Jayhawks wrap up spring practice with fan showcase

Jayhawks wrap up spring practice with fan showcase
Posted at 5:09 PM, Apr 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-28 18:09:51-04

The fact that Kansas coach David Beaty had to scrap the traditional spring game in favor of an open practice for fans could be taken as a bad sign that things are turning around for the Jayhawks.

Turns out, it's just an unfortunate set of circumstances.

The Jayhawks were down to eight healthy offensive linemen by the end of spring camp, making it nearly impossible to have a scrimmage at Memorial Stadium. So their fourth-year coach decided to have a spring football showcase instead, an opportunity to at least give fans a glimpse of the team.

"We've got to do what we've got to do to make sure that we're smart," Beaty explained, "but we can still get a lot done. So that gives you a little bit of an idea of why we did what we did there."

Players typically look forward to the spring game, giving them an opportunity to put the pads on and play the closest thing to a real game that they'll have until the fall. But even after an entire offseason conditioning program and a handful of spring practices, Beaty said the Jayhawks weren't bummed about his decision to scrap their opportunity to perform.

That may have been the most encouraging part of the entire spring game saga.

"We have a little bit more veteran team right now," he said. "It really wasn't a blip on their radar. I didn't really see much out of them other than knowing that we're trying to focus on getting better as football players in all facets, so it really didn't seem like it was a big deal to those guys.

"Those guys want to win. They want to win in the fall," Beaty said. "There's not going to be a true winner on that spring game. So we want to win the fall."

With that in mind, here are some key takeaways from the Jayhawks' spring showcase:

QB COMPETITION: Another year, another competition to squat behind the center. Peyton Bender appeared to take the lead over Carter Stanley after last season, when they were essentially 1A and 1B on the depth chart. But now, Bender is being pushed by junior college transfer Miles Kendrick, creating another tight contest that is sure to continue right into fall camp.

BILL IS BACK: Beaty reached into the past to hire Bill Miller, a former Kansas assistant who most recently coached at Florida State. Miller will handle linebackers as part of a staff shakeup on that side of the ball, with Todd Bradford handling safeties, defensive coordinator Clint Bowen overseeing the cornerbacks and Kenny Penny taking on the role of special teams coach.

FRESHMAN SENSATION: Four-star prospect Corione Harris was without question the most highly regarded recruit of Beaty's tenure, and the fact that he joined the team at the semester was a bonus. Now, the rangy cornerback from Louisiana is making a push for playing time right away.

MORE STAFF MOVES: The staff shake-up wasn't only on defense. Beaty has decided that offensive coordinator Doug Meacham will work with quarterbacks rather than wide receivers, and that Garrett Riley will take over fullbacks and tight ends. It's all part of a plan to get more production out of his young signal-callers, and perhaps begin to turn around the flagging program.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Jayhawks open the season against Nicholls State on Sept. 1 in what could be a make-or-break season for Beaty and athletic director Sheahon Zenger. The school has announced significant investments in its football program and started construction on a new indoor facility. But just three wins under Beaty has not provided a whole lot of momentum to back things up.