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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ten things to look for in KU football preseason

Ten things to keep an eye on this preseason: top row, from left, Michael Cummings and the backup quarterbacks; late arrivals by the likes of Ty McKinney; can Gavin Howard hold onto his right-guard spot; second row from left, Jimmay Mundine and the tight-end position; the health of Brandon Bourbon; third row, from left, D.J. Beshears and the rest of the wideouts; Ron Doherty and the kickers; defensive-line coach Buddy Wyatt and his new outlook; and, bottom row, the Jayhawks’ mental state; and their physical state under strength coach Scott Holsopple

Ten things to keep an eye on this preseason: top row, from left, Michael Cummings and the backup quarterbacks; late arrivals by the likes of Ty McKinney; can Gavin Howard hold onto his right-guard spot; second row from left, Jimmay Mundine and the tight-end position; the health of Brandon Bourbon; third row, from left, D.J. Beshears and the rest of the wideouts; Ron Doherty and the kickers; defensive-line coach Buddy Wyatt and his new outlook; and, bottom row, the Jayhawks’ mental state; and their physical state under strength coach Scott Holsopple

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Ten things to keep an eye on this preseason: top row, from left, Michael Cummings and the backup quarterbacks; late arrivals by the likes of Ty McKinney; can Gavin Howard hold onto his right-guard spot; second row from left, Jimmay Mundine and the tight-end position; the health of Brandon Bourbon; third row, from left, D.J. Beshears and the rest of the wideouts; Ron Doherty and the kickers; defensive-line coach Buddy Wyatt and his new outlook; and, bottom row, the Jayhawks’ mental state; and their physical state under strength coach Scott Holsopple

One of the most anticipated preseason camps in Kansas University football history kicks off today, when the Jayhawks report to campus for their initial team meeting and then begin fall practice Thursday.

While new head coach Charlie Weis has been pretty open and honest about the direction he plans to take the team, there still are some things that Weis has not been able to address in the offseason. Those things — and many more — will be on full display during the next few weeks as the Jayhawks fine tune their team for the Sept. 1 season opener against South Dakota State.

Here’s a quick look at the top stories we’ll be tracking at camp:

  1. Back-up QB — We all know that Dayne Crist is KU’s starter, and we also know that if Crist stays healthy he’ll play the entire season. With keeping Crist on his feet one of the team’s top priorities, it’s only natural to wonder what happens if he isn’t. Red-shirt freshman Michael Cummings and juco transfer Turner Baty will spend fall camp battling to be Crist’s immediate back-up, with Cummings holding the advantage of having been here this spring and Baty having a four-inch height advantage. Should be a good duel.
  2. Everyone in camp? — KU coach Charlie Weis said last week at Big 12 media days in Dallas, and again on a radio show Monday night, that the possibility remained that a couple of newcomers would not be in town for the start of fall camp. It looks as if defensive tackle Ty McKinney will be a few days late, but what about fellow-defensive tackle Jordan Tavai and offensive lineman Aslam Sterling?
  3. Fifth offensive lineman — If Sterling reports to camp on time and in good shape, he’ll likely be a starter. But he’s a tackle, and even if he doesn’t make it on time, the Jayhawks have another solid option there in junior Riley Spencer. The big question is at right guard, where Gavin Howard — one of the smartest players on the roster — was penciled in as the starter throughout the spring. Can Howard hold down that spot this fall?
  4. Top tight end — The Jayhawks have five legitimate options at tight end, but none of them has produced anything substantial heading into this season. Returners Jimmay Mundine and Trent Smiley have the luxury of familiarity, but neither has done much during their first couple of seasons in town. Notre Dame transfer Mike Ragone is the most experienced of the bunch, but he made just 11 catches for 109 yards during his Irish career. Also in the mix are juco transfer Charles Brooks and true freshman Jordan Smith. Last week, KU co-captain Toben Opurum said the tight end could be KU’s most productive offensive weapon this season. Tracking which player (or players) reaps the benefits will be fun to watch.
  5. Brandon Bourbon’s health — During his first couple of seasons in Lawrence, the former four-star running back from Potosi, Mo., has been plagued by injuries and has not been able to get into any kind of a rhythm. Could this be the season he finally breaks through? Equipped with the perfect blend of power and speed, Bourbon seems like the kind of back who could flourish in Weis’ system.
  6. Wide-receiver shakedown — With Crist providing stability and a huge upgrade at quarterback, a lot of the interest in KU’s passing game shifts to which players the senior QB will be throwing to this fall. With 11 wide receivers listed on KU’s roster, Crist has plenty of options, but, obviously, not all 11 of those guys will factor into the game plan. We know seniors D.J. Beshears, Daymond Patterson and Kale Pick will make their share of plays, but which of the eight remaining receivers will step up to join them is a tougher question to answer. Several of those guys could get a shot this fall, but those who get the first crack at it will separate themselves during the next four weeks.
  7. Competition at kicker — Last year’s starting place kicker, Alex Mueller, has left the program, and KU returns Ron Doherty, who handled both kicking and punting duties down the stretch last season. But Weis said earlier this summer that there would be multiple kickers and multiple punters in camp and that Doherty would have competition.
  8. Smiles on the faces of Buddy Wyatt and Dave Campo — It was a rough spring for KU’s defensive line coach and defensive coordinator. Why? Because they were asked to work with a handful of guys who would not even be in the two-deep depth chart when the season rolled around. But that’s a thing of the past now.
  9. How do the Jayhawks look mentally? — Although things have been tough behind the doors of the Anderson Family Football Complex, the past several months also have been a honeymoon period for the KU football program. The new coach with the big name has restored hope and brought to town several players and coaches who are hellbent on getting the program headed in the right direction again. For the most part, that has provided plenty of reason to smile, but now that the season actually has arrived, what will these guys look like at practice? Will the fun-loving smiles give way to sharp focus? Will getting it right and working their butts off replace “enjoying the college experience?”
  10. How do the Jayhawks look physically? — Weis said recently that strength coach Scott Holsopple took before and after pictures of every player on the team this summer. I’m guessing it’s quite a collection. From everything we’ve heard, the Jayhawks are in better shape than ever before, and several guys have added or dropped weight, toned up and ripped out. If the new look is as impressive as we’ve heard it is, it will stand out right away.

