Posts tagged with Spring Football

Signs of life: Peyton Bender showing why David Beaty had so much confidence in him

Kansas junior quarterback Peyton Bender throws during the spring game, on Saturday, April 15, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas junior quarterback Peyton Bender throws during the spring game, on Saturday, April 15, at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

In 2016, a rebuilding Kansas football team put a far more sound defense on the field than it did the year before, in head coach David Beaty’s first season. Still, KU’s offense couldn’t produce enough first downs or scoring drives to keep the Jayhawks competitive for much of the season. This coming fall, the Kansas offense will look a lot different. And it should be far more productive.

Over the next several days at KUsports.com, we will highlight some of the spring indications that signal better days ahead for the KU offense.

Since Todd Reesing’s college eligibility ran out at the conclusion of the 2009 season, various Kansas football coaches have hoped the quarterback they put on the field could breathe some life into the offense and the program. In the seven seasons since Reesing’s final snap at KU, the Jayhawks have averaged just two victories a year.

Finally, in 2017, it appears Kansas should have a Big 12-level QB lining up behind center, giving the beleaguered program an offense capable of — at the very least — arousing the interest of the fan base and making David Beaty’s Jayhawks more consistently competitive.

We don’t know yet if the title of QB1 will go next to the name Peyton Bender or Carter Stanley, but whomever wins the job in August has a chance to be remembered as the first functional Kansas quarterback in close to a decade.

For the purposes of this entry, we’ll focus on Bender (and take a look at Stanley in a blog to come).

It’s out of character for Beaty to set aside his “earn it” mentality and label someone as a potential starter before that player has even arrived on campus. But that’s what the third-year coach did with Bender, saying the day the former Washington State QB signed with the Jayhawks he expected Bender to come in and compete with Stanley for the most visible job on the team.

A 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior who spent 2016 averaging 304 passing yards a game for Itawamba Community College (Miss.), Bender made his first Memorial Stadium appearance as KU’s quarterback at the spring game and orchestrated two of the three scoring drives during the open scrimmage.

His first TD pass in Lawrence not thrown behind the closed gates of a practice session came in the second quarter of the exhibition on a simple play. With KU’s top receiver, Steven Sims Jr., lined up on the left side 11 yards away from the end zone, Bender spotted soft coverage and took a couple steps back upon receiving the snap, while watching for slot receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez to position himself as a soon-to-be blocker.

Perfectly in rhythm, Sims caught Bender’s pass and Gonzalez set him up for some yards after catch by blocking cornerback DeAnte Ford. Sims swiftly cut back to the right to make safety Mike Lee miss and KU had its first Bender-to-Sims touchdown.

Quick reads and timing, staples of the Air Raid, played a part in Bender’s success on other occasions, too. And a later Sims reception during the scrimmage played out in similar fashion, with Bender getting the ball in his receiver’s hands just in time for Gonzalez to block, setting up an eight-yard gain.

One of Bender’s longest completions during his 11-for-15 outing (143 yards, two touchdowns) came in the fourth quarter with the scrimmage tied. Lined up at the 30-yard line on a second-and-two, the QB gave a little play-fake in the backfield before beginning to survey the field, with his eyes focused on the left side. Bender then turned his head to the middle of the field, where he saw receiver Ryan Schadler breaking open between the 20- and 15-yard-lines.

It might have been a little bit easier than in a game-day situation to stand in the pocket and make the throw with a defensive lineman closing in, knowing the spring game rules revolve around not getting a QB injured, but Bender put the ball on target. He threw it over the reaching arms of linebacker Osaze Ogbebor and into Schadler’s bread basket for a 25-yard completion before Lee had a chance at breaking up the play in the secondary.

