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Friday, August 19, 2011

Keegan

Early optimism natural

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Palm-tree optimism colors nearly every story written from spring-training camps throughout major-league baseball. Nothing inappropriate about that. Every young ballplayer deserves to have the skills that gave him a shot at the big leagues highlighted. After all, he hasn’t lost a single game.

The same goes for college football squads sweating through summer camps. No point in doubting that a returning player has taken the proper steps to improve, unless coaches or teammates hint he has not. No reason to dispute a newcomer deserved the scholarship he was granted before seeing him play a single snap.

All we can do, as reporters of a team coming off a 3-9 season that featured an embarrassing loss to Div. I-AA North Dakota State, was on the wrong end of three consecutive mega-blowouts and gradually became more competitive before dropping a stink-bomb in Arrowhead Stadium against despised rival Missouri, is to try to find out what teammates and coaches think of various players.

Naturally, they’ll paint a positive picture, which leads to skeptical Kansas University football fans often asking me, “Are they really going to be as good as you guys are telling us they’re going to be?”

Oops. Didn’t mean to mislead anybody. It’s just that time of year. When a team hasn’t lost a game and we haven’t had access to view a single practice or scrimmage, why go negative? Accentuate the positive and still try to bring a dose of reality to the situation.

The reality: The roster is faster than it was a year ago, which should eliminate the embarrassing look of some of the blowouts. The team is extremely young, and teenagers tend not to win very many games. On paper, the defensive line shapes up as the weakest in the Big 12, the linebackers are quick, but not particularly big, and the secondary looks strong.

Offensively, the line should be considerably better than last year, when it was particularly porous. The receivers? They’ll block better because if you don’t block for David Beaty, you don’t play. Get the ball to D.J. Beshears or Daymond Patterson in space and good things could happen. Beyond them, so little experience from the unit makes it tough to draw any conclusions.

Look for quarterback Jordan Webb to perform better with added protection and the wisdom not to try to hit the home run when working a walk is the right play. When Webb’s missing the mark, no reason Quinn Mecham can’t come out of the bullpen. Like a zone-buster in basketball, a pool player who has worked up a good hatred for his cocky opponent and a hitter who can’t make an out in baseball, Mecham has the look of a guy who sees everything in slow motion when he gets a hot hand.

The run game should improve with the wide variety of complements to James Sims.

The speedy Tony Pierson, slithery, make-’em miss Darrian Miller, big-and-fast Brandon Bourbon and rugged fullback Nick Sizemore supply KU offensive coordinator Chuck Long more options than he had last season.

The special teams can’t be any worse.

So what might it all mean? That Kansas will be a better 3-9 team in 2011 than it was in 2010.

Comments

Dillon Davis 3 years, 3 months ago

That's a good way to put it into perspective Keegan. Not a pessimistic, but realistic view of what we can expect this year. And I think that's what I'm looking for and a lot of us fans are looking for in that we would love to see more W's than last year, but we realize we have a young, inexperienced, but talented team who we want to see be more competitive. That may not result in more W's right away, but the blowouts should diminish and we should be a more competitive team. Next year I would say is where we as fans should probably see more than just being competitive but for now, until we see them play a couple games, these are what our expectations should be.

hawk316 3 years, 3 months ago

Exactly, money. I expect some of our fair weather, ill-informed Jayhawk fans will be bitchin' and moanin' this season as the losses pile up, but this team is improving. The payoff is down the road...2012 and beyond.

Ben Kliewer 3 years, 3 months ago

We've never had particularly big LBs. I remember when it was Toomey and Floodman and those guys and they weren't particularly big, but they played hard and anchored a fairly decent unit for their size. Also, isn't Sizemore a great name fore a Fullback?

hawk316 3 years, 3 months ago

“It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.”

--Mark Twain

Kirk 3 years, 3 months ago

It's not the size of the fight in the dog, it's the size of the speed in the fight of the dog.

It's the god in the dog. It's the godspeed.

It's the dog speed in the fight of the goddamned dog.

smar4 3 years, 3 months ago

Kirk, I hope that's a movie quote or something... Otherwise that was made no sense, i assume "speed" was ur point, but then the godspeed stuff started to lose me

Bill Kackley 3 years, 3 months ago

I got to believe at least 4 wins with an outside shot at 5. K-State is not better than us. They have had consistently poorly rated recruiting classes since the return of Snyder. That has to catch up to him.

squawkhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

I'll bet you money KSU beats us by at least 20 points again this year. How do you rationalize that they are worse this year than last. From what I read their defense will be miles ahead of last year's and like us, they have a good stable of running backs that will replace Daniel Thomas. Their QB situation is much stronger than ours with a returning QB that performed well last year and supposedly has improved vastly over the off season. Also, they probably have one of the best receiving corps in the Big 12 with big and proven receivers. And, don't discount the Snyder factor. This guy literally turns rock into gold. He doesn't need 4 or 5 star studs to be successful. Like it or not, he is a master at what he does and you can't discount it. So, I ask you, are you really that naive or just a wishful thinker?

