Sunday, April 10, 2016


Tom Keegan: Spring ‘game’ good time to practice truth-telling, too

Injured Kansas quarterback Ryan Willis (13) watches from the sidelines as the rest of the quarterbacks warm up prior to kickoff of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Injured Kansas quarterback Ryan Willis (13) watches from the sidelines as the rest of the quarterbacks warm up prior to kickoff of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.


The spring football event, which used to be but no longer is a game, also serves as a dress rehearsal for reporters who cover the Kansas University football program. That’s another way of saying it’s a day to practice writing the truth without being mean, no easy juggling act in recent seasons.

Here goes:

Quarterback Ryan Willis helped his chances Saturday of winning the starting job by the time the season-opener arrives Sept. 3 against Rhode Island, an FCS school coming off a 1-10 season, by not doing anything to hurt his chances. Willis didn’t play, sidelined by a wrist injury he suffered playing basketball.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Post-practice Q&A: David Beaty on spring scoring, progress

Second-year Kansas football coach David Beaty explains the scoring system implemented during the Jayhawks' open practice at Memorial Stadium, and answers questions about KU's progress this spring.

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Montell Cozart, the only quarterback since Todd Reesing to start the season-opener in back-to-back seasons, was praised by head coach David Beaty for his strong spring. Saturday, Beaty assured, was not an accurate indication of how the rest of the spring went for the Bishop Miege graduate.

Cozart completed 10 of 19 passes for 115 yards, 61 of the yards on a slant that LaQuvionte “Speedy” Gonzalez turned into a touchdown. Cozart threw three interceptions and two would-be interceptions that were dropped.

Red-shirt freshman Carter Stanley (12-for-22, 117 yards, one touchdown, one interception) showed accuracy on short passes but showed a slow release and lacked zip on long throws.

At its peak, the crowd count stood about 1,200. Many didn’t stay long enough to watch halftime, which featured burly linemen fielding punts from the Juggs machine. That sideshow triggered memories of always funny and frank Charles Barkley mocking KU’s football program for releasing a video of the players, in pads and helmets, shooting at a basketball hoop rolled onto the football field, playing a game of knockout. That video, made to wish the basketball team luck in the NCAA Tournament, drew far more attention to the football program than anything else from spring practices.

In keeping with that theme of mixing fun and games with practicing football, Beaty had guest coaches Chris Harris of the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos and Darrell Stuckey of the San Diego Chargers call plays for a stretch of Saturday’s public practice.

Kansas, which had one scholarship running back healthy enough to participate Saturday, went 25-13 and won two bowl games in the three seasons Stuckey and Harris were teammates. These are not those days. The Jayhawks carry a 15-game losing streak into 2016 and have lost their last 38 games played outside of Lawrence.

— See what people were saying about Saturday’s spring practice during's live coverage.


Ashwin Rao 6 years, 4 months ago

I hope the coaches learn from this. Just because Cozart does well in practice does not mean that it translates well into game situations. If he has offered to change roles, he should be given that opportunity. Obviously, after 3 yrs practicing as a QB, if he can't make good decisions, his place is some place else. He is athletic, so I am sure he can do wonders as a receiver/safety.

I am kinda disappointed to hear about Stanley. I was counting on him fixing his technical problems (forcing the throws) of last year, and getting comfortable enough to challenge Willis, but looks like that is not the case. Sounds like we will have to rely on Willis this year as well (pretty good option). Hope he stays healthy all through the season!

Robert Brock 6 years, 4 months ago

Willis showed talent and courage last year; he is one of the few bright spots of KU football.

Humpy Helsel 6 years, 4 months ago

PLEASE, we need AT LEAST, one win at home and one on the road. Sadly, I am afraid this will be a tall order this coming year.

Brett McCabe 6 years, 4 months ago

We'll beat Rhode Island. How important is a home game against Ohio? Very important. It will be tough to win it but, if we do, it will mean that the program is moving in the right direction.

A win vs. Ohio and maybe Memphis on the road is a possibility?

The offense should improve greatly with Willis under center. This, without question, is the most important thing the team needs this year. Put a few more points up, take some time off the clock, give the defense a rest. A 10% improvement in offense will make this team look 20% better than last year.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 4 months ago

OMG...what a nightmare that Spring game was. If what we saw in Saturday's spring game is any kind of reflection of what to expect this fall, we have not seen this team bottom out. I'm being very truthful when I say,,,,,that was the most pathetic display of football I have ever seen.

Ashwin Rao 6 years, 4 months ago

The Spring Game was primarily to fool the competition the rest of the year. Now they will not come prepared to face the Jayhawk wrath!

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 4 months ago

Apparently it is also intended to lower expectations amongst the fan base.

Brett McCabe 6 years, 4 months ago

Suzi, your comment is interesting. I didn't see it as being that bad, and I thought it was much crisper than last year. Perhaps my sunglasses had a rose-colored tint?

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 4 months ago

My disappointment with our QBs, especially Cozart was off the charts. Also our line blocking was atrocious. I had such a difficult time with the OL, I couldn't tell how effective the DL, linebackers and DBs were going to be. The inability to throw the ball downfield, without an interception or near interception, was unnerving.

Brett McCabe 6 years, 4 months ago

QB play was horrific. They'll need to recruit to that position effectively this year so that we have someone coming up the chart as Willis graduates.

Bryce Landon 6 years, 4 months ago

Jayhawk football has been to the Big 12 what Browns football has been to the NFL - a complete and total dumpster fire. I hope this season will mark the beginning of a reversal of that sad fact.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 4 months ago

With Willis & Kinner missing, there hopefully is plenty of improvement in reserve. The competition for Willis' backup could be the exact reason Mozart is still a QB. It would be nice to think there was someone else, but if he's the next best, it would be silly to go into the season expecting Willis to escape injury for 13 games.

Not sure that we can expect much from the recruiting class. Probably the best thing is just that we have more scholarship bodies. How many years before we have a FBS body count? That will go a long ways to becoming FBS competent.

Brett McCabe 6 years, 4 months ago

Agree on Cozart. They couldn't move him or we wouldn't have a legit back-up.

On the positive front, the early commitments are the best we've had in years. Let's just hope that we can hold them.

Bob Bailey 6 years, 4 months ago

The coaches made a huge mistake!

Cozart can;t keep track of a couple of receivers, let alone ALL of the 22 players on the field. He even asked to change positions! What a WASTE of all the repetitions this spring on the practice field.

Personally gave Beaty a chance to redeem himself. No Way. Now we have to get rid of Zenger and Beaty both. Probably at the end of this year;s season.

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