Thursday, March 25, 2010
Saturday means spring practice in Lawrence
By ESPN.com staff
Kansas will begin spring practice on Saturday, officially bringing the Big 12's second new coach onto the practice field.
Turner Gill can finally get a closer look at the players he'll rely on to replace the offensive stars the Jayhawks lost from 2009.
Fifteen starters return, but among those lost are quarterback Todd Reesing, receivers Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier, and running back Jake Sharp. Safety Darrell Stuckey's departure also leaves a hole in the secondary Gill will have to replace.
Junior college quarterback Quinn Mecham has enrolled early and will compete with Kale Pick to replace Reesing. Whoever wins the job could have the advantage of playing behind an offensive line that returns all five starters.
Headlining that group is tackle Tanner Hawkinson, who was a Freshman All-American in 2009, as well as being named All-Big 12 honorable mention.
They'll be eager to improve on a poor performance in 2009. Kansas allowed 32 sacks last season, second most in the Big 12, and Jayhawks running backs averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, tied for ninth in the conference. In conference games, that number dropped to just 2.4 yards per carry, the second worst in the conference.
But the entire team will be ready to erase memories of a disappointing end to a season that began with promise. The Jayhawks won their first five games and reached No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today poll before losing their final seven games and finishing last in the Big 12 North.
Dating back to Mark Gottfried in 1982, no Kansas head coach has had a winning record in his first season. Gill's opportunity at changing that begins this weekend.