Thursday morning practice report

Thursday morning practice report

With spring football entering the home stretch, the Kansas Jayhawks were up bright and early Thursday morning for a 6 a.m. workout under the lights at Memorial Stadium. Head Coach Charlie Weis opened up the hour-long session to the media, and Phog.net was on hand. Check out some of our impressions inside.

1. Everyone wants to know about Dayne Crist and, to a lesser degree because of the year he'll be sitting out, Jake Heaps. Short answer? They look good. Really good. But what we're talking about is no-contact drills here. In fact, all we saw today were no-pressure passing drills, the type of stuff one sees during pre-game warmups. So it's tough to draw many worthwhile conclusions.

A couple of things do jump out though. Both have major arm strength - Crist is probably superior here, but Heaps has a surprisingly powerful arm when compared to his scouting report - and both were extremely accurate, particularly on end zone fades and deep routes.

2.Kansas head coach Charlie Weis has developed some sort of all-seeing eye. Watching him during practice, he sees everything. He can be on the other end of the field and if a player takes a rep off or makes a mistake, he knows it. It's like he can smell them. We've got no idea how he does it.

Regarding the staff as a whole, the thing that stood out most is just how much coaching is going on. That sounds trite, but it's true. Every single member of the staff is watching every rep of their position group with eyes that would be more at home on a bird of prey. They're always correcting when necessary, always complimenting when deserved. They're extremely involved, enthusiastic and hands-on.

3. One of the highlights of the morning, for me, was the Oklahoma drill. For approximately 10-15 minutes the offensive line squared off against the defensive line and linebackers, and there were some really impressive and intense battles - none more so than the repeated showdowns between Tanner Hawkinson and Toben Opurum.

Hawkinson won the first in dominant fashion, exploding off the ball, driving Opurum back and pancaking him at the end. However, Opurum - who looks fantastic - came back and won the rematch. The two stalemated the third contest.

Duane Zlatnik and Trevor Marrongelli stood out as well, though the candidates for the right side of the offensive line seemed to struggle a bit. Luke Luhrsen drew Weis' ire for one performance in particular, and he's competing for a starting spot at right guard. How that side of the line shakes out will be one of the big questions of the fall.

4. The bulk of practice was devoted to special teams work, and once again every single coach had a hand in the process. D.J. Beshears, Daymond Patterson, Anthony Pierson and Bradley McDougald all worked as return men.

The kickers really struggled during field goal drills. By our count, Alex Mueller and Ron Doherty hit just one field goal between them. Weis brought Doherty in to close out practice with a kick, and actually tried to ice him with a timeout.

It worked. Doherty missed the first, then came back and drilled the second. The sideline exploded and mobbed him, but not to Weis satisfaction. He proceeded to order everyone back to the sidelines, and chastise them for their attitude - wondering if since they hadn't won a conference game in a year, they shouldn't be a bit more openly excited?

Doherty set up for another try, nailed it, and was dog-piled so thoroughly that he came up for end-of-practice stretches with the wind knocked out of him.

And that's about it. It was overall an enthusiastic, fast-paced workout, and now we wait until next weekend's spring game for the first real glimpse at the team in action.

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