Spring Ball: Practice Report

Fans lined the sidelines last week as Kansas had its first practice in full pads for the 2005 spring season.

Possibly the most important information came when coach Mark Mangino had two announcements following the practice.

Kansas' schedule was completed with the addition of Div. 1-AA Appalacian State on Sept. 10. Mangino also announced that linebackers coach/recruiting coordinator Dave Doeren has been promoted to co-defensive coordinator. Doeren will team with defensive coordinator Bill Young to help with defensive game plans.

The primary stories at each practice are the players. Players went through individual position drills before working out against their rivals. It was the cornerbacks against wide receivers and offensive linemen against defensive linemen. After that, the team had a short scrimmage.

Jermial Ashley was far and away the best player on the field. Ashley looked stronger and even a bit quicker than last year and was unblockable in one-on-one drills with the offensive linemen. In general, the defensive line bested the offensive linemen, but Ashley was a terror, sacking the quarterback on EVERY single rush attempt in the pass-rush drills and grabbing a couple of sacks in the scrimmage. Even when a lineman was able to get his hands on Ashley, he was too strong and too quick to keep off the quarterback. The defensive ends look to be scary with Ashley and a buffed-up Charlton Keith. Paul Como also looked quick from his defensive end position.

Charles Gordon had a typical practice, picking off anything near him and playing blanket coverage. But the receiver to give him the most trouble may have been the most improved player on the field. Jonathan Lamb showed much improved speed and strength and gave Gordon all he could handle when working one-on-one. Simmons looked typically strong and Dexton Fields looked fantastic, even getting a high five from Mangino after coming down with a high pass while being hit. If Fields and Lamb can step up, this unit might not struggle as much as before.

Ahh, the quarterback situation. Adam Barmann worked mostly with the first team, backed up by speedy Marcus Herford, while Jason Swanson and Brian Luke took any snaps that were left. Barmann and Herford did get about the same amount of snaps. Barmann looked sharp and said he was 100 percent recovered from his shoulder injury. He threw an accurate ball and showed great arm strength.

Herford was a mixture of great plays and mistakes. He threw several interceptions in the scrimmage, but also threw a few nice passes. When he escaped the pocket, he showed acceleration similar to that of Texas' Vince Young (a bit quicker than Brad Smith of Missouri). He also had a strong arm but was indecisive. Barmann said that Herford was extremely talented, fast and strong, but that he just needed to learn the offense. His fundamentals are still raw, especially his ball positioning when going through his steps. Offensive coordinator Nick Quartaro tried to help him through on a couple of occasions. Remember, Herford hardly practiced in the offense last year, as coaches don't have the time to spend with players who are redshirts, so this was basically his first practice with the Kansas offense at full-speed in full pads.

Gary Green II is about as quick as they come. Banks Floodman compared trying to tackle him to attempting to grasp another elusive back that came through the Big 12, Darren Sproles. He broke a couple of long runs against the defense, including a pinball-like dart near the end of practice. Clark Green also showed nice burst and improved speed. The team rarely worked with a fullback all practice.

On to the defense the linebackers were up to form, with the expected trio of Banks Floodman, Nick Reid and Kevin Kane. Kane appeared to be a bit bigger than last year. Reid had a virus in the last week, prompting coaches to move Jon Cornish to linebacker to add depth for the time being. Mangino referred to the move as "an experiment." Eric Washington added an instant speed upgrade, and was able to get in front of Herford on one play when he scrambled out of the pocket. He's a bit smallish, but man, can he run. Mike Rivera and Joe Mortensen also saw a lot of time, with both of them showing great mobility for their size. Reid is fresh off a virus that affected several of the Kansas players, so the lineups could change a bit.

In the secondary, Aqib Talib showed great smoothness and picked off a Herford pass and took it back to the house. Rodney Fowler also looked great. He had a big hit on third and short in the scrimmage that stopped the offense from converting the first down.

The offensive line had its hands full with the blitz package the defense was sending. Still, linemen Rodriguez, Whitaker and Cantrell all looked strong at different times.

The lineups, which are bound to change sometime during spring ball were as follows:

WR Mark Simmons, Brian Murph
WR Dominic Roux, Dexton Fields
WR Marcus Henry, Garrett Guzman
WR Jonathan Lamb, Hassan Johnson
TE Derek Fine, Jim Reuber
LT Scott Haverkamp, Marcus Anderson
LG Bob Whitaker, Jake Cox
C Matt Thompson, Ryan Cantrell
RG David Ochoa, Mitar Rudanovich
RT Cesar Rodriguez, Matt Darton/Anthony Collins
QB Adam Barmann, Marcus Herford
RB Clark Green, Gary Green II
FB Cullen Homolka

DE Charlton Keith, Paul Como
DT Tim Allen, Wayne Wilder
DT Todd Haselhorst, James McClinton
DE Jermial Ashley, John Larson
OLB Nick Reid, Eric Washington
ILB Kevin Kane, Mike Rivera
OLB Banks Floodman, Joe Mortensen
CB Charles Gordon, Ronnie Amadi
FS Rodney Fowler, Rodney Harris
SS Jerome Kemp, Marcus Hicks
CB Theo Baines, Aqib Talib

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