Spring football game won't be for show

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mark Mangino is a traditionalist when it comes to the spring football game.

Yes, he likes that the fans get the chance to see football in April, and players always like performing in front of a crowd. But Mangino isn't interested in taking the team off track to make the spring game a fun, festive, lighthearted activity.

There's too much business to be done.

"It's a great day for fans to come and watch the team play, but it's certainly an important day of work," Mangino said. "You only get 15 practices, so you want to make the most of practice No. 15."

KU's spring season comes to an end with the annual spring game, which will start at 7 p.m. today at Memorial Stadium. Admission is free to the public. Gates will open at 6 p.m.

Spring-game veterans won't notice many changes in how KU conducts its final practice. There's limited contact with the quarterback. No played-out special teams (thus no punt or kick returns). And no fan-friendly rhyme or reason as to why the game will end when it ends.

"We will play 15-minute quarters in the first half, and then we'll see how much more work we need in the second half," Mangino said. "At some point in time, we'll start a continuous clock in the second half."

Last year, KU's coaches targeted 100 snaps in the game, and they reached it in a 48-0 Blue team victory. The entire second half was played with a running clock.

Different years have different demands, though. Last year's spring game, for example, featured first-half contact with the quarterback because Todd Reesing and Kerry Meier were battling for a starting job and needed to be tested as much as possible.

That's not the case this year with Reesing, who's the clear-cut No. 1 guy after passing for 33 touchdowns for the Orange Bowl champs last season.

Similar, subtle tweaks could be made, but not many. Spring is a routine at KU, and the spring game is a way to bridge the spring with the summer.

And the spring, Mangino said, has been a success so far.

"It's gone very well. A lot of learning taking place," Mangino said. "We have some veteran kids that are improving and getting better and really getting comfortable with all aspects of our offense and defense. We have some young kids that are really coming along nicely.

"They have to keep getting repetitions here in the spring and pick it up in August. I think some young kids are going to do pretty well, too."

¢ New commit: Kansas snagged an oral commitment for its 2009 class this weekend from Jordan Webb, a 6-foot, 205-pound quarterback out of Union, Mo.

"I was supposed to be in Lawrence for the spring game, but it got postponed," Webb told Rivals.com. "I decided to make the trip up anyway. I told coach (Mark) Mangino and coach (Ed) Warinner about my decision, and they were so excited. We all feel that I've got the opportunity to have a great career at Kansas."

Webb had 4,308 passing yards with 55 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for Union High last season. He also had 633 rushing yards.

Webb is the second known commitment for 2009 so far. Coconut Creek, Fla., running back Deshaun Sands - the son of former KU standout Tony Sands - committed last week.