Kansas Keeps Improving with 10th Practice of Spring Football

April 18, 2011

Postpractice Interviews:Coach Gill | Spikes | Kande

Kansas football completed its 10th practice session of the spring season at the practice fields adjacent to Memorial Stadium Monday afternoon. With the completion of Monday’s practice KU is 2/3 of the way through its allotted 15 spring practices.

“We have definitely increased our speed,” Kansas head coach Turner Gill said. “We’re playing fast; we’re getting to the football. I like the passion that our football team is playing with right now.”

The Jayhawks ran through 12 stations at practice on Monday, with the final station working on red zone offense and defense. Gill was most impressed with junior wide receiver D.J. Beshears, who had a big day of practice for the second-straight session. Beshears caught a pair of touchdown passes in the team’s scrimmage on Saturday and also played well Monday, according to Gill.

“D.J. Beshears has done some good things for us,” Gill said. “He caught two touchdown passes (Saturday) and some key third down conversions. He’s been doing a good job all spring.”

Kansas will resume spring practice on Wednesday, April 20. The Jayhawks will hold their annual Spring Game Saturday, April 30 at 1 p.m. Admission is free to the public.

Postpractice Interviews

Head Coach Turner Gill

On what stood out to him in the team’s latest practice:

“(Wide receiver) D.J. Beshears did some good things. He caught two touchdown passes and some key third down conversions. He’s been doing a good job all spring. Our quarterbacks threw the ball well. We had a couple deep balls that were thrown. I thought they did some good things. Nick Sizemore is a fullback, who’s done some good things. Darrian Miller has been pretty steady. We’ve had one guy on defense who you haven’t heard a lot about, Pat Lewandowski. We are thinking about moving to defensive tackle. He’s been a defensive end for us, but in the scrimmage we put him at the defensive tackle and he really responded in a good way. I think he’s a guy that’s coming on strong. Our secondary is playing pretty well too. We have definitely increased our speed. We’re playing fast; we’re getting to the football. I like the passion that our football team is playing with right now.”

On how often the coaches look to have players switch positions:

“We’re always looking. Right now they have gone through eight or nine practices so now we’ve seen them for a little while and are trying to decide the guys that can make the adjustments and can make our defense or offense better. We just try to talk with the guys and give them a reason why we want to go through the process. This is a good time to do it in spring football. Nothing is ever etched in stone, but we’re trying to get more speed and some guys that can make plays. That is why we’re trying some guys out at new positions.”

On the progress of the Jayhawks’ new punters and kickers:

“(Ron) Doherty is doing a good job punting. I’m very pleased with him. He’s gotten a little quicker as far as punting the ball. He’s doing a good job with his place kicking. He’s definitely the leading candidate as far as being our punter, but he’ll also be competing for our kicker position as well.”

On the progress being made at the safety position:

“We’re definitely more athletic. They (Bradley McDougald and Keeston Terry) give us a better opportunity as far as covering man-on-man. (Junior) Lubbock Smith is still playing some pretty good football over there too. We’ve also got (freshman) Ray Mitchell. A lot of guys have earned it. They’re very competitive. We’ve definitely gained more athleticism as we try to play more man-on-man.”

On where the Jayhawks stand at the corner position:

“We’ve definitely got good depth there. We feel very good about it. One guy that has come on strong is Anthony Davis. I really like the way he’s playing. He’s a physical player. He really didn’t show that as much last year, maybe because of confidence. He’s definitely running with some purpose. Greg Brown is also doing well there. We’ve got ( Tyler) Patmon playing some at the corner too. I feel very good about our corners. I would have to say right now our whole secondary is going to be the strength of our defense.”

Junior wide receiver D.J. Beshears

On his play at the most recent scrimmage:

“I had a pretty good scrimmage. I scored two touchdowns. Offensively, I didn’t think we did as well as I thought we should have, but I think I’m starting to come along individually.”

On what he worked on most during the offseason:

“Just my routes. Mainly my route techniques. I really worked on getting more orientated to the offense. I’m still just trying to learn the schemes and the routes that go along with those schemes.”

On the pressure he is feeling to be the playmaker for the Jayhawks this year:

“I don’t really feel any pressure. I’m just trying to fill my position. When Coach (Turner Gill) tells me to step in, then that’s my time to step in there and do what I have to do to make plays.”

Sophomore linebacker Prinz Kande

On when his postion change from the secondary to linebacker was initiated:

“It was just the coaches’ (idea). I’m usually a team player, so I’m fine with whatever the coaches think is best for the team. My only concern was if I was big enough. I didn’t know if I was big enough to take on those linemen inside, but it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.”

On what he brings to the linebacker position:

“I think I bring a lot through my coverage skills. I think I bring a little bit more athleticism. It’s really in my coverage skill though. I can cover the tight ends and the slot, it just depends.”

On what he needs to do to keep improving at his new position:

“I really like hitting, but I need to get stronger to be able to take on what a linebacker normally takes on. I’m not used to coming down hill and taking on a big fullback. I really enjoy hitting so that’s one part I need to work on.”

Junior offensive lineman Jeff Spikes

On his recovery from injury:

“The injury really did not affect my progress in the meeting room. I was still in every meeting and every practice. I even stayed in the dorms with the team in camp, so that part of my progress did not stop. It is just the lack of repetition that has affected me, but I am working on that right now as well as my weight, which was up, and will come right back down once I get back to working.”

On what position he would like to play:

“It does not really matter where I play. Right now I just have to work on my fundamentals because I have not been playing for an entire year.”

On the job competition of the offensive linemen:

“There is always competition no matter what position you play. Regardless of what the depth chart is now, nothing is solidified. You have to continue to work and competition only makes us better as individuals.”

Junior offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson

On the cohesiveness of the offensive line thus far:

“I think we have been jelling really well together. Obviously a lot of the guys have been around each other pretty much our whole careers here, but overall I think we are where we want to be.”

On the move from left tackle to right tackle:

“It really was not as big of a switch as you would think because I just took it and went with it, so it was not that big of a transition for me all together.”

On the return of OL Jeff Spikes from injury:

“(Jeff) Spikes is a great player. He is a big, strong guy and he makes our line better, so if they want me to move to the right side to accommodate him, I was fine with it because having Spikes back will make us a better line overall.”

Senior offensive lineman Jeremiah Hatch

On being a senior:

“You look back at the last couple years and say, `boy it went by fast’, because you have to take advantage of living the dream. This is a dream for some guys and you cannot take it for granted.”

On the team’s goals for this season:

“Hopefully we can get to a bowl game this year. Every day (offensive line) Coach (J.B.) Grimes calls us into his office and that is the first thing on his mind: taking us to a bowl game.”

On his weight loss during the off-season:

“Right now I’m playing at about 305/306 and last year I played at about 315/320. I feel a whole lot different because I am able to move and get on linebackers a lot faster than I was before.”

Sophomore wide receiver Christian Matthews

On the role of blocking at wide receiver:

“If you don’t block than you will not play. That is the biggest thing with (wide receivers) Coach (David) Beaty. You get tired a lot, but you have to do it, because he is the coach and that is his rule.”

On his progress from last year to this spring:

“I am just more physical and I know that I am going to be a player getting the ball. I know I am not just a second look anymore or somebody that is behind another player. I know that I have to get the ball and make plays.”