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What didn't catch my eye from last Saturday's spring game
Because the spring game marked the end of spring drills and there won’t be much football activity for the next few months, I thought I’d stretch my reaction to the game throughout the rest of the week.
Yesterday, I wrote up a blog about a handful of things that caught my eye from the spring game, which was won by the Blue squad, 17-6, in front of 6,000 or so fans on a gorgeous day at Memorial Stadium.
In case you missed it, take a look.
After the blog went live, I found myself looking over it, making sure that I included everything. As I did that, a few other thoughts popped into my head. These were things we did not see at the spring game and just about all of them caught me by surprise — at least a little bit.
So here they are for you to see, in case you, too, missed them last Saturday.
Where Was Tim Biere? — I know he didn’t play a ton of snaps, but any time 11 different players catch a pass, you’d sure expect your No. 1 tight end and returning senior starter to be one of them. My guess here is that Biere’s absence from the stat sheet was the result of the coaching staff not feeling like it needed to see what Biere can do. They’ve seen that. Last year, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound tight end caught 19 passes for 228 yards and led the team with four TD receptions. A year earlier, he finished with 14 catches for 183 yards in five starts. That included at least one reception in eight of the 10 games he played in.
While those aren’t incredible stats, they’re good enough for the coaching staff to know what they’ve got. Biere will be a big part of the offense again in 2011. Last week’s spring game was more about seeing how big of a role Jimmay Mundine can/will have.
Mecham About the Same — The word from KU camp is that both returning quarterbacks with starting experience got a lot better in the offseason. I saw that from Jordan Webb, who had a nice spring game. I didn’t really see it from Quinn Mecham, though.
This is not a knock on Mecham. I’ve always been a fan of his game, appreciated his cerebral approach and, most of last season, I even championed him as the right choice for the Jayhawks QB job for the second half of the 2010 season. I’d be doing the same thing today if I thought Mecham had improved a lot, but I just didn’t see it on Saturday. Maybe that’s not fair. After all, that’s just one scrimmage, too small of a sample size to judge a guy’s entire offseason. But, to me, Mecham still looked to be lacking athleticism, slow with his decisions and a little bit stuck in the mud in the pocket.
Consider this, if not for a great play by Christian Matthews, Mecham’s final numbers would’ve read 5-of-11 for 49 yards, 4 sacks and 1 interception. Instead, he finished 6-of-11 for 102 yards, 4 sacks and 1 TD. If the Jayhawks need him to play, Mecham is capable of running the offense. But, again, if the Jayhawks need him to play, they’re probably not going to win very many games.
A Bummer About Bourbon — As I watched Ryan Burton rack up carry after carry during the game’s second half — the Colorado Springs, Colo., sophomore finished with 23 yards and a game-high 12 carries — I couldn’t help but lament the fact that we were all missing out on something. Had red-shirt freshman Brandon Bourbon not been injured earlier this spring, a lot of those carries would’ve been his and the player many of us have been waiting to watch for more than a year now finally would’ve had our chance. Instead, Bourbon was on crutches on the sideline while Burton and Deshaun Sands tallied 18 carries (and just 38 yards) between them.
The good news here is that Bourbon is expected to be back this summer and ready to go by the time the season rolls around. Guess he’ll have to remain a mystery for a little while longer.
No Wildcat — I know these spring games aren’t about running everything in the playbook, but with as much as we’d seen the Wildhawk and Jayhawk offenses during the 14 practices leading up to the spring game, I sure thought we’d see the Wildcat set run at least once during the spring game. If for no other reason than to give the crowd — which was much larger than I expected — something to ooh and ahh about. But again, these games aren’t really about the fans either.
Offensive coordinator Chuck Long and the Jayhawks did dial up a little trickery on the first play from scrimmage. A fake hand-off to Sims inside turned out to be a pitch to D.J. Beshears on the reverse and Beshears rumbled for nine yards. One interesting note: While the reverse was going down to the left side of the formation, QB-turned-WR, Kale Pick, was sprinting to across the grain and behind Beshears to the right. I know they didn’t show a ton of unusual stuff last Saturday, but expect these types of misdirection plays to be a staple of the KU offense this season.