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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Keegan

Spring KU football breakout hopefuls

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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.

Comments

justanotherfan 2 years, 12 months ago

The biggest question marks going into this season -

1) Health - as with every football team, your top players MUST stay healthy. We have some more depth than last year, but one or two key injuries could still leave us lacking, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

2) Line play - we got manhandled at the point of attack last season. We couldn't run the ball. Couldn't stop the run. Couldn't pressure the QB. Couldn't protect the QB. It sounds like Toben may force teams to either double him, or chip him with a TE or RB, but our other linemen, particularly the tackles, have to exploit that extra attention that Toben gets and win those 1-on-1 matchups. On the offensive side, health is one question for the line, but the other issue is experience. I don't care who the QB is, they need time. I don't care who the RB is, they need running lanes.

3) Newcomer contributions - We will be relying heavily on either freshmen or transfers to provide either major contributions or depth at just about every spot on the field. If we are to succeed, some of those guys have to come up big for us.

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jhawkrulz 2 years, 12 months ago

I continue to hope that we stay healthy, some of the recruits step up, and that we continue to be focused.

Here is to another football season. It'll be a tough battle again this year and I agree with Keegan this year will have a more difficult schedule, which duplicating a 3-9 record will be hard to do. I hope we have a lot of improvement and I hope that we are able to 1) Win more games, 2) If a loss happens to occur, i hope that they aren't lopsided like last year, and 3) I would love to see a bowl game this year.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 12 months ago

Mix in a salad! How about starting the article like this. You can almost picture the empty seats, see every blade of grass on the vacant hill, hear bill self scrambling for a calendar to make sure a recruit isn't visiting the weekend of a home football game. It's turner gill football time!

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Ashtin Meerpohl 2 years, 12 months ago

What about #15. Patterson was one of the few playmakers we had last year. Hopefully he gets healthy and he has a big year.

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KGphoto 2 years, 12 months ago

I don't have to buy a new #35 or #7. I'll just unbox them and knock the dust off. By the way, the #35 might become a collectable if Toben goes off the next two years. I would imagine he would be the only KU sack leader ever to wear it.

I would imagine #3 is gonna fly off the racks regardless of the spring game outcome. And I wouldn't be surprised to see a #16 Berglund. Personally, since before last year started, I've been a #25 guy, but that's on the back burner for awhile. I would add a couple more to your list.

24

34

Both of whom, I believe are going to be impact guys this year.

Or I might just go out and buy a blank Jackson or Bakare and wait for fall.

A Bakare jersey with an iron-on Tazmanian Devil might sell well on Saturday.

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Andy Tweedy 2 years, 12 months ago

AGHH!! Keegan ruined my morning. I was putting off breakfast, and he starts the article with fried donuts! Now I have to go fatten up at the cafeteria...

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redlegger 2 years, 12 months ago

"No. 35, Toben Opurum: He’s hunting quarterbacks with a free mind now."

I like it!

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100 2 years, 12 months ago

Regarding: Former Kansas football greats milling about on the hill....

How about the best running back in the history of the NFL, the Kansas Comet?

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