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What caught my eye at Saturday's practice: March 9

Before I get into the specifics of what I saw at Saturday's KU football practice, let me explain one thing.

We were told before the spring began that the media would get one day to go out and watch practice but we don't know yet when that day will be. Saturday, those of us who attended KU's Hannah & Friends football clinic at Anschutz Sports Pavilion were lucky enough to observe an hour of KU's third practice of the spring, the team's first in pads.

The clinic itself was great. It was really cool to see so many of these players get into working with the people with special needs. Lots of smiles, lots of laughs, lots of fun. That made the hour of practice a bonus, but it definitely was great to get a look at some of the new guys, which was where I spent most of my time during the practice session.

I just wanted to get that explanation out of the way so you would know that the “What Caught My Eye” feature would not be as regular of a thing this spring. But I hope for it to return full bore in August.

For now, here's what caught my eye from Saturday's action:

• Junior college transfer Tedarian Johnson is a freaking truck. Most recruiting services had him listed at 260 pounds throughout his recruitment, but the guy is a legit 290. And he moves well. I don't know how he'll fit into KU's plans on its suddenly-deep defensive line, but his size definitely caught me by surprise.

• All of that talk about junior defensive tackle Keon Stowers as a leader seems legit. You could see it even during the clinic with the Special Olympians but it really showed up during drills in practice. I think part of the reason Stowers has emerged, seemingly out of nowhere, is that (a) he battled injuries last year and could not play to his potential, (b) he didn't want to overstep his bounds and wanted to be respectful of last year's seniors and c) KU really needs leaders on defense. Stowers is one of the real good dudes on this team and it's cool to see him stepping up.

• KU coach Charlie Weis was not afraid to get after these guys — none of the coaches were. I heard a lot of yelling and sensed a lot of urgency from the staff during individual drills. I think they're trying to set the tone for the season early and, by doing that, are reminding these guys that losing is not acceptable. I didn't hear names or see numbers, but at one point I even heard Weis yell, “He's gonna take your job.” Nothing like some good, ol' competition.

• Although limited, Saturday's practice gave me my first extended look since last year's spring game at how QB Jake Heaps works. And even that was not that great of a representation of who he is and how he operates since we all knew then that he could not play in 2012. I really like his demeanor. He's a natural leader, carries himself with confidence and crispness and seems to be a really easy guy to want to follow. We didn't see a ton of throws so that'll have to wait for another day, but there's no question that this is his team and his offense.

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Comments

Dirk Medema 1 year, 1 month ago

Right now, Tederian is #2 to Tavai at one of the E/T spots. It seemed that Jordan wore down during the year last year, so having another truck there for a breather would be nice.

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KJD 1 year, 1 month ago

This is of course reading tea leaves on the first topic: "I don't know how he'll fit into KU's plans on its suddenly-deep defensive line". I keep thinking of the regularity of Weiss' take on the prevalent offensive style of the Big XII in relationship to multi-DB packages and the number of plays a defense must defend. You ALWAYS want to win in the trenches in football.

If the trend is towards a Oregon/Oklahoma/Baylor kind of tempo then you can offer more D-Linemen snap opportunities because you are going to defend more snaps in a game, in a season. You need to expect injuries too. Offenses like West Virginia and Oklahoma State want to abuse you in open space so a fresh, skilled rotation of big boys defending runs and collapsing pockets would be a luxurious premium.

If you are playing 7 DB's in this conference you still have 3 on the line and you would love to ALWAYS have a guy on the field to clog up the middle in case of a run. Having a truck that moves well at this level sounds like a guy that might demand a double team from a center and a guard.

Charlie loves watching a college basketball game so a comparison to Roy Williams going 10 deep in the 90's might fit. When you recruit a guy for this D you might be recruiting him to be in the rotation, that he'll get minutes, he'll have a role, and the team is going to need shot makers.

I would love to know the average number of plays a college defense normally had to defend before guys like Chip Kelly showed up calling plays. If the average number has gone up significantly over the past 5-10 years then as a Div-1 program you have more opportunities to offer, more players to recruit. When it comes to the fat boys on D, those guys will still get winded and worn down unless you have some serious depth over the course of a long season.

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phog1004 1 year, 1 month ago

BTW, good guess on Tedarian Matt, the roster is updated for 2013 now, and lists him at 288. You should work the carnivals as one of those weight guessers!!

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phog1004 1 year, 1 month ago

Thats exciting to hear about Tedarian.....we all hear about Combs, and rightfully so, but it is good to hear that Tedarian is bigger than advertised. Also, from the other article, I like hearing about Chris Martin, and McKinney too.

I think there are going to be some seriously talented kids being left out in terms of extended playing time. Stowers sounds like he is coming along, and McKinney is the real deal too. Now with Tedarian gaining the needed weight, who wins the lion share of the reps along side Combs? (and it's not only those 3, we still have the guys from last year like Keving Young and Keba Agostino, and RS Scout team star Tyler Holmes who weis said was "Unblockable last year going against our first team OL")

The outside should have some nice competition too, with Chris Martin and Michael Reynolds should have a nice battle at the Buck spot, and at the Strong side DE it will be fun to watch Bolton (who is just an absolute beast) battle it out with Ben Goodman who gained 30 LB's and has been tearing it up.

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JHWKDW 1 year, 1 month ago

Well anything to get some motivation/fire under the hineys to get this team motivated. Hey anyone who does not think this does not happen on other football teams are living in fantasy land. We need to be a better football team. Our highest objective this season is to get to .500.Then build from there.If we get past .500 that is awesome. The whole objective of KU Athletics should be not being a 1 trick pony and that 1 trick pony being Mens Basketball. We need all our sports to be at least middle of the road.

I see Sheahon trying to improve all our sports.I think Weis is trying to improve it, and I think Weis wants to shed his failures in coaching before Kansas.

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Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 1 month ago

Believe it or not, after reading about the loss to Faylor, I clicked over to read about KU football. I'll call that the WeisEffect for now...but we do need some W's this season to keep this faith/hope strong...(I have no lack of faith in what Self does, just having a tough time understanding the loss to Faylor by our guys).

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Jim Erickson 1 year, 1 month ago

A great offensive line makes average running backs look great. A great defensive line has the same effect on defense. The linebackers can tackle without having o-lineman in their face. The d-backs have to cover for less time...

I am really excited about what looks like a legitimately improved defensive line.

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mikehawk 1 year, 1 month ago

Nothing helps a defense cover up deficiencies quite like a good defensive line. Makes the LB's look better and can turn an average secondary into a great one. Let's hope the hype and the reality come together this year on the D-Line.

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JimmyJoeBob 1 year, 1 month ago

Not a lot of information in my opinion.

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Kevin Long 1 year, 1 month ago

Matt you do a great job! Keep up the good work!

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Doug Cramer 1 year, 1 month ago

Great to hear that about Terdarian Johnson.

Absolutely LOVE the fact that Weis got some studs on the D-line...something we haven't done since the early/mid 2000s.

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