Comments

Kman_blue 2 years ago

So this is what it feels like to be first? A bit overrated I think.

Anyway, I'm pumped for some KU football!! Hopefully everyone stays healthy and performs up to expectations or beyond and we have a better season than most prognosticators predict we will!

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

There is two ways of looking at the people who are "first"...

There's the people working hard (waking up at the crack of dawn) and working smart (waking up in Asia)! Haha. Love the optimism and I'm right there with you.

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Eric Mitchell 2 years ago

I saw Jake Love was still on the roster. I guess he decided not to transfer to Northern Iowa? More depth at least. Glad he decided to stick it out.

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Kman_blue 2 years ago

I know all Jakes look alike (it's a joke!), but that was Jake Farley who transferred to Northern Iowa.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

I think he's traveling so he can be in Lynchburg, VA in time to boo Gill at camp.

http://www.libertyflames.com/index.cfm?PID=10867&CoachID=543&TeamID=9

By the way, Liberty is playing West Virginia this year. Should be interesting to compare our efforts against theirs.

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MN_Jayhawk39 2 years ago

KG... I suggest you look at the Liberty schedule... they open against Wake Forest... not West Virginia.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

My bad. West Virginia is slated for 2015. I got it from an article and was just skimming through.

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

Interesting to hear about Gavin Howard being a really smart guy. Never underestimate brains on the O-Line. The two positions on any team that require the most brains are definitely 1. QB and 2. O-Line. Those guys need to know a ton and think quick.

On the flip side, the positions that require the least mental capacity are 1. Kicker and 2. D-Line.

Sincerely,

A Former Defensive Lineman

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jayhawkjake07 2 years ago

I know Gavin personally and he is a very smart kid. There is no lie in that statement. I think, like most of these kids, we need to let their game speak for themselves. He will be just fine.

As for D-Line having the least mental capacity, that's idiotic. All football players have to be smart. For a defensive lineman this is true too. There are many times where they simply have to do a job in order for the defense to be effective. Football is a game of thinking and reacting. You have to assess the play and then react to what is happening. Just like almost every game there is. The difference for football is that it is fast and there is a lot going on. Everyone has a job to do on the defense and if they are not doing it correctly the defense ends up like the 2011 KU defense. So I do not believe that you can say anyone on the field has a low mental capacity, other then maybe the kicker because his job is pretty trivial. While some guys may be brighter then others they all should know their jobs. Yes it is true that the QB and O-Line have to think more but we should not insult the football smarts of any position on the field.

Intelligence is a completely different story so do no bring up that argument.

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Chris Bailey 2 years ago

I don't understand why we're picking on the kickers? I understand their role is a few plays a game (unless you punted for KU the last two seasons). Having a good kicker can be a huge advantage. My guess is that our kickers typically have one of the higher GPA's on the team. Nothing to back that up other than looking at our kickers in high school. I hope we have a bunch of football smart players who are able to do well in the classroom as well. I want to see improvement on the field so badly this season. Can't wait for the season. Rock Chalk!

