Blue Over White in Spring Football Game

Kansas fans got a glimpse of what's in store for them next season as the Jayhawks participated in the spring football game in Memorial Stadium.

Jordan Webb trusts Tim Biere.

So with the Blue Team facing a fourth-and-one from the White Team's 20 yard line, Webb faked a handoff to tailback Angus Quigley, then immediately looked for his tight end.

And he found him, too. Only he wasn't a couple of yards past the first down marker, which would have been the safe play. No, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Biere was headed for the end zone.

"I see Tim coming out and I just know he's going to go out and get it for me," Webb said, after the game. "So I put it up for him."

The gamble paid off, as Biere's acrobatic catch in coverage provided the first score of the 2010 Spring Game, breaking a 0-0 stalemate after one quarter and giving the Blue Team the lead.

As the clock ticked down in that first quarter, the estimated 12,500 fans gathered at Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon were starting to get a little restless.

Call it a product of heightened expectations. This was to be Jayhawk Nation's first glimpse of the team after a period of significant change. Gone are a handful of all-time football greats at KU, including the likes of Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier, Dezmon Briscoe and Darrell Stuckey. Gone is former Head Coach Mark Mangino, who resigned in early December amid a flurry of controversy.

In steps Turner Gill, the charismatic head coach from the University of Buffalo, hired  by athletic director Lew Perkins two weeks later – and the new Jayhawks head man doesn't come alone. He brings with him established assistants like offensive coordinator Chuck Long and defensive coordinator Carl Torbush.

But with so many new faces on the coaching staff, and so many holes to fill on the two-deep, Jayhawk Nation was left wondering what, exactly, Gill's Jayhawks would look like on the field.

And after one quarter, with the score tied 0-0, the picture wasn't becoming any clearer. Both offensive lines were struggling with their defensive counterparts, and yardage was tough to come by – either on the ground or through the air – for either squad.

But Biere's touchdown reception brought the crowd to it's feet, and kick-started a second quarter that might have given Kansas fans a glimpse at what's in store for 2010.

Though the game's opening score gave the Blue Team a 7-0 advantage, that lead was short lived. After a penalty pushed the White offense into a third-and-long from its own 28 yard line, sophomore quarterback Kale Pick stepped up in the pocket and cut loose with a bomb to freshman wide receiver Chris Omigie.

Pick, who opened the game as the starting quarterback for the Blues, said he knew the pass was on the money as soon as it left his hand.

"I saw him open, I saw the safety bite down and I let her fly," he said. "I was pretty positive that he was going to come down with it. I was hoping anyway."

"I knew I had the corner beat off the line," Omigie added. "I was like 'Alright, Kale, just throw it out here and I'm gonna go get it,' like I always tell him in practice."

Omigie did, in fact, come down with it, and after securing the ball sprinted the final 10 yards to paydirt to tie the game at seven-all. After such a quiet 12 minutes to start the game, the crowd responded enthusiastically to the barrage of offensive fireworks.

Despite finding some success through the air on the day, both offenses struggled throughout to run the football. Starting tailback senior Angus Quigley led all rushers with seven carries for 33 yards for the Blue Team, while freshman Deshaun Sands paced the Whites with seven carries for 33 yards. The two teams combined for just 53 yards on the ground.

It's an area that Gill said needed to be addressed in the summer and fall, though he was quick to praise the defense for their play.

First-team defensive ends freshman Kevin Young and junior Travis Stephens caused havoc in the backfield for the White Team, forcing Blue quarterbacks into sacks, scrambles and hurried throws on several occasions.

"From a defense line standpoint, I think we played pretty well on the whole," Gill said. "It was a good sign to see that and they were going against all different groups of guys.  They were consistently getting penetration both on the run and the pass."

Senior kicker Jacob Branstetter's 36-yard field goal gave the White Team a 10-7 lead with 4:19 remaining in the first half. That score would stand until late in fourth quarter, with neither offense able to get much going, when Pick hit freshman Christian Matthews for his second touchdown pass of the day.

The sophomore, who finished his day 14-of-22 for 214 yards, threw the ball on a rope to Matthews from the White 37 yard line to give the Blue Team the 14-10 lead and the victory.

"The DB was almost ahead of (Matthews) on the fade," Pick explained, of the play. "I  was going to try to back shoulder him or throw it a little short so he could come back for it and he did. I was glad that we were on the same page, and that might be with his quarterback experience too, that he knew where the quarterbacks were going to put the ball, so he came back and got it right away."

With his first spring on Mount Oread now behind him, Gill said he was pleased with what the team had accomplished in the past four weeks of practice.

They set out to identify 15-18 players on both sides of the ball that they felt good about, he explained. Rather than start building gameplans to win games in September, the coaches wanted to see how their players responded to different situations, to game-like scenarios when the heat is on.

"I think we feel pretty good about what we wanted to get accomplished," Gill said. "So now we'll get down to evaluating and looking for details, getting into those specific players."

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