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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Coaches see improvement in KU football’s spring start

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Piles of snow may have surrounded the field and a chill may have hung in the air, but none of that stopped the Kansas University football team from getting spring practice off to a hot start on Tuesday at Memorial Stadium.

“I thought Day 1 was good energy, good focus; I thought we were running around well,” said wide receivers coach Rob Ianello. “It was just Day 1, it was just in helmets, but I thought it was a very good start for what we’re trying to do.”

In reality, work started a couple of months back, when strength coach Scott Holsopple got ahold of the Jayhawks for offseason conditioning and, for the second year in a row, worked wonders with their bodies.

“It’s not even close,” said tight ends coach Jeff Blasko, comparing this year’s opening day with last year’s. “From the strength and conditioning aspect of it all, it’s a completely different feel and a complete transformation.”

The Jayhawks will return to practice Thursday for Day 2 of their 15-day spring session before jumping in with full pads on Saturday.

What, me worry?

Junior-college transfers Marquel Combs, a defensive tackle, and Zach Fondal, an offensive lineman, have not made it to campus yet, and even though both were expected to arrive in time for spring ball, Weis reiterated Monday that there was no need to panic about the intentions of either player.

“Let me just erase any doubt of (us) going through what we went through last year,” Weis said. “There are a couple of guys who aren’t here yet, but the latest they’ll be here is the first week of June.”

Pursuit of the turnover

As they met with the media on Monday, different players talked about their goals for the upcoming season. Most emphasized team goals over personal goals, but a few discussed how the pursuit of their own goals would benefit the team. One such player was junior linebacker Ben Heeney.

“They just told us that there’s a turnover chart,” Heeney said. “And whoever gets the most turnovers throughout the spring gets a reward or something. So I guess that’s my goal, to get the most turnovers.”

KU’s defense took a major step forward in the turnover department last season but still finished just seventh in the Big 12 with 20 takeaways.

Comments

Kit Duncan 1 year, 1 month ago

“The defensive staff would be delighted not to see any more of Jake Heaps,” Weis said. “Because every day in practice, he just tore them up. He really performed at a very high level.”

This is from an article after the KU-WVU football game in which Jake was mentioned by Coach Weis in his post game remarks. It seems as though Jake already knows the playbook better than most and was the KU scout team standout player every week.

We don't need to worry whether Jake Heaps can run the offense from the get-go, rather will everyone else be on the same page and as prepared? I was hopeful about Dayne Crist. I am expectantly excited about the offense led by Jake Heaps.

RCJH!

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Keith Hummel 1 year, 1 month ago

What to make of Jake Heaps? What can we expect? Was he really that bad at BYU? What exactly happened there?

The articles written about Jake's falling out in 2011 are inconclusive. Writers for BYU football criticized Heaps for lack of toughness, lack of touch on his passes, and lack of leadership qualities. Some also criticized him for being too arrogant (he was, after all the #1 QB of his class) or for being immature or for being more concerned about his NFL stock than the success of BYU. Others say BYU put unfair expectations on him and benched him too quickly when things didn't go well, or that the offense wasn't well suited to his strengths.

This much we know. Jake's talent is immense and unquestioned. His freshman year was a huge success. Enormous pressure was put on him to do legendary things at BYU but Jake was not entirely prepared for that pressure. BYU's OC, Brandon Doman, prefers mobile dual-threat QB's, but Heaps is a NFL-style drop-back passer. Heaps' replacement, Riley Nelson, possessed virtually none of the God-given QB talent Heaps has, but was better suited to Doman's offense. For that reason and many others, the relationship between Heaps and Doman soured, and there was little reason for Jake to believe he would ever be successful there. Like a bad marriage where too much has been said, his only option was to divorce himself from the relationship.

So which Jake Heaps will play for Kansas? I personally expect to see him struggle some at the beginning of the season with his reads, touch on the ball, and decision making. He has simply been out of action for too long, and there is just no way he is going to be sharp out of the gate. But if he can stay injury free and the staff (and fans) are patient, I think we will start to see what this kid can truly do by mid-season. Of course a lot will depend on the receivers and the OL, but I don't think we will see him struggle the way Dayne did last year. The upside is huge. Let's hope he has matured as a person and evolved as a QB, and finally realizes his enormous potential. If he does, the next two seasons are going to be a fun ride for KU Football fans.

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Bob Bailey 1 year, 1 month ago

Defense = turnovers.

The first guy to the runner should: Belt Buckle, AdjustRoute, Wrapup the runner, locking hands around his legs so he can't move and squeeze the blood out of his legs!

The second guy to the runner should then concentrate on getting the ball loose from the runners hands.

The third guy to the runner should be looking for the loose ball -- to catch it and runback, or at least fall on it safely for the Defense.

The fourth and all else should be ready to block the path for the defensive runner.

The trouble with our Defensive Philosophy seems to be "Don't let them score on us". That approach guarantees that they will.

The best philosophy --'Defense should score more points than the enemy offense". It can happen. The Turnover number is a good start!

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741hawk 1 year, 1 month ago

If JUCOs can't come in and make an immediate impact, they should be redshirted.

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sasnak 1 year, 1 month ago

yates, you are correct in the ESPN making fun of KU in football, it is worse than when KST was in that position years and years ago, now KU is the laughing stock of the Nation.

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yates33333 1 year, 1 month ago

Being able to walk to the practice field without falling down is an improvement over last year's miserable showing. I hope they are at least presentable. As a longtime loyal Jayhawk I get weary hearing the sports announcers on ESPN make fun of KU during football season.

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Jim Erickson 1 year, 1 month ago

Reason to be Positive: I don't buy, for one minute, that our running game will be significantly worse off because of the new offensive line. On one hand, yes... Zlatnik, Hawkinson, and Marongelli were good and most likely the line will take a bit of a step back this year. That's probably true, but our running game thrived last year without a hint of a threat from the passing game. Heaps was a good QB at BYU and adding him, and McCay, to the passing game should at least give us a serviceable threat from the passing game. If teams can't stack the box against us, Mr. Sims should be able to keep on trucking.

Speaking of Sims... We are witnessing one of the greatest RBs in school history. His numbers and play is impressive by itself. Then you look at the teams he played on (at least for the first 3 years) and you realize what that kid has done.

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Jim Erickson 1 year, 1 month ago

Reason for Concern: It worries me to hear that Aslam Sterling wasn't ready to go last year because of several reasons, specifically being used to the speed of the game. It concerns me because the way they talked about Sterling last year was the same same way all of these new JUCO guys are being described. I am all for this new strategy (bringing in an influx of JUCO guys) but it doesn't work unless you have a program conducive to getting these players up to speed immediately. The Weis offense has been described as complicated and that players may need a year or two to figure it out, which is obviously a problem when you depend on JUCO kids to step in immediately.

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JHWKDW 1 year, 1 month ago

Good luck. Hope we can begin to turn things around in 13

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