Tuesday, April 9, 2013

QB Jake Heaps: Kansas football just clicked

Kansas redshirt quarterback Jake Heaps looks to hand off to running back Tony Pierson during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas redshirt quarterback Jake Heaps looks to hand off to running back Tony Pierson during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.


At the midway point of spring football practices, Kansas University quarterback Jake Heaps noticed he and his teammates had flipped a switch and started treating each day a little differently.

Heaps recently recalled the moment he saw the team go from its regular practice pace to a breakneck speed that has made the second half of the spring session much more intense than the first.

“One of the practices we had a short-yardage period, offense against defense, who’s gonna get the first down,” Heaps began. “The trash talk started, guys were competing, and everybody was having fun. That’s how it should be. You have to take practice seriously, but it might as well be fun, too.”

That short-yardage session lasted just a few minutes, and, pushed for the results of the drill, Heaps turned a brighter shade of red and said it went back and forth. It was clear that he did not care which side won the drill, only that the competition sparked something in his teammates.

“After that, guys got a taste of it and it was like, ‘Wow, that was fun. That was cool,’” Heaps recalled. “As a leader, you use those opportunities and go, ‘Yeah, that’s how it’s supposed to be every day.’ Ever since that, we’ve carried that attitude all the way through.”

Pierson catching on

Throughout the spring, junior tailback Tony Pierson has been given plenty of time to get used to his new role. KU coach Charlie Weis said that, rather than have Pierson play half the snaps and spell starting tailback James Sims, Pierson will be on the field for most of KU’s offensive plays this fall.

The 5-foot-10, 171-pound speed back has shown what he can do in the running game, and this spring he and Heaps have worked hard on developing Pierson’s skills as a receiver.

How much does Pierson expect to be used in the passing game?

“During the spring, it’s been like 80 percent pass, 20 percent running,” Pierson said.

The always-confident Pierson knows what he can do as a receiver, but it’s best to let his teammates tell how much of a difference his new role can make for this year’s offense.

“He just opens things up so much more,” Heaps said. “He’s scary-dynamic. He’s fast. He catches the ball well.”

Heaps did not stop there.

“He’s done it multiple times this spring,” he continued. “All it takes is for him to catch the ball, make one guy miss, and he’s gone. To put him in the position where he’s only gotta make one or two guys miss versus all 11 guys miss, it’s exciting. And that’s basically what we’re trying to do with Tony, put him in the best position we can to have him make some game-breaking plays.”

Sims, who used to share carries with Pierson, also likes the idea of the East St. Louis, Ill., native getting more field time this fall.

“Tony’s one of the best in the country, if not the best, as far as making big plays,” Sims said.

Train like a Jayhawk

The Jayhawks once again plan to host the popular “Train Like a Jayhawk” kid’s clinic from 10-11 a.m. Saturday, a couple of hours before kickoff of the annual spring game.

The clinic is open to children in grades 1-6 and will feature instruction and drill stations taught by the current Jayhawks. All activity will take place on the KU football practice fields adjacent to the southeast corner of Memorial Stadium. Each participant will receive a free T-shirt.

Following the clinic, the Hy-Vee Hawkzone will be open from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., with the spring game kicking off at 1 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

Alumni weekend

Weis and the KU football program will host a barbecue Friday for any former KU football players who can make it. It’s the second such alumni cookout under Weis.

For information or to RSVP, contact Tracey Dillon at or (785) 864-3142.


JHWKDW 1 year ago

If we want to turn this ship around, and get more wins, we need big plays from the QB and Wrs. Heaps will have to step it up.I think the running game will be good again, barring injuries, they will be good, we need the QB play to be better in addition to getting the WRs to play better.It sucks Kale Pick aint there no more.We need these Wrs to help out big time.

Well RCJH in 13!


Randy Bombardier 1 year ago

I have a feeling about Heaps, that he is really going to light things up. With Pierson in the slot and Sims in the backfield we could have a ton of fire power.


machinegun 1 year ago

Last year, we scored a little over 200 points which was dead last in the Big 12. Texas at #7 scored 460 points. The only way for us to compete in the Big 12 is to pass the ball. We need at least 25-30 passing TD's this year.


