The white tents already dot the hill. You can almost smell the fried doughnuts, the sausages, the honey pork tenderloin kabobs. Footballs will fly through the air Saturday outside Memorial Stadium, where for a one-day tease, it will be football season.
Kansas football fans, young, old and in between, know how to tailgate, regardless of the prospects of their favorite college football team. No shortage of big-name former Jayhawks, from John Hadl to Darrell Stuckey and Kerry Meier, are expected to be milling about as part of their annual football reunion weekend that coincides with the spring football game.
Second-year Kansas football coach Turner Gill said after Monday’s practice he expected to determine by today the format for the spring football game. He said he wasn’t sure whether the team would have enough healthy defensive tackles to play a conventional blue-against-white scrimmage. That’s the problem with intrasquad games: It takes a shortage at just one position to foil plans.
Gill can only do what he can do, based on the available healthy bodies, but here’s hoping he has enough to play a game, and if so, that game pits the first team against the second team, rather than giving one team the first-string offense, the other the first-team defense.
The better the first-stringers look, the bigger their names will become to a fan base that hasn’t had a chance to connect to many of them yet in part because 3-9 seasons that start with a loss to an FCS team, North Dakota State. That was then. This is now: The bodies look better and so does the body language of the players. It will take a significantly stronger team to go 3-9 this coming season than a year ago because the schedule is that much tougher.
Lopsided victories will be in short supply, so you take them where you can get them, even if it’s in a game that doesn’t count, the spring game, where names can be learned, even if they can’t be made. Think about it: If you were to purchase a KU football jersey of a current player, what number would you be most likely to purchase? Tough call, but if one of the following should happen to have a big day Saturday, he’d have to be in the running:
No. 3, Darrian Miller: He ran for four touchdowns in an intrasquad game early in the spring. If he did it once, he can do it again.
No. 5, Greg Brown: Junior cornerback played as well as anyone on the team in the final weeks of last season and has inspired raves from teammates all spring.
No. 7, Kale Pick: His speed gives him the potential to become an exciting receiver the way he was an exciting running quarterback late in games during the 2009 season.
No. 9, Keeston Terry: Safety who moved like a pro as true freshman is healthy again.
No. 20, D.J. Beshears: Diminutive receiver’s a lot tougher to tackle than appearances suggest.
No. 29, James Sims: Last season’s leading rusher will have more competition than a year ago and a big spring game could make him the man to beat for the bulk of carries.
No. 35, Toben Opurum: He’s hunting quarterbacks with a free mind now.
No. 41, Jimmay Mundine: Red-shirt freshman hybrid tight end/receiver has serious talent.