Tomorrow marks the end of the 2011 Spring football season and it comes to a close with the traditional Spring game. Yes a Spring game is a glorified practice and it can sometimes be tough to take too much away from it, but after last year's Spring contest there were definitely those in attendance that all but predicted the 3-9 season that was on the horizon.
With that in mind, what are the things that Kansas fans are looking for headed into this years edition in order to ease their collective minds heading into Summertime? Here's a few to kick around, but I'm sure there are plenty of other question marks floating out there that fans might get a hint at an answer to on Saturday afternoon.
This isn't a battle that will be resolved by the end of the day Saturday. When the post Spring depth chart is release you can expect Mecham and Webb to be listed as "co"-QB1's and at this point you can probably still consider Blake Jablonski and an incoming Brock Berglund as contenders through the Summer and at the very least into early Fall.
Many expect Webb to be the favorite, but on Saturday it's important that Kansas sees at the very least two, ideally three quarterbacks that look substantially more comfortable with the offense and improved compared to what the Jayhawks were working with last fall.
Offensive Line v Defensive Line
Yes last year was fun watching Kevin Young and Quinton Woods clean up with QB sacks and provide hope for a pass rush and a productive defensive line. The problem was that the Spring game should have given us more of an indication that our offensive line wasn't up to snuff as opposed to showing us that our defensive line was vastly improved.
I'm not sure it's a great sign to watch either side dominate the other, but if I'm picking a side I want to see the offensive line win this battle because they are a veteran group and it's the only way that the abysmal offense from last season improves. Flashes from players like Toben Opurum, Pat Lewandowski, Julius Green and any of the other front four would be a welcome sign, but show me an offensive line that looks cohesive and effective in protecting the quarterback and establishing running lanes.
Kansas was thin and a little over-matched at the position a year ago. What do players like Darius Willis, Malcolm Walker and Huldon Tharp bring to the table and add with Steven Johnson being the lone returner with a high level of production. Is the position looking at an upgrade or are we still in a wait and see mode.
Wide Receiver Blocking
Forget a breakaway receiver for now. Until we have an offensive line that can protect and a running game that can alleviate pressure, I'm not concerned with that. What I do want to see is a receiving corps that takes blocking as seriously as the claims that have been coming out of Spring ball.
It starts up front, but the rest of the work that James Sims and Darrian the Barbarian can put in beyond that first five yards depends a lot on what these players provide in terms of downfield blocking. The Jayhawk Orange Bowl team did this extremely well and it's time to get back to that.
Living Up To The Hype
There are a variety of players that are either going to be new faces, healthy faces or familiar faces in new roles and all have some level of hype surrounding what the staff and others have indicated they can bring to the table. Who shows it and sets the tone for the Fall.