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Archive for Thursday, April 22, 1999

S WEGNER STILL UNDER SCRUTINY

April 22, 1999

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To hear Kansas football coach Terry Allen tell it, quarterback Zac Wegner has looked like a million dollars this spring.

"Without the pressure of being hit," Allen said, "he's throwing accurately and making the right decisions."

Yes, but will Wegner, battling back from three concussions -- two suffered during the 1998 season, be able to translate that success to the real football world this fall?

Ah, Allen said Wednesday, that is the "million-dollar question."

Typically, quarterbacks are untouchables during spring practices and, even if they weren't, Wegner would have been based on his history. Only an 11th-hour doctor's decision enabled the 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior-to-be to join the Jayhawks this spring.

"He still has to carry it over to games," Allen said. "He has to go out and prove it in game-type situations. But the bottom line is he could do it, and wouldn't that be a storybook situation?"

Allen will, of course, have his fingers crossed because he does not have another quarterback with an NCAA Division I-A arm in camp.

"It's a quantum leap between Zac's arm strength and the rest of the group," Allen said.

Help could be on the way this fall, however, in the person of Dylen Smith, a 6-1, 190-pounder who threw for 2,890 yards and 25 touchdowns last season at Santa Monica (Calif.) CC. Smith is still enrolled at the California two-year school and must graduate in order to be eligible at KU this fall.

Allen has established a scenario that portends continued success for Wegner in Saturday's spring game. Wegner will, as usual, be off-limits to would-be tacklers, and he will be performing against second- and third-team defenders.

Moreover, in keeping with another spring-game tradition, Allen will be using an abridged playbook while playing abbreviated quarters.

"It won't be very exciting I guess is the bottom line," Allen said.

Allen will eschew offensive and defensive sophistication for two reasons. He doesn't want to give anything away, and he doesn't want to risk injury.

"It's a little paranoia, yes," Allen said, "but mainly I don't want to have a live scrimmage any longer than I have to on turf."

In fact, Allen has scheduled the last real scrimmage for this afternoon on the grass fields south of Anschutz Pavilion.

In the meantime, Saturday's spring finale will be more like a carnival than a football game with fun and games for children scheduled to begin at noon and the kickoff to follow at 1 p.m.

"To the naked eye it will be a football game," Allen said, "but to the trained eye it won't be."

Allen has kept an eye trained on the offensive line this spring after losing three starters, all of whom signed free-agent contracts with NFL teams.

"We've progressed up front better than I thought we would," Allen said.

Actually, the only returning starter who'll play Saturday is center Chris Enneking because guard Dameon Hunt has a thumb injury and will be held out.

Right Time, Wrong Place: A Northern Iowa alum, Allen was invited to speak at an NIU alumni function in Overland Park the other day. But he went to the wrong sports bar.

"Northern Iowa's colors are purple and gold," Allen explained. "I saw people wearing purple at this place, so I went in " and it was a spring meeting of the Catbackers."

Allen said he received a warm ovation from the Kansas State fans.

  • Comeback Man: Allen on Michael Chandler, the wide receiver who is practicing after suffering a gun-shot wound in the groin by an unknown assailant a couple of months ago. "He made a catch the other and then he made an additional seven yards when he needed six for a first down. One of the coaches said, 'Heck, he's been shot a point-blank range, so he can come back from anything.'"

  • A Childs Shall Lead Them: Allen on HenrÃ- Childs who was used mainly as a punt returner as a freshman last fall: "When we need two or three yards on third down, you'll see No. 28 in the ball game."

  • Irish Hot Cakes: Kansas officials report they have sold about 3,000 of the 5,000 tickets they've been allotted for the KU-Notre Dame game on Aug. 28 in South Bend, Ind.

  • Lynn Allen Part III: The third book edited by Allen's wife Lynn, a nationally known fitness expert, has just been published. All three books provide health and exercise tips for the aging and the elderly. The latest is entitled "Active Older Adults. Ideals for Action."

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