Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”
Denver Broncos fan favorite Chris Harris Jr., a Pro-Bowl cornerback, has been proving his doubters wrong from the minute he arrived in The Mile High City.
Undrafted after starring at Kansas for four seasons, Harris had no choice but to take on a me-against-the-world mentality, because the NFL culture didn’t accept him. The 5-foot-10, 199-pound corner wrote about that battle extensively for The Players’ Tribune on Thursday, in a piece titled: Don’t Call Me Underrated.
His account kicks off with a reminder about his KU career — Harris started for four seasons, even as a freshman on a team that would win the Orange Bowl. But all 32 NFL teams passed on the experienced corner in the 2011 draft.
Upon joining the Broncos, Harris found out breaking through as an undrafted rookie would be even harder than he expected.
“There’s a huge stigma to going undrafted,” Harris wrote at ThePlayersTribune.com. “Not a lot of people talk about it, but there is. For a guy who’s drafted, and in particular drafted high, you’re allowed to make so many more mistakes. People want you to succeed, and any shortcomings you have are viewed as temporary. An ‘adjustment phase.’
“When you’re undrafted, you just don’t have that same margin for error. You have to go above and beyond — and then above and beyond that.”
Harris goes on to explain how other team’s coaches, players and some media members hope to see undrafted players fall flat and make a mistake.
“Because if you do make one, they can think to themselves, ‘Oh. That’s why he went undrafted. Okay. We’re fine. We did our jobs.’”
Harris provides an interesting perspective on the subject — one he would know far more about than those of us watching on Sundays do. He paints the NFL as quite a cliquish environment.
Along those lines, consider another point brought up by Harris. Pro Football Focus rated him the No. 4 overall player in the NFL for 2014. The guys ahead of him? J.J. Watt, Aaron Rodgers and Justin Houston.
Later, the NFL Network released a top-100 list. Somehow Harris didn’t even make the cut.
That makes almost as much sense as the Broncos’ official online store not selling Harris T-shirts (which it doesn’t).
Appropriately, Harris closes his story by pointing out the sure-fire way to get people to remember him: “Win the Super Bowl.”
You can watch Harris — with fellow KU product Aqib Talib — in prime time tonight, when his Broncos (1-0) play at Kansas City (1-0) on Thursday Night Football (CBS and NFL Network).
With the start of yet another KU football season set to kickoff tomorrow, that means it's time for the staff at KUsports.com to start dusting off the cobwebs and trying to remember what life on game days is like.
Good news there: Things are going to be new and improved this season — at least for us.
Beginning with the KU football opener against South Dakota State — 11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium — we will be unveiling our new format for live game coverage, which promises to bring our readers a much more comprehensive look at what's happening with the 'Hawks on game days.
For the most part, things will be the same as they ever were in terms of the user experience. You'll still go to KUsports.com to follow our coverage team from well before kickoff until well after the game ends. And, as was the case before, this will be your community, a user-driven environment for Jayhawk fans to come together and track the good and the bad of what's going on with their team on the field and court.
But from this point on, the environment will have a fresh, new look and we will be able to more quickly and more easily incorporate all kinds of content from around the Internet, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and various other social media sites.
In addition, we'll also be able to integrate live polls, threaded comments, automated Twitter feeds, video and photo slide shows and much, much more, all within the framework of a more functional and aesthetically pleasing home base. There will also be a Big 12 scoreboard pinned to the top of the stream so that everyone can follow the scores of all the day's games.
As always, Tom Keegan, Matt Tait and Benton Smith will be providing live coverage and analysis of what's happening in front of them and also will continue to interact with our readers throughout the games. The extra content is merely that: Bonus nuggets from others who are closely following their favorite team elsewhere.
We have been working diligently over the summer months to improve our live coverage gameday blog and make it more all-inclusive and an aggregation of more of the things going on during each game, both live from the event AND elsewhere on the web.
Some of the changes we added last year, which included placing a stream of the #kufball and #kubball Tweets and the giving you the ability to Tweet your posts from our gameday blog to Twitter, have been expanded upon this year. And one of the biggest improvements is that our live coverage will now work on your smartphone!
A great deal of the enhancements in technology are actually on the back end and make it more efficient and functional for Benton, Matt, Tom and others to be able to participate with more of their content appearing in the live stream without taking away from all the other things they have to do during the actual game.
In addition, the improvements/enhancements that we made over the summer months for all of you should allow the stream to function much more quickly and consistently no matter how many Jayhawk fans join in the fun.
We are super excited about these changes and improvements and continuing to evolve our stream of posts and comments even further as the season(s) go on, so please do not hesitate to give us your feedback and suggestions about the new set up.
See you tomorrow at the game. As always, we'll get things fired up an hour or two before kickoff.
We'll stick with offense to crack into the Top 5, where a newcomer who had a fantastic preseason camp sits as one of the most important players in KU's new Air Raid offense.
His name is Ke'aun Kinner (pronounced Key-On) and he's the latest back in a long line of Jayhawks hoping to keep KU's recent success running the ball rolling.
Here's a look:
5. Ke’aun Kinner, 5-foot-9, 180-pound Jr. Running Back
To look at the 5-foot-9 running back generously listed at 180 pounds is to wonder whether he could withstand the pounding as a featured back. Nothing new about that and Kinner always answers the call. In a game for Little Elm High in Texas, he carried it 55 times and gained 332 yards.
Earning National Junior College Athletic Association offensive player of the year honors last season, Kinner dashed and darted his way to 1,696 yards and 22 touchdowns on 253 carries.
Clearly, he’s more durable than he looks. If not for falling short of qualifying academically out of high school, Kinner might have been recruited by all the Texas heavyweights. Injuries have eaten into KU’s depth here, so a healthy season from Kinner would ease those concerns. He’s a very talented back.
Running backs coach Reggie Mitchell called Kinner a mixture of former Jayhawks Tony Pierson and James Sims and if that's anywhere close to accurate you can see Kinner's enormous potential.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
The Kansas football team and first-year head coach David Beaty are less than two weeks away from the start of a new season and a new era. But when one considers the long road ahead for the first-time head coach and the program in general, it’s hard to forget KU got to this point with the help of former head coach Charlie Weis.
