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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Jayhawks’ first football drills to offer peek at progress

Kansas University running backs and quarterbacks shuffle through a drill during a spring football practice on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, at Memorial Stadium. From left, in front, are running backs Taylor Cox, James Sims, Brandon Bourbon and quarterback Blake Jablonski.

Kansas University running backs and quarterbacks shuffle through a drill during a spring football practice on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, at Memorial Stadium. From left, in front, are running backs Taylor Cox, James Sims, Brandon Bourbon and quarterback Blake Jablonski.

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Of all the areas that Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis and his staff upgraded this offseason, one of their proudest improvements may come as a bit of a surprise.

“Well, there’s been a lot more fights,” Weis said during the final days of spring drills. “And that’s always a good thing.”

Hear him out. It’s not that Weis likes the idea of Jayhawk-on-Jayhawk violence. But the second-year KU coach is all for a little nastiness as long as it stems from increased intensity and competition.

“There’s a gray area about trash talking and things like that,” Weis said. “Where’s the line between you want to encourage it or losing them? I think we’re a long way from getting that ornery, nasty mentality across the board, but if they keep on improving the way they’ve been improving, we’ll be much better off going into the season. ... And you want to know something? That’s been missing here.”

With more than 20 junior-college transfers expected to report to campus today for the first official day of the 2013 season — the first practice is scheduled for 2:50 p.m. Thursday — Weis expects to lean on a handful of newcomers to bring the Jayhawks a little bit of an edge.

“You need some of those guys, believe it or not,” he said. “I think that every good defense has some trash talkers on it. Every good defense I’ve ever seen.”

Asked to point out the best trash-talker he had ever coached, Weis offered up three names. The first was New York Giants Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor and the last was New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. But the best? That was easy.

“I think Brian Cox was right at the top of the list,” Weis said of the former New York Jets and Miami Dolphins linebacker. “He was a guy I absolutely hated going against when he was with the Dolphins, but when he was on our team, he’s my man.

“I once saw him back down an entire Cleveland Browns team. They were notorious, when they came out for warm-ups, for running right through your team. And he stood right where they were at warm-ups and challenged the whole team, saying, if one guy goes through, it’s gonna be him and them. One guy. He wasn’t surrounded by another 10.”

Although this year’s Jayhawks don’t have a guy with quite that much, um, courage, they do appear to be a much more confident bunch and figure to enter camp looking to prove a lot.

Here’s a quick look at a few other areas of emphasis that both the coaching staff and KU fans everywhere will be keeping a close eye on as camp gets started:

1. Is everyone here? — Although most of the newcomers are accounted for and were in Lawrence throughout the summer, there are a few junior-college transfers who have yet to report to campus. They may not all make it by today, but Weis said throughout the offseason that he expected all of the newcomers to qualify academically and report in time for camp.

2. Crank up the competition — One of the biggest advantages the Jayhawks will have this August versus last is the presence of competition at just about every position. Instead of giving most of the reps to the front-line guys and hoping not to need the rest, this year’s fall camp figures to include some heated position battles, both for starting spots and backup roles. Some of the most intense competitions figure to take place along the defensive line, at safety and at wide receiver.

3. Go-time for Jake Heaps — We know who he is, where he comes from and what he hopes to accomplish. And now it’s time for KU’s top quarterback to begin his on-field career. By all accounts Heaps has been a great leader and the ultimate team guy throughout the offseason. Now the former BYU starter gets to show if he can be KU’s next great quarterback.

4. New-look kicking game — Trevor Pardula and Michael Mesh are names KU fans should get to know. The two juco transfers have a leg up in the race to handle KU’s kicking duties this fall and should be able to show why throughout August.

5. Any position changes? — We know juco transfer Cassius Sendish has moved from cornerback to safety, but are there any others who have made the switch with him — or should?

6. Injury updates — A few key players missed the spring and a couple of others were banged up this summer. We should learn today who’s back, who’s out and who’s not quite right as camp opens.

7. Updated depth chart — The last time Weis released a depth chart, spring practice had yet to begin and more than 20 newcomers had not even arrived on campus yet. Even still, that pre-spring version of KU’s two-deep depth chart included 12 first-year Jayhawks on the first or second teams and 15 new starters. Will those numbers be higher now that nearly all of KU’s 2013 recruiting class is in town, or did KU’s veterans step up this summer to reclaim their spots?

Comments

JHWKDW 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Well time is getting closer to see how HCCW and his staff have done to try and upgrade this team. The biggest area that has to be upgraded big time for us to improve will be the Kicker and Quarterback. Those guys got to produce from the start.I think if HCCW gets better results we will get alot more good talent in here. Well duh we got win more than 1 game as Me Sheen so well state duh hello winning.