Two plays later, out of the pistol, Bender went with another play-fake before making a scrimmage-winning TD throw to Daylon Charlot on a slant. The QB wasted no time on the connection, and got Charlot the ball coming toward the middle of the field before Lee could get into the throwing lane or make a play at knocking the pass to the turf.

via GIPHY

KU spent most of the 2016 season without a quarterback suited to run the offense successfully. Now that Bender is on campus and Stanley has important game experience to go with his two seasons in the offense and growing confidence, the Jayhawks should head into the fall with a QB who can extend drives and direct the offense into the end zone.

Kansas only averaged 359.5 yards a game (last in the Big 12) a year ago and scored just 27 touchdowns on offense during a 2-10 season. Whether it’s Bender or Stanley taking the snaps, the Jayhawks should easily beat those woeful bottom-of-the-league numbers in 2017, leading to at least a couple more victories and far more Saturdays of competitive football.

More signs of life:

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Signs of life: Former Alabama WR Daylon Charlot as good as advertised for KU

Team Jayhawks receiver Daylon Charlot roars after scoring what proved to be the winning touchdown during the fourth quarter of the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium.

Team Jayhawks receiver Daylon Charlot roars after scoring what proved to be the winning touchdown during the fourth quarter of the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

In 2016, a rebuilding Kansas football team put a far more sound defense on the field than it did the year before, in head coach David Beaty’s first season. Still, KU’s offense couldn’t produce enough first downs or scoring drives to keep the Jayhawks competitive for much of the season. This coming fall, the Kansas offense will look a lot different. And it should be far more productive.

Over the next several days at KUsports.com, we will highlight some of the spring indications that signal better days ahead for the KU offense.

If you watched the Kansas football spring game, you could see it. Sure, KU’s coaches had downplayed his standing within the offense, citing new receiver Daylon Charlot’s lack of repetitions in an Air Raid offense or describing his ability as raw because the former Alabama skill player has yet to prove anything on Saturdays in the fall.

But even in a scrimmage designed to spread the ball around and only showcase the blandest play calls, Charlot’s ability was undeniable.

The 6-foot, 195-pound sophomore who sat out as a transfer this past fall at KU looked the part of an impact receiver — even if his coaches rightfully will hold off on showering him with their praises, because it’s their job to keep complacency out of their players’ systems.

During the T.V. broadcast of the spring game, Charlot drew comparisons to former South Carolina and current Chicago Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery. While Jeffery has four inches on Charlot, the idea that KU’s newest passing-game weapon could go up and make plays in the air like a larger target proved true.

A four-star prospect out of Patterson, La., who had offers from Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame and others in 2015, Charlot made his unofficial debut as a Jayhawk at the spring game and announced his presence in spectacular fashion.

Early in the second quarter, with the offense approaching midfield, KU football fans at Memorial Stadium experienced their first “wow” play from the receiver. Of course, Charlot couldn’t have made it happen without the help of his teammates. Offensive linemen Hakeem Adeniji, Malik Clark, Hunter Saulsbury, Larry Hughes and Charles Baldwin provided great protection for another touted newcomer, junior quarterback Peyton Bender, who had roughly five seconds to survey the field before pressure came and he looked down the right sideline for the deep threat wearing a No. 2 jersey.

Charlot parked near the 29-yard line as corner Julian Chandler broke toward him and the approaching throw. Then the athletic receiver exploded up, met the ball high with two hands and got his right foot down in bounds as Chandler shoved him out of play. Charlot's strength showed up on the play, too, as he maintained possession through a backward summersault on the turf, finishing a 28-yard completion.

Team Jayhawks receiver Daylon Charlot rolls over out of bounds after pulling in a catch while covered by Team KU cornerback Julian Chandler (25) during the second quarter of the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium.

Team Jayhawks receiver Daylon Charlot rolls over out of bounds after pulling in a catch while covered by Team KU cornerback Julian Chandler (25) during the second quarter of the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Two snaps later, Charlot was back at it, picking up 12 more yards and another first down. This time, Bender had to backpedal away from the pressure of junior defensive tackle J.J. Holmes, leading to a hurried throw. No problem for Charlot. He reached low and to his right to bring in the pass and extended his arms outward for extra yardage before being tackled.