ESPN’s Jake Trotter made that abundantly clear in a piece examining the state of KU football, referring to Weis’s two-plus seasons at KU — when the Jayhawks went 6-22 — as “utterly ruinous.”
Trotter points out KU would have been much better off hiring Gus Malzahn, then offensive coordinator at Auburn, instead of Weis.
“For Kansas, the Malzahn match made too much sense,” Trotter writes. “But in a defining decision, the Jayhawks changed course in the final moments and opted to go with the biggest name they could get.”
Malzahn, of course, went on to coach at Arkansas State for one season before returning to Auburn as head coach. The Tigers went 12-2 his first year and 8-5 in 2014. Who knows how he would have fared in Lawrence. But you get the feeling the guy could (eventually) win anywhere.
Maybe in a few years, once Beaty and his staff have time to recruit and train multiple batches of recruiting classes, he can win at Kansas, too — just like his former boss, Mark Mangino.
For the time being, the upbeat Beaty and his energy-filled assistants will have to begin a slow, steady rebuilding project this fall. A one- or two-win season seems likely to be in play at KU. As ESPN points out, since 2000, 20 major-conference teams have finished with one victory or fewer — including Weis’s 2012 Jayhawks. Trotter says Beaty has a “herculean task to keep the 2015 Jayhawks from joining that ignominious club.”
As you know by now, the lack of marquee returning starters and a deficiency in scholarship players are what make KU’s current situation so daunting.
And those are the reason’s Weis’s name will continue to come up as Beaty’s Jayhawks compete this season.
Back to the list after some significant news out of preseason camp, we find one of the biggest dudes on the team who plays one of the most important positions in the lineup at No. 7.
Here's a look.
7. Larry Mazyck, 6-foot-8, 343-pound Sr. Offensive Lineman
At his size and blessed with long arms and big hands, Mazyck (rhymes with physique) has the look of an NFL prospect. Through this past spring’s practices, Mazyck hadn’t brought the passion or attention to detail to suggest that he was terribly interested in making a career of playing football. The most passion he showed last season came when he talked about how he was “unstoppable” as a basketball player.
Dogged by false-start penalties throughout the year in 2014, the hope for Mazyck in 2015 is that this season’s simpler offense will make it easier for Mazyck to play with the discipline needed to avoid such penalties.
Mazyck has done a nice job of losing weight and was able to withstand the challenging summer workouts that included more running than he ever had been asked to do.
A native of Washington, D.C., Mazyck is in his sixth season since graduating from Friendship Academy. He spent a year at a prep school, a year at Div. I New Mexico, two years at Iowa Western Community College (one as a redshirt), and is in his second season with Kansas. If the motor doesn’t rev consistently throughout fall camp, Beaty won’t hesitate to relegate him to a reserve role by handing the job to a smaller, hungrier player, even if he can’t match Mazyck’s potential.
It’s late in the game for Mazyck to earn anything with potential. If he can bring senior urgency and begin to tap that potential, he can have a significant impact in the passing and running games.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
Today was a mixed bag on the former Kansas University golfer front.
The day started with bad news, when Gary Woodland scratched from the PGA Championship field at 5:30 a.m. because of a neck injury, three hours before he was scheduled to tee off with Francesco Molinari of Italy and Marc Warren of Scotland. First-alternate Carl Pettersson of Sweden took Woodland’s place in the tournament being played at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
Elsewhere, former KU All-American Chris Thompson continued his hot week with a strong opening round in the Web.com tournament for which he qualified Monday.
Thompson shot a five-under par 67 in the Price Cutter Charity Championship at Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield, Mo. He finished his round by sinking a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th hole. He earned his spot in the field by firing a 64 in Monday’s qualifier.
Thompson’s consistent ball-striking today enabled him to average 291.5 yards off the tee without a drive of longer than 295 yards.
Thompson, who tees off Friday at 2:25, carded 14 pars, three birdies and an eagle. Thompson is in a 20-way tie for 16th, five strokes behind leader Chase Wright. The winner of the event with a total purse of $675,000 will earn $121,500.
Woodland’s chance to compete for the $1.8-million first-place prize and a career-changing victory died when his neck forced him to withdraw in the morning.
Heading into the week, Woodland ranked 27th on the PGA tour money list with $2,448,415, 31st in the FedEx Cup standings and 37th in the World Golf Rankings.
Another player that figures to play an important role in KU's success on defense this season falls in our countdown at No. 13.
Because the Jayhawks are unproven and inexperienced in the secondary and at linebacker, it's going to be important for the guys up front to get after the quarterback on a regular basis.
That's where this guy comes in. Here's a look:
13. Anthony Olobia, 6-foot-5, 241-pound Jr. Defensive End
A defensive end with good size and speed from Renton, Washington, Olobia spent two seasons at Arizona Western Community College and spent his first season at Kansas as a red-shirt.
Olobia plays KU’s deepest position but is too talented to keep on the sideline. His length and quickness off the line of scrimmage give him the potential to terrorize quarterbacks. Olobia had 20 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and eight sacks during his sophomore juco season. His play drew recruiting interest from Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Utah.
KU’s defensive tackles lack size and strength, so Olobia and fellow edge pass rusher Damani Mosby can’t count on the quarterback getting flushed in their direction after the pocket collapses. That’s OK. Two talented pass-rushers coming off the edge can cause even more panic and it looks as if Kansas has two of them to complement third-year starter Ben Goodman, an all-around solid D-End.
Before sitting out last season, Olobia, the No. 2 rated juco D-End in his class, arrived with a big name and a ton of hype. After adjusting to KU and being fueled by his year off, the athletic defender said this spring he was ready to prove he was worth the hype.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
Today's entry on the list of most crucial Jayhawks for the 2015 football season has a little local flavor.
Healthy and ready for his second season in the program, former Free State High standout Joe Dineen has moved back to defense and is ready to play.
When he arrived at KU he walked the line between staying lean and playing safety or bulking up and playing linebacker. After a year doing whatever it took for the team, the guy who earned the nickname "Local Boy" from the media is back on defense and has the KU coaching staff excited about his potential.