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jayhawkjake07 2 years ago

Again this is why I said intelligence is another story. I imagine the players position and correlation to their grades is rather random. There are probably more tendencies for some positions then others, but this is not the argument. I am simply stating that when it comes to mental capacity to play the game of football all players must be smart. You have to be a smart football player to be a good football player. I think every coach/fan/person can agree that there is a correlation there. Like you said, I hope they are all smart but it would be ignorant to say that they are. Especially when you interact with some of them. But football smarts and general intelligence are two different things. My argument was simply that D-Line is not a position where you have to simply not think and you will be ok. There is a lot of thinking involved. Just like quarterback or all the other positions. Kickers simply have to put the ball through the upright or kick a punt or kick off where the coach instructs.

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

It was a joke... That is why I ended it by saying "Sincerely, A Former Defensive Lineman". Though it is funny that you called me idiotic for arguing that my former position requires little mental capacity. Irony.

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

rxdoc1973... There is a difference between saying a position requires the least amount of mental capacity and calling them an idiot. The job of a kicker is about the skill of aiming and kicking. It doesn't matter how smart you are, that doesn't add to the positions need for mental capacity.

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jayhawkjake07 2 years ago

I am not calling you idiotic, I am calling the argument you made idiotic. Also sorry but sarcasm does not translate over well internet message boards. Yes there is irony there. But like I said in the last sentence, "Intelligence is a completely different story so do not bring that up that argument." Now that is a insult in which I do not mean to be insulting at all. It may be just fact, I do not know. But I do imagine that you are slightly more intelligent then you are coming off on this forum.

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

Prediction: Either Cox or Bourbon will be moved to a different position. Sims is much better than the fans know and Pierson is a play maker. We simply have too much talent tat the running back position and have needs in other places. Tevin Shaw, a true freshman, looks to compete for safety time next to MacDougald so that looks to be an area of concern at the moment.

Would love to see what Bourbon or Cox could do at LB or Safety.

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Robert Brock 2 years ago

This is a great opportunity for Bourbon to prove something. I think that he will be our top RB this season.

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Jim Jackson 2 years ago

Bourbon will not be moving to Safety dude. Bourbon is a far more physically talented back than Sims. Speed alone, he is a couple steps faster than Sims who lacks breakaway speed.

If healthy, Bourbon and Pierson will be a sick combo.

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NebraskaJayhawk 2 years ago

Totally agree. As much as I like Sims, this is Bourbon & Pierson show for three years straight. These two backs should get the load this season and the coming years.

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

I agree with your assessment of Bourbon, just not of Sims. James Sims has run for around 800 yards and 10TDs for 2 seasons now with hardly any great players around him. He is solid, doesn't fumble, blocks, and is great in goal line. Between Sims, and Pierson, I just feel like there is a log jam at the position.

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NebraskaJayhawk 2 years ago

I agree with your assessment of Sims. He is no doubt the most steady runner we have. And it will be hard to keep him off the field. You're probably right... But if I were Charlie Weis and I had Bourbon and Pierson, those would be my guys because they are so explosive and could score on any given play....especially Pierson. Bourbon is a guys, if healthy, than can give you 5-15 yards chunks at a time with an occasional break away touchdown. I just don't see that in Sims. He's steady...good hands...good blocker...3-5 yards a carry...everything you want in a back except he doesn't have that explosive nature and break away speed that the other two have.

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NebraskaJayhawk 2 years ago

Some bad typos in there. Sorry about that.

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Chris Bailey 2 years ago

I agree about Sims but do you really feel comfortable with Pierson as THE guy? He's not a big back and that doesn't translate well to every down players. 15-20 touches a game I think I even remember Weis saying that. And since Sims can't play until game 4 we have playing time. Who knows maybe Sims will be the guy. I'm just hoping Pierson and Bourbon have improved a lot and passed him up on the depth chart.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

No fu king way man!! Bourbon is the class of this group if he stays healthy. He's a blend of Sayers and Riggins!! It would be a crime to move him.

You can never have too many RBs. Besides if they get thin at safety, they always have the 4star safety recruit Prinz Kande who is buried in the depth chart at LB. I don't know what's keeping him out of the safety spot, but I'd take his experience and ability over any RB, including Shaw.

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number1jayhawker 2 years ago

Shaw was Allstate at safety his senior year. He is legit.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

No question he's legit at safety as well, I just wonder what happened to Kande. He and McDougald were both recruited heavily at the safety spot, and both were stupidly shifted around. Finally McDougald was placed correctly and the results showed. Now it's time to do it with Kande.