The third and final reception for KU’s newest play-maker won the spring game for his team, with just under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

On second-and-goal at the 5-yard line, with the ball placed on the left hash, Charlot flanked out to the right side. With running back Khalil Herbert lined up behind Bender in a pistol formation, a play-fake up the middle set up a one-on-one for Charlot as he made a break toward the goal line, getting inside position on Chandler.

When Bender’s pass met Charlot’s hands, the sophomore receiver out-muscled his defender to come away with the score on a slant.

via GIPHY

A year ago, Kansas finished ninth in the Big 12 in passing offense (240 yards a game) in large part because of its quarterback troubles. But having only Steven Sims Jr. (72 receptions, 859 yards) and LaQuvionte Gonzalez (62 catches, 729 yards) as consistent targets played a role, too. Sims’ overall talent and Gonzalez’s speed in space only could do so much when defenses keyed on them as the obvious top choices within the passing attack.

This fall, opposing defensive backs won’t be able to load up on Sims, Gonzalez or Charlot without leaving one of them or some other capable KU receiver in a favorable situation.

Spring games are only games in name. Had offensive coordinator Doug Meacham and company actually been out there at the glorified practice with the full offense at their disposal and playing in an actual game with a regular-season victory on the line, we would have seen even more of Charlot.

Instead, we will have to wait until September to get a true sense of just how substantial an impact the former Alabama receiver will make. At least we also know, thanks to spring ball, we can anticipate Charlot living up to his hype and his own expectations.

More signs of life

- Expect an upgrade in KU’s depth and production at running back

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The Jayhawks who stood out most to coaches during spring football

Kansas head football coach David Beaty addresses the team following the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head football coach David Beaty addresses the team following the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

After five weeks and 15 practices, one of the most crucial stretches of the Kansas football team’s offseason has come to a conclusion.

Spring ball is over, and the Jayhawks won’t reconvene for full team drills in helmets and pads with David Beaty and his position coaches again until August. It’s all strength and conditioning work with new assistant Zac Woodfin until then.

So who among KU’s many talented returning players had the most productive spring? Coaches don’t typically like to shower their pupils with too much praise, because they don’t want any individual thinking he’s in a position to ease up and stop improving.

But Kansas staff members over the past several weeks did give out player of the day honors for the team’s practice sessions, shouting out a representative from offense, defense and special teams.

The parameters for the acknowledgments, one can assume, are based around focus, consistency, effort and on-the-field impact. But you also can bet there was a classic Beaty “earn it” element to those practice awards, too. Veterans who have been around the program longer and established themselves as reliable and trustworthy tended to have their names and faces pop up on KU football’s Instagram account, the team’s vehicle for announcing the awards. For example: neither of the program’s transfers from Alabama, receiver Daylon Charlot and offensive lineman Charles Baldwin, picked up a player of the day nod.

Using the coaches’ public awards platform, we can get a sense of which players pleased KU coaches the most this spring. In total, 11 different Jayhawks won multiple practice distinctions, but the unofficial player of the spring distinction for Kansas goes to linebacker Joe Dineen, the only player to pick up the award three times.

Team KU receiver Kerr Johnson Jr. (14) is taken to the turf by Team Jayhawk linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. (29) during the first quarter of the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium.

Team KU receiver Kerr Johnson Jr. (14) is taken to the turf by Team Jayhawk linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. (29) during the first quarter of the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Dineen missed most of the 2016 season due to a hamstring injury, but the good news for KU is he looked as fast and effective as ever this spring. What’s more, Dineen still has two years of eligibility remaining, thanks to receiving a medical redshirt for this past year.

As strong as KU’s defensive line projects to be in 2017, Clint Bowen’s defense needs play-makers behind the biggest Jayhawks up front to keep the program on its upward trajectory. Dineen is capable of being one at linebacker, with sophomore safety Mike Lee leading the secondary behind him.

