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Looking back at the 2012 KU football spring game

The Jayhawks sing the Alma Mater before the band and the student section following the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

The Jayhawks sing the Alma Mater before the band and the student section following the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

After weeks — perhaps months — of anticipation, the first spring football game under Kansas University coach Charlie Weis has come and gone and, judging by the general opinion of the dozens of people that I spoke with in the hours since Saturday’s game ended, most liked what they saw.

Toss me into that group, but understand that it’s always a dangerous thing to read too much into what happens or does not happen at a school’s spring football game.

Remember, Christian Matthews had been the star of the previous two spring games but never really did much during either season that followed. Matthews made next to no noise on Saturday so maybe that’s a good sign for the upcoming season. Then again, maybe it’s not.

Anyway, after taking some time to soak up what I saw, here’s a look back at a few quick-hitters that caught my eye from Saturday’s spring game.

Kansas receiver Kale Pick takes off with the ball after a catch during the second half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas receiver Kale Pick takes off with the ball after a catch during the second half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

I really liked what I saw from senior wide receiver Kale Pick. We already knew about Pick’s blocking and how much pride he takes in that. Its effectiveness was on display again during D.J. Beshears’ 28-yard touchdown run on a reverse. But what we had not really seen in the past was what a weapon Pick can be catching the ball. We did Saturday. QBs Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps looked his way a lot and Pick caught everything thrown at him, including the 46-yard flea-flicker completion that wowed the crowd. Now that KU has a strong-armed reliable QB with experience in the pocket, I think Pick’s value and production both will sky-rocket this season.

Kansas receiver Daymond Patterson is pushed out of bounds for an incomplete pass by safety Victor Simmons during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas receiver Daymond Patterson is pushed out of bounds for an incomplete pass by safety Victor Simmons during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

I’ll admit it. I’m guilty. After having him sit out nearly the entire 2011 season, I forgot just how talented senior wide receiver Daymond Patterson was. I was reminded Saturday. Often. Patterson brings a different dimension to the position, a wiggleness of sorts, that’s hard to coach and even harder to coach against. It was awesome seeing DP back out there again, and I’m sure Crist felt the same way.

Speaking of KU’s receivers, the big days from Pick, Patterson and Beshears made me believe that the KU offense will be OK no matter what the NCAA decides regarding sophomore transfer Justin McCay’s eligibility this week. Of course, it would be awesome for KU to have McCay out there — both for the offense and for the young man himself — but if he is not given his hardship waiver and therefore has to sit out a year, KU’s offense will be fine. I’ll feel for McCay, as I do think he deserves the waiver, but the Jayhawks have a lot of weapons in the passing game, with or without him.

Tight end Jimmay Mundine might very well be one of those weapons, and I thought Mundine showed some good things on Saturday. He did also fumble, though, which is pretty much in line with the inconsistency that the young, talented tight end has shown since arriving at KU. It looked like Crist liked Mundine and felt comfortable going to him over the middle, and that certainly will give Mundine a leg up in the race to become KU’s starting tight end. But he didn’t show me enough for me to feel that he’s the clear-cut No. 1. Mundine definitely will have to hold off newcomers Mike Ragone, Charles Brooks and Jordan Smith, and you know each one will be gunning for him. The good news here is, if KU wants to show a couple of two-tight-end sets (which they will, at times), they appear to have the personnel to do so.

Kansas running back James Sims tries to stiff arm defensive end Toben Opurum during the second half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas running back James Sims tries to stiff arm defensive end Toben Opurum during the second half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

Props to junior tailback James Sims for running hard behind KU’s second-string offensive line all day, but the emergence of Marquis Jackson (10 carries, 76 yards and 3 TDs) might signify even more bad news for KU’s former starter, who lost his spot atop the depth chart after an off-the-field incident. Sims is not the kind of guy to sulk or quit, so I was not surprised to see him running hard, trying to prove himself again. But with Tony Pierson ready to explode, Jackson coming on and Brandon Bourbon, Taylor Cox and Tevin Shaw still in the fold, things are awfully crowded at running back for KU, and sitting out three games to serve a suspension to start the season won’t do Sims any good.

Tough to say too much about the play of KU’s defense on Saturday. Sure, they shut down the white squad, almost entirely, but had they not, that would have been bigger news. That said, plenty of people not named Michael Reynolds (3 sacks, 5 tackles) made some plays for the KU D. Junior cornerback Tyler Patmon made a couple of nice pass break-ups, breaking on the ball and timing it perfectly each time. And safeties Bradley McDougald and Lubbock Smith each made their presence known a time or two, as well. I don’t remember Crist or Heaps throwing at senior cornerback Greg Brown. Is that a sign of respect or just coincidence?

Kansas cornerback Tyler Patmon breaks up a pass to receiver Chris Omigie during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas cornerback Tyler Patmon breaks up a pass to receiver Chris Omigie during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

Finally, it was good to see junior place kicker Ron Doherty knock every kick he attempted through the uprights. Doherty was 1-for-1 on field goals and 6-for-6 on PATs. Although he has not had a fantastic spring, he appears to be the starting place kicker, and I doubt he gives up the job.

There’s still plenty to take away from the spring and even more to look ahead to this summer, so be sure to check back with KUsports.com often throughout the next few months as we continue to track and countdown the days to KU’s first season under Weis.

