As I stood there and watched tonight’s practice with just one other member of the media and two members of KU’s sports information staff, it occurred to me that we now have just two practice reports remaining in the 2012 season.
The Jayhawks are off next week and then I’ll be back out there Tuesday and Wednesday of the week leading up to the season finale against West Virginia. That’s it.
I know I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to go up to practice twice a week and get an up-close and personal look at the Jayhawks. As you all know, I haven’t been privy to watching the gameplans get installed and schemes be tweaked, but I still think you can — and I have — learn a lot from just being around these guys and watching them work.
You can see who’s serious about their craft, who’s a natural athlete and who has to work hard every single second to get the most out of their abilities.
What’s more, I’ve been able to observe the lingering effects of an injury or two with my own eyes, something that I think is way better than just taking the word of the coaching staff for it.
Why am I getting into all this now? I guess I’m just taking the long route toward a thank you to KU coach Charlie Weis. He doesn’t have to let us in, and many coaches don’t. But I know I’ve gotten a ton out of it and, more importantly, I’ve heard a lot of feedback from readers about how much they enjoyed these brief practice reports. I know we’ve got two left, but I’m definitely looking forward to getting out there again next season, music or no music.
As for what caught my eye today, here’s a quick look:
• For the first time in a while, senior wide receiver D.J. Beshears was in full uniform going through practice with his teammates. Beshears did have to be taped up at the beginning of individual drills, but it looks like he’ll be out there for his Senior Day. That’s good news. He, like many of his teammates, didn’t have the best season, but he’s given a lot to this program during the past four years and he certainly deserves to run out onto the field one more time and to be honored by the home fans.
• Running backs coach Reggie Mitchell deserves a ton of credit for what he’s been able to get out of James Sims and Tony Pierson during the past couple of years.... but apparently the KU assistant thinks there’s more to pull. Mitchell was riding Sims and Pierson throughout the start of practice Wednesday — mostly with a smile — begging Sims to use a stiff arm “just one time,” and dogging Pierson for running out of bounds whenever he can. Both KU backs have had terrific seasons, so I’m sure Mitchell’s ribbing was merely in good fun, but it gave me a little insight into how these coaches think and operate. They could have Collin Klein, Manti Te’o and Matt Barkley on the roster, but you can bet that wouldn’t stop any of them, position coaches, GAs or Weis, from getting after a guy when it was needed. That’s how you develop players and it’s good to see that even KU’s best players are continuing to be pushed by the coaching staff.
• We all know that Tyler Patmon had a pretty rough week last week against Texas Tech, but you’d never know it from watching him at practice. I know we’ve talked about this a lot this season, about how these guys really have been able to put the past behind them and move on to the next week with good energy, and Patmon is just the latest example that I saw.
• Off topic a little bit, I’m really interested to see what kind of crowd turns up Saturday at 6 p.m., when KU takes on Iowa State at Memorial Stadium. Weis has made it a point this week to push for a great crowd and, overall, I think there are still a ton of people backing this team, even with its 1-9 record and basketball season under way. To me, that’s as much a sign of the progress that has been made this year as anything.