Ten other Jayhawks won player of the day on two occasions: sophomore tackle Hakeem Adeniji, junior All-Big 12 defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., junior receiver Jeremiah Booker, sophomore cornerback Hasan Defense, junior defensive end Josh Ehambe, sophomore receiver Chase Harrell, senior receiver Bobby Hartzog Jr., senior tight end BenJohnson, junior running back Taylor Martin and senior kicker Gabriel Rui.

The names that stand out most from that group are Defense and Harrell, because they’re un-tested underclassmen.

Kansas cornerback Hasan Defense talks with Prinz Kande, a member of the defensive staff, right, during spring football practice on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.

Kansas cornerback Hasan Defense talks with Prinz Kande, a member of the defensive staff, right, during spring football practice on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. by Nick Krug

Cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry needs Defense, who played his freshman season at Kilgore College (Texas), to play like a starting Big 12 defensive back immediately, because KU lost two starters at the position. A solid spring is an ideal jumping-off point for the aptly named Defense as he continues his offseason. If he stood out against KU’s receivers, that’s an excellent sign.

Kansas receiver Chase Harrell catches a pass over an obstacle during practice on Thursday, April 6, 2017.

Kansas receiver Chase Harrell catches a pass over an obstacle during practice on Thursday, April 6, 2017. by Nick Krug

Conversely, offensive coordinator and receivers coach Doug Meacham is in charge of the unit’s most talented position group. The man calling plays for Kansas already has Steven Sims Jr., Daylon Charlot, LaQuvionte Gonzalez and Ryan Schadler at his disposal. But none of those targets have Harrell’s size. The redshirt sophomore from Huffman, Texas, is 6-foot-4, strong and proved in KU’s spring game he can get up high and make spectacular catches. Harrell seems on target to have a breakthrough season and KU’s offense needs all the weapons it can get while it continues to play catch-up with the rest of the Big 12.

These standouts and others have more chances ahead of them to improve over the course of football’s lengthy offseason, but it’s interesting to see which Jayhawks the coaching staff chose to commend during the spring.

KU football’s spring players of the day

Practice No. 1

  • Offense: Jeremiah Booker, jr., WR

  • Defense: Derrick Neal, sr., CB

  • Special teams: Gabriel Rui, sr., K

Practice No. 2

  • Offense: Hunter Saulsbury, so., OL

  • Defense: Josh Ehambe, jr., DE

  • Special teams: Taylor Martin, jr., RB

Practice No. 3

  • Offense: Taylor Martin, jr., RB

  • Defense: Hasan Defense, so., CB

  • Special teams: Joe Dineen, jr., LB

Practice No. 4

  • Offense: Ben Johnson, sr., TE

  • Defense: Keith Loneker Jr., jr., LB

  • Special teams: Tyler Patrick, jr., WR

Practice No. 5

  • Offense: Reese Randall, jr., RB

  • Defense: Hasan Defense, so., CB

  • Special teams: Kyle Mayberry, so., CB

Practice No. 6

  • Offense: Hakeem Adeniji, so., OL

  • Defense: Osaze Ogbebor, jr., LB

  • Special teams: Bryce Torneden, so., S

Practice No. 7

  • Offense: Ryan Schadler, jr., WR

  • Defense: Dorance Armstrong Jr., jr., DE

  • Special teams: Gabriel Rui, sr., K

Practice No. 8

  • Offense: Evan Fairs, so., WR / Hakeem Adeniji, so., OL

  • Defense: Maciah Long, so., DE

  • Special teams: Ryan Renick, RS-fr., TE

Practice No. 9

  • Offense: Steven Sims Jr., jr., WR

  • Defense: Joe Dineen, jr., LB

  • Special teams: Dorance Armstrong Jr., jr., DE

Practice No. 10

  • Offense: Bobby Hartzog Jr., sr., WR

  • Defense: Daniel Wise, jr., DT

  • Special teams: J.J. Holmes, jr., DT

Practice No. 11

  • Offense: Chase Harrell, so., WR

  • Defense: Isi Holani, sr., DT

  • Special teams: Bobby Hartzog Jr., sr., WR

Practice No. 12

(Walk-through day before spring game — no awards given)

