Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Coaches see improvement in KU football’s spring start


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.


Jim Erickson 7 years, 6 months 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.

Boouk 7 years, 6 months ago

He was 368 pounds last August and didn't know the playbook. It's pretty hard to play fast at 368 pounds when you don't know what to do on some plays. What is concerning is special teams. The kicking will be way better, but I'm still worried about punt and kickoff coverage and the return game.

Jim Erickson 7 years, 6 months ago

Agree! The playbook thing is what scares me... He had the same opportunity that all of the incoming JUCO guys will have. If he wasn't able to learn the playbook on time that either means he is a slow learner or the offense is complicated. Both are possibilities, but the Weis offense has the reputation of being complicated. We are in trouble if our JUCO guys can't contribute immediately.

texashawk10 7 years, 6 months ago

Players as fat as Sterling was last season don't have the conditioning to play major college football very well no matter well they know the playbook. Sterling deserves a lot credit for dropping even more weight and trying to get himself into as good of football shape as he can. Dropping 75+ lbs. in a healthy way in less than a year like he has is not an easy thing to do and hopefully he'll be able to stay on the field longer this year without needind a breather.

jddhawks 7 years, 6 months ago

One thing you are forgetting as well is that Sterling didn't show up until after practice had already started in August. He got here and was thrown to the fire right away.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 6 months ago

I don't think he was playing for the JUCO national champs either, so while he has plenty of potential, he was not nearly a game prepped as some of the newer recruits.

But it is definitely easier to find a negative perspective on one small facet of the story and spin an entire theory regarding the football program in response. Goodness, that's what the feral kitties that surround us do. We don't need the same drivel from within.

Jim Erickson 7 years, 6 months 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.

NebraskaJayhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

"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."

Pretty good statement and I agree with you. If Heaps and at least two of our receivers really step up this season, I like our chances of putting some points on the board this year.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 7 years, 6 months ago

Except Heaps wasn't good at BYU. Hence why he's no longer at BYU.

Sorry. Truth hurts..

Zstegs 7 years, 6 months ago

False. He actually set BYU's freshman record for passing Touchdowns as well as winning the MVP of their bowl game that year.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 7 years, 6 months ago

Adam Barmann set Freshman records at KU. Then he turned to crap. I fail to embrace the "But he was a stud his freshman year" philosophy.

Jim Erickson 7 years, 6 months ago

Heaps was beat out by another good QB, but that doesn't change the fact that he was very good in his time at BYU.

troutsee 7 years, 6 months ago

You mean like his 400+ yards against the Huskers in Lincoln. I was there. We were down big time at half time and Adam had a sensational final three quarters.

David Lara 7 years, 6 months ago

Yes, let's by all means compare the KU football record book with BYU's since they are and have always been on the same level of QB production...

yates33333 7 years, 6 months 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.

clevelandjayhawker 7 years, 6 months ago

You sure do like to troll.

KU is rebuilding, not many teams rebuild with an Orange Bowl Trophy in their case that hasnt even got dust on it yet.

Yes we took a chance on a coach who set us back a few years. Hope you got your laughs in, because a change is a coming.

bayareajhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

K State was in that position just a couple of years ago. Have you forgotten again what that team looks like under anybody but Snyder? One coach does not a great program make.

By the way, K State has to win every match-up with KU for the next 25 years to even the football series. And you act like K State is some kind of power program...

741hawk 7 years, 6 months ago

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

Bob Bailey 7 years, 6 months 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!

Kit Duncan 7 years, 6 months 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.


texashawk10 7 years, 6 months ago

Running scout team means Heaps was running everyone but KU's playbook throughout the year which uses very watered down terminology. We'll see this year how well Heaps can run a much more complicated playbook with more complicated terminology.

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