Joe Dineen, 6-foot-2, 212-pound Soph. Linebacker
The injuries mounted at running back, including a pair of season-enders in two days, and Kansas turned to the local boy freshman to fill out the depth chart. Joe Dineen was recruited as a defensive player and even though his offensive position in high school was quarterback, he had the talent to project as a running back.
He didn’t play much as a freshman, but now that he’s on defense and has added considerable muscle to his broad frame, look for defensive coordinator Clint Bowen to get Dineen on the field. He could play anywhere from nickelback to outside linebacker, where his speed, nose for the ball and attack mentality all will come in handy.
Dineen speed enables him to drop back into coverage and his naturally aggressive personality gives him a chance to develop into a force who can make plays at and behind the line of scrimmage.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, Dineen, a sophomore, has the frame to pack on another 15, 20 pounds by the time he uses up his eligibility at Kansas. A graduate of nearby Free State High, Dineen was named Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Kansas in 2013. He wears No. 29 in honor of the late Andre Maloney, a high school foe who was a member of the same KU recruiting class.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
At No. 15 on our countdown we find the second tight end to crack the list as former Florida transfer Kent Taylor lands in the middle of the list.
Taylor sat out last season after transferring from UF and is now learning his third offense in four years. How quickly he picks that up and shows the ability to run things without having to think too much could determine how much the tall, lean and athletic tight end plays during his first year eligible with Kansas.
Here's a deeper look at Taylor:
15. Kent Taylor, 6-foot-5, 220-pound Jr. Tight End
A four-star recruit at tight end when he signed with Florida in 2012, Taylor has played in six college football games, all in 2012.
He redshirted his sophomore season at Florida and then had to sit out last season per transfer rules. He showed during the spring that he has skills as a pass-catcher, but so far two things have held him back from developing into the every-down tight end so many powerhouse schools thought he would become when they recruited him.
First, he has had difficulty putting on weight. He measures 6-foot-5 inches and weighs 220 pounds. Second, he has not shown a passion for blocking, a huge part of that position. He does not have wide-receiver speed. At this point, he’s likely to back up Ben Johnson.
He has shown the potential to make plays in the passing game and create match-up problems down the field with his size and athleticism so it's possible that even in a limited role, Taylor could make an impact when he is on the field.
Teammates say he's a funny dude who likes to clown around and is very hard on himself because he feels the urgency to make his mark and has such a strong desire to win. Despite having little experience, he did play in the Sugar Bowl following the 2012 season and that fact gives him a taste of college football that nearly everyone else on this roster can't come close to matching.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
With Ben Heeney and Jake Love both no longer in the KU lineup, the Jayhawks are looking for someone to step up at linebacker.
Courtney Arnick returns as the most solid and accomplished backer of the bunch, and Schyler Miles and Kyron Watson also return with experience. But both have question marks of their own entering 2015, which leaves the door open for any number of other linebackers to play their way into a serious role in the middle of the KU defense.
One such guy who could fit that mold falls in at No. 17 on our list. Here's a look:
17. Marcquis Roberts, 6-foot-1, 216-pound Jr. Linebacker
The South Carolina graduate transfer missed his first two seasons of college football because of injuries (shoulder surgery; torn acl) and encountered mixed results in the two years he played for the Gamecocks. He started nine games in his first season and six in his second.
At 6-foot-1 and 216 pounds, Roberts is on the small side for a linebacker but compensates with solid speed.
Given the Jayhawks’ serious lack of depth at linebacker, a big season from Roberts could be just the boost that position group needs.
A native of Powder Springs, Georgia, likely will be granted a sixth year of eligibility after this season because both of his red-shirts were of the medical variety.
A three-star linebacker in the Class of 2011 according to Rivals.com, Roberts also received offers from Mississippi State, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Cincinnati and others before choosing South Carolina.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
It's back to the secondary for today's entry on the list of most crucial Jayhawks for the 2015 season.
This Kansas University football player has flown under the radar for much of his career but, as a junior, definitely could be poised to play his way into a much more important role this season.
He has experience, is put together well and is a smart player with great athleticism.
Here's a little more on No. 19.
19. Tevin Shaw, 5-foot-11, 194-pound Jr. Safety
With 2012 signing day just days away, Shaw called Iowa to inform coaches that he was going to sign with the Hawkeyes, who had been recruiting him as a running back. It was at that point that he was informed the school had run out of scholarships. Smaller schools, such as Temple, had moved on at that point, leaving Shaw scrambling.
Kansas saved the day for Shaw, who had rushed for 1,596 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior, leading Piscataway High to second consecutive New Jersey state title.
KU decided to play him at safety, where he didn’t stand out in practice during his red-shirt season. He played well on special teams as a red-shirt freshman and made a big step forward last season, starting eight games at nickelback. Shaw is coming off a strong spring and is expected to start in the secondary.
Based on his success in high school, Shaw could be available for emergency action at running back, where injuries have left KU extremely thin.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
The beginning of another week brings the latest entry in this summer's edition of the most crucial Jayhawks for the upcoming football season.
With the lower portion of the list packed with defensive backs, it's time to encounter the second offensive lineman in the series, as a versatile junior-college transfer lands on the list at No. 20.
Here's a look.
Be sure to check the links below for Nos. 25-21 and check back throughout the week as we continue to count down the Top 20.
20. De’Andre Banks, 6-foot-3, 309-pound Jr. offensive lineman
The junior-college transfer who participated in spring football impressed coaches with his aptitude and attitude.
He responded well to his first taste of Div. I conditioning and showed a great work ethic in practicing snaps after practice in case he is needed at center.
Banks originally committed to Louisiana Lafayette out of Trinity Valley Community College, but changed his mind when Kansas offered a scholarship. He said he never had experienced the type of workouts that strength and conditioning coach Je’Ney Jackson put the team through during spring football.
His body changed, looked less puffy by the end of the spring. Listed at 6-foot-3, 309 pounds, Banks weighed at least 20 pounds more than that when he arrived at Kansas. As is the case with most of KU’s offensive linemen, guard is his natural position, but that doesn’t mean all of his playing time will come there.