Practice No. 13 — spring game

  • Offense: Ben Johnson, sr., TE / Peyton Bender, jr., QB

  • Defense: Josh Ehambe, jr., DE

  • Special teams: Cole Moos, sr., P

Practice No. 14

  • Offense: Jeremiah Booker, jr., WR

  • Defense: Joe Dineen, jr., LB

  • Special teams: Chase Harrell, so., WR

Practice No. 15

(Results not available)

Player of the Day Standings

Dineen (3)

Adeniji (2)

Armstrong (2)

Booker (2)

Defense (2)

Ehambe (2)

Harrell (2)

Hartzog (2)

B. Johnson (2)

Martin (2)

Rui (2)

Bender

Fairs

Holani

Holmes

Loneker

Long

Mayberry

Moos

Neal

Ogbebor

Patrick

Randall

Renick

Saulsbury

Schadler

Sims

Torneden

Wise

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KU football’s victory drill designed to set tone for competitive practices this spring

Kansas running back Taylor Martin tears up the field during spring football practice on Thursday, March 30, 2017.

Kansas running back Taylor Martin tears up the field during spring football practice on Thursday, March 30, 2017. by Nick Krug

David Beaty calls it the victory drill — or V-drill for short.

It’s a staple during the early portion of Kansas football’s practices this spring and it’s a way to get all the Jayhawks engaged immediately following stretches and warm-ups.

A quarterback stands at the back of a long, straight line of offensive and defensive players with the ball in a hand-off position, as they all wait for a coach’s whistle. Once that signal sounds, the QB gives the football up to a running back. In front of the ball carrier, players fight to win one-on-one blocks at three different levels:

  • Offensive lineman vs. interior defensive lineman

  • Tight end or O-lineman vs. defensive end or linebacker

  • Receiver vs. defensive back

What begins as an ordered row of players instantly mutates into chaos, as the running back reads the blocks playing out in front of him and finds the most direct route to the end zone from 20 yards out.

“We want to stress a fast start in everything we do, and I think that kind of lets us set our pads at the beginning of practice,” Beaty said of the drill. “And really it’s more than just running into each other. There’s very direct things that we’re working on.”

At Thursday’s practice, the most experienced running back on the roster, junior Taylor Martin, looked most comfortable finding holes and lanes in the V-drill, juking and speeding his way to the goal line. But, as Beaty said, the exercise benefits players at all positions and and brings an intense vibe to the beginning of practice.

“It’s hard to simulate that unless you’re in a play,” the third-year KU head coach said, “unless you’re in that type of a drill.”

It gets the Jayhawks’ competitive juices flowing and allows the coaches, who get as fired up as their pupils during the competition, to dive into their day with some productive analysis and critiquing.

“We’re not looking to take a guy to the ground. We’re really looking for technique and trying to stay safe,” Beaty said, “but still get that physicality to start the practice.”

— Check out some footage of the V-drill from Thursday’s practice — the fifth of 15 this spring — below.

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A peek inside Kansas football’s first spring practice of 2017 season

The first practice leading up to the 2017 Kansas football season came indoors Monday, when head coach David Beaty’s Jayhawks began their spring at KU’s Anschutz Pavilion.

The first of 15 sessions over the course of March and April marked the first time junior quarterback Peyton Bender (No. 7) and new offensive coordinator Doug Meacham were involved with a Jayhawks practice.

— Players featured in today’s practice video include: Bender, QB No. 18 Tyriek Starks, QB No. 9 Carter Stanley, WR No. 2 Daylon Charlot, WR No. 3 Chase Harrell, WR No. 11 Steven Sims Jr., and offensive linemen No. 72 Charles Baldwin, No. 73 Larry Hughes, No. 69 Mesa Ribordy, No. 65 Jayson Rhodes and No. 78 Hakeem Adeniji.

