Chip Hilleary isn't losing any sleep over Saturday's home and season football opener against Virginia.
"I'm real excited. I feel confident with our offense, our whole scheme for Virginia," says KU's sophomore quarterback.
He insists he's doesn't have any butterflies heading into his first collegiate starting assignment. The 6-1, 180-pound native of Westerville, Ohio, says he's well prepared to take over for graduated Kelly Donohoe.
"I feel the first game is a big game for me. There are a lot of question marks around here. I'd like to settle that right away," Hilleary said. "It's a big game for us. The momentum we gained at Missouri (46-44 win in Columbia) last fall, we need to keep it going."
HILLEARY, WHO played in five games as a backup last year, said practice was growing old. The Jayhawks are ready for a game. "You get sick of hitting the same guys," he said.
Recent practices in intense heat, however, may prove beneficial Saturday, he said.
"I think the heat factor will play a big part in the game. We're ready for it. We've been in the heat a couple weeks now," he said.
Interestingly, KU coach Glen Mason doesn't think possible 90-degree temperatures will favor the Jayhawks.
"No, not at all," said Mason. "Obviously weather can be a factor. If it was a team from a more northern climate, it might be an advantage for us. I think we'll both be acclimated. We've had our hot weather of late. I'm glad we had it. As a coach you're concerned that all you'll have is cool weather then on game day it's 95 or 100 with no way to prepare."
OBVIOUSLY, Mason hopes Hilleary has a hot hand Saturday. He's planning on mixing the run and pass.
"You'd like to play it close to the vest," he said, referring to a game plan involving a QB making his debut. "We don't have that luxury. We have to find out just what Chip Hilleary's capabilities are.
"In the first ballgame, if we, like Virginia, were 28-point favorites, maybe we could afford to take the burden off our quarterback. But we've gotta run our offense. It's the first of 11 games. We've gotta carry on from there."
Red-shirt freshman Nate Florell, a 6-3, 210-pounder from Chicago, is Hilleary's backup.
"We have talent at quarterback. We don't have experience," said Mason.