Cairo_J- I think Zenger will upgrade Memorial Stadium up to standards.Dr Zenger could have stopped the upgrades to other facilities, which do not bring in the Moolah like Football can. I mean if we upgraded the Track, Softball, Soccer fields I could not imagine him turning a blind eye to the Football field, while they are at it get the KU Baseball team a new field or upgrade Hoglund Field while they are at it.The upgrade Id liek to see is filling in the East end of the field (Horseshoe), getting rid of the Track finally, and getting a nice tv screen on both the East and West end of the field.

As for the fans I have to agree with other posts here true fans stay the whole game.

And finally as I told ID here NO MORE TEARING DOWN THE GOALPOSTS AFTER A GAME! I do not care who we beat or upset stop it!Act like you have been there before please. No more of that.HCCW and others please do a PSA if you have do not tear down the Goal Posts.

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Ralster Jayhawk 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Bob48 is correct about how frustrating it is to see missed or slipped tackles, when its your college team (or NFL team...). Sometimes offensive players make great plays. But regarding positioning, I will say that eventhough Campo just didnt have the personnel to play tight bump&run (thus the hated 10yd "cushion"), for the vast majority of plays, our C-grade DBs kept most things in front of them. Just didnt have much pressure on the QB, which of course makes it harder for DBs to cover that long. Dave Campo is well-known to be a fundamentals-type teacher. He voiced his frustration with his talent pool at the start of last season, and in a midseason press-conference when asked about the coverage formations being so "vanilla". SO, yes, much to work on. Spring game isnt a great test, as nobody wants to get hurt. How many bone-crushing hits did anyone see in KU's spring game? In KState's spring game? (Ans: hardly any). The "talent/size/speed" part of my recurring theme (what KU needs) is completely logical: Imagine KU with all 5star talent at every position...I bet you would see vastly improved play in every aspect. Higher talent kids are just better at execution, they arrive faster, hit harder, etc...that's why they are rated higher: already proven better than their peers.

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Bob Bailey 8 months, 2 weeks ago

You seem to overlook the 'basics' of Defense: Tackling and coverage.

The team aptly disclosed, last year and in the spring game: The Defensive coaches can't/won't/didn't teach either skill. No Defensive Scheme will work without the basic skills. The Jayhawks have plenty of talented football players. You are placing too much faith in 'talent'. We will know after the SD game.

;

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Ralster Jayhawk 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Read a story on KState, where the 2 QBs are still neck-and-neck battling for the starting spot...ever since spring camp.... That really isnt a bad thing: If both are good, then its QB controversy over there in Webertown...If neither is good, then its still QB controversy, but with a negative undercurrent, as the whole team is seeing right now that neither is getting it done. Or, 3rd possibility is that Snyder is playing it very close to the vest (as is typical), and revealing nothing to the public...My thought is to let NFL D-coordinator Dave Campo (now that he has some bodies with speed, size, talent...) give purple a rude awakening, regardless of who the purple QB is...!

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jayhawkintx1973 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I won't be able to see the drills, but I do think that this team will be capable of winning as many as 8 games this year. I'm not predicting 8 games, but it won't surprise me if they do win that many.

When we look down the schedule, the first three we should win, including rice with just a couple more plays and a made field goal, but I think the margin will be greater than 2Tds in KU's favor.

Baylor at home Texas Tech at home We can beat Iowa State in Ames I think we will be able to out speed Kansas State, as they are not particularly fast and they were exposed against Oregon. Also, they won't have Colin Klein. I do understand that they'll have all starters on the OL returning, but they won't be able to shut off one side like they did last year to us. We'll be faster than they are.

I also think we can pick off a win or two else where including West Virginia at home. Kansas will have 7 home games, and I think they can be in every single one of those games with a chance to win them and I think they should win no fewer than 5 of them.

The toughest games this year will be at TCU and at Texas. We will even have a shot at Oklahoma State, but this will depend on the tone set early in the season on the defensive side of the ball. If they are playing with swagger and with a chip... the other teams are going to regret putting KU on their home schedule as the homecoming game.

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kuilander 8 months, 2 weeks ago

its time for renderings!!!! i'm ready to write another check for my part ... give us renderings!!

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Tony Bandle 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Take a close look at the photo above..it appears the middle two guys are carrying blue Smurf Footballs and the other guys each have a different style ball.

I know it's just a nit pickin' detail but shouldn't all the ruuning backs practice with the same type of ball as the game ball?? Just asking.

