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What caught my eye at Day 10 of KU football's fall camp

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For the second day in a row we got to check out some extended KU football practice action. This time it came in the form of a 100-play scrimmage that featured all four KU QBs taking a handful of drives against the first- second- and third-string defenses.

For the most part, the day went to the offense again, as QB Jake Heaps led back-to-back scoring drives to kick things off and spread the ball around in an efficient manner.

The first TD came on a 49-yard pass to Jimmay Mundine and the second in the form of a 62-yard TD run from James Sims.

Heaps also later added a 27-yard TD pass to Brandon Bourbon on a third-and-three play.

Heaps finished the day 12-for-16 for 182 yards and two touchdowns.

Second-string QB Michael Cummings struggled at times — particularly when he worked with the first team offense against the first team defense late — and finished the day 6-for-13 for 53 yards.

Third-string QB Montell Cozart had a nice showing in his three drives, completing 6 of 9 passes for 100 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown to Andrew Turzili.

As far as rushing goes, James Sims finished with 9 carries for 82 yards, Brandon Bourbon added three carries for 35 yards, Taylor Cox carried 9 times for 51 yards and Darrian Miller chipped in with 10 carries for 17 yards.

In the receiving game, Christian Matthews led the way with 6 catches for 77 yards, Justin McCay added two catches for 17 yards and Charles Brooks added three catches for 29 yards. Fourteen different Jayhawks caught passes during Saturday's scrimmage.

Defensively, juco transfer Brandon Hollomon had a nice day at cornerback, recording three pass break-ups, two of them on deep balls. Michael Reynolds played the run extremely well, stuffing three different KU ball carriers in the backfield for losses.

Ty McKinney picked up a pair of sacks. Ben Goodman also had three sacks and looked very good off the edge, sometimes even against starting left tackle Aslam Sterling, who had an up-and-down day. Keon Stowers also added a sack. And defensive end Andrew Bolton picked up a sack and an interception (off of a tipped pass by Jordan Darling) on the same drive.

Here's a quick look back at the 15 drives, which were capped off by a 37-yard field goal from Matthew Wyman that prompted the team to rush the field and celebrate as if it were the game-winner.

Drive 1: Jake Heaps at QB: 4 plays, 70 yards, 49-yard touchdown pass to Jimmay Mundine

Drive 2: Jake Heaps at QB: 3 plays, 70 yards, 62-yard James Sims touchdown run

Drive 3: Jake Heaps at QB: Resulted in 55-yard missed FG try by Trevor Pardula (wide right)

Drive 4: Michael Cummings at QB vs. 1st-team D: Stalled after one first down.

Drive 5: Michael Cummings at QB vs. 1st-team D: Stalled at the other 22-yard line.

Drive 6: Jake Heaps at QB: Resulted in 43-yard missed FG by Matthew Wyman (wide right)

Drive 7: Jake Heaps at QB: 9 plays, 70 yards, 27-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Bourbon.

Drive 8: Montell Cozart at QB: Cozart goes 4-for-5 through the air and leads team to a 28-yard Wyman field goal.

Drives 9-11: Jordan Darling at QB: Darling-led Jayhawks gained one first down and the final drive resulted in an Andrew Bolton interception on a tipped ball.

Drives 12-14: Michael Cummings with the 1st-team offense against the 1st-team defense: Two three-and-outs and a missed field goal by Pardula, short and wide right.

Drive 15: Montell Cozart at QB: Resulted in a 54-yard TD pass to Andrew Turzili, many of those yards came after the catch.

Drive 16: Montell Cozart at QB: Produced one first down and stalled at the 40-yard line.

Drives 17-18: Jordan Darling at QB: Three-and-out on the first two and did not cross midfield on the third.

Comments

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like the passing game looks good. Any chance if Cummings struggles that Cozart gets the QB2 spot? How did the rest of the offensive line look? Sounds like the overall blocking was good though.

bpjhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

I hate trying to decipher results from scrimmages. Was the offense so good because it is improved, or because the defense hasn't? While it is exciting to see such positive results on offense, it is at the expense of our defense. As far as the kicking game, better not sell my stock in Tums.

texashawk10 8 years, 10 months ago

At least kicking a FG is an option now. I don't love seeing a missed 55 yard FG, but I love seeing it was wide right and not short. 50% on 50+ yard FG's in college is good rate. The 43 yarder should be 85% or better for a decent kicker, but again at least it's an option now.

