Early to rise: Transfer WR Gonzalez steals spring show

Team wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez (1) tears down the field for a touchdown during the Spring Game on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Team wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez (1) tears down the field for a touchdown during the Spring Game on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The scoreboard following Saturday’s Kansas University spring football game at Memorial Stadium read 49-42 in favor of the White team.

But in reality, only 24 points were scored.

Four Matthew Wyman field goals — of 31, 28, 22 and 34 yards, all against no rush — and an eight-yard pass from Carter Stanley to Steven Sims Jr. in the second half accounted for nearly all of the actual football points on a day the KU coaching staff put together an unusual scoring system that delivered points for everything from first downs to three-and-outs and even took away points for penalties.

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Post-practice Q&A: David Beaty on spring scoring, progress

Second-year Kansas football coach David Beaty explains the scoring system implemented during the Jayhawks' open practice at Memorial Stadium, and answers questions about KU's progress this spring.

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But by far the loudest play of the day belonged to junior transfer LaQuvionte Gonzalez, a wide receiver from Texas A&M who sat out all of 2015 and has been dying to get back on the field ever since.

Gonzalez finished a day dominated by the KU defense with 115 yards on six catches, including a 61-yard touchdown reception from Montell Cozart that displayed just how dangerous his speed can be. His performance started well before sunrise.

Somewhere between 5 and 5:30 a.m., Gonzalez hopped out of bed and headed to the Anderson Family Football Complex. Quietly, ‘Quiv’ slipped out the door and headed toward Memorial Stadium.

“I didn’t hear him,” said roommate and KU running back Taylor Martin, who led KU’s seldom-used rushing attack on Saturday with 56 yards on 15 carries.

Gonzalez chose to walk the 10-to-12-minute trip instead of hitching a ride and slipped into his game-day zone with the help of a song from rapper Meek Mill called “Panda (Remix).”

The first of the players to set foot in the team facility, Gonzalez stretched, got dressed, got his ankles taped around 9 a.m., stretched again, ate breakfast at 10:30 and then attended a couple of meetings before KU coach David Beaty “kind of cut us loose” for final individual preparations.

For Gonazlez, who last played a real game on Sept. 20, 2014 — a 58-6 A&M victory over SMU — the chance to go through game prep even if just for a spring game provided even more life and bounce to a player who teammates and coaches say has to be turned down more than turned up.

“That dude looked like a kid in a candy store this morning,” Beaty said. “I think he was here about 6 o’clock because he hadn’t played football in forever. He was so excited to get on that field, and he loves the game. ... He’s got some explosiveness that I don’t think we possessed last year. So it’s good to see him out there.”

Beaty said the plan was to get Gonzalez seven to 10 touches and, factoring in his one kickoff return, he hit that number.

The touchdown was a simple crossing pattern from left to right, and Cozart, the senior QB who suffered through what Beaty called one of his worst days this spring, hit him in stride about 10 yards down the field, allowing Gonzalez to take care of the rest.

“I’m kind of a greedy player, and I’m trying to get to the end zone every play,” Gonzalez said. “I beat my man, kind of froze him a little bit and then took off. It felt good being able to show those people what I can do out there.”

The Journal-World estimated a crowd of roughly 1,200 at Saturday’s spring game.

Beaty said he was pleased with how things went.

“We tried to keep everybody safe,” said Beaty, one year after watching potential starting quarterback Michael Cummings be lost for the season because of a fluke knee injury suffered during the spring game. “We walked out of there happy that we got great video to work from.”

With two practices still on the docket this spring, going to work remains the focus for this team. Beaty, who said he lifted the idea for Saturday’s format from a couple of buddies, including Rice coach David Bailiff, said all of the statistics, highlights and lowlights produced on Saturday only matter if they contribute to the bottom line.

“I’ll be honest with you guys, we didn’t care about the score (today),” Beaty said. “We just cared about the situations. ... We’re trying to put emphasis on how we get better and not just going through plays and getting through days. How do you get better?”

— See what people were saying about Saturday’s spring practice during KUsports.com's live coverage.