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What caught my eye at Wednesday's practice: Sept. 12

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The KU running backs take instructions from assistant coach Reggie Mitchell at the outset of a blocking drill at Wednesday's practice.

The KU running backs take instructions from assistant coach Reggie Mitchell at the outset of a blocking drill at Wednesday's practice. by Matt Tait

Today’s Kansas University football practice carried with it the same upbeat energy and fast tempo as Tuesday’s, but one thing that caught my eye was that a lot of it was coming from the coaching staff.

Sure, that’s their job, to motivate, encourage, even intimidate these players into working their butts off every minute they’re out there, but I was surprised that so much of the hootin’ and hollerin’ came from the coaches.

During the preseason, the players were much more vocal from start to finish and the coaches’ voices merely served as accompaniment.

Now, there are a few ways you can read that, and most of them are good.

  1. The players are locked in. There’s no need to yell and scream when you’re so focused on that task at hand because anything extra might serve as a distraction. Could be.

  2. The players are working so hard that they don’t want to waste the energy getting everyone else hype. If you’re not hyped up for No. 16 TCU coming to town in three days for what could go down as the biggest game of your season, a little barking probably isn’t going to get you there anyway. Could be.

  3. They players are still shaking off the shell-shock and disappointment from their loss to Rice last weekend. Doubtful. Their energy and performance doesn’t indicate that’s the case.

Remember, I’m not out there the entire practice so all of this could have changed the minute I left. But, even during the time we were allowed to watch during camp I saw — and heard — a lot more talking from the players than I did today.

Definitely not something to make a big deal of, just one of the more interesting things I noticed.

Here are a few others:

• I kept an eye on the linebackers for a few minutes today — mostly to see how Anthony McDonald looked — and I continue to be impressed by how hard Tunde Bakare works. He’s always flying around, always going 100 percent, not afraid to leave everything he has out there. It’s typical of a senior who’s hungry to make a name for himself, but still impressive nonetheless. As for McDonald, he looked good. I didn’t see any signs of him playing tentative or easing up. Coach Charlie Weis said earlier this week that McDonald was ready to play and I’m guessing we’ll see him out there plenty this weekend.

• One other thing I noticed while watching the linebackers was the presence of defensive coordinator Dave Campo. It’s not that Campo has never worked with this group, more that, during the early portion of practice he usually works with the DBs and today he was with the linebackers. Could be an indication that KU realizes it’s going to have to bring a little extra beef this week to handle TCU.

• Speaking of not getting cheated, tailback Tony Pierson is another guy who doesn’t hold anything back during practice, and if there’s one guy who could probably get away with it, it’s Pierson. I’m sure the coaches don’t want the 5-10, 175-pound speed back adding practice bruises to the pounding he’s already taking on Saturdays. Even still, Pierson goes all out on every drill, including blocking drills that involve pushing the sled or diving into linebackers to pick up the blitz. There’s a reason Pierson is getting a lot of love as KU’s best offensive player. Two words — hard work.

• With Kale Pick on the exercise bike and his status for Saturday’s game still up in the air (Pick was joined by Brandon Bourbon, Lubbock Smith, Ray Mitchell and Sean Connolly on the bikes on Wednesday), I wondered if that meant JaCorey Shepherd was back with the wideouts for the day. Didn’t look like it. Shepherd still had on white and spent the first part of the day working with the cornerbacks.

• Finally, the Coach Weis song of the day was “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi.

• Oh, and just so you know, I'm well aware that today's photo is one of my worst. Cut me some slack. I'll bounce back next time!

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