Ryan Shelton 8 years, 10 months ago

Early in a season a defense is usually ahead of an offense. The long plays are concerning from a defensive perspective. Four TD's of more than 25 yards? Campo can't be happy with that! Maybe they were all against the 3rd team.

mikehawk 8 years, 10 months ago

I want to drink the Blue Kool Aid sooooo bad! I just can't tell what is hype and what is reality when you line up against somebody besides your own teammates. Time will tell. The QB position sounds great, but it sounds much like it did last year at this time and we all know what happened there. I'm glad to hear the offense is dominating in 7 on 7. In the Big 12, you have to either match points with points and win the turnover ratio, or you get blown out. There doesn't seem to be any defenses in the league any more which can stop these new offenses from scoring. I think it is safe to say while our defense sounds better, like everyone else, we are going to give up points. You win via scoring, winning the kick game and special teams, and limiting turnovers. Hopefully, we don't have to resort to running the ball to move chains and to keep our defense off of the field like last year. Four wins and a small pile of crap! Something to build on. That is all I ask!

hawksquawk 8 years, 10 months ago

Thanks fisher king, I appreciate the intel.

Ashwin Rao 8 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the summary... much more informative than the article (IMO).

Brad Hall 8 years, 10 months ago

It sounds like our OL is a mite porous this early in the season. 7 called sacks and several that weren't called. Hopefully they get that shored up quickly and given a little time to work together I expect that they will.

kellerman411 8 years, 10 months ago

Can you just go to every practice and then comment on the articles? Haha, just kidding, Tait. You know I love your articles.

JayHawkFanToo 8 years, 10 months ago

My observations of the scrimmage. First. KU averaged around 74 plays per game for the last couple of years, so 100 plays is about 33% more plays than they normally would have and it skews the score. If you adjust the score to 74 plays it would be more like 23 instead of 31 points.

Heaps played very well. His passes were crisp and generally on the numbers; receiver did not have to work hard to catch the ball.

Cumming struggled. His passes were off target and the ones caught required the receivers to work hard to catch them. His forte is scrambling and running and since in the scrimmage, as soon as defensive player was in a position to make a tackle play was stopped, his true potential was hard to evaluate. Under real game conditions, it is likely that he would have gained extra yards.

Cozart was a pleasant surprise and played much better than Cummings. Based on today's play, I would put him ahead of Cummings.

The defense was better than the numbers indicate. They did give up several long plays but also stopped the running games many time for short gains or losses. The also recorded several "sacks."

My overall impression was very positive. I also had a chance to briefly visit with the coaching staff and players after the game.

Coach Weis was super friendly and came out as a very down to earth and spontaneous type of guy. I asked him if next season we should hope for the Orange Bowl and his answer was: I will settle for any bowl. A big difference with Coach Gill whom I found to be very polite but also very formal and calculated. I believe his positive attitude has set an example for the players.

I was also extremely impressed with the players. Every single one of them made it a point to thank us for coming to the practice and supporting the team. What a group of polite young men eager to get the season started. The attitude of the players was off the charts positive. I asked Ben Heeney if he would continue to grow the beard (which looked well trimmed) and he said (I paraphrase): it's been problematic but we'll see. I also asked Samson Faifili if they would do the Haka dance at a game and he said he was hopeful that they will be able to do it during the season.

Ken Schmidt 8 years, 10 months ago

Hmm, maybe 1000 people? Maybe. The lower home level from about the 35 to 35 was pretty filled. It was sparse in that area in the upper levels. Whatever number that accounts to being.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 10 months ago

Good Observation regarding 74 plays vs. 100 plays. If it is going to be related to a real game though, it should probably also be pointed out that Heaps only QB'd 5 of the 13 drives (less than 40%), but produced 21 pts. The scoring drives were 16 plays total, and if the 2 stalled drives were 10 play drives (a lot for stalled drives, but about 4 ypp), that is only 36 plays by the 1st string. Extrapolating that results in about 42 pts for a 70-ish play game.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the overall review. Very nice and appreciated by this out-of-state fan.

"The defense was better than the numbers indicate. They did give up several long plays but also stopped the running games many time for short gains or losses."

While the long TD's aren't encouraging, it does seem noteworthy that the D did not give up any really sustained drives for points - except the one FG.

Also, oops on the total number of drives. 5 of 18 is less than 30% of the drives.

