The Jayhawks received a rough welcome to the world of two-a-day practices Tuesday as temperatures rose into triple digits.
After a week of hitting the practice fields once a day in the middle of the afternoon, Kansas University coach Turner Gill and his staff turned things up a notch Tuesday, the first of three two-a-day sessions planned for the next seven days as the Jayhawks prepare for the Sept. 4 season opener against North Dakota State.
“I wasn’t worn out conditioning-wise, but I was worn out from the sun,” red-shirt freshman receiver Chris Omigie said in a release. “The sun was really beating us up.”
Added senior linebacker Justin Springer: “The first practice was rough. It was long and it was humid outside. It hurt.”
KU practiced once in the morning and again in the late afternoon. Neither session offered much relief from the heat, though, as morning temperatures reached as high as 98 degrees by 10:30 a.m. and afternoon highs soared well above the 100-degree mark.
The KU staff began prepping its players for the extreme heat during a scrimmage last Saturday. Gill said a lot of that scrimmage was spent seeing how guys handled the heat.
“We learned about how guys pushed through and couldn’t push through,” Gill said Monday at KU’s annual media day. “We kind of pushed the limit on some guys there with quite a bit of reps.”
Also Monday, Gill said he liked that his team was forced to face the adversity of hot and humid conditions early in camp.
“That’s the way it’s going to be on gameday,” he said. “So whatever it’s going to be like on gameday is what I want the conditions to be like now.”
After practices wrapped on Tuesday, Gill offered his thoughts on how the Jayhawks responded to the sweltering heat.
“I thought they did pretty well,” he said in a release. “As always, the morning practice is probably going to be a little bit sharper and the afternoon practice is not moving quite as fast, but I liked their focus and I liked their concentration. We are trying to get them in shape right now. We obviously are not as fine-tuned as we would like to be, but overall I thought we had good focus.”
Today, the Jayhawks get a break from two-a-days with just one practice scheduled for this afternoon. KU’s next two-a-day sessions are slated for Thursday and Monday.
2012 non-con schedule set
Tuesday afternoon KU announced its three non-conference games for the 2012 season, which includes home games against South Dakota State and Rice and a road game at Northern Illinois.
The Big 12 portion of the 2012 schedule has not yet been released. What is known, however, is that the Jayhawks will open the year on Sept. 1 at home against South Dakota State.
KU then will play host to Rice on Sept. 8. The Jayhawks also will play at Rice in 2013. On Sept. 22 KU will travel to Northern Illinois in a return game for the Huskies’ trip to Lawrence in 2011.
KU has played all three opponents in the past, defeating South Dakota State 86-6 in 1947; knocking off Rice, 33-7, in the 1961 Bluebonnet Bowl; and falling, 37-34, to Northern Illinois in the first game of the Mike Gottfried era in 1983.
The 80-point margin of victory against SDSU is second in KU history behind an 83-0 win against Washington (Mo.) in 1923. The win over Rice came in KU’s second bowl appearance and was the program’s first bowl victory.
The last time Kansas played just three regular-season non-conference games was 2005.
Laptad named to watch list
KU defensive end Jake Laptad was named as one of 36 candidates for the 2010 Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award.
Laptad, a senior from Tulsa, Okla., has recorded a team-high 13.5 sacks during the last two seasons combined.
In three years at Kansas, the two-time honorable-mention All-Big 12 selection has tallied 107 tackles and 16.5 sacks.
Juco lineman de-commits from KU, headed to Baylor
Nick Johnson, a center from Navarro College, who hails from Corsicana, Texas, has decided to switch his commitment to Baylor.
Johnson, one of seven offensive linemen to orally commit to the Jayhawks this spring, was widely regarded as the most talented member of a stacked O-line at Navarro. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound lineman committed to KU on June 25. In the days that followed, however, the Jayhawks received oral commitments from three more linemen, a situation that may have inspired Johnson to look elsewhere.
Last Sunday, the Waco Tribune reported that Johnson had orally committed to Baylor. Johnson played his high school ball at Waco High and his older brother, Antonio Johnson, is a linebacker at BU.
Briscoe debuts with Bengals
Though his opportunity for action decreased with the signing of former all-pro Terrell Owens, former KU wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe got his pro career off to a decent start during Sunday night’s Hall of Fame Game, a preseason contest in Canton, Ohio.
Briscoe, wearing No. 88, caught the only pass thrown his way for an 11-yard gain during the Bengals’ 16-7 loss to Dallas.
Briscoe is fighting to become the fourth or fifth receiver on the Bengals roster. Ahead of him on the Cincinnati depth chart are two veterans, Owens and Chad Ochocinco, offseason acquisition Antonio Bryant, fourth-year Bengal Andre Caldwell and former University of Texas receiver Jordan Shipley, whom the Bengals selected in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Briscoe and the Bengals return to action Sunday, when they host the Broncos in another preseason contest.
Fellow-former-Jayhawks-turned-NFL-rookies Kerry Meier and Darrell Stuckey open preseason play this week. Meier and the Atlanta Falcons will host Kansas City on Friday, and Stuckey and the San Diego Chargers will host Chicago on Saturday.