Starters Win Spring Game, 20-7

(Steve Puppe file photo)

It went about the way you expected it to, but it was nice to see, anyway.

Todd Reesing threw for 221 yards and a touchdown in a half of football and Johnathan Wilson caught seven passes for 133 yards Saturday afternoon in the annual spring football game in Memorial Stadium.

LB Jake Schermer led the Blue defense and DB Greg Brown led the White, each with eight tackles. DBs Lubbock Smith and Chris Harris also collected six tackles for their teams.  

KU head coach Mark Mangino also said he was pleased with the play of Kale Pick, who started at quarterback for the White squad. After a nervous start which included a 2-of-6 passing performance in the first quarter, he settled into the game very nicely. Pick completed 8-of-10 for 63 yards in the second quarter and finished 14-of-21 for 108 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception. The redshirt frosh from Dodge City took over for Blue number two QB Kerry Meier at the start of the fourth quarter.

"I was very excited. Last spring game, I wasn't able to get many reps and I was real excited to get the chance to start with the second team," Pick said.

KU head coach Mark Mangino would agree: "excited" is an apt word for Pick's performance.

"Kale got a little wound up out there," Mangino said, smiling. "I had to talk with him and settle him down and tell him this was just practice. I tried to explain to him to just carry out his assignments. He settled down. He is eager to impress because he's so competitive."

It should be noted that Mangino said, "just practice," ala Allen Iverson. Believe it or not, it worked for him.

Mangino also gave every indication that Pick's performance has put him firmly in the back-up quarterback spot, which will allow Kerry Meier to play WR full time this fall.

RB Rell Lewis' stock may have gone up dramatically Saturday afternoon. Lewis rushed a combined 14 times for 64 yards and made three catches for 55 yards. That's 8.5 yards every time he touched the ball.

"We've been waiting for (Lewis) to surface," KU head coach Mark Mangino said of Lewis. "In practice, he has shown flashes of playing really well and then he would have a day when he didn't really look sharp. I thought that the past week, he has made some strides and today he showed that he is a capable player."

The questions about KU's offensive line were also addressed to a degree Saturday. It was something of a good news, bad news situation, though. Mangino was pleased with their work in pass protection; all KU QBs, including Jordan Webb, combined for 500 yards passing. On the downside, the run game needs work.

"The run game was up and down and we need to get better fundamentally there," Mangino said.

The line wasn't bad, though, opening nice holes for Lewis and starting RB Jake Sharp (seven carries, 63 yards and a score).

Mangino said, "They did a nice job against twists and stunts, which is a really positive sign. The key with the offensive line is to get all those kids working together. You've got five guys, working foot-to-foot. No other position is like that. They need to develop some chemistry."

Other Jayhawks who made a strong showing were...

  • RB Deshaun Sands, son of KU legend Tony Sands, rushed eight times for 28 very tough yards for the second unit. One of the biggest pops of the game was Sands – all 5-6, 180 of him – putting a shoulder into 6-4, 260 Jake Laptad as Sands was headed out of bounds.
  • Kerry Meier pulled double-duty Saturday, making five catches for 77 yards and completing six of eight attempts for 86 yards.
  • Despite a relatively low score, big plays were to be made. Isiah Barfield made a 29-yard reception, Johnathan Wilson made one of 26 yards and Jake Sharp collected a 30-yard catch.
  • K Jacob Branstetter had a perfect afternoon: 2-for-2 on field goals of 44 and 31 yards and 3-of-3 on points after.

Mangino wouldn't go so far as to say he was happy ("Have you ever seen a coach leave a spring game happy?" he asked, laughing.), he was pleased overall with his team's effort.

"I thought today was a good day's work for us. I liked the way our kids competed. I feel good, not only about some veterans but also some young guys who you can see will make an impact in the fall."


Other notes:
Crawford suspended: RB Jocquez Crawford has been suspended from the KU football team for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Mangino would not comment on whether or not his suspension is connected to last week's accident that sent reserve OL Ben Lueken to the hospital with serious injuries. Mangino did, however, point out that this is not Crawford's first violation of team rules, and that multiple violations have occurred in a relatively short period of time. "I'll meet with him again Monday," Mangino said, "I'm not sure what his status is right now." Mangino's comments made it easy to speculate that Crawford's future with the Kansas football program is hanging by a very thin thread.


Scoring
1st qtr, 12:12, Reesing to Wilson, 10 yard pass (PAT Branstetter). 6 plays, 69 yards, time of possession 2:48. BLUE 7, WHITE 0.
1st qtr, 7:35, Branstetter 44-yard FG. 8 / 53 / 3:04. BLUE 10, WHITE 0.
1st qtr, 4:39, Sharp 1 yd TD run (PAT Branstetter). 5 / 67 / 1:52. BLUE 17, WHITE 0.
2nd, :25, Pick to Pendleton, 15 yard pass (PAT Branstetter). 11 / 70 / :06. BLUE 17, WHITE 7.
4th, 11:51, Branstetter 31-yard FG. 8 / 63 / 6:50. BLUE 20, WHITE 7.

Attendance: 48,500 (Al Bohl count)

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