JayHawkFanToo 8 years, 10 months ago

Dagger,

It is hard to estimate how well each team individually since the first, second and third teams for the offense and defense played against each other in various combinations, so the overall offense against the overall defense is the only way to evaluate performance.

machinegun 8 years, 10 months ago

The hit of the day...Jordan Darling putting a big lick on the giant defensive lineman who picked off his tipped pass.

Randy Bombardier 8 years, 10 months ago

Well, maybe the boy should learn how to become a QB and not have to make that tackle.

Randy Bombardier 8 years, 10 months ago

Sure sounds like Cozart is No. 2. Thanks, Tater.

JayHawkFanToo 8 years, 10 months ago

Based on today's performance I would agree. However, the rules for the scrimmage did not suit Cummings style, as the plays were stopped whenever a defense player was in position to make a tackle. In a real game there is a good chance that the eludes the first tackler and gets additional yardage.

Micky Baker 8 years, 10 months ago

The pressure is probably on Cummings, but if there is a situation in the season where he can come in and play with a big lead(and hopefully not trailing by 40), then he can be given a little more freedom rather than being called down just because it looks like a guy is about to tackle him. They don't want to get guys hurt in camp.

With that said, I can understand why some of the defenders may have allowed the big plays to happen so they didn't hurt the key players on our offense. I don't think that giving them up in this scrimmage means much of anything except for at the point of attack. Although, James Sims and company will probably also be able to do that against our opponents this year at the point of attack but there won't be any giving up on the plays in real games.

Thanks to the guys that were there for posting some intel that those of us can't get while living about 500 miles south along the I35.

Vernon Riggs 8 years, 10 months ago

Wide left. Wide right. Short and to the left. I wasn't there. The kicking game doesn't sound good from this article. How did it look?

JayHawkFanToo 8 years, 10 months ago

It fell short of expectations, although the misses were from distances they would not routinely try during an actual game. I will guess that 45 yards is a realistic limit for the current kickers.

JayHawkFanToo 8 years, 10 months ago

Most important observation of the day: Jake Heaps is heads and shoulders above the other QBs. He is the Todd Reesing of this team and the one player KU cannot afford to lose.

David Lara 8 years, 10 months ago

This is the big take away I noticed. It's hard to evaluate details since units were subbed in randomly, but the consistency he displayed shows that he will be giving our offense a big boost in the passing game. He's the only QB that could really give the D problems.

Doug Cramer 8 years, 10 months ago

Don't understand how our D-line will be too much improved...when we still have Augustino, Reynolds, and Stowers starting on it...and the only change is Quel ?

It's gonna hurt losing Martin along with Jenkins-Moore at Linebacker. Credit the coaching staff for attempting to beef up the defensive front...bad luck when you have these two guys out.

Not getting my hopes up on the defense yet.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 10 months ago

Obviously it's not fair to Sims to do this, but if you look at Sims' numbers while excluding the 62 yd TD then it speaks to the quality of our run defense. The best RB in the Big 12 went for 20 yards on 8 carries. Discounting the offense of the 62 yd run then the rushing game was 4.1 yd/carry on 30 carries. Including the 62 yd TD the rushing game moved the ball for 6 yd/carry.

I'd like to see the KU run defense hold opponents to less than 3 yards per carry. That seems about where the KU defense was back in 05-07 time frame, but to do that they can't give away any big plays.

Michael Leiker 8 years, 10 months ago

Is Michael Mesh out of the conversation at PK? I believe he was on the original depth chart as #1 and thought he'd had some good days that you had reported previously.

Tracy Bedell 8 years, 10 months ago

Given the large number of people who were there.. KU should have teamed up with Harvesters and had people bring a canned good to help out. Just a thought.

Lance Cheney 8 years, 10 months ago

A couple of things caught my eye that concern me:

1) It doesn't sound like Sims, who is the leader of this team and the starter at our deepest position, had that great of a showing. Outside of his 62 yd TD, he had 20 yds on 8 carries. Not too hot. I love the guy, but this just caught my eye. It did look like Bourbon and Cox did pretty good, though, which is good news. But it is a scrimmage, so it's probably not worth much.

2) The defense had at least 7 sacks. I'm not sure how much to read into this. It's either a good sign for our defense or a bad sign for our offense. Is Heaps holding on to the ball too long, or what? Or were the sacks against the other QBs? Again, I don't put much stock in these scrimmages, so we'll just have to wait until September 7th to see the final product.

JJHAWK 8 years, 10 months ago

One item on Tait's breakdown of possessions was that Jake Heaps led the team to a scoring opportunity everytime he was under center. I like that!

RCJH

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