Defense Outlasts Offense in 2016 Spring Game
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas football culminated its spring alumni weekend, treating fans and former players to a two-hour scripted scrimmage Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
Over the course of approximately 100 situational plays KU’s defense came out on top, scoring 49 points, compared to the offense’s 42-point output. Due to the structure of the scrimmage, points were awarded on the basis of first downs, three-and-outs, turnovers, penalties, third-down conversions, tackles for loss or sacks – and of course, more traditionally touchdowns and field goals.
“This (was) another one of those 15 practices for us,” Kansas head coach David Beaty said. “We have worked a lot of game-type stuff already where we’re managing clock. This just happened to be the rotation where we wanted to be very situational based, and we wanted to see them handle that situation in front of people.”
The defense, gave up just two official touchdowns, but was a stymieing force throughout the afternoon. Safety Frank Seurer, Jr., tallied a team-best eight tackles, while the defense intercepted four passes. Forcing the aerial turnovers were: linebackers Hudson Hall and Cameron Rosser and cornerbacks Colin Spencer and Stephan Robinson.
“When you’re not putting the ball in the end zone very much, I feel like they’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you from scoring,” Beaty said. “I think they did a nice job over there today.”
Even with a different flavor of football played, where the ball was placed at predetermined yard lines and the down markers could change after any given play, several offensive players stood out on the final box score.
Transfer wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez snagged a team-best six catches for 115 yards and a 61-yard score. Beaty was excited to see Gonzalez who sat out in 2015 due to transfer rules return to the field in a playmaker role.
“I think he’s got some explosiveness that I don’t think we possessed last year, so it’s good to see him out there,” Beaty said. “That dude looked like a kid in a candy store this morning. I think he was here at about 6:00 because he hadn’t played football in forever. He was so excited to get on that field, and he loves the game, so that was fun to see.”
Overall, Beaty liked what he has seen from an improvement standpoint throughout his second spring session as Kansas’ head coach.
“Year one to year two, (it’s) night and day in terms of just how we practice, how we look, how we’re conducting our business in spring,” Beaty said. “They just have a little bit more maturity about them, which experience gives you, and really understanding kind of what we want, playing smarter. It’s been night and day in that regard.”
With Saturday’s spring game in the books, Kansas will return to the practice fields for two remaining practices on April 12 and 14.
David Beaty Postgame Press Conference
DAVID BEATY: Just to start off, first of all, thanks to having you guys here again today. Thanks for being here, and really to most of you who have been there all spring out there covering our guys, we appreciate that.
Today is a great day for us to go back out on the field, but it’s been a rough 24 hours around here for our team because of Brandon Bourbon and the loss of one of our family members. There’s been some hard individual talks with those guys over the last, I don’t know, 12 or 15 hours that those guys, some of them haven’t gotten a lot of sleep, and that’s what it means to be a Jayhawk. They really, truly care about these guys. They care about each other. There’s a bond there that it’s hard to describe.
Ben Heeney has put together a GoFundMe account. I know him and Ben were just about best friends, and that GoFundMe account is GoFundMe.com, Brandon Bourbon Funeral Funds, and if you would just continue to mention that for us because I know the family is in need right now.
It was a tough night, but I think it was a healing day because that’s what Brandon would have wanted us to do is go out there and play Jayhawk football, so that was fun getting out there and getting that done, and our guys are out there with Train Like a Jayhawk right now, and I know that’ll help them with the healing, as well.
I know you’ve got some other questions about today, so let’s take it away.
Q. What were the factors that led to not having an actual spring game most schools have?
DAVID BEATY: Well, not every school does. I mean, I don’t know if the word ‘most’ is correct. I think it’s just to each his own and how they want to conduct it. I really got it from a couple of my buddies. David Bailiff and those guys have done it for a number of years, and really this is another one of those 15 practices for us. We have worked a lot of game-type stuff already where we’re managing clock. This just happened to be the rotation where we wanted to be very situational based, and we wanted to see them handle that situation in front of people.
A game doesn’t always get you to some of those situations, so today we were able to kind of create it a little bit and see how they were going to handle it. Some of them reacted good, and some of them didn’t react so good.
Really, for us, some of those situations are very critical for us to get worked in front of people and on that big field, so that’s kind of what led to it.
Q. Was depth a factor, as well, or would you have had enough depth to have an actual spring game?
DAVID BEATY: You know, we’re getting a little bit better depth in terms of numbers, but it really wasn’t that. It was more really that we wanted to create really specific situations, really specific situations, and that’s what we were able to do. So from our standpoint, we walked out of there happy that we have got great video to learn from, great video to learn from, and a lot of times when I’ve played a game, I’ve always made it an hour. I’ve been with guys, we make it about an hour long, and you’re trying to stay healthy because you just don’t know what the situation is. If you notice, we didn’t get any short yardage in there today, and when we did, we just kept it spread and just tried to keep everybody safe in short yardage. In this day and age, you run a bunch of heads together a bunch and you’re going to get concussions, and next thing you know they’re out for a while.
