KU to play it ‘very basic’ at spring game

The annual Kansas University football spring game has provided KU fans an opportunity to get a fresh look at the team the Jayhawks will put on the field each fall.

While that certainly will be the case at 1 p.m. today at Memorial Stadium in terms of personnel, style of play and effort and intensity, first-year offensive coordinator Rob Likens warned against fans hoping to see too much of KU’s version of the Air Raid offense.

“You probably ought to calm them down,” Likens joked. “We’re not gonna go out there doing any double reverses or anything we don’t want our opponents to see. But obviously you have your basic sets that you’re gonna do, and they will see (our tempo) a little bit.”

That’s about it. And that drives Likens a little crazy even if he does understand the reasoning behind.

“No. 1, if you’re an offensive coordinator, I’m not showing anything. So now you’re very basic, and the defense is probably gonna line up and whoop up on ya,” he said. “I’m the new coordinator in town, and everybody’s gonna come to the game and go, ‘Let’s look at the new offense,’ and they’ll go, ‘This is it?’ And I’ll say, ‘Yep, it is for today.’ I’ll take that one on the chin.”

Just because Kansas will not be able to unleash its complete offensive attack does not mean today’s spring game will be little more than a dog-and-pony show. Coaches everywhere like to call the event a glorified scrimmage, but both Likens and KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen believe it’s more than that.

“I don’t think that’s completely accurate,” Bowen said. “It’s called a game. They set up little bounce houses on the outside. There’s fans. There’s cheerleaders. It’s a different environment, and we haven’t had that all spring.”

Added Likens: “You look at how (the guys) respond now that there’s some fans in the stands. And you’d be amazed how players just change when there’s different stimuli coming at them. Coaches like to say you practice like you play, but there really are a handful of guys who, when the lights come on, they just play better. It just happens.”

Senior wide receiver Tre’ Parmalee believes that at least a few of those guys will step forward today, and that’s one of the many reasons one of the few veterans on this roster is excited about this year’s spring finale.

“There’s guys who are flying under the radar who are gonna shock people,” Parmalee said. “I’m not gonna tell you who, but you’ll see on Saturday.”

Spring game lineup

While the 11-on-11 showdown on the Memorial Stadium turf will be today’s featured event, there are plenty of activities leading up to it that should create a fun-filled atmosphere.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. there will be both a bike rodeo in lots 58 and 65 and the Hy-Vee Hawk Zone for children, with festivities including inflatable games, poster-making and photo opportunities on the practice fields. Tailgating for Williams Fund and K Club members will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the south end zone, and from 12-12:25 p.m. Memorial Stadium will host an alumni game of flag football.

After the game, the Jayhawks will host a “Train Like a Jayhawk” clinic for young KU fans in grades 1-6 inside the stadium.

Admission and parking in the lots around the stadium are free. Memorial Stadium gates will open at 11 a.m.