Banks, who’s from the same hometown (Killeen, Texas) but a different high school from injured KU quarterback Michael Cummings, comes to Kansas from Trinity Valley Community College, where he teamed with promising defensive backs Bazie Bates and Brandon Stewart.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
1:45 p.m. Update — By Benton Smith
TEXAS COACH CHARLIE STRONG
Charlie Strong’s first season in charge of the heralded Texas football program didn’t live up to his — or any of the Longhorns’ — expectations. UT did win enough games to gain bowl eligibility, but Texas finished 2014 with a 6-7 mark, and a 31-7 loss to Arkansas in the Texas Bowl.
The Longhorns also got blown out in their regular-season finale, versus TCU, so Strong felt just plain angry about the way his first year in Austin turned out.
Strong said every person involved in the program enters 2015 as fired up about getting Texas back to its glory days as he is. The UT coach shared he spoke with the team’s seniors and it came up that they have yet to experience a double-digit win season.
“So it's more about them,” Strong said. “They want to show that what it's all about and what the university is all about and just how they want to go out and compete.”
From the head coach’s discussions with strength coach Pat Moorer this summer, he thinks numerous Longhorns are taking it upon themselves to step up and get UT headed in the right direction.
“But you know what, when you're at a place like here, it should be like that,” the second-year Texas coach said. “We shouldn't even have to have this conversation. It should get where each and every year we talk about competing.”
12:10 p.m. Update — By Benton Smith
OKLAHOMA STATE COACH MIKE GUNDY
In 2014, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy decided to pull the trigger and insert a true freshman at quarterback late in the season. While he, of course, wishes the three games Mason Rudolph played hadn’t cost him a year of eligibility, Gundy still thinks it was the right move for the program then and now, and the Cowboys are seeing dividends from the move.
OSU went 7-6 overall last fall and 4-5 in the Big 12, but it won two of its last three games — including a win over Washington in the TicketCity Cactus Bowl — with first-year QB Rudolph on the field. The team’s sudden late-season starter threw for 853 yards and six touchdowns (four interceptions) in those three games.
The way the Cowboys ended the season, Gundy said, led the staff to go ahead and name Rudolph the starter for 2015 long ago, even though there are other options on the roster, including J.W. Walsh. OSU’s head coach said the player who would have been a red-shirt freshman this season looks much different in his second summer in the program, and Rudolph is working hard and showing signs of toughness.
11:47 a.m. Update — By Matt Tait
More leftover KU nuggets from Monday Fun Day in Big D...
• KU coach David Beaty said that senior Ben Goodman was “by far” the best leader the Jayhawks have on the roster, but that does not mean Goodman is the only leader. Late in the breakout sessions, I caught up with sophomore tight end Ben Johnson and asked him to rattle off the names of a few players who had emerged as leaders throughout the spring and offseason. After tipping his head toward Goodman as a somewhat obvious answer, Johnson listed senior wide receiver Tre' Parmalee, juco running back transfer Ke'aun Kinner, junior linebacker Courtney Arnick and junior quarterback Montell Cozart as some of the team's best leaders. Johnson also said he had done his best to fill the role vacated by Jimmay Mundine in terms of leading the tight ends and leading by example whenever possible.
• One other interesting note about leaders, Beaty said Michael Cummings has maintained a role as one of the team's best leaders, even while recovering from ACL surgery. “The day after he had surgery (in mid-June), he hobbled up to my office to talk about how he could help the team,” Beaty recalled. “We didn't have to talk about it because he already knew and had it in his mind, but I told him that day that the key now is for him to find a way to still help this team. And he has. He always has his arm around one of the younger guys out there and is trying to make this team better.”
• In the name-flying-under-the-radar category, it might be time to start looking a little more closely at red-shirt freshman defensive tackle Daniel Wise. There's a serious opportunity for some unproven guys to step up on the interior of the defensive line for the Jayhawks this fall and Goodman said he thought Wise, 6-foot-3, 271 pounds, was a guy who could definitely make some noise and hold his own in there. Another guy Goodman mentioned was senior Kapil Fletcher (6-3, 271), who played seven games a season ago after transferring to KU from Hartnell College.
• Speaking of D-Tackles, Goodman said he was not worried at all about those guys (and others) being able to handle the middle of the trenches for the KU defense this fall. “I played in there last year, out of position, at 250 pounds and I at least was able to hold my own. So I know those guys, who are around 280 or so, will be fine in there.” Time will tell, but Goodman brings up an interesting point.
• Every Jayhawk in attendance on Monday was asked to give their realistic expectations for the 2015 season. Although none of them gave a specific win total — and why would they? — you could tell that these guys believe they'll be better than people think. And why wouldn't they? From the sound of things, they've definitely been putting in the work it takes to be a successful team, it's just going to come down to the answers to these questions — Do they have enough talent to compete? Will a few guys step up from out of nowhere and make a big impact? And will they have enough depth to handle injuries and fatigue? At least as of now, the answers to those questions all look less than positive, but you can't blame the players themselves for being confident and believing that they can go out there and get the job done. That's an important part of it. How much it matters remains to be seen.
11:35 a.m. Update — By Benton Smith
IOWA STATE COACH PAUL RHOADS
Like Kansas, Iowa State experienced a rough 2014 season. The Cyclones — the only Big 12 team to lose to the Jayhawks last fall — went 2-10.
Seventh-year ISU coach Paul Rhoads had plenty of issues to address in the offseason, and after surrendering 38.8 points a game to its opponents, defensive strides have been one area of focus.
“We’ve been porous, as far as stopping the run,” Rhoads said.
The coach thinks the defensive line will have depth and talent in 2015, though, and Rhoads said the Cyclones have six players returning with starting experience on defense and 10 more who played significant snaps. So he thinks continuity and seasoning will help the progress on that side of the ball.
On offense, the coach pointed out, ISU has 11 players who have previously started. It also will help to have offensive coordinator Mark Mangino, the former KU head coach, back.
“I think Mark has a much better understanding of where the league is at,” Rhoads said, “going into his second season as offensive coordinator.”