Fortesque Beagleton 1 year ago

Over the last three or four years we've heard lots of positive reporting from spring ball. All I can ask is that this perceived progress translates to gameday. Otherwise it's more of the same. Not that I'm not optimistic. I think we'll see solid improvement in all facets of the game this coming season as we did last year.. We were about 10 big plays from going bowling last year (dropped INT in the final minute of the Texas game, anybody?) The hype is fun, but let's see the results on the field.


JayHok 1 year ago

What we're really talking about here is having four or five playmakers on the field at one time. Similar to how OSU looked a couple years ago. How Oregon looks every year. For KU, it's just a philosophical concept at this point, we can't claim to be the Ducks yet, but I'm sure most of us like thinking of Heaps, Sims, Pierson, Bourbon, Cox, along with one or two top notch receivers on the field at the same time. The last time KU had multiple threats on the field at the same time was during the Reeesing years. Among multiple issues, a major problem with using only one threat is the eleven defenders know who the ball is going to or at least who to key off of. That's why we rarely scored a touchdown last year. If KU has a great line next year we could have a lot of fun as fans with these multiple threats on the field at the same time.


KGphoto 1 year ago

“As a leader, you use those opportunities and go, ‘Yeah, that’s how it’s supposed to be every day.’ Ever since that, we’ve carried that attitude all the way through.” -Jake Heaps

Crist was such a great looking prospect, with the size and arm, and he said all the right things to the media. He devoted himself to KU, and for that I’m a fan of his.

The one thing I never saw from him was a quote like that one from Heaps. He said all the right things about getting better everyday, yadda yadda, but I never saw him take the team by the reins and drive it. He may have had that quality at one time in his life. A time before his injuries perhaps. Those injuries may very well have killed his confidence, and to lead you must first believe in yourself.

I love seeing this from Heaps. He believes in himself and it is catching on.


colreader 1 year ago

Any way to watch or listen to the Spring Game?


Joe Joseph 1 year ago

I have a good feeling about this season.


Keith Hummel 1 year ago

Don't remember who we were playing (K-State perhaps?) - and it might have been the game when Pierson hurt his arm - but I recall Weis calling one screen pass after another with Pierson, and the opponent simply could not stop it. For the remainder of the season I wondered why we didn't use him like that again. Was it because he got hurt?.

Whether he's catching balls out of a bubble screen, or out of the backfield, or in the slant, or on a post route it's clear Pierson should be used more in the passing game. He is just pure dynamite in the open field.

I also never understood last year why we didn't put Pierson and Sims on the field at the same time more often. Pierson can help keep the defense from stacking the box, which can open up running lanes for Sims. To me they are the perfect running tandem. If (and it's a big IF) Heaps can find someone to throw to and stretch the field, that will only create more space for Tony and James to play in. I've gotta believe Heaps is the real deal, and I've gotta believe one or two of these receivers are going to seize the moment.

The real wildcard in all of this, I think, is the OL. I love what I'm hearing about these guys, Ngalu in particular, but we've heard it all before and it didn't turn out so well. The thing that makes me worry a little less is that we have Grunhard. If Grunny can't get it done with this group then no one can.

Lots of reasons to be hopeful, but coming off a 1-11 season there is zero reason to be cocky. Hope these guys keep putting in the work. We've still got a long, long way to go.


Jeff Suther 1 year ago

Charlie must have saw my comments last season asking why the hell Pierson wasn't at receiver when he wasn't at running back. With how bad are receivers are ( hopefully they are better this year) we need to have multiple sets with sims bourbon and Pierson on the field at the same time.


Phil Leister 1 year ago

“Tony’s one of the best in the country, if not the best, as far as making big plays." I honestly don't think that's much of an exaggeration. Sims and Pierson in the backfield is one of the best combinations in the country. They'll be exciting to watch, especially if Heaps can open things up a bit in the passing game.


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