Column: Jayhawks working with what they’ve got this spring

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Such good weather leading up to the first day of spring football practice and then Tuesday arrives and wham. Gray skies. A brief appearance of the sun. Heavy rain. Two different hail storms. A brief blast of thunder and lightning.

An argument could be made that even Mother Nature conspires against the Kansas University football team, which will open the 2015 season with fewer players recruited on scholarship than a Football Championship Subdivision (1-AA) roster.

First-year head coach David Beaty could belabor the facts that show such an empty cupboard, but he has no interest in handing crutches for his players to lean on when the losses mount.

“We don’t have but in the neighborhood of 50-some guys on scholarship right now,” Beaty said after practice. “I really don’t count anymore because I don’t want to think about it, to be honest with you. I just want to think about the guys we have and what we’ve got to do with those guys. I keep hearing everything about scholarships. I don’t care about that. I care about the guys who are here and what we’re going to do to develop them. We can moan and whine and complain about what we don’t have or we can go to work with what we do have.”

He had a blast going to work as a head coach for the first time since he worked at the high-school level in Texas. Beaty so enjoyed the day he even said he liked the music. That’s saying something. One, ahem, love song would have made the late, great Barry White blush.

Music played throughout the practice.

“The truth of it is we communicate non-verbally,” Beaty said. “We do it in the weight room. We do it everywhere we go. We have to operate on tempo, particularly within this conference, and the people do it in loud environments, so we’re not going to wait until Thursday before the game to play crowd noise. We’re going to do it every single day.”

It’s about training the mind in such a way as to turn everything but the task at hand into white noise.

“Sometimes we’ll pop it in our meeting rooms, just so it’s hard to communicate,” Beaty said. “And then we can focus on the screen. ... It gets their juices flowing. They like that music. We’ve got to watch that playlist, make sure it’s got the right words in it.”

Long way to go there. Long way to go everywhere. Two small signs of improvement were evident Tuesday at offensive line. Larry Mazyck is a lot smaller, Jordan Shelley-Smith much bigger. On the D-line, end Anthony Olobia looked really quick. It’s a start.