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Ron Prichard 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I have to admit I am an optimist by heart. Every year it seems I get excited about the upcoming football and basketball seasons. That was even true when Gill was here. However, looking back I am not sure if I was actually optimistic or just wishful. I think I realized after year one that Gill was dragging the program down but didn't want to admit it and was "wishful" that he could turn it around in year two. It quickly became apparent that would not happen.

However, when Weis was hired and brought in Holsopple, Campo, et al, while keeping Mitchell and a few of the quality holdovers, that optimism sprang up again. This time I think it isn't so much "wishful" as it is observation that the program is headed in the right direction. Yes, we have a very long way to go, but there is now accountability across the board. There are standards for off the field behavior, there is an intense and controlled weight/conditioning program that didn't exist under Gill. There are better athletes coming in. It also appears there is better coaching, or at the very least, coaches that have the background and history to be very good coaches.

I may be drinking the koolade, but I can not wait for this season to start. If we have any semblance of an offensive line at all, I think our offense can not only be sufficient, I think it has the possibility of being very good. Most people are worried about our receivers, which is a perceived weakness. However, I think if you consider Pierson as a receiver and not a running back that weakness starts to look like a strength. I still remember the screen catch he had against ISU last year where he just stopped on a dime and then shot past everyone for a 50+ yard TD. Simply electric!

Our defense should be upgraded up front, which should help out our D backs. That, coupled with at least better athletes should lead to some improvements. If Campo is as good as we think, then he should be able to take that incremental improvement and add to it.

I hesitate to get too excited, and keep telling myself that I shouldn't expect more than 4 wins or so, but I really do think that this team has a chance to surprise a lot of people. If last year's team had just had a QB that could have completed an occasional pass, there were 3-4 more games we not only could have won, but 3-4 games we SHOULD have won. TTech, Rice, UNI, and Texas. If you also consider that we were a barely missed blocked punt away from possibly tying OSU in the 4th quarter, things start to look a lot different. Yes, there were games where we were dominated, but even if we had gone 4-8 last year, people would be expecting 5-7 wins this year. It's not that far fetched.

Someone bring me back down to reality because right now I feel like a bowl game is not out of the question. Man I love being a Jayhawk!

Oh, yeah...and only two months until basketball season.

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bville_hawk 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I think the Rock Chalk Park project approval freed up funds so that some sore of renovation of Memorial Stadium can go forward. I think they are finalizing plans right now and work will begin right after conclusion of this season.

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Jim Erickson 8 months, 2 weeks ago

CharlesLogan (crap President from 24 by the way) is much more considerate of message board wall space than myself... In time, some of you may forgive me.

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Jim Erickson 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Cairo_Jawkawk's checklist for a meaningful season...

1. 4 wins... Minimum. Weis is paid too much (from 2 schools no less) for moral victories in year 2.

2. Heaps plays well. Would be nice to have a proven QB going into 2014.

3. James Sims makes a run at June's record. Growing out the flat top again would also be a plus.

4. Zenger convinces donors to upgrade Memorial Stadium to actual division one standards. As we are likely more than $50 million away from having a non-eye sore that runs off recruits, this is as likely as Cairo developing an infrastructure capable of taking me to work in a timely fashion..

5. Top 35 recruiting class.

6. Ben Heeney gets roughly 83,641 tackles. On that note, maybe scrap the other two LBs and send them to DL or DB. Solid strategy.

7. Some resemblance of a pass defense starting with someone getting some sacks!

8. A receiver (McCay?) that gives me at least a few moments that remind me of Dezmon or Kerry. Those guys were fun to watch.

9. Someone needs to continue to majestic tradition of eating imaginary cereal. A marginal talent that is soon to transfer would be preferable... Crucial.

10. Matt Tait takes time away from the pilates to do some more Q&A and also allows the question submission times to be extended so us lads abroad can submit more. Make this happen Bro Montana... I believe in you.

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Charles Logan 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Things that would show progress starting from game #1

1) KU dominates, and imposes their will on South Dakota 2) KU doesn't allow more than 9 points 3) KU defense sacks SDU's QB 4) KU QB throws for over 150 yards 5) KU receiver catches a pass in the end zone. 6) KU has 6 different players catch a pass. 7) Score at least 49 points. (In game #1) 8) KU offense have at least two 70 yard plus scoring drives. 9) KU should have no field goals inside the "Red zone". they should have touchdowns. 10) If KU is stopped in the red zone. A field goal should look "Automatic!"

If these things happen in game #1. That is showing progress.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Swagger has be missing because our previous coach took away swearing, cell phones, girls after 10, and made everyone sing kumbaya before every practice!

Charlie don't play!

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