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What caught my eye at Wednesday's practice: Oct. 31


KU's offensive line runs through a tough workout with O-Line coach Tim Grunhard at the start of Wednesday's practice.

KU's offensive line runs through a tough workout with O-Line coach Tim Grunhard at the start of Wednesday's practice. by Matt Tait

Although Downtown Lawrence was packed with Trick-or-Treaters on my evening drive back from KU football practice, there were none to be found around the grounds at Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium.

Good thing, too.

KU’s coaches kicked things off with a little extra juice today at practice, yelling a little louder, pushing a little harder and cracking the whip with a little more intensity.

The most notable area, at least from where I stood, where the coaches had a little extra fire was in the corner with the offensive linemen, where O-Line coach Tim Grunhard roared through the opening part of practice with his group.

The first team looked to be made up of Tanner Hawkinson at left tackle, Damon Martin at left guard, Trevor Marrongelli at center, Randall Dent at right guard and Aslam Sterling at right tackle. No surprise there.

Regardless of whether it was the first unit or the second unit, though, Grunhard put them to work.

“Throw your hands and play some football,” he said as they worked on point-of-attack drills.

“What good is it here if you’re not gonna do it in the game,” he added after a round of particularly explosive blocking.

It’s clear that even though the Jayhawks have done well in the run game lately, Grunhard expects them to do even better and he’s leaning on his offensive linemen to make that happen.

While Grunhard’s demeanor would’ve made for a pretty scary Halloween costume in itself, there was a small touch of today’s holiday at practice. The Jayhawks kicked things off by listening to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” during warm-ups.

Here’s a quick look at a few other things that caught my eye.

• Since I spent most of my time around the O-Line today, I took an extra long look at Sterling, whom KU coach Charlie Weis said earlier this week has reshaped his body as much as anyone on the team during the past several months. It shows. Sterling looks much quicker on his feet now and much trimmer. Losing the 30-40 pounds also has allowed him to be more explosive at the snap. Hopes are high for Sterling, especially for next season, and I think these final four games will be as big for him as any player on the roster.

• Senior defensive end Toben Opurum and red-shirt freshman linebacker Jake Love both were at practice Wednesday, good news for the Jayhawks who lost both starters on the same play late in the loss against Texas. Weis said earlier this week that he expected those two, along with wide receiver Daymond Patterson, would be available this weekend at Baylor, and it looks as if things are on track for that to hold true.

• Finally, the Coach Weis song of the day was “Badlands” by Bruce Springsteen.


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