11:08 a.m. Update — By Benton Smith
OKLAHOMA COACH BOB STOOPS
Not many football coaches would consider an 8-5 season disappointing. Then again, not many football coaches work at programs such as Oklahoma.
Bob Stoops’ Sooners finished 2014 with fewer than 10 wins for just the second time in the past nine seasons.
“It’s not up to our standards and our expectations as a a program, for sure,” Stoops said of a down year that ended with a 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
OU averaged 36.4 points a game in 2014 and 464.7 yards, but Stoops hopes to put up even larger numbers this year, with new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley (formerly O.C. at ECU) in place. Stoops said the Sooners need to move the ball more consistently and simply show a better ability to put points on the scoreboard.
A reporter asked Stoops if the program is where he wants it to be at right now, and he gave his numerous reasons for feeling optimistic. For starters, he has been at Oklahoma for 17 seasons (and won 168 games), and the Sooners are just a year removed going 11-2 and winning the Sugar Bowl.
“I look around the country, we’re probably not the only team who was 8-5 or 7-6,” Stoops said.
In his time at Oklahoma, the team has finished with 10 or more victories 13 times.
11:03 a.m. Update — By Matt Tait
A few leftover notes from KU's turn at Big 12 media days on Monday...
• Asked what surprised him the most so far about the job and taking over the KU program, KU coach David Beaty said the support and acceptance from the KU fan base had been the most surprising. He's well aware of how rough things have been the past few seasons and he does not blame anyone for being down on the program or taking a wait-and-see approach to being a fan. But he's been incredibly pleased by how welcoming everyone has been and how much so many fans have expressed to him how badly they want KU to have good football again.
• Beaty was asked about whether he thought the Big 12 should expand from 10 teams to 12 and he quickly passed through the topic. He did say that he thought finding schools that were the right fit was the most important factor if the conference were to expand and said he would rather see the conference stay at 10 schools than add just for the sake of adding and getting to some magic number. Asked if he had any schools in mind that he'd like to see the conference go after, he simply said, “No.”
• Asked how he came up with the three players who would represent KU at Big 12 media days this year, Beaty spoke to a team mantra that has become pretty popular in Lawrence and on Twitter this offseason: “They earned it,” he said of Jayhawk representatives Ben Goodman, Ben Johnson and Jordan Shelley-Smith. “If we're gonna talk and say that we're gonna base everything we do on earning it and hard work then we're gonna do it with everything we do. Because if we don't, it's gonna lose it's punch.”
• History and tradition clearly mean so much to Beaty and he's done a lot already to make sure his team understands what came before them and what legacies they're trying to represent and honor. That's why he has made such strong efforts to get so many former players in front of the Jayhawks at practice and things like that and also why he has so regularly emphasized that everything these guys have today — the football complex, the TV exposure, the gear, etc. — has come about because of the blood, sweat and tears of former players who did not have it so good. That even extends to the 2008 Orange Bowl team, which Beaty said was sort of irrelevant to this group initially but no longer is because of the big deal they've made about how special that team was. “We're standing on the shoulders of giants,” Beaty said. “They were in the dungeon and we're in the Taj Mahal. It's important that we honor and appreciate that.”
10:35 a.m. Update — By Benton Smith
BAYLOR COACH ART BRILES
A year ago Baylor football coach Art Briles had an arm he could trust in the Bears’ high-octane offense. But Bryce Petty’s days in a BU uniform are through.
That makes junior Seth Russell the quarterback for what is expected to be one of the nation’s top teams. At this point of Russell’s career, Briles said he doesn’t quite know what he has in the new No. 1 QB, compared to what he knew of Petty at the same stage of his career.
Briles and the Baylor coaches are still trying to figure out how Russell functions as an athlete, how he competes and how he processes it all. As he gets adjusted to his new role in the spotlight, Briles said he wants to make sure Russell doesn’t feel too much pressure.
“You just have to be good,” Briles said. “You don’t have to be great.”
10:00 a.m. Original post — By Benton Smith
We’re back in Dallas for another day of Big 12 football news conferences.
First-year Kansas football coach David Beaty and the Jayhawks went through their media sessions yesterday and have completed their responsibilities, so we’ll share some notes and thoughts that haven’t been addressed yet, as well as the comments of the Big 12 coaches in attendance.
In the meantime, catch up on some of Monday's highlights:
5:05 p.m. Update — By Benton Smith
There aren’t a lot of expectations for Kansas football this season. So Ben Goodman, Jordan Shelley-Smith and Ben Johnson didn’t anticipate hearing a lot of questions about wins or bowl games at Big 12 Media Days.
Goodman said while they respect people’s opinions, given KU’s recent struggles, they also easily keep themselves from feeling negative about outside perceptions.
“We just look at it as motivation, man,” Goodman said.
The Jayhawks know few in the college football world think they are capable of becoming relevant.
“We have to earn it, which is our slogan, but we have to earn people’s respect, too,” Goodman said. “Stay tuned in in Lawrence, and I hope we earn y’all’s respect.”
Since Goodman brought up “earn it,” I asked him how often David Beaty uses the two words.
“He says it a lot,” the senior defensive lineman said, before giving his impression of Beaty, which wasn’t quite as polished as Shelley-Smith’s. “‘Hey, man. Earn it. Earn it, earn it, earn it. Love you guys.’”
Beaty doesn’t mind those type of light-hearted moments, because he wants players enjoying themselves while they work toward restoring the program’s public image.
4:15 p.m. Update — By Benton Smith
The interview portion of the afternoon just wrapped in Dallas, and Jayhawks Ben Goodman, Ben Johnson and Jordan Shelley-Smith, as well as first-year coach David Beaty, spent over an hour and a half answering questions.
One of the highlights of the session had to be junior offensive lineman Shelley-Smith giving his Beaty impression, which of course included the team slogan, "earn it."
12:37 p.m. Update — By Benton Smith
TEXAS TECH COACH KLIFF KINGSBURY
A former quarterback himself, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has two quarterbacks competing to become the Red Raiders’ starter this fall.
