While Saturday’s Kansas University spring football game served as a reminder of the uphill climb ahead for new coach David Beaty and his staff, the days leading up to the exhibition also featured examples of attainable success.
Several former KU standouts migrated back to Lawrence this week as Beaty, once an assistant here under Mark Mangino, continued to embrace the program’s past.
NFL Jayhawks Bradley McDougald (Tampa Bay), Chris Harris (Denver), Steven Johnson (Denver), Darrell Stuckey (San Diego) and Toben Opurum (New Orleans) all attended the spring game at Memorial Stadium, and Aqib Talib (Denver) came by to meet the team and attend an alumni gathering Friday.
Beaty emphasized how much those former players mean to him and reiterated his saying about the current crop of Jayhawks standing on the shoulders of giants.
“Dezmon Briscoe walked through the gate just before the game started and, I mean, I almost teared up,” Beaty said, “because that dude broke every record receiving — him and Kerry Meier did — that existed at this school. And they gave a lot. They sacrificed and they had to put up with me. I was a raging lunatic when I was an assistant. Those guys took everything I gave them.”
When former greats return, Beaty explained, he wants his young players to remember they’re not doing this for themselves, but for the program, alumni and university.
“Our guys, I want them to understand they didn’t build this place,” Beaty said. “Those (former players) did, and we’re getting to benefit from it. I want them to look (former players) in the eye, so whenever they feel like they need to tap out, I want them to think about these guys.”
The winning Blue team caught 20 total passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns between Shakiem Barbel (5-78), Tre’ Parmalee (5-28), Tyler Patrick (4-43), Kent Taylor (2-88), Ben Johnson (2-16) and Preston Randall (2-9).
Beaty said senior receiver Parmalee could play any of three spots in KU’s offense and sophomore tight end Johnson could play inside or out wide.
“They caught the ball pretty well today, which was impressive to me,” Beaty said, praising receivers coach Klint Kubiak.
KU’s Blue team ran 52 offensive plays for 357 yards, while the White team had 29 plays for 59 yards during the spring game.
Beaty said he slowed the tempo down every now and then to get the players in certain situations.
“We went OK today,” he said, “but that’s not the tempo we’ll play at. We’ll play a heck of a lot faster.”
In part, that had to do with KU’s desire to reveal as little of its offense as possible.
“It just doesn’t behoove us to do that,” Beaty said of playing in the same fashion as they’ll attempt this coming fall.