Dyrk Dugan 3 years, 3 months ago

1st couple of games will tell us a lot. if we hammer McNeese St and pull the upset vs.UNI....then we could have a decent season, and a shot....a shot....at bowl eligibility.

i'll just say this: we'll be better than last year....and 4-8 wouldn't be a disappointment. above that, it's gravy.

squawkhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

Bowl eligibility is not reality! 4 wins would be huge.

Robert Brock 3 years, 3 months ago

I am optimistic; KU will be much improved. Unfortunately, I only see the Hawks pulling out two wins this year. I expect a better W/L record in 2012.

JayViking 3 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

blackhawkjayhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

Do you guys ever stop. Are you an editor? Where, exactly, did you pick up condescension? I didn't detect a single note. These constant grammar and writing corrections from the anonymous geniuses of the world grow really tiresome after the 10th, 11th and 100th time. Same to you nuleafjhawk.

Gregor Southard 3 years, 3 months ago

Wow! It took 8 posts for the "Keegan criers" to show up.

texashawk10 3 years, 3 months ago

The 5th paragraph (the one that starts with Oops. Didn't mean to lead you on.) really didn't need to be in this article as it adds nothing to this article and I'm guessing is where the condescending tone comment came from because that's what I got from that paragraph. Other than that paragraph, I thought this was one of Keegan's better articles as it is reminder that KU should be an improved team, but still not a good team yet. I agree with other posters on here that the title of the article leaves a lot to be desired, but overall this is one of Keegan's better articles.

nuleafjhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

Yesterday I was somewhat defending Keegan, but I have to admit, if he comes up with the titles for his articles he probably ought to hire someone to help with that.

I hope we don't see an article in late November titled " Late disappointment expected ".

stevemize 3 years, 3 months ago

I posted this same comment on the football message board on a prediction thread. I don't expect us to win more games than we did last season. What I do expect is that the team is improved, plays tough the whole game, plays cometitively, doesn't quit and doesn't get blown out. I can live with another 3-9 season as long as I see these qualities. I will not be happy with us giving up 50 plus points to Baylor, KSU or anyone else.

Randy Bombardier 3 years, 3 months ago

I would be happy with 5 wins but am just looking forward to much better play and closer games. This year, it's "Close the Gap!"

squawkhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

You'll be very disappointed then. Five wins is not a reality for this team.

KU_Alumn_2000 3 years, 3 months ago

Keegan...I actually think that this article is right on the money.

We still have a looooong ways to go.

What really stinks is that were pulling in some decent talent at most positions for the future....except at the D-Line !!!

I don't understand why Gill and his coaching staff arent getting quality D-Line recruits...which in my opinion should be the number priority of any football team. Football teams win games by having a skilled defense...and that starts with the D-Line.

Again I'm optimistic about the future of KU football...but darnit...let's get some talent going with the D-Line.

KGphoto 3 years, 3 months ago

De'Jon Wilson will play on the line. If you haven't seen his reel, you should.

kureader 3 years, 3 months ago

... a fair assessment by Keegan. Many insiders believe that KU has improved more than people think and that they're going to surprise a bunch of people this year. Let's hope so.

Ryan Shelton 3 years, 3 months ago

I've been educating the unenlightened down here south of the Kansas border, which is full-time work mind you. Based on the facts of last season's subpar year and great recruiting class, I've been telling them three things about Kansas football in between their superlative rants about their own institutions. 1. Kansas is going to shock at least one team this year. 2. Kansas is going to lay at least one egg, but hopefully not more than one and hopefully not against McNeese St. 3. Kansas will be a lot more competitive and will be spoken of as a "team on the rise" at the end of the year.

I see us on the message boards in early November mentioning the possibility of a bowl game. I'll stop just short: 5-7 with a win over Mizzou!

KU_Alumn_2000 3 years, 3 months ago

Oklahawk58 - I still think were another year from going 5-7.

It's highly unlikely that we will win 5 games with all the teenagers playing. Our defense will struggle for two reasons.

1 - we have no pass rush 2 - we are transitioning to a 3-4 defense. The transition will take about one or two seasons to learn.

I agree with ur assessment...but it's still a little early.