Junior Davis Webb and sophomore Patrick Mahomes both have had individual success at times in their careers. Kingsbury said both will need to eliminate negative plays at the QB position for Texas Tech to win more games.
Both showed progress in the spring with ball security, but Kingsbury knows that has to carry over to actual games to mean anything. Whomever is named the starter, he added, won’t see a quick hook when mistakes come.
Kingsbury plans to name a starter “fairly early” in preseason camp, but if an injury takes place after one guy wins the job, he won’t be worried, because he thinks Tech has two players capable of winning games.
12:18 p.m. Update — By Benton Smith
KANSAS STATE COACH BILL SNYDER
After leading his Kansas State football team to a 9-4 record in 2014, coaching legend Bill Snyder heads into preseason camp with significant uncertainty at the most marquee position.
Snyder, who has seven quarterbacks on his K-State roster, said the Wildcats will open practices in a few weeks with four players sharing opportunities to become the starter. Ideally, one will emerge as the clear starter before the season begins.
“I don’t know how fast that will be,” Snyder said. “Right now, they’re all on equal footing.”
When questioned on the possibility of implementing a platoon, or two-quarterback system, Snyder said that won’t be the intent. He doesn’t favor that approach, but he hasn’t ruled it out, either.
One of the four leaders at this juncture is transfer Jonathan Banks, a sophomore from Contra Costa College. But because he joined K-State in the summer, so they haven’t seen him in practices yet.
Freshman QB Zach Davidson red-shirted in 2014. Sophomore Jesse Ertz played in mop-up duty last season. Junior Joe Hubener played in seven games a year ago.
“They’re all good young guys,” Snyder said. “They all care, they’re all good teammates.”
11:33 a.m. Update — By Benton Smith
WEST VIRGINIA COACH DANA HOLGORSEN
Headed into his fourth year coaching in the Big 12, West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen feels pretty confident and comfortable with his team.
Part of those positive vibes come from having more than 50 players who have been on the field in Big 12 football games. And some of the optimism originates from how competitive the Mountaineers were in 2014, when they went 7-6, despite having major issues with giving the ball away.
WVU was 120th in the nation in turnover margin last season, and four of its losses came by 10 or fewer points.
“We know we would’ve put ourselves in a position to win the conference,” Holgorsen said, if the Mountaineers had taken care of the ball.
Holgorsen has been known in his coaching career for his involvement in Air-Raid offenses, and he thinks his West Virginia version will only be as good as its quarterback.
Success with the Air-Raid, the fifth-year WVU coach said, comes down to taking care of the football. The Big 12 has had “tremendous” quarterback play through the years and many instances of pass-heavy offenses.
“The main thing when it comes to winning a championship,” Holgorsen said, “is guys that take care of the football.”
11:05 a.m. Update — By Benton Smith
KU COACH DAVID BEATY
First-year Kansas football coach David Beaty opened his morning press conference at Big 12 media days talking about how excited he is to be back in his hometown of Dallas, Texas, one of the nation’s hotbeds of high school recruiting.
• Beaty said getting KU’s football program back on track will be a process, not an event. The new KU coach said he and his staff have high standards, and they have simple ways to reach lofty goals: work hard and earn everything.
• Beaty wants KU football to have a brand that is tough, competitive and fun for players to play in.
• On freshmen/first-year players: In college football these days, it’s hard to tell a player he will for sure red-shirt. Injuries are a part of the game, so depth usually becomes a factor. High school players are coming in more prepared than ever. But incoming freshmen will have to earn playing time.
• Beaty referenced his time at KU as an assistant under Mark Mangino. Some of the things Mangino created, in terms of good habits, are still there, according to Beaty.
• Senior QB Michael Cummings is a better kid than he is a player, Beaty said. His knee injury in the spring game broke Beaty’s heart. Cummings had surgery in June, and Bowen looked out his office window the other day and saw Cummings down on the field throwing the ball. If anybody can make it back this season, it’s Cummings.
• It was a no-brainer decision to keep Clint Bowen on his staff as assistant head coach. Beaty and Bowen, and their families, vacationed together this summer. Beaty likes the kind of person Bowen is, but also how much Bowen cares about the KU program.
• New offensive lineman Jordan Shelley-Smith has been a consummate pro. That’s probably the most impressive thing about him. Shelley-Smith has put on 65 pounds since converting from tight end and it should pay dividends for him.
• With two days of contact now the standard for practicing in the Big 12, it won’t change the way KU does business. The program will adjust to this and other changes that come in the college football landscape.
• Strength coach Je’Ney Jackson used to be at KU as an assistant coach and worked with Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. Beaty hired Jackson because of how talented he is. He likes the standards and expectations Jackson sets for the players.
• You need to have some depth at running back in college football, and Beaty thinks the Jayhawks have that. He pointed to Taylor Cox, Ke’aun Kinner, De’Andre Mann and Taylor Martin as the players KU will lean on at the RB position.
• High school coaches in Texas know Beaty and co-defensive coordinator Kenny Perry well, and they know when their kids go to KU they’ll be taken care of, and nothing will be given.
10:35 a.m. Update — By Benton Smith
Some on social media wondered if Kansas football was going with "KU" on its helmets, without a Jayhawk logo.
But, as we saw last season, Kansas actually has a number of helmet options, and some of them that KU brought to Dallas have "KU" on one side and a Jayhawk on the other.
10:25 a.m. Update — By Benton Smith
TCU COACH GARY PATTERSON
This summer’s trip to Big 12 Media Days feels a lot different than the 2014 venture for TCU coach Gary Patterson. Twelve months ago, the Horned Frogs were coming off a 4-8 season in 2013, with few expecting much out of them.
“A year ago, you had to prove people wrong. Now you’ve gotta prove people right,” said Patterson, whose team went 12-1 last season after installing a new offense, and now is expected to battle Baylor for the 2015 league crown.
Patterson said entering this season as a Big 12 favorite only means so much.
“It’s a nice feeling, but I’ve been in this business too long to get caught up in it,” the TCU coach said.
Patterson has to stay even keeled, he continued, because then his team will do the same.
His best player, senior quarterback Trevone Boykin, has kept his cool this summer, as hype builds around the Heisman Trophy front-runner.