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texashawk10 2 years ago

The reason McDougald started as a WR at KU instead of his natural position is also the reason why McDougald came to KU instead of Ohio St. Ohio St. only wanted him as a safety but he wanted the opportunity to play WR. Mangino told McDougald that he could come to KU as WR, but that there was a good chance that he would eventually end up back at safety. McDougald liked that arrangement and so he became a Jayhawk. Kande is the one I've never understood why he was moved away from safety, I'm sure there was probably a reason for it at the time, although who knows with Gill involved in that decision.

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NebraskaJayhawk 2 years ago

Totally agree about Bourbon....huge upside to him at RB.

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

Slow down on the Sayers/Riggins comparison until the guy is healthy long enough to make a contribution! I can see Bourbon having talent and even beating out Sims. I like Sims a lot, but it wouldn't shock my world if Bourbon moves ahead of him on the depth chart. At this point though, Sims is a proven back and Pierson is the one making noise. I agree you need a lot of RBs but KU can't afford to have unused talent.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

Yeah, I'm not saying he is either one. But his combo of power and speed is impressive. If there is one guy on this team I want to see fulfill his potential, besides Crist, it's Bourbon.

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Chris Bailey 2 years ago

Yeah I too don't see Bourbon moving! He was a 4 star RB outta high school. He showed some flashes of brillance last season as well. And 3-4 good running backs is not a bad thing to have. Plus Pierson doesn't look like an every down back.

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

I agree in most circumstances. I just don't think we can afford to have big time talent playing a small role. If Sims is our 15 carry guy and Pierson gets 10... Not a lot of opportunity for Bourbon.

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Jim Stauffer 2 years ago

I don't see the need to move Cox or Bourbon. RB is a position of attrition as we have seen with Brandon. We need these guys where they are rather than backing up guys at some other position.

Think about it. Two guys with two years left and they are going to start over at a new position?

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number1jayhawker 2 years ago

Bourbon has 3 years left. He redshirted his 1st year.

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Tony Bandle 2 years ago

Too bad we don't have a running back named Waters...Bourbon and Waters would be a delightful backfield.

Other good "what if" combos:

At quarterback, Crist with a back-up QB named Mas. On the offensive line, Sterling lined up next to Silver. At Tight ends, Smiley and Face in the short yardage package. In the shotgun offense, Pick would line up with Ax and Yournose Coach David Campo would get an assistant named Nile.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

Don't forget Weis might have a package that gets Kale on a reverse from Brandon and we would have the long anticipated Bourbon and Seven formation.

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Eric Mitchell 2 years ago

Why don't we ask Dayne to change his name to Jesus?

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Kenneth Hillman 2 years ago

Tait, I know you read the comments so speaking of top players to watch, I just saw "Hawktrax" for the first time. It's above this article in the "Football" sub-menu bar. Looks nice but needs to be updated just fyi... No more Darian Miller nor Jordan Webb

Please keep the great coverage coming and I'm sure it will be easier to pump out info now that camp has started.

RCJH

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Matt Tait 2 years ago

Thanks! I'll make sure someone takes a look.

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Jeff Suther 2 years ago

a huge key to Kus offense will be if a unknown receiver can step up. I like DP and DB but they were both are to small and kale is slow. We need that size and speed for the deep ball!

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KGphoto 2 years ago

Kale is slow? The guy is in 4.4-4.5 range. Besides, I think Ford is the guy you are looking for. He's 6'4" with low 4.4 speed. We don't have a lack of options in the receiving game.

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NebraskaJayhawk 2 years ago

I was excited about Pick out of H.S. as QB, but I'm not a huge fan of his thus far at WR. I don't think he looks that fast in pads. I know he blocks well...or that's what they say, but he's just not that explosive receiver we need. I hope he steps up this year. I'm really hoping Ford comes in and takes over the #1 spot at receiver.

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texashawk10 2 years ago

Kale Pick may not be the homerun threat receiver, but he is the most dependable and will probably lead the team in catches for a first down this year. He is the type of receiver that is invaluable to a pro style offense. He probably won't lead the team YPC or YAC, but he will be that guy not afraid to go over the middle and make a catch in traffic to move the chains.

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Chris Bailey 2 years ago

Yeah I agree. Pick was touted for his speed out of high school. I too like Ford as an option. I can't wait to see what Ford and McCay do next season! Not to get ahead of myself but they look like to legit 1-2 receivers. I like how much we've improved on paper thus far and look forward to a GREAT season! Rock Chalk!

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Ryan Shelton 2 years ago

Penn St. linebacker Fortt is going to Cal. Apparently we were one of 30-40 schools that contacted him.

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CRAZY4KUSPORTS 2 years ago

I listened to Coach Weis speak today at th KSHSAA Coaches Clinic in Topeka. If we can't win with Coach Weis, this program never will. I came away very impressed with his beliefs on how he plans on building this program into a winning one. I beileve our program is in the right hands!! Rock Chalk!!

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