Two weeks in and two weeks to go before North Dakota State, game week preparation and a season of routine setting in. So far the Jayhawks have gone from an August 3rd trip to Dave and Busters as a team, to 140+ degree heat indices during two a day sessions.
At the halfway point what positions are shaping up nicely? Where might they need more work to be done? A new staff, a fresh start and plenty of storylines are developing with the Jayhawks through two weeks of camp. Today we look at a few and give a midterm report card from camp.
First and foremost the position battle that the media seems focused on is at quarterback. The Jayhawks are looking to replace Todd Reesing after three seasons as the starter and Kale Pick and Jordan Webb appear locked into a heated competition for the spot.
Early indicators seem to give the edge to Pick and when all is said and done his versatility could prove too much to pass up for first year offensive coordinator Chuck Long. This is a position where it's impossible to truly know what you have until game day, and replacing someone like Reesing could prove very difficult.
As to the offensive line protecting the quarterback, the early concerns swirling around several key injuries seem to be all for not so far. The group seems to be coming together nicely, minor injuries are healing and the five starters from the end of 2009 that were viewed as a strength for this team appear to be on track to start day one in 2010. Ideally an experienced group up front can help ease the transition to a new quarterback.
Tanner Hawkinson Trevor Marrongelli, Sal Capra, Jeremiah Hatch and Brad Thorson should see the bulk of the minutes. However, any major injuries could prove challenging as depth is a concern at offensive line much like many positions on the field.
At receiver the Jayhawks are replacing some serious talent in departing Jayhawks Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe. One move that could pay serious dividends from the get go is a move back to offense for Daymond Patterson. The switch back to offense after two seasons spent on defense already looks like a homerun by the new staff.
Patterson, Johnathan Wilson and Bradley McDougald are the three early leaders at the position and all three could prove to be just as effective if Kansas can find the right person to distribute the ball.
One position that Kansas has a potential sleeper All Big 12 candidate is at tight end. Junior Tim Biere has been hidden for two years behind an offense focused on Demon Briscoe and Kerry Meier. With a change in staff and a renewed focus on involving the tight end, Biere is looking like a potential break out player.
Behind him a host of players who haven't quite filled their potential including AJ Steward, Bradley Dedeaux and a walk on in Ted McNulty. Kansas could see a true freshman push for time at this position as well with both Jimmay Mundine and Trent Smiley having strong early camps.
In the backfield the competition appears wide open early on. Turner Gill continues to indicate that Kansas will focus on showing a stronger commitment to the run than a year ago. With that comes plenty of carries.
Angus Quigley is still the front runner, but last years leading rusher Toben Opurum is pushing hard as are two true freshman in Missouri native Brandon Bourbon and fellow freshman James Sims. Kansas could be looking at a running back by committee but the staff is still hoping they can find someone to separate themselves from the crowd.
Either way the depth at the position appears drastically improved from a year ago.
Wrapping up the midterm report card we have the sleepers. Every year teams have players come out of seemingly no where or from another spot on the field to make a major contribution. Early candidates include Christian Matthews and DJ Beshears.
Beshears, like Patterson, moves from corner to his natural position as a slot receiver. He is one of the fastest players on the field and could provide a home run threat to the receiving corps.
Matthews is a quarterback turned receiver with more height and a smooth style and athleticism. Matthews has transitioned extremely well to his new position. As a redshirt freshman he could push for minutes at receiver and more importantly there is talk that he might just provide a unique wrinkle in the Kansas backfield as the Jayhawks look to employ an occasional "wildcat" attack.
At the end of the day, installing a new system is going to take time and there will be growing pains. Still the Jayhawks are seeing some good thing early.
Ultimately it will come down to finding out if they can come close to replacing the best trigger man in school history.