Patterson said Boykin spent all summer doing seven-on-seven work with his offensive teammates, instead of leaving town to work with some “quarterback gurus.”
10:21 a.m. Update — By Matt Tait
Just caught my first glimpse of KU coach David Beaty and the three KU player reps here in Dallas. Beaty and Ben Johnson elected to go with the light gray suit look while Jordan Shelley-Smith went dark blue and Ben Goodman went with the dark gray. All of them look sharp and they're all rocking the Jayhawk pin on their jackets.
A lot of teams just wear slacks and team polos to this event but the KU players always have tried to make sure they look as sharp as they can.
I think part of it is that they want to make sure they look like a top-level team so that people will treat them like one in spite of their record during recent seasons.
Beaty will hit the podium at 10:40 for his first official Big 12 Q&A.
Original Post: 9:25 a.m. — By Matt Tait
Like it or not, Big 12 football media days in Dallas always sort of represents the unofficial end of summer and the infant beginning of another college football season.
And it has arrived.
Four representatives of the Kansas University football team, along with players and coaches from the other nine Big 12 schools have invaded the Omni Hotel in Dallas to talk about the upcoming season, the challenges facing college football today and any and every other quirky and comedic thing they can think of to represent their schools and teams and kick off the 2015 season in style.
KU will be represented by first-year coach David Beaty, who should flourish in this setting, as well as players Ben Goodman (senior defensive end), Ben Johnson (sophomore tight end) and Jordan Shelley-Smith (junior offensive lineman).
Those three players, though not widely known throughout the conference will be in charge of answering all of those tough questions the Jayhawks normally get down here — Why is it so hard to win at Kansas? What's it like to lose so often? Will this year be any different than the previous five? And so many others like that.
I saw the KU contingent in the lobby when we checked in last night and they don't appear to be concerned with those types of things. Instead, they're excited to be here, ready to represent KU well and looking forward to showing people that there's more to football and the teams in the Big 12 than the results on the field.
I wouldn't expect to hear any outlandish comments from any of these guys. They're respectful young men who understand that the best way to talk the talk is to walk the walk. But I'm sure they'll be happy to share with us how hard they've been working this offseason and why they're optimistic about what's ahead.
As for Beaty, you can bet he'll give some colorful quotes, simply because he uses such interesting and entertaining language. But you can also bet that you'll hear him speak the words “earn it” about a million times and also will NOT hear him call his team or anyone else “a pile of crap.”
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby is speaking to the media to kick things off and the coaches press conferences get rolling at 10:05 with TCU coach Gary Patterson. Beaty is set to speak for the first time at 10:40.
Keep it right here for all of your coverage from Day 1 of Big 12 media days from myself and your guy Benton Smith.
Today we pick back up with this summer's series that recognizes the KU football players who figure to have the most important roles for the Jayhawks during the upcoming season.
After starting with a wide receiver, it's back-to-back D-Backs to get the list going.
Here's a look:
23. Greg Allen, 5-foot-11, 212-pound Jr. Safety
It’s now-or-never time for Allen to establish himself as a starting defensive back. He appeared in eight games as a redshirt freshman, all 12 as a sophomore and even started three. He showed flashes as a solid cover guy and a decent tackler, but didn’t do any one thing well enough to convince anybody that he needs to be on the field. With a big step forward this season he can finish his career as a two-year starter.
Now listed as a safety, Allen has the size (5-foot-11, 212 pounds) and speed for the position and needs to show he can bring the instincts and understanding of the game to contribute in a way he can help others on the field with him become better players.
Since last season ended, Allen has been aggressive on social media in telling himself and his followers that 2015 is the year he needs to make it happen. He has the right attitude and the opportunity is there for him with all four starters from the secondary having graduated.
Allen’s life story makes him an easy athlete for whom to root. When he was 12, Allen’s mother packed their bags and headed from New Orleans to Houston, beating Hurricane Katrina by a couple of days. Allen remembers watching TV and recognizing victims of the disaster.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
Gold became a trending topic in the realm of college basketball social media Monday morning, as news spread of Kansas leading Team USA to a double-overtime victory over Germany in the World University Games final.
From SportsCenter, to Larry Brown to Dick Vitale, various tweets popped up congratulating the Jayhawks on their summer run.
Even cooler, though, was the opportunity this international stage gave KU’s players. And after going 8-0 in South Korea, the Jayhawks couldn’t help celebrating their feat.
A few former Kansas players acknowledged the win, too.
Even those tied to the KU football program showed some love for the basketball team’s golden moment.
— Check out all of our KU in Korea coverage, from Bobby Nightengale and Mike Yoder, the only local journalists covering the Jayhawks at the World University Games.
First, the world title. Next challenge for the Kansas University basketball team, a tougher one, the national title.
In winning USA’s first World University Games gold medal in men’s basketball in 10 years, Kansas revealed so many positives about itself. The games also showed there is so much to like about international rules.
Seven quick takeaways from the World University Games:
1 - Thanks to Frank Mason, KU will be tough to beat in close games. Fearless Frank has the quickness, skill and boldness to get where he wants to go with the ball and finishes at the hoop and sets up teammates with equal effectiveness in the clutch.
2 - Even when Wayne Selden’s shots don’t drop, as was the case in the double-overtime, gold-medal-game victory vs. Germany, he has the confidence to come up with big plays late with the game in the balance. He’ll face more athletic players in the college game, but he’ll also be playing the right position this season and far more often than not will be at an athletic advantage against the opposing small forward.
3 - Hunter Mickelson, an active force at both ends, has earned a spot in the rotation with his shot-blocking, tip-ins and consistent energy. Energetic incoming freshman Cheick Diallo projects as the starter, but when he has his freshman moments, KU coach Bill Self has somewhere to turn for relief. Curiously, Self went more with Landen Lucas, the better rebounder but not the defender or scorer that Mickelson is, for most of the second half. Mickelson held German center Bogdan Radosavljevic scoreless in the first half. Radosavljevic awakened when Mickelson sat.
