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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Sports Potpourri: K-State, KU seeking to answer questions with spring ball

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  • Reports from Kansas University’s spring football camp indicate the Jayhawks will field a formidable Big 12 defense this fall.
    We’ll see.
    KU appears to be improved on offense with a number of new coaches and players. But, college football teams aren’t effective on offense without a talented passing quarterback.
    KU will wrap up spring practice with the annual blue-white game at 1 p.m. Saturday in Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised by the Jayhawk TV network.
    Kansas has three leading candidates for the starting QB job: senior Jake Heaps (6-1, 210), sophomore Montell Cozart (6-2, 195), and UCLA transfer T.J. Millweard (6-3, 230).
    Heaps and Cozart have experience at KU. Between those two, Cozart is the pass-run threat and Heaps is the best passer. Millweard is a sophomore and has not played a down for KU.
    Cozart had a disappointing freshman season, but in fairness to him, it’s almost impossible for a freshman QB to be successful in big-time college football. Even though Cozart played tentatively last year and lacked the necessary competitive fire, he may have matured.
    Heaps has passing ability and showed it on occasion last season, but he was hindered by a mediocre offensive line and many, many drops by the receivers.
    Coach Charlie Weis needs to have one of his three prospects emerge as a quality quarterback who can make the Jayhawks competitive in the Big 12. Saturday will offer the first clue.
    Kansas State’s football team is also hard at spring practice and Coach Bill Snyder has a pleasant problem: What should he do with QB Daniel Sams (6-2, 210)? Jake Waters — a superb passer — nailed down the starting QB job last season and he won’t be dislodged by Sams.
    The problem is that Sams is a far better runner than Waters and more gifted athletically, but Sams isn’t close to Waters in passing ability and that’s the most vital factor for a QB.
    Daniel Sams became upset toward the end of last season because of his lack of playing time. During K-State’s bowl preparation, Snyder said, "His emotions aren't centered around what Jake does or doesn't do … his emotions are centered on, 'I just want to be out there.' And that's what you want out of the guys. You want them to want to be out there. He and I have had that discussion. And we've worked him at other spots as well, and will probably keep doing so."
    K-State has an opening at running back and that seems to be the most likely position switch for Sams. But in Snyder’s complex system, the running back has to be an exceptional blocker and assignment sound. Sams couldn’t switch to running back and stay sharp at QB, where he will be needed if Waters is injured.
    Page 2 of 2 - Another possibility would be for Snyder to play Sams some at wide receiver.  In other words, keep him at QB, but use a little practice time to acclimate him at receiver.
    Snyder recently said, "I don't see any change — maybe some additional responsibilities, but not a wholesale position change."
    Having a player like Sams — who has great athletic ability — standing on the sidelines during games isn’t an ideal situation. But, trying to find playing time for an athletically gifted backup QB is a pleasant problem to have.
    Turning to the baseball diamond …
    The Kansas City Royals avoided another disastrous start when they evened their season record at 2-2 against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.
    KC’s starting pitching has been encouraging: James Shields, Jason Vargas, and Bruce Chen had outstanding first starts, and Jeremy Guthrie survived a ragged beginning. The bullpen was a different matter: Wade Davis, Tim Collins, and Aaron Crow were shaky in their early efforts. Nevertheless, closer Greg Holland pitched very well in KC’s two wins.
    First baseman Eric Hosmer has been stellar at the plate and spectacular on defense.  Catcher Salvy Perez is the best young catcher in baseball and is proving it with every game. Alex Gordon produced a three-run double on Saturday and has been his usual Gold Glove self on defense.
    In their first 29 at bats, third baseman Mike Moustakas (15) and shortstop Alcides Escobar (14) hadn’t even stroked a loud foul, let alone a hit. That won’t feed the bulldog.
    So far, Moustakas is the primary problem on the ballclub. His hitting has been awful.  But, it’s early and he might snap out of it.  If he doesn’t, KC has a significant issue at third base.
    Every team has some weaknesses, and the Royals have been well-balanced so far.  Right fielder Nori Aoki and second baseman Omar Infante have been excellent in the early going. KC is going to challenge Detroit in the American League Central.

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