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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Stevenson: KU, KSU football showing signs of spring improvement

  • It’s difficult to draw any objective conclusions from spring football games; nevertheless, fans of Kansas have legitimate reasons for optimism.
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  • It’s difficult to draw any objective conclusions from spring football games; nevertheless, fans of Kansas have legitimate reasons for optimism.
    Kansas is going to be much improved. Coach Charlie Weis is pleased. He said, “A lot of the guys we were hoping would show up.
    They showed up. There were questions last year if we had a receiver that could play, and I thought that Justin McCay just had an excellent day; is Heaps accurate, well it’s pretty obvious that he’s accurate.
    I think both defensive fronts showed up today. Both the linebackers, Heeney and Love, were all over the place. So, overall, there were a lot of positives on the day.”
    Jake Heaps led the Blue team to a 34-7 win and his quarterbacking was encouraging.
    Heaps, however, has room for improvement before next fall. His passing stats, 20-of-28 passes completed for 257 yards and four touchdowns, were excellent, but a number of throws were slightly off target.
    But, all things considered, Jake Heaps appears to be the quarterback the Jayhawks need.
    Michael Cummings had a productive game for the White team, completing 8-of-13 passes for 94 yards and one touchdown. Cummings had significant playing time last season and he gives Kansas experienced depth at quarterback.
    Running back James Sims and running back/wide receiver Tony Pierson are quality offensive threats and both had an excellent spring practice.
    Last season the wide receivers were Kansas’s worst position group. That’s changed. The pass catchers played well Saturday and Justin McCay showed he has a chance to be extra special at Kansas. McCay caught eight passes for 99 yards and one touchdown.
    In addition, he made key blocks on several running plays.
    The vital transformation in Kansas’s team was the play of the Blue and White defenses; there’s no comparison to these players and the 2012 defensive unit. It’s obvious the Jayhawks have bigger and faster and more talented players. And some of the best recruits haven’t arrived yet.
    Linebackers Ben Heeney and Jake Love played impressive football on defense and both are set for a productive 2013 season.
    Kansas has weaknesses: The kicking game left much to be desired; neither the punting nor place-kicking was overly impressive and returners fumbled two punts.
    If the junior college recruits report for summer practice as expected and problems are minimal, Kansas will have an entertaining and competitive team this fall. A team that could be special or simply improved over 2012.
    * * * * *
    Kansas State fans shouldn’t lose any sleep because coach Bill Snyder has to replace eight starters on defense for the Big 12 co-champions. Snyder has his program on solid footing again and the Wildcats will have an effective defense for the 2013 season.
    Page 2 of 2 - The media have focused on K-State’s defensive holes that must be filled, but they forget that the Cats will have a dynamic offense. Snyder has two big-time prospects at quarterback, red-shirt sophomore Daniel Sams and JUCO recruit Jake Waters.
    Kansas State’s passing attack will be more potent this fall than it was with Collin Klein at quarterback; many proven receivers return and that will benefit the new quarterback. And most important of all, the talented and tough offensive line returns intact.
    Snyder’s offense will take pressure off the inexperienced defense by controlling the ball and clock.
    Don’t expect coach Snyder to name his starting quarterback after spring practice; either Sams or Waters will be the starter, but that won’t be decided until late during fall practices.

    Mac Stevenson is a longtime area columnist in the Northeast region of Kansas.
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