Archive for Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Inconsistency plagues KU kicker –- Freshman Beck displays strong, erratic leg

August 21, 2001

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Kansas University's freshman kicker lined up for a 47-yard field goal attempt and unleashed a high, floating kick that cleared the crossbar by a good 10 yards. Later, though, Beck misfired from 20 yards with an attempt that fluttered wide left.

"Making a 50-yard field goal then missing a 20. What's up with that?" Beck wondered following practice Monday at KU's practice fields. "It's just all worrying about kicking it through, whereas I should just line up and kick it."

Since arriving on campus a couple of weeks ago, Beck has had good days and bad. For example, the Kansas City Piper product reportedly went 8-for-8 during a practice last week, but was just 1-for-4 during the Jayhawks' scrimmage Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

"Beck has an exceptionally strong leg," KU coach Terry Allen said. "We just need to get continued reps to him. He's pretty inconsistent. He's just inconsistent in his mechanics. I think he's got as strong a leg as I've probably ever seen, but sometimes he's not real good on his mechanics."

During a typical practice, Beck and his fellow kickers go through their pregame routine and do some kickoffs. Then they practice with themselves before joining the team at the end of practice for more special teams work.

Beck thinks the down time might be bringing him down.

"I played both sides of the ball during high school, so it's kinda boring to me to sit around," Beck said. "I walk around and watch what everybody else is doing. I think that's one of the big reasons why I'm so inconsistent because I think I practice too much.

"It's one thing I'm concentrating on, whereas in high school I played on both sides of the ball and missed two or three field goals out of 20 tries."

One thing's for sure, he certainly has some serious range. Beck, who set a state record with 28 career field goals, drilled 10 of his 12 attempts from at least 50 yards. He set the Piper school record by connecting from 54 yards.

Another problem Beck has had at KU, though, has been having kicks blocked.

"We have to continue to keep pressure on him because he has a tendency to kick real low," Allen said. "It's one of those things, as you back him up and he tries to kick it further, he'll kick it lower."

Just last week two of Beck's four attempts were blocked by 6-foot-5, 240-pound outside linebacker Algie Atkinson.

In addition to Beck, the Jayhawks' other potential place kicker is sophomore Phillip Case, who transferred to KU from Hutchinson Community College two years ago. Case led the Blue Dragons in scoring as a freshman by making six of nine attempts.

"One thing that Phil has demonstrated " he's pretty consistent," Allen said. "But obviously, Johnny Beck has a stronger leg. I think that Johnny can be the more complete kicker, but yet he's a freshman. I think Phil's nice to have and could easily end up doing some kicking for us this year, but I think we're going to try to develop Johnny so that we can take advantage of his strength."

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Injury update: Senior wide receiver Byron Gasaway (shoulder), junior defensive end Charlie Dennis (hamstring) and red-shirt freshman defensive end Travis Watkins (ankle) all returned to practice Monday.

However, the Jayhawks lost Quincy Roe (sprained right ankle), red-shirt junior defensive end Brandon Lacy (swollen calf muscle), junior center Greg Nicks (swelling in knee) and red-shirt freshman tight end Jason Farley (hip).

"We've got a lot of enhanced bumps and bruises," Allen said. "But that's pretty typical at this point."

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Waiting game: Additional tests were conducted Monday on freshman running back Marshell Chiles, who's suffering from a narrowing of the spinal column. The tests will be sent to the specialist in Los Angeles who checked out Chiles earlier this month.

The Jayhawks hope to have a final decision on Chiles' future by Thursday, Allen said.

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New 'do: Senior defensive tackle Nate Dwyer sported a shaved head during practice Monday. Dwyer, who has been bothered by an old wrist injury, participated in the entire practice Monday.

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Upcoming: The Jayhawks will practice twice today, then scrimmage Wednesday afternoon at Memorial Stadium as part of the "Feel the Pride" Football Mixer to close two-a-days. The event is being conducted by the Chamber of Commerce, Jayhawk Business Partners and the Quarterback Club.

-- Sports writer Robert Sinclair can be reached at 832-7185.

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