There was zero going for it on 4th down today if you noticed that, and that was all by design. We’re trying to keep our depth good for these next two workouts so we can finish the objectives that we have to meet for the spring.
Q. What was your interpretation of how Montell played? He had some interceptions and —
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, Montell probably had his toughest day that he’s had throughout spring. Honestly, that was not what we’ve seen from him throughout spring. He’s actually been very, very good with the ball. He’s taken great care of it. He’s made good decisions, and he’s played really well. He’s really been impressive throughout the spring.
I think a couple of the things that happened with him today were disappointing because they were things that we know better than. We put the ball in jeopardy a couple times and we can’t do that. Down there by the goal line, we need to be probably a little — I need to be smarter about what I call down there so we can keep him away from underneath coverage and it doesn’t even put him close to that situation.
Some of those things are not always on that one guy, but he had a tough day today, there’s no doubt about it. And we had a couple other opportunities for interceptions that we didn’t get, and we need to get those when we get those opportunities.
Likewise, defensively I thought those guys understood angles. The first pick by Hudson Hall was a great job by him. He understood angles. He saw the release of the No. 3 receiver, and he played it exactly like we trained it, and he got in position to make the play if the throw wasn’t on the front shoulder like it’s got to be.
So that stuff carried over, which is good to see from a team’s perspective.
The things that happened today that I can’t handle is when we get outside the pocket and we’re making bad decisions late. Bad decisions late, they almost always come back to haunt you, and that’s kind of what we saw today was a couple of those, and we haven’t done that in spring. I think that’s where you get in front of people and you want to see if they’ll press, and we’ll learn from it. It’ll be good.
Q. Has it been harder to evaluate quarterbacks without Ryan available?
DAVID BEATY: Well, it hasn’t been hard to evaluate the guys that are available; it’s been hard to evaluate him. But the good thing is he’s actually gone through a lot more than probably what people think because he’s actually healing pretty fast. He’s a tough kid. He’s taking snaps. He’s working inside with us, and he goes through on occasion, he will go through plays. We won’t let him throw it, but he’ll go through plays and take us through his reads with his feet and his shoulders, so he’s getting a lot of work that way, but nothing like when you can throw it. Yeah, that’s hard to evaluate him through the whole process.
But the other guys we’ve got great evaluation on, great evaluation on, which is going to be helpful moving forward.
Q. The play calling aspect of that, you mentioned thinking about what you call down there and stuff. In this format can you get a feel for calling games and what you’re going to see obviously this fall?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah. I think any time you’re getting a chance to call off-the-cuff, unless you’re scripting it, I think you’re working on your role there, so absolutely. I think that’s going to be something that will be helpful for all of our team moving forward, not just me but the communication system that goes on between our coaches up top. They did a great job of giving information today, but I think the hard thing is when you’re playing in these games, you’re carrying — defensively Clint is not carrying three calls. Offensively we’re not trying to carry a lot of calls, either, but honestly that’s your base. You ought to be good at it, so you ought to be able to execute it, you know.
Q. So it was reacting to what they were showing you and him doing the opposite? That was all organic out there today?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah. I mean, it’s — offensively what we do, it’s a combination of the beginning call and what the quarterback can put you in.
Now, I mean, I’m going to put handcuffs on him at times, and we hut some handcuffs on him today, and I know they weren’t very happy about that because they see things, but at the same time there’s handcuffs on the other side a little bit, too. But that’s good. We need to play some base football and see if we can block and tackle and if we can execute at a high level with just really basic things.
I thought our defense actually did a really nice job of that. They kept those guys to a lot of 3rd and shorts, really shorts, that easily could have been converted if something would have been executed just a little differently.
So I’ll bet you there were eight 3rd and 2 or less throughout that game, and they knew going into the game there were going to be no 4th downs, so you’d better convert them. Once again, it’s about situational awareness from the quarterbacks knowing where the read has got to go, when you can leave it below the sticks; wide receivers getting to the sticks and making sure you’re there; running backs making sure you’re staying north and south instead of getting east and west when you’re in a situation where you can fall forward and get your pads behind you.
So there’s a lot of things that were good things that we were able to coach right off the field coming off, but the video is going to be golden for us.
Q. Your early read, you really think the defense won the day today?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, I think — I guess just as you go through the feeling, when you’re not putting the ball in the end zone very much, I feel like they’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you from scoring. I think they did a nice job over there today, particularly based off how they responded from the last scrimmage. They gave up — our defense, and I say our, our defense gave up uncharacteristically a few touchdowns last week that they’re not used to, and I thought they rallied and did a nice job with very limited calls of shutting them down this week, so that was good to see.
Q. Does Gonzalez have more play-making potential than anyone you had last year?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, I think so. I think he’s got some explosiveness that I don’t think we possessed last year, so it’s good to see him out there. I don’t know how many times he touched it. We had planned him to touch it between seven and ten. I think I remember him touching it five or six. I can’t remember. But I thought he did some good things. He also did a few things that he’s got to try not to do too much, and that’s what happens when you haven’t played in a while.
That dude looked like a kid in a candy store this morning. I think he was here at about 6:00 because he hadn’t played football in forever. He was so excited to get on that field, and he loves the game, so that was fun to see.
