Jayhawk Offense to Add Speed?

Fans crowded the sideline at the Jayhawks' recent open practice to take a look at a possibly quicker offense.

Kerry Meier took the majority of the snaps during scrimmage and looked good. He showed awareness under the pressure of a collapsing pocket, along with the ability to scramble. After being forced out of the pocket, Meier showed mobility that allowed him to cut back to the middle and find an open receiver. That’s not to say that he’s forcing the ball. When there was nothing open, he didn’t hesitate to throw it to a nearby receiver’s feet. There was a nice interception by a diving linebacker after one of Meier’s attempts to throw the ball away, so he’ll have to be careful about his predictability in that department.

Meier’s favorite receivers were Brian Murph and occasionally Derek Fine. Murph is doing a good job of getting his head around and catching the tough passes away from his body. The fact that he was also working on punt returns will help him with his catching as well. While Fine will be the main receiving tight end, Marc Dierking caught a few short passes over the middle as well. He was laid out once by a safety, which jarred the ball loose, but caught everything that was thrown his way.

Meier will undoubtedly be fun to watch, especially when coupled with freshman speedster Jake Sharp at running back. Many drills weren’t run at full speed, but you couldn’t tell it by watching Sharp. Sharp, out of Salina, was perhaps the most exciting player to watch at practice. He was used in the flats, where he can turn up the speed down the sideline after catching the ball, and received several handoffs up the middle as well. He looks to be at full speed once he hits the hole, but is still shifty enough to evade tacklers, which is why it’s surprising he’s not getting reps in as a return specialist.

Sharp used his blockers nicely, waiting until the last second to use his quickness to pop out and blast through his hole. On one play, Sharp found himself with nowhere to run on a handoff to the left side, but had a nice change of direction to jet around the right side. Remember the shuffle play that was run several times in the Fort Worth Bowl last year? It’s back, and being run to perfection by him and Meier. It’s obvious that Mangino is trying to work him into the offense.

We also saw some tosses from Todd Reesing, who found a couple of open receivers. He saw more action than the other backups, but there was at least one play that he seemed to have a hard time seeing his receiver on a dump pass over the middle. We’ll see if his size ends up affecting him at this level. He’s listed at 5’11”, which is generous. Even Adam Barrmann got some throws in, while freshman Tyler Lawrence worked mostly on awareness drills and took snaps in some drills for the lineman as well.

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