Jayhawks Crisp in First Spring Practice
Kansas head coach David Beaty was pleased with his team’s crisp tempo in the first spring practice of 2016.Photo Gallery
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The wheat was surely waving across the state of Kansas Sunday afternoon as gale force winds made their way to Lawrence in time for Kansas football’s first spring practice.
The Jayhawks hit the practice fields adjacent to Memorial Stadium in the early afternoon and spent nearly three hours working on individual skills and special teams drills before moving on to multiple team periods.
“It was really exciting to be back out on the field and getting back to work,” said Kansas head coach David Beaty. “I want to take my hat off to Coach (Je’Ney) Jackson and his staff they did a really good job with our guys this offseason. Not a surprise to me, as he is very good at what he does and his staff does a really great job. They had our guys prepared to go out there today and attack the first day of spring practice.”
Beaty, who opened his second spring practice season with five new assistant coaches, was extremely pleased with the crisp tempo of the first spring session, as well as the retention of his philosophies by his players.
“We certainly are not starting over,” said Beaty. “I was really pleased with the carryover. I was really pleased with the way we moved around today. With it not being the sunniest all day long, I was concerned with how they would handle it psychologically, but they did a great job. We had a spirited practice. We had great competitions today. They were competing the entire day and I thought we did a good job of taking care of each other and not running into one another.”
In addition to several new faces joining the Jayhawk staff, Beaty is also making some adjustments to the Kansas offense, which will be more of a true Air Raid style of offense moving forward. Beaty himself will be taking a more active role in managing the offense as he will be calling the plays and working directly with the KU quarterbacks.
“I am going to coach the quarterbacks this year,” said Beaty. “Rob (Likens) will still carry the same title (offensive coordinator), but I am going to call the offense and coach the quarterbacks this year. And that doesn’t have anything to do with Rob, it has to do with me. I want to be a lot more actively involved in what we do with the QBs and what we do offensively. We will be a little bit different than what we were last year offensively, and that’s ok. We will do a lot more of the stuff that I know and I am more familiar with and I am excited about it because I know it fits our personnel well and I think our guys are excited about it.
“I will be with the quarterbacks the majority of the time. That is why I have surrounded myself with guys on this staff, with the majority of the hires, who know what we are doing already. There won’t be much teaching that has to be done because those guys know it. There are people on our staff who have been in this offense for a long time. We will run more of the true Air Raid.”
One of Sunday’s offensive standouts on the field was sophomore running back Taylor Martin. Martin showed some shiftiness during the team portion of practice, ripping off several long runs as the Jayhawks worked on their new offensive scheme.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Chase Harrell hauled in several nice catches, while fellow wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez, who sat out last season as a transfer from Texas A&M, had his speed on full display. Gonzalez, who played under Beaty in the Air Raid at A&M, is expected to be utilized all over the field for the Jayhawks.
“Quiv is a very, very fast kid. He is a low 40 guy,” said Beaty. “He knows our system really well and we are going to be able to utilize him in a number of different ways that will really help us. We are going to start with the basics, but pretty soon we will start using him in some very unique ways. He has carried the ball in the backfield. He can do a lot of things.”
On the defensive side of the ball, one of KU’s December signees, junior college transfer DeeIsaac Davis, made the most of this first practice in the Crimson and Blue as he turned the head of his head coach.
“I really like DeeIsaac Davis,” said Beaty. “He was in our backfield a bunch today in the team setting that I noticed. We didn’t see a lot of those tackles last year, but they were in our backfield a lot today. I think that kid has a quick twitch to him and I like that.”
Kansas will return to the practice fields for its second of 15 spring practices Tuesday afternoon. The 15-practice schedule includes the 1 p.m., spring game on Saturday, April 9, in Memorial Stadium. In addition, to the spring game, the fourth-annual Train Like a Jayhawk Kid’s Clinic is also scheduled for April 9. More information on the Train Like a Jayhawk Kid’s Clinic and all of the events surrounding the annual spring game, including times, locations and parking information, will be provided at a later date.
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