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Comments

Randy Bombardier 1 year, 11 months ago

Can't we find someone who can just boom kickoffs so that there are no returns? Sure would love to see that.

Next year for the Spring game could we just scrimmage against the Chiefs?

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kenshinU 1 year, 11 months ago

I think Sims is the de facto starter regardless of circumstances. Sitting out 3 games will just give the back up players more of an opportunity to compete. But at the end of the day James Sims is the starter. Considering he was the ONLY bright spot on last year's team there's no way he will settle with 2nd-string. Now if he could only stop dancing and run downhill a little more.

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Venkman 1 year, 11 months ago

Matt, I'd love to see you do an article about impact guys who aren't on campus yet. Who didn't we see in the spring game that could be big contributors for us next year?

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Chris Bailey 1 year, 11 months ago

I think the D-line will be much improved. We had zero depth last year after Williams went down and with our poor offense we kept the D on the field way too much! I think we will be much improved. Hell Snyder brings in JUCO players every year and pulls it off why can't Weis do it too? There are a lot of quality JUCO players that only go to JUCO because of grades. The line is still a weakness until we see otherwise but I'm hopeful they will be much improved.

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GregStang 1 year, 11 months ago

It seems to be the conventional, almost uncontested wisdom that our D-line will again be horrible this season. With Opurum and Reynolds and the transfer from Nebraska coming in at D end, and the kid that is coming back from being injured last season (Williams?) and what looks like solid JUCO guys coming in at tackle, and Campo running the schemes, why is the D-line still expected to be a major weakness?

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kujayhox 1 year, 11 months ago

hey Matt, quick question...is the jayhawk statue still down at the stadium next to where the team runs in?

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Mark Lindrud 1 year, 11 months ago

We know the defense will be th weakness on this team, but what didn't help us last year was the amount of three and outs we had that kept our defense on the field the majority of the time.

In would like to think with a much I proved offense that's able to stay on the field then our defense will at least not be tired by the third quarter. With the new defensive lineman we should at least be better at stopping the run and applying a bit more pressure in the qb.

I honestly could see us with 5/6 wins this year. With improved coaching alone we will be better.

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Jayhawk1958 1 year, 11 months ago

Anyone have a guess as to why Bourbon didn't play?

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Dyrk Dugan 1 year, 11 months ago

Yes, Mueller is on the team. the bigger question is, what is going on with Neal Barlow? he is now listed as a TE.....no mentions so far this spring in any sports story about playing time, or depth chart or anything...from the KC Star or the LJW.

what is happening with Mr. Barlow? he was a much anticipated transfer...after leaving Arkansas....i just hope he hasn't hit the bottom of the depth chart.

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Steven Mathew 1 year, 11 months ago

If Ron Doherty is the starting place kicker, what happens to Alex Mueller? Is he still on the team?

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KGphoto 1 year, 11 months ago

Ah, bummer actorman. I got the info just in time though. Congratulations. I'll be watching.

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actorman 1 year, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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bigtex 1 year, 11 months ago

Receiving corp could be the best part of KU's football team. With Weis calling the plays instead of third and Long the receivers as well as the whole offense will improve. I'm excited about Pick,he has the total package as a receiver. Go KU Football !!!!

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CardHawkFan 1 year, 11 months ago

"My kind of team, Charlie...my kind of team!" Wasn't able to make it, but excited. I love the names back, I love that we are keeping the light blue jersey, and I love that the players came over to sing the alma mater. RCJH!!!

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Doug Cramer 1 year, 11 months ago

Matt - thanks for the additional thoughts on the spring game.

Offensively - I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that this offense has the potential to be one of the top three offenses in the Big 12.

We're crowded at wide receiver and at runningback. We also have talented offensive linemen...a position group that Gill actually was able to recruit well. And finally... We have the missing piece in place at quarterback. Boy I think this offense could put up some serious points this season.

Defensively - while it's encouraging to hear about Micheal Reynolds ability to pass rush...and I realize we have juco d-linemen yet to come...the fact of the matter is...our d-line is still gonna struggle...due to the overwhelming lack of talent.

Our entire defense is in trouble...and in for a long season...because our line won't be able to pressure opposing Big 12 quarterbacks. This has been the biggest issue with this program since 2008...and see no reason why it won't be this year as well.

Will our defense rank dead last again in FCS schools...probably not. But as HCCW mentioned... The defense has a long ways to go before it competes consistently with other Big 12 programs.

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hawk4evr 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm concerned about the receiving corps. If Pick is our leading receiver we may be in trouble. He is no Kerry Meier(sp?) We have to hope that this was just a spring game fluke and that the other receivers will step up when it counts.

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Keith Hummel 1 year, 11 months ago

Matt - What was your take on the crowd and level of enthusiasm? Based on what I saw and read I was pleased with the turnout. I did some quick research this morning on Big 12 Spring Games and came up with the following attendance numbers:

Texas 46,000 Oklahoma 20,000 Oklahoma State 20,000 Kansas State 18,000 Kansas 15,000 West Virginia 10,000 Iowa State 5,000 Texas Tech 3,000 Baylor 2,750 TCU (No Spring Game)

Considering the state KU Football was in just 6 months ago, it seems we had a relatively good turnout. Would love to see that number go up to 20k each spring, but this seems like a very good start.

Also interested in your take on how the singing of the Alma Mater went after the game. Hoping to hear that went well because it seems like such a great idea.

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