Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spring practice starts today

It sure is nice when the break between the end of basketball season (one week ago today) and the beginning of football season (today at 4 p.m.) is one week or less. In the future, the gap should be even smaller, if Huggins can continue to show the type of improvement we saw just this year.

Apparently Josh Freeman has put his offseason to good use in the weightroom. I like to hear that he's bigger and stronger, because he took a beating last year behind our inexperienced and injury-ravaged offensive line. I'm not sure the offensive line is going to be a whole lot better this year, meaning Freeman may need the extra bulk to withstand another tough season.

My only fear is that he concentrated too hard on the weightroom this season and neglgected the film study and on-field improvement aspects of the game. He made some great improvements in reading and reacting to opposing defenses last season, but considering where he started (...the Baylor game, *shudder*), that's not necessarily saying much. I was at the Baylor game last year, and Freeman looked totally lost out there. He made horrible decisions under pressure, basically just throwing the ball up for grabs several times (he had three INTs that day, in case you forgot).

Now before you go and think I'm a Freeman hater, I'm not. The kid has amazing potential and wonderful natural talent. His play against Iowa State, Colorado and Texas was the primary reason we got into a bowl game. I think we'll see even more improvement from him this year, but I want to see some consistency, too.

Of course, Freeman's going to need some help. He got pretty much none most of the season from the big guys up front, which has to change if we want to make any strides on offense. I'm not breaking any new ground by saying the OL is the key to the entire offense, because if they can't protect the passer or make holes for the runners, it's going to be hard to make much progress. By my count, we have eight returnees who had starting experience last year (Unruh, Handy, Hafferty, Spexarth, Bedore, Rooker, Stringer and Robinson). I really think if we can avoid injuries up front (easier said than done), the OL can be one of the stronger units on the team.

We certainly have the talent at the other positions to take advantage if the line pans out. I love the combination of James Johnson and Leon Patton in the background, and we saw how good they can be when the OL got it together late last year (the weaker defenses of ISU and CU probably helped, too). We need Jordy Nelson to lead a young WR corp.

More comments to come as we get more news about the newcomers and how they are progressing.

***

For all you Cat fans who still live in the Manhattan area, here's an opportunity I wouldn't pass up. On April 11th, coaching legend John Wooden is coming to K-State. Hit the link for details of his visit and speech. I wouldn't miss a chance to see this man speak for all the weirdos in Lawrence, he's the greatest basketball coach who ever lived, and one heck of a good human being.

I'm watching the McDonald's All-America dunk contest right now. No video yet, but future Wildcat Michael Beasley had a couple sick dunks, including one for a perfect 50. He went for the kill shot on his final attempt, nearly pulling off a between-the-legs throwdown off the glass. The kid's going to be a stud, let's just hope he loses his Sharpie on the way to Manhattan.

***

It looks like Billy Gillispie is going to stay at Texas A&M now. Ok, so all the assumptions I made earlier based on what Arkansas officials were saying were wrong. But it also sounds like A&M threw themselves prostrate at Gillispie's feet to entice him to stay (new contract, new facilities, etc.). Props to A&M for doing what it takes to keep a top-flight basketball coach, this will do nothing but help the Big 12 down the road.

On a personal level, I think this is a good call by Gillispie. His name was tossed around at Kentucky when Tubby Smith left, but I can't figure out why anybody would want to coach at Kentucky. For the same reasons, I can't figure out why anyone would want to coach at Alabama in football. The expectations are practically unattainable, and the fans are too demanding. Further, with a tip of the hat to the Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice, there's almost no way you can top your predecessors there. Even at Arkansas, even if he did pull off a national title (certainly no sure thing) he'd only be as good as Nolan Richardson. If he won a national title at A&M, they'd probably rename the town after him, creating the "metro" area of Billy Clyde/Bryan, Texas.

1 comment:

Justin said...

Thats what I'm talking about baby!!!