Q. The points system, was that an original format about what determined points, and did you find yourself looking at the score at all throughout the game?
DAVID BEATY: I didn’t even see the score until we got off the field. I don’t remember what it was, was it 50 something to 30 something? I don’t know what it was.
DAVID BEATY: Oh, was it? I’ll be honest with you guys, we didn’t care about the score. We just care about the situations and where the points were working up. I think it was something that helped the fan base and everybody kind of keep up with what was going on, and for us, all those situations are things that we’ve been stressing. We continue to score that each day. We’re scoring it just like that every day, and there’s a winner and a loser every day, and then there’s a weekly winner and loser. So this score today goes into the composite for the week, and I think the defense has won the last three weeks in a row. Even though they gave up a bunch of touchdowns last week, they still won the week because of the consistency throughout the week.
So we’re trying to put emphasis on how we get better and not just going through plays and getting through days. How do you get better.
Q. A question about D’Andre Banks: It looked like you moved him to what looked to be the starting right tackle, and then I also would like to know where you see the program now compared to where it was one year ago at this time.
DAVID BEATY: Okay. D’Andre, we have moved him over to right tackle. He’s very athletic, very athletic. He played tackle when he was in college, and we knew that. He played center, played guard. He is very versatile, one of the fastest guys that we’ve got up front, and it’s been really good watching him develop out there.
I think he’s a guy that really has embraced that role and has really helped us.
Clyde has played a lot over at left tackle with Jordan being out, and it’s been good to see him get a bunch of reps.
A lot of those guys up there have really stood out to us. I think Jacob Bragg is another guy that really I think has had a really solid spring for us. Mesa Ribordy is another guy that at center has done some good things, and Joe Gibson has continued to develop over there, which if we’re going to be good, guys, we’ve got to be better up front, both defensively and offensively. So signing good players is going to be important.
We’ve got some of them here already, and man, they’ve been making an impact, which is good.
Year one to year two, night and day in terms of just how we practice, how we look, how we’re conducting our business in spring. They just got a little bit more maturity about them, which experience gives you, and really understanding kind of what we want, playing smarter. It’s been night and day in that regard.
Some of the development that Coach Jackson has created in that weight room has been something that has been — I mean, I’ve been so pleased with his group and what they’ve done. Just some of the numbers that they’ve produced has been great.
Night and day. I’m excited about our team. I’m excited about things moving forward. We’ll add some of the injured guys back into the mix. We’ve got several guys with shoulders that are not playing right now, so when we get those guys back, it’ll help us with some depth and some more competition.
Thanks a lot, guys. Appreciate you. Y’all have a good one.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #1 by #166 at 2016-04-09 20:45:00 GMT
Kansas senior quarterback Montell Cozart
On his performance:
“Well, I made some turnovers and I was trying to force it a little bit. It’s something to learn from. I’d rather get it out now than during September and during our season.”
On if anything felt off today:
“I wouldn’t say anything was off. I was just trying to get the ball in our playmakers’ hands. The one down in the end zone, I was just trying to get us a touchdown. Being on the same page with my receivers is something we’re going to continue to work on and get better at.”
On playing up-tempo:
“Tempo is going to help us tremendously. Being able to put the defense on its heels. It helps us as an offense because the defense isn’t able to shift around as much. Tempo is something we stress and are going to continue to get better at.”
Kansas junior linebacker Joe Dineen, Jr.
On the depth on the defensive line:
“What they’re doing makes our job, as linebackers, a lot easier. Props to them, Coach Slater is getting them right and they’re getting better by the day.”
On if it felt like the defense won the game:
“I felt like we came out and played really well. Obviously there were ups and downs; it’s never as good as you think it is. We’ll look at film and correct what we messed up, but I was happy with how we played today.”
On if last season is in the past now:
“It is, but it’s also great motivation. That’s unacceptable and you can’t do that again, so that’s always there. The record itself is in the past and now we’re moving forward, but it’s still there for motivation.”
Kansas junior wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez
On if this felt like a real game:
“Sitting out for a whole year, it felt like a game day for me. Seeing people in the crowd and everything. So yeah, it kind of felt like a real game.”
On if this type of play is what fans can expect during the season:
“Yeah, I gave you all I got, well not really all I got, but I made some plays out there and that’s what I hope you will be seeing all year.”
On the amount of pride he has in his speed and playmaking ability:
“The team last year didn’t really have that big playmaker, so that’s what I’m here to do, make a difference on the team.”
Kansas junior cornerback Stephan Robinson
On what he has worked on during spring practice to improve individually:
“Camp has been going great, I have been working on my craft and technique. Everyday I’m just trying to get better, along with that the spring season has gone well.”
On the biggest positive the defense can take from today’s scrimmage:
“We did what we were supposed to do. Everybody did their assignments, ran to the ball and the back end covered pretty well.”
On what improvements the team can continue working on:
“Chemistry. We need to build that with each other. This is my first year on the team so everybody needs to continue to build chemistry and learn how to play with each other, then we will be good.”
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