What stood out

Media don’t get to see much of KU’s football practices, but in the time allotted Monday, I spent all 20 minutes or so watching the offensive players — primarily their interactions with Meacham.

The former co-coordinator of TCU’s offense is intense during practice and knows what he wants to see. When a player or two didn’t live up to Meacham’s expectations he let them know about it, unconcerned that this was the team’s first practice together and some might consider that a reasonable excuse for not getting through everything flawlessly.

We only saw KU go through very basic drills, but Bender, Stanley and Starks all put good zip on their throws as they worked with what projects as a talented receiving group.

I only saw a little bit of the offensive line work, but one can’t help noticing the O-line seems to look a little more like a Big 12 unit each year — meaning the players responsible for protecting the QB appear collectively larger than their predecessors.

From left to right, here are the current listed measurements (KU hasn't officially updated them for 2017 as of yet) for what figures to be assistant Zach Yenser’s top five:

  • LT Hakeem Adeniji: 6-4, 265 sophomore

  • LG Jayson Rhodes: 6-4, 307 senior

  • C Mesa Ribordy: 6-4, 290 sophomore

  • RG Larry Hughes: 6-7, 311 junior

  • RT Charles Baldwin: 6-5, 305 junior

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Clint Bowen details what’s in store for KU’s defense this spring

Kansas head coach Clint Bowen tries to keep his defense fired up after a Baylor score during the second quarter at McLane Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 in Waco, Texas.

Kansas head coach Clint Bowen tries to keep his defense fired up after a Baylor score during the second quarter at McLane Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

Kansas football assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Clint Bowen knows this spring will be critical in the overall development of the 2015 Jayhawks, even if there are more things on his to-do list than can possibly be accomplished for a young, rebuilding unit.

After going through just four practices, Bowen — also the safeties coach — sat down with the media Wednesday to discuss the state of the defense.

Here are some of the highlights:

The up-tempo approach of KU’s new Air Raid offense also benefits the defensive side of the ball.

With NCAA rules dictating how much time players can spend on the field, coaches have to find ways to get in as many plays as possible in the short amount of time they are out there.

“With what they’re doing offensively, it allows it to just play out naturally.”

When installing the defense this spring, there are one of two ways to approach it:

No. 1: Put in a few things and master those.

No. 2: Examine as much of it as you can “real fast” and hope enough of it sticks.

The Jayhawks went with the latter, and are putting in as much as they can early, teaching it and getting it all on video. They recycle through that install again so the players can retain more each time through.

“It allows you to practice situational football a lot faster — right away, going into your first scrimmage.”

The Jayhawks will get into these kind of situations in the next few practices: third downs, red zone, two-minute drills.

Through four practices, Bowen wasn’t ready to say any particular individuals have stood out, because the defense really has to start over as a group with the talent it lost from the 2014 season (see: Ben Heeney, JaCorey Shepherd, etc.).

The players that are here need to take pride in giving the unit an identity.

“At this point in time, I think they’re all in the same boat of trying to figure it out.”

Bowen just wants them being physical, playing hard and learning.

On the roster as a whole, and on the defensive side of the ball, KU lacks depth. Bowen feels pretty good about what kind of 2-deep chart they will have, but the trouble comes beyond that.

Sub-packages, like nickel or dime defenses?

“Those things are out right now.”

Bowen says you don’t want to wear out all of your top players by making them play different packages.

So this is the mindset they ned to embrace:

“Only 11 of them can play at one time, so as long as we’ve got 11, we’re good.”

Kansas co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry grits his teeth as he prepares to give some criticism during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

Kansas co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry grits his teeth as he prepares to give some criticism during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. by Nick Krug

With the new defensive coaches on the staff, they are all getting used to each other’s approaches and tendencies.

