Saturday, August 17, 2013

Jayhawks thank fans with first look at fall football

Kansas University quarterback Jake Heaps hands an autographed football back to Cooper Reeves, 8 of Overland Park, during the meet-and-greet portion of the Jayhawks' Fan Appreciation Day on Saturday, August 17, 2013, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas University quarterback Jake Heaps hands an autographed football back to Cooper Reeves, 8 of Overland Park, during the meet-and-greet portion of the Jayhawks' Fan Appreciation Day on Saturday, August 17, 2013, at Memorial Stadium.


Whether they came for the football or the autographs that came afterward, an estimated 3,500 Kansas University fans enjoyed a pleasant Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium for Fan Appreciation Day.

Treated first to a 100-play scrimmage that featured all four KU quarterbacks leading multiple drives, Jayhawk fans filled the west stands to get their first look at the 2013 team and then took to the track to meet the players.

As expected, the KU coaches and quarterbacks had the longest lines, as dozens of fans filed through to get signatures from KU coach Charlie Weis and starting quarterback Jake Heaps.

Throughout the 30-minute autograph session that followed the scrimmage, the Jayhawks interacted with the fans who showed up and continually thanked them for coming out to support the program.

“It means a lot,” sophomore long snapper Reilly Jeffers said of Saturday’s fan support. “You know these people are excited to see you, they’re ready for the season to get going and they want to see us do well. It’s uplifting in a way to kind of help get you through the doldrums of camp.”

As for the action on the field, Heaps turned in a fantastic day, completing 12 of 16 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns. The junior quarterback led the first-team offense to touchdowns on its first two possessions, the first coming on a 49-yard touchdown pass to Jimmay Mundine and the second on a 62-yard TD run from James Sims.

Heaps added a third touchdown drive later in the day, connecting with Brandon Bourbon on a third-and-three play for a 27-yard touchdown.

Senior wideout Christian Matthews led all pass catchers with five grabs for 77 yards.

One of the bigger surprises of the day was the performance of true freshman quarterback Montell Cozart. The Bishop Miege High graduate led the Kansas offense to a touchdown — a 54-yard pass to Andrew Turzilli — and a field goal during his three drives. He finished 6-of-9 passing for 100 yards, which included completions on four of his first five throws.

Defensively, the Jayhawks got a strong showing from junior “Buck” linebacker Michael Reynolds, who finished with three run-stuffing tackles in the KU backfield. Fellow-Buck Ben Goodman recorded three sacks, junior defensive tackle Ty McKinney added a pair of sacks and Keon Stowers, Andrew Bolton and Courtney Arnick each had one. Bolton also added on the game’s only interception on a tipped ball thrown by fourth-string QB Jordan Darling.

The Jayhawks return to the practice field for their 14th session of fall camp today and will resume two-a-day practices on Monday, which marks the start of the final week of camp.

Five sit out scrimmage

Five Jayhawks missed Saturday’s scrimmage — four because of injuries — but KU officials said all of the bumps and bruises were minor and players were held out merely as a precaution.

Junior running back Tony Pierson, junior linebacker Ben Heeney, junior wide receiver Rodriguez Coleman and senior tight end Nick Sizemore all sat out.

Offensive tackle Pearce Slater, meanwhile, missed the scrimmage because he was en route to California to tend to a family medical emergency.

Jablonski honored

At Friday’s practice, just before the special teams session that closed things out, KU coach Charlie Weis informed the team that junior holder Blake Jablonski was being placed on scholarship.

Jablonski, a quarterback from Collegiate High in Wichita, has been in the KU program since 2010 but red-shirted that season and did not play at all in 2011. Last year, he served as the first-team holder in all 12 games.

After the announcement, Jablonski’s teammates mobbed him and expressed their excitement about the news. Saturday, after the scrimmage, Jeffers, who appreciates the job Jablonski does as much as anybody, said the KU holder was incredibly deserving of the honor.

“I was really happy for him,” Jeffers said. “He deserves it. He doesn’t get glory necessarily from the media, but he does in the locker room. I don’t know anybody that has a bad word to say about Blake Jablonski.”


CrystalJones 4 years, 9 months ago

OK, enough with the negative sarcasm. So sick of the Debby Downers on this board. Let's just get the season started and see how our beloved Jayhawks really do perform with the only NFL coaching staff in the Big 12. I think many people, inside and outside of Jayhawk Nation, are going to be very surprised.

Ben Kliewer 4 years, 9 months ago

I get the sentiment on both sides, but with the less-than-stellar performance of our kicking game last year ahperse makes a good point.

Jack Jones 4 years, 9 months ago

Thanks, Matt ~ Terrific report on what sounds like a great day all the way around. Nice turnout, with plenty of enthusiasm from players and fans. A well deserved acknowledgment/accomplishment for Blake Jablonski, as well. LET'S PLAY SOME FOOTBALL!!!

kellerman411 4 years, 9 months ago

Okay, I'm really starting to drink the kool-aid on Heaps... I'm sure he will look different in the pocket with a live pass rush when the games begin but I feel like our passing game will at least be good enough to keep the defense honest and that's really all we need. All our horsepower is in the running game and no one will be able to stop it if Heaps and company develop a legitimate deep threat.

Our defense will be above average in the Big 12. I know that because last year they were pretty darn good, considering they were on the field all game long and still kept us in most of the games, and some of the starters from that defense will be watching from the sideline which means we got better. I think Ben and Sampson have a chance to really be special these next two years. So pumped to see some actual big physical defensive backs at KU for once. Cassius Sendish will be a star. It's very important that Kevin Short shows up to camp in shape... if he shows up 4 weeks out from playing shape, that could impact us some.. he'll start though I think regardless.

lv_jhwk 4 years, 9 months ago

Matt: where was Michael Mesh? You don't have him named on the hold-outs list yet he didn't have any field goal attempts either.

Micky Baker 4 years, 9 months ago

In an article just a day before this, Mesh was mentioned. He's there.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 9 months ago

I guess in a scrimmage like there there's bound to be some big plays, in part because it's what the fans want to see, and in part because the QBs are protected from contact. But I am still a little disappointed that there were TD plays of 49, 62, 27, and 54 yards. I hope that it doesn't indicate that our Defense is weak against big plays.

rockchalk_dpu 4 years, 9 months ago

I wasn't there, but read one of the comments in the recap Tait posted on Saturday that several of those plays would have been stopped but for the defense not wanting to risk a tackle from behind and injure themselves or the offensive player. I think I read that Sims' big run in particular could have been stopped at the 20, but they pulled up and faded off of him. Hopefully that is a sign that these guys can make the stops necessary and their positioning will allow them to take the right angles on opposing players.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 9 months ago

why no photo gallery of the open-practice?

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