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Sunday, April 14, 2013

KU wideouts say spring a harbinger

Kansas receiver Justin McCay stretches out to grab a pass for a touchdown against the White team's Deron Dangerfield on Saturday, April 13, 2013, at the KU football spring game. The Blue team won, 34-7.

Kansas receiver Justin McCay stretches out to grab a pass for a touchdown against the White team's Deron Dangerfield on Saturday, April 13, 2013, at the KU football spring game. The Blue team won, 34-7.

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Kansas receiver Justin McCay stretches out to grab a pass for a touchdown against the White team's Deron Dangerfield on Saturday, April 13, 2013, at the KU football spring game. The Blue team won, 34-7.

It took until the fourth score of Saturday’s spring football game, but Kansas University finally celebrated a touchdown from a wide receiver again.

Sure, the touchdown — there were two, actually — came during an intrasquad scrimmage and did not actually count toward the players’ career statistics, but for a team that went the entire 2012 season without converting a TD pass to a wideout, Saturday’s six-point snags registered as pretty big moments.

“Mentally, I think it’s a great thing for these guys to get that out of the way,” said junior quarterback Jake Heaps, who hit junior Justin McCay with a five-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter, one of four TD passes on the day for Heaps. “But now we really gotta do it in a game.”

Saturday’s other wide receiver touchdown connection came late in the first half, when White team quarterback Michael Cummings hit Josh Ford in the back of the end zone for a 25-yard score that cut the Blue lead to 21-7 at halftime.

It’s no secret that the KU passing game struggled mightily during 2012. Starting quarterback Dayne Crist, who started seven games, never got going, and Cummings, who was promoted to starter midway through the season and handled the job for five weeks, never looked truly comfortable as a passer.

Those hardships, along with KU’s ability to run the ball successfully, kept the offensive game plans conservative and limited the opportunities for wide receivers to get in on the scoring.

KU’s returning receivers often were asked about the strange statistic during spring drills. Few of them had an answer.

“It’s a head-scratcher,” said senior Christian Matthews, who spent most of 2012 as KU’s Wildcat quarterback and snagged two catches for 25 yards in Saturday’s spring game. “But when it’s all said and done, you gotta move on to the next season. Seasons are never the same.”

McCay, who sat out in 2012 after transferring from Oklahoma, also was perplexed by all the zeros in the TD column.

“I wasn’t out there,” he said. “But I watched them practice. Everybody worked hard, there’s no doubt about that. We just ... things happen. Things happen. It’s a new year, though, and it’s gonna be broken first game. Hopefully first quarter.”

Skepticism understood

Although somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 KU fans showed up at Memorial Stadium on Saturday to see the new-look Jayhawks for themselves, thousands more took to Twitter and message boards to discuss what unfolded.

Many talked about how this spring had a similar feel to last spring and openly questioned why they, as fans, should expect the 2013 season to be any different than last year’s disappointing 1-11 run. Heaps offered one answer.

“Guarded or skeptical’s a great way to put it, and it’s understandable,” he said. “But this is Year Two in our program, and we feel like we’re a completely different team, and we’re very excited about moving forward with the pieces we have. I think we’re gonna surprise a lot of people. If people are guarded and skeptical, that’s great. We’ve taken an us-versus-the-world mentality, and that’s how we’re gonna continue to be.”

Complementary parts

While Heaps (20-of-28 for 257 yards and four TDs) and the KU passing game stole the show during Saturday’s spring game, the junior QB did his best to put the focus back on KU’s biggest strength after the game.

“A lot of teams are gonna be worried about our backs, and they should,” he said. “Because we have four really good backs here, and when you complement that with an efficient passing game, it’s really tough to stop.

“The beauty about this offense is, we can line up in any formation and do anything we want at any tempo we want. We can take it at whatever pace we want, and it’s all based off the way the game’s going.”

Up next

The spring game marked the end of KU’s 15-practice spring session. Starting today, the Jayhawks will return to individual workouts and begin preparation for the beginning of fall camp in August.

For the coaching staff, it’s time to head back out on the road for everyone but Charlie Weis.

“I can’t go see anyone myself,” said Weis, citing NCAA rules for head coaches. “But we will use every single visit we possess. One of the reasons why I changed the schedule and moved the (spring) game earlier is because the jucos have spring games at the end of April. In the past, we haven’t finished until the end of April, and by then we missed out on our chance to hit a lot of schools. Now that we hit these schools pretty hard, our first week out, we will hit the jucos heavy. Then the first week in May, we will address the other areas we need to cover. We will utilize every day that we are allowed to go out, and every visit we are allowed to take. We will be out there in full force.”

Comments

David Leathers 1 year, 4 months ago

That TD catch by McCay on the jump ball was a man's catch. In that one play alone he showed strength, quickness, good vertical, and great hands. I have no doubts he will catch some TDs this year. Heaps looks good too. Can't wait to see how we do on September 7th.

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akgjenkintown 1 year, 4 months ago

Live it looked like McCray should have been called for offense pass interference. Always difficult to judge the receivers since the defense and DB's as of late have been less than stellar. Time will tell.

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JBsJAYHAWKS 1 year, 4 months ago

Are you an actress or model? What impresses me more than anything is you know football!! Nice akgjenkintown.

Also - if one of my screenplays ever gets produced, I'll see to it you get a chance to audtion.