“We’ve got a great group of guys on the staff, and everyone’s working for the common goal.”

Bowen and new co-defensive coordinator Kenny Perry were acquaintances before, knew each other. Now that they’re working together they’re meshing.

Bowen said defensive back coaches have an “alligator hunter mentality”: There’s no such thing as a “pretty good” alligator hunter.

“That’s where you live as a DB coach. I think we always live on edge.”

Perry is intense because a mistake in the secondary means a TD for the opponent. You have to coach with a paranoia about yourself when working in the secondary.

Junior corner Brandon Stewart, who just arrived on campus before the spring semester started, seems to have some skills: good feet, awareness, instincts and “can run a little bit.”

The departure of would-be senior safety Isaiah Johnson was “a disappointment, but not a surprise.”

Now that David Beaty is here leading the program, it’s easier to communicate with high school coaches in Texas.

A lot of those high school coaches in Texas are legitimate friends of Beaty’s. That helps in recruiting.

As new coaches get to know each other, that’s usually an easy transition because they’re all in this profession to improve their program and help the players develop.

A lot of KU coaches are still in the process of relocating their families to Lawrence, buying houses and those types of things, so more of that camaraderie that comes with the job will show up even more once everyone is settled.

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Charlie Weis, KU football ready for spring

Believe it or not, spring football starts at Kansas University this week.

It might even be pleasant outside by the time the Jayhawks start practicing on Thursday.

With 15 spring practices coming up before KU's spring game on April 12, head coach Charlie Weis fielded questions from the media Monday morning. Here are some of the highlights in bullet-point form:

Everything is settled with KU's staff, and the schedule for spring is all set. They kick it off on Thursday with practice, then have another on Sunday. They'll have four before spring break. Their fifth practice will be on Sunday, March 23, when they get back from spring break. Then they're at it regularly until the spring game. KU would like to start spring football later, but they would miss out on seeing some junior college players at the end of April.

There are a handful of walk-ons who will participate in spring football.

• On working in new coaches: You have to do some extra work. When Weis was an assistant, he always wanted to be one step ahead of the posse. Being that it's a new system going in for the offense, WR coach Erick Kiesau, who joined the staff less than two weeks ago, won't be too far behind. Even though terminology has been meshed between Weis's system and the one new coordinator John Reagan ran at Rice, there is enough newness to it that it should be easy for Kiesau to catch up.

• The most important thing Kansas needs to do is score more points. Weis wants to identify this spring the guys who can make plays on offense and figure out by August how to put them in position to do that on a regular basis. They definitely will hand it off a lot, but KU needs passing game efficiency and production, too.

• On timeline for picking a starting QB: Weis won't mandate who plays; he will have some input with Reagan, but the competition has to play out. ... It's never a good thing if it goes deep into August — that means you don't have a QB. Usually the cream rises to the top, and he thinks that will happen.

• Evaluating in the spring: By the fourth day, they are going full speed. That Thursday before spring break when all the players are thinking about their break "I'm gonna wear them out." Players will start to prove their worth then.

• On senior QB Jake Heaps: What he has that no one else has is experience. That goes a long way. And while that's a plus, when Reagan sits down with the staff, they will pick a starter based on who puts them in position to score touchdowns.

• There is no way right now to know how much a player has progressed from the end of the season to now. ... Quarterbacks are usually hard workers, so you usually don't have to worry about them improving.

• Sophomore QB Montell Cozart overthrew a lot of receivers when he played last fall. That was probably nerves. A lot of that comes with being a freshman. That's not an excuse, but a fact. Cozart was recruited to play QB, and there is good competition. Whoever wins the position will have to earn it. Cozart is a QB; KU is not necessarily interested in moving him to another position if he doesn't end up being the starter.

• Running back is a deep position for KU. But there are a lot of players with a lot to prove. It should be a position with a lot of talent. That's what it looks like at this time.