4 - Self had to have made a strong impression, setting himself up for bigger jobs on the international stage. There isn’t a better man to coach the Olympic team than Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, committed through the 2016 Games in Rio. But Coach K isn’t going to want to do it forever. His outrageous success as coach of the national team has to increase the chances of the next coach also coming from the college game. Team USA’s performance — so strong on effort and team play — in South Korea should move Self to the head of the non-Coach K division of college coaches, even ahead of Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Kentucky’s John Calipari.
5 - The international shot-clock rules (24 seconds, a reset to 14 seconds after a missed shot rebounded by the offensive team, eight seconds to advance the ball past mid-court) eliminates dead seconds, forces players to make moves and puts the game more in the hands of the players. It would work great in the college game.
6 - The international timeout rules, including limiting each team to two in the final two minutes, keeps an exciting, close game from grinding to a halt. It would lead to quicker games on TV, so that instead of watching the end of a game that doesn’t interest the on-deck audience, viewers can watch all 40 minutes of the games that interest them. The sooner college basketball goes to this format, the better.
7 - The added practice time, overseas bonding, strong performances under pressure can only benefit the Jayhawks in their quest to win what would be Self's second national title and fourth NCAA tournament title for the school. The roster has depth, experience and a clutch performer with the ball in his hands at the end of games and a smart, driven, seasoned coach pulling it all together.
Each summer, across the country, football fans spend time watching, waiting and anticipating the arrival of another college football season. And while that might not always be a favorite pastime of KU fans, many still get sucked in to the journey.
Will this be a better season? Is this the year that things finally get going in the right direction? Will Kansas at least be competitive therein making Memorial Stadium on Saturdays in the fall the place to be instead of a place to avoid? All are common questions KU fans wrestle with every year.
So in order to help you predict the answers to those questions and more, we set out to pinpoint the 25 players that could make the biggest impact for the Jayhawks this fall.
Big seasons from these guys — be them in the form of yards and touchdowns or just consistency and perhaps overachieving — could go a long way toward increasing KU's chances at success during the upcoming season.
This is not a list of the 25 best players on this year's team. That would be much easier to pinpoint and, while still key, would not exactly demonstrate the full value that each player has in regard to the 2015 season.
This is a list of the 25 players who need to have strong seasons in order for the Jayhawks to have a chance to compete.
Matt Tait and I came up with the list by each making our own list of 25 and then combining the results. We did the same thing last year, but most of the guys from that list are gone, which made this list much tougher to put together.
Remember, this is not an exercise designed to identify KU's best players but an attempt to pinpoint which players, with standout seasons, could have the biggest impact for Kansas this fall.
Track the list every weekday at KUsports.com, where we'll unveil the list one-by-one in reverse order.
25. Derrick Neal, 5-foot-10, 170-pound Soph. WR
Week after week, Kansas will face football teams with superior size, experience and depth. The Jayhawks will need big plays to steal touchdowns to close the gap on more talented teams. On defense, that means forcing turnovers. On offense, that means players with game-breaking speed finding daylight via kickoff and punt returns, receptions, rushes to the outside and even trick plays.
Neal is one candidate to find the end zone in a variety of ways, thanks to his speed, accelleration and escapability. At 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Neal makes for a small target, which can be a good thing in that it can frustrate would-be tacklers into missing.
Neal played four games at last season, appearing at wide receiver, cornerback, and on special teams, until suffering a season-ending injury making a tackle against Baylor. He was used as a punt returner and could be seen there again this season. His size makes him a risky athlete to use as an every-down player, but his speed makes him a weapon that first-year coach David Beaty is going to want to use in a variety of ways.
Neal and twin brother, Erick, originally committed to play basketball at UT-Arlington, where Erick is a sophomore. Derrick changed his mind, orally committed to play football and Texas Tech and ultimately decided to accept a football scholarship at Kansas.
Course knowledge, evidently, can be overrated.
For example, former Kansas golfer Gary Woodland never had played the 100-yard No. 14 hole at TPC Four Seasons Resort until today. That's because the hole didn't exist until today. Heavy rains flooded the fairway so badly that tournament officials shortened the par 4 from 400-plus yards to a 100-yard par 3.
Woodland landed his tee shot just to the right of the cup, inches shy distance-wise. The ball rolled behind the pin and sucked back right into the hole.
Woodland was done in Thursday in the opening round by a triple bogey and a double bogey and was in 90th place heading into the day after a 2-over 72. He carded a 6-under 63 today.
I knew that he was a good enough basketball player to earn a scholarship to Div. II Washburn University, but until browsing Youtube for golf videos, I never actually had seen former Kansas golfer Gary Woodland play basketball.
The video of his highlights playing for Shawnee Heights High revealed Woodland as a vocal leader, flashy ballhandler, strong finisher, sharp shooter and a bit of a hot dog.
Still, Woodland obviously made the right decision to transfer to Kansas to play golf after a basketball season that started with him making 1 of 7 shots and scoring three points in a 101-66 loss to Kansas in an exhibition game in Allen Fieldhouse in November, 2002. Woodland was matched up against Kirk Hinrich.
Nearly 13 years later, Woodland was matched up against Rory McIlroy in the final of the Match Play Championship, losing 4&2. Woodland played seven matches in five days and made some incredible shots along the way.
Woodland missed the cut in The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, then bounced back this past weekend by finishing tied for fourth in the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte. He tied with wedge-magician Phil Mickelson and former Kansas State golfer Robert Streb, another of my favorite golfers to watch. Streb's father, Dave Streb, and I were teammates in Little League and on the freshman basketball team at Bishop Kearney High in Rochester, N.Y.
Anyway, Woodland's recent hot streak has vaulted him all the way to 13th on the PGA tour money list ($2,290,497.50), 17th in the Fed Ex Cup standings and 24th in the World Golf Rankings.
A native of Chickasha, Oklahoma, Streb ranks 10th in the Fed Ex Cup standings, 17th on the money list, 73rd in World Golf Rankings and is third with six top 10 finishes, behind Jordan Spieth with eight and Hideki Matsuyama with seven.)
It's nice to see two golfers from the two Big 12 universities in Kansas doing so well. One of these days, that might even translate to more TV coverage of them during tournaments.