We likely go either 2-10 or 3-9.

okiedave 3 years, 3 months ago

Keegan's article was very objective and most likely very accurate. The article will probably not assist in selling tickets which is often the goal of preseason hype. K.U. will be selling tickets when fans begin to look forward to the thrill of the next game and not the fear of the next game.

jayhawk2062 3 years, 3 months ago

I agree with the article. As Kansas fans the department should reward the people that are coming back every week with some type of cool give away. It might draw some more people in because it is a real possiblity that the hopeful optimism will be crushed after a home loss to Northern Illinois.......

truefan 3 years, 3 months ago

Not a bad article at all. This is generally how I feel. I think we'll be 3-9 again, but I believe we can do better if the cards fall our way. Not to mention that we've heard the team is looking better and working harder, but there is no way to determine how much they have improved. Maybe they've improved to the point of being competitive in every game this year, or maybe they've improved enough to win more than 3 games. We'll find out in a couple of weeks.

truefan 3 years, 3 months ago

Not a bad article at all. This is generally how I feel. I think we'll be 3-9 again, but I believe we can do better if the cards fall our way. Not to mention that we've heard the team is looking better and working harder, but there is no way to determine how much they have improved. Maybe they've improved to the point of being competitive in every game this year, or maybe they've improved enough to win more than 3 games. We'll find out in a couple of weeks.

hailtoku 3 years, 3 months ago

Keegan article rabble rabble Keegan rabble journalism rabble rabble.

jhawkrulz 3 years, 3 months ago

I would expect that we are better than 3-9 and that we are competive in all but 2-3 games (OU, OSU, and TAM). I also expect us to blow-out McNeese State, if these don't occur, I expect some clamoring to occur about the coaching staff.

Kirk 3 years, 3 months ago

I think we can win 12 games, but I'm hoping for 13.

LAJayhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

"The special teams can’t be any worse."

Nice.

okiedave 3 years, 3 months ago

I think Keegan was talking about last year. A true statement in that this year can't possibly be worse than last. Somewhat like one of my classes at KU when I asked why I got an "F". The teacher responded because it was the lowest grade he was allowed to give.

LAJayhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

Yes. He was talking about last year. Special Teams were abysmal, and, no, I don't believe they could actually get worse. That's why I found that statement both humorous and accurate in it's brevity.

John Randall 3 years, 3 months ago

"Nice" or not, other thoughts would be delusional –– special teams were as bad as it's likely to ever be.

LAJayhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

Which is why I agreed with Keegan's statement. I thought it was accurate and humorous... Just as I stated above. He summed up one section of the team with beautiful brevity, so I responded with the same.

Sparko 3 years, 3 months ago

It is all about defense. If that unit gels, this could be a surprising year. If it does not, it will be a long year. The Baylor game exposed KU last year and the coaches were never able to put the genie back in the bottle. Have to have the speed and agility to deny the turns up field.

Michael Leiker 3 years, 3 months ago

I am just dreading 9:45pm on 9/10. Could be one of the worst moments to be a KU FB fan in a long time. See no reason to believe these kids will not continue to play soft under HCTG. Long, long year. My hope is the same as last year, if it's going to be bad, which it is, I hope it's real bad real fast so maybe we can get some momentum going to make a change sooner than later.

texashawk10 3 years, 3 months ago

These are the same questions I ask everyone that wants Gill gone after two years.

  1. What quality of coach would accept a job at a subpar BCS school knowing he has 2 years to turn around a program on its third coach in four years? KU wouldn't be able hire anyone with any credibility knowing he had two years to turn it around.

  2. Where does KU come up with the roughly $7.5 million that would be required to buyout the current coaching staff while committing somewhere between $5-10 million for a new coaching staff?

John Randall 3 years, 3 months ago

Yeah,,, where is that Ponzi Peddler when you need him?

Michael Leiker 3 years, 3 months ago

  1. No reason a coach would need to think about it that way. Gill needs to be fired because he exudes apathy and is just not a convincing communicator. I think most coaches out there could see this pretty easily. And why does everybody always have to phrase it as though we would be looking for Bob Stoops or Nick Saban to take the job. There are plenty of quality coordinators out there who would be very happy to have an opportunity at Kansas.

  2. That's why I hope if it gets bad, it gets bad fast. If it's really ugly maybe somebody out there will get motivated to make it happen. Obviously you are correct that this is a huge roadblock. Maybe they can cut about 50% of the bloated administrative budget left by the previous AD. If Zenger was motivated to make it happen I have a feeling he could find a way to get it done.

rastameta 3 years, 3 months ago

You are clueless and have no idea how Gill is with the team and his ability to communicate.

A typical KU football fan who doesn't have a clue what they are talking about.

squawkhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

KU is paying Gill at least double what he is worth and has made him one of the top paid coaches in the country without the pedigree or history of success that you'd expect. Lew Perkins was either a genius or an idiot for hiring Gill but now it is up to Gill to determine Lew's role in KU history. Personally, I think Gill is a good guy but he seems to be in way over his head. Once his assistant coach start to leave the program will nose dive under Gill. He is only as good as the assistants he brings in. With the money KU is paying Gill we could have just about any other coach we wanted, within reason of course.

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