• On WR transfer senior Nick Harwell: You try not to get so excited when you see his competitiveness and ability. He doesn't get beat in drills and wants to go against the best defender every time. He is the kind of competitor Weis is used to dealing with.

• Kansas is "pretty salty" on the defensive line. KU has a plan in place. There is a solid 2-deep-plus. Weis isn't saying they're the '85 Chicago Bears, but they are solid. He'll stay in their ears about how people outside the program think they're bums.

• Junior defensive lineman Andrew Bolton's not the guy you want to fight. Because you will lose. Bolton is what football players are supposed to look like. Weis is looking forward to his two years at KU. He is raw, hasn't played in a year. There will be some growing pains.

• Weis never thought he would be the WR coach. That was a temporary fix. He can't imagine with his "nimbleness" he would have been out there displaying techniques too well.

• Weis didn't come to Kansas to retire. He came here to turn it from a losing program to a winning program. Now that he doesn't have offensive coordinator responsibilities, he thinks he is in the best place to make the program reach its peak. He had to "fire" the offensive coordinator, because the Jayhawks weren't scoring enough points. He wanted to bring someone in, Reagan, who is used to scoring in the 40s.

• Shutting down senior WR Tony Pierson was the right thing to do last fall. They might bring him along slowly in the spring due to his concussion history. He will have to get hit sometimes but they don't want it to be a free-for-all. At the end of the year, Pierson didn't want to have to sit. But it wasn't his decision. Three games in, he was on his way to 1,000 yards. When he got slammed vs. Texas Tech, that was basically the end of his season. He could be very productive this coming fall. He's clearly the fastest guy on offense.

• Who can be leaders for KU on offense? Senior RBs Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox could be in that position. But Harwell's personality makes him a natural fit. He is on his teammates when they slack off. That's a pleasure to be around.

• Redshirt freshman O-lineman Joey Bloomfield could play guard or tackle. He'll probably start off inside at guard, and KU will give him a good look.

• Junior Kevin Short is listed as a NB/CB. He has potential to be a weapon in the secondary.

• On junior RB Darian Miller's off-field/personal issues that came up last fall. It's best to keep it that way — personal/private. KU wants to keep working with him as they would with anybody. The best thing for him will be to have his issues as minimal as possible by the fall.

• Junior "buck" Marcus Jenkins-Moore might look a little rusty/slow in the spring. Only because he is coming off a knee injury. He will look a lot different by the fall. He will actually get better as time goes on and not wear down.

• On moving senior Victor Simmons to buck: They are trying to get more small guys on the field. Not more big guys. They need a guy like Simmons on the field, and part of the game plan.

• Sophomore kicker Matt Wyman has all the tools to be a top line kicker. But a 50-50 kicker is no good for anybody. That game-winner he made last season was both a good thing and a bad thing. The team won, but then he thought he was good and forgot what got him there. The job isn't automatically his, but he can make every kick and is capable of being a higher-percentage kicker.

• KU has a chance to have more edge pressure next season. Ideally, they don't want to have to blitz all the time to get pressure. KU might have a couple more guys to make that happen in 2014.

• Weis doesn't look at redshirt freshman O-lineman Joe Gibson (from Rockhurst, in Kansas City, Mo.) as a walk-on. He is a guy who could play here and be a scholarship player before he leaves KU.

• Junior O-lineman Damon Martin will start at one position or another. He has improved and he is the strongest of all the linemen. He could play tackle or guard. If the three guards are the top five linemen on the team, one of them will play tackle. None of the five best linemen will be sitting on the bench. The guys that need to be on the field can learn to play different positions if necessary.

• Returning senior TE Jimmay Mundine is clearly the best player at his position. Redshirt freshman Ben Johnson hasn't played a down, but he has a huge upside and has a chance to get on the field. Johnson and Harwell were the two players always making noise on the practice squads.

— Click here to listen to the full Q&A session: Weis addresses media prior to start of spring football

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