What caught my eye from last Saturday's annual Spring Game
By now, you've read all about Saturday's spring game at Kansas University.
You've heard who looked good, who needs work and how the second version of Turner Gill's Jayhawks looked compared to what we saw last year.
In case you're dying to squeeze a little more juice out of the orange, here are a few final thoughts about Saturday's scrimmage from my vantage point.
It's Definitely Miller Time — Want another reason to get excited about freshman running back Darrian Miller? Look no further than the second possession of Saturday’s spring game. Miller, who came in to spell starting tailback James Sims, showed why he might be more than just a hot-shot freshman with serious wheels when he stepped up to cut down defensive end Julius Green on a 33-yard pass from Jordan Webb to Chris Omigie. Green, 6-7, 275 pounds, came across unblocked when tight end Ted McNulty went out on a route and right tackle Tanner Hawkinson engaged with the tackle. That tells me that leaving Green alone was designed, which says an awful lot about what the coaching staff thinks about Miller’s abilities. Not only can the kid carry the rock, but he’s smart enough to understand pass protection and man enough to stand in there and make it happen.
Webb 2.0 Clearly A Better Version — The more and more I thought about it (I’ll be honest, I watched a tape of the game again this weekend), the more I was impressed with the game Jordan Webb turned in on Saturday. Here’s the deal, you gotta take Webb’s performance with a grain of salt because most of it came against the Jayhawks’ second-string defense. But it wasn’t who Webb was facing that was important. It was how he played. He looked much more decisive and confident all afternoon, threw well on the run, tucked and ran when he needed to and made sure he stepped into most of his throws. That allowed him to put for zip on the ball and that led to him being more accurate with most of his passes. Beyond that, Webb looked pretty good on the zone read play, at least good enough to make defenses respect it this fall.
Mundine Is Money — Tight end Jimmay Mundine looked good during his unofficial first official game at Memorial Stadium. Although the 6-2, 226-pound red-shirt freshman is known to possess blazing speed for a man his size, Mundine showed on Saturday that he’s as much a reliable target as he is a big-time speedster. He caught three balls for 31 yards during the game and two of the three came in heavy traffic. He would’ve had a fourth completion had it not been for a sandwich smack laid on him by KU’s linebackers Darius Willis and Steven Johnson. The coaching staff loves Mundine and it won’t be long before you’re loving him, too. He’s already become a favorite of mine to interview.
Interesting Idea for Embree — No, Daymond Patterson did not play during Saturday’s spring game. Last year’s leading receiver sat out because of an injury. DP’s expected to be fine this fall, but one of the guys who looked just fine filling in for him on Saturday was freshman walk-on Connor Embree. Embree, the son of Colorado coach Jon Embree, caught three balls for 19 yards and nearly came up with another when Webb gave him a shot in the end zone, late in the second quarter. With Patterson and D.J. Beshears ahead of him on the depth chart, it’s not likely that Embree — he originally chose to play football at UNLV but later came to Kansas — will get much of a chance to play this fall. He’s a natural candidate to red-shirt, though, and, doing so, could put him in position to take the reins from Beshears after the 2012 season.
Pick A Weapon, Any Weapon — Less than a year into his transition from quarterback to wide receiver, it’s already easy to see that KU junior Kale Pick is going to help the offense. Such a naturally gifted athlete, Pick can get the ball in a variety of places and make something happen. That was on display Saturday, when Pick caught a team-high four passes for 38 yards. It wasn’t just Pick’s ability to catch the balls thrown to him that stood out, though. It was how the KU offense used him. Remember, what we saw on Saturday was probably less than 40 percent of what’s in the KU playbook. Even still, I saw the KU offense run Pick in motion, line him up wide, line him up in the slot and fake reverses to him. A guy with his skillset — not to mention experience at QB — is sure to attract a lot of attention from opposing defenses this fall and that’s a good thing for the KU offense as a whole.