Heaps, Heaps Hooray!!

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Jason Keller 1 year, 4 months ago

The picture of McCay above... is really nice to see. It's nice to finally have a receiver who at least looks like a receiver. If he is 6'3, he looks like he weighs 220 at least... he has a real chance to take advantage of some of the smaller corners that typically play in the Big 12.

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CrystalJones 1 year, 4 months ago

Indeed, I'm guardedly optimistic that this year will finally be different. Even if we just beat K-State, it will be a successful year. They haven't "been having their with us" just "of late" ...they've beaten us (usually a rout) 16 out of the last 20. I don't know if we can put a stop to it this year, but it would be nice.

Actually, I think we win 4 this year...not a bad rise from 1.

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Robert Brock 1 year, 4 months ago

"We are a weary fan-base." Yeah, and we are a wary fan-base, too.

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Ron Prichard 1 year, 4 months ago

“I can’t go see anyone myself,” said Weis, citing NCAA rules for head coaches.

Does anyone have any knowledge into why the NCAA restricts the head coaches but lets the other coaches go recruit during this period? I'm guessing there is some reason--valid or not--for this, but it seems to make very little sense. About the only thing I can figure out is that the head coach needs office time. But we're still in the spring, so how much of that do they really need right now?

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Dirk Medema 1 year, 4 months ago

Reason & NCAA? I think you are giving them far too much credit

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jayhawk_4_life2 1 year, 4 months ago

my guess is that now is the time that alot of boosters, alumni etc are trying and hoping for that huge signing class next year. So my guess is most boosters etc won't spend mega money on sending a GA or even a (in the general public's eye) a virtually unknown assistant coach. So I believe now again this is just my guess that it reduces some dirty business being done. Plus each prospect is allowed to have a phone call in DI and usually that is the HC.

Lastly I also think this is when the HC do their PR work. Remember last year when Charlie did his Kansas Tour!!! I think it allows them (the HC) to raise money, Pump up the school without feel like they are missing anything in recruiting

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Ray Winger 1 year, 4 months ago

I really like...the no time off attitude.....when not sawing wood, sharpen your axe...back to recruiting....I think this is a wonderful plan for future success.

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Bob Bailey 1 year, 4 months ago

Yes, it is ime to predict next year!

Wins = 0. Losses = 12!

That might be off a game or two, but not much!

Why??? NO Defense!!!!!

It is NOT a lack of talent! Weis is heck of a coach -- on Offense. He can spot talent and recruit! This year's class is great!

The problem is --

Neither Campo nor Bowen can teach "tackling" or "Coverage"!!!!!

The second team rcb was 3 yds back of the scrimmage line, with No One between him and Sims. Sims veered a step to the right. All the so-called tackler could do was pat his legs as he went by. Sims made up the 3 yds and 15 more to go with it!

One of the blue db put his head down and charged the receiver. He wasn't clever enough to side step him ( as the SD receiver did in the GB game a year ago -- and made it to the 6 yd line). A competent receiver would have scored. An rb would jump over him. When you charge and fling your body at him, the offensive man will win half the time.

The Rules of tackling aren't difficult. Elmer Schaake's

  1. Belt Buckle rule are: Follow the :belt buckle (or center of gravity). You will know where the carrier will be in 2 steps.

  2. Hesitate, Adjust Route:

You have to hesitate to adjust your route. can't fling yourself headlong. You MUST be on course to be in the same spot as the carrier in 2 steps!

  1. Wrap Him Up.

You MUST lock your hands or arms on the other side of the carrier! Squeeze like hell to keep his legs from moving and cut off circulation. Then (pick up the carrier and) set his butt down about a yard past where you hit him!

These Rules should apply to every man on the Defensive Team!

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CrystalJones 1 year, 4 months ago

Bob, I won't accuse you of being a KSU or MU troll, but I think your pessimism is way over the top (or is that way under the bottom?).

KU wins at least 4 games this year: South Dakota, @Rice, La Tech and Texas Tech. We could actually go bowling if we can win two from the likes of Baylor, WV, @ISU and KSU. I don't think 6 wins is likely, but neither do I think it's unrealistic.

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Jim Stauffer 1 year, 4 months ago

So, let me get this, Campo with his 24 years in the NFL as Secondary, DC and HC cannot teach tackling. Yeah, right! Thanks for coming.

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Bryce Landon 1 year, 4 months ago

Amen to that. A coach is only as good as the players he has to work with. It's not his fault he was stuck with underdeveloped (and possibly uncoachable) players from the Gill era.

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Terry N Tom Denner 1 year, 4 months ago

The Hawks has the talent & ability to win as many as 7 to 8 games this year. Snyder or Synder ( how ever you spell it ) wins with juco and transfers kids every year. The Hawks will prevail and surprise all at the end with a butt kicking win over KST !!! DREAM TEAM 2013 !!!

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machinegun 1 year, 4 months ago

When 7 out of 10 teams in the Big 12 score 35+ points per game and your team only produced an avg of 18 points, you know that you have to pass the ball much more effectively. Not sure if we can stretch the field but we need to find a way.

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Randy Bombardier 1 year, 4 months ago

Can I call the plays this year? How about game-plans? I'll take either job since the position has been open for about 3 years now. How's that for weary and wary?

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