Stadium public address announcer revealed to the crowd that former Jayhawks Darrell Stuckey and Kerry Meier had been selected in the 2010 NFL Draft. At the time, former receiver Dezmon Briscoe, a sixth-round pick of Cincinnati, also had been picked, but that announcement didn’t come until the next timeout when the press box was notified about the pick. Stuckey was picked in the fourth round by San Diego, and Meier was snagged in the fifth round by Atlanta.


markster956 10 years, 1 month ago

So the 2 best returning players, Oporum and Tharp, aren't starters?

KU 10 years, 1 month ago

Tharp is injured and didn't suit up. Opurum didn't seem to run with much passion, but then in general, the running game was pretty bad. Hopefully part of that was the basic play selection. But I didn't see a back that I thought was the next Heisman winner. Frankly, the closest thing we've got to a real difference-maker at running back is Rell Lewis.

MitchumMan 10 years, 1 month ago

KU is correct that Tharp is injured and didn't play. Opurum on the other hand did play but has been saying all Spring that he's still not 100%. So I wouldn't read too much into Opurum's play right now.

8808 10 years, 1 month ago

Isn't Opurum still healing the injury that kept him out of the Mizzou game? Relax.

David Meredith 10 years, 1 month ago

It is a slippery slope, you gotta have the talent to compete but you want good kids too.... 2 of KU's best players in recent years smoked a lot of pot and were edgy... Talib and Briscoe.... NFL execs said there was a record number of pot smokers in the draft this year, so much so they had to evaluate it differently then in the past.... is it possible to win the Big 12 and be drug free?

NebraskaJayhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

"Opurum didn't seem to run with much passion, but then in general, the running game was pretty bad. Hopefully part of that was the basic play selection."

Bad news actually if what you say is true KU. If they are running base plays, then the offensive line still doesn't know how to run block. I don't care if the defense knows it's coming or not. Good offenses, offensive lines in particular, can grind out 3-4 yards on the ground and shove it down a defense's throat. And no offense, but our D-Line is not a stellar front four. We gotta be able to run the dang ball this year!

Yeah I's just the spring game.

MitchumMan 10 years, 1 month ago

Although run blocking has been a minor concern of mine I don't know if you can use the Spring game as measurement of it. Opurum is not 100% number one. Number two, I think the starting OL was mixed up on the blue and white team. Number three, we do have some pretty good DTs that can push the OL back. If I was you I wouldn't worry too much about this.

kupopp 10 years, 1 month ago

Yup, a public notice about which street corner to buy the best drugs would have helped recruiting much more, especially impressing the recruit's mothers.

KU08 10 years, 1 month ago

Ha ha, funny retort. I agree - a drug-free policy shouldn't affect recruiting. It's already forbidden by the NCAA, so any drug-using prospect that doesn't care about that probably doesn't care about a coach's pledge. Here's what matters in recruiting: the players are more concerned about who can make them better players, and the parents are more concerned about who can make them better men. This pledge should help with the latter.

troutsee 10 years, 1 month ago

Hopefully the D will be better this year. The D looked better than the O yesterday. Hope that does not mean the O running attack is going to be as inept as it was last year.

KU 10 years, 1 month ago

We have a small offensive line compared with our Big 12 competition. We may run the ball successfully against the non-con, but it will be like running into a brick wall when we hit the Big 12 season. If we had a back with speed and decent size, it would take some of the pressure off the offensive line and QB.

It's not a real good gauge to watch our offensive and defensive lines go against each other in a scrimmage because neither is Big 12 championship quality. I've been saying for 2 years that until we get serious about recruiting the quality Big Boys up front, it doesn't matter how many Reesings or Briscoes you have on the squad.

KU 10 years, 1 month ago

Tait, thanks for the football coverage this spring. It's the best I can remember.

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