KU football is not a deep interest of mine because when it comes to sports, I’m 100% Irish. When I found out Dayne Crist was transferring to KU, though, I took more interest in it. I wondered how he’d do at a new school (where he’ll only be for one season) and if he’d do better under his former/recruiting coach. That’s why when I got the opportunity to go to the KU Spring Football game, I said, “I have to go.”
Anyone with any exposure to KU knows that basketball is more important than anything in Lawrence. Football is just basketball’s annoying sibling that tags along in the athletic department, which is why admission to the game was free and seats were not hard to find. Compared to my previous week, I was far less than impressed. The Blue Gold game is HUGE in South Bend. The Spring Game at KU is just another reason to eat a hot dog and drink a beer.
The prospect of a new coach and a new, seasoned quarterback is exciting. Charlie Weis has a lot of experience in coaching, and he’s being reunited with a guy he recruited who did well at Notre Dame. (At least until that patellar tendon ruptured. Thanks, Tulsa.) Crist has always been a good quarterback. I think that was the biggest misunderstanding with the KU fans. They think (and I heard it said at the game), “He left Notre Dame because he was inched out by a freshman, so he must be pretty bad.” Not true. He just wasn’t quite the same at Notre Dame after his injury. Someone else stepped up and took his spot. He wasn’t as accustomed to Kelly’s coaching as Tommy Rees. What’s amazing about Crist though is how he handled all the change. He was very mature about it, and he saw that he had opportunity elsewhere, so he took it. He’s not a bad quarterback at all. I think he began to prove himself today, and he’s slowly regaining hope for KU football fans.
From what little I know about things, Crist (who threw 19 passes for 11 completions and 156 yards) looked pretty good with the Jayhawks. Clearly, he’s made a good impression since he’s been named a team captain, and he’s only been in Lawrence for a few months. He was a very strong leader. His team scored the only points made during the scrimmage—all 45 of them.
He and Kale Pick looked like they’ll be quite the dynamic duo this season, but only if their O-Line holds up against stronger defense. At the game, I overheard many things said about Crist, and one of the truest things I heard was, “He can definitely throw the ball. He just needs someone who will catch it.” But it sure looked like between Pick, Beshears, and Patterson, Crist should be sitting fairly comfortable.
There’s another story on the other side of the football, though. KU isn’t a defensive team and Weis isn’t a defensive coach. The defense was pretty commonplace, minus Michael Reynolds who had 3 sacks and 5 tackles (who was named Defensive MVP for the game) and safeties Bradley McDougald and Lubbock Smith.
In short, the KU football team looks like it has much more potential this season. There’s still a long road to recovery, but Crist’s previous 4 seasons of experience and strong leadership should help improve and rebuild the Jayhawk team. While I’d love to see Crist in blue and gold again, I think he’ll do okay in crimson and blue. He may be a big game-changer in Lawrence this year, and I’d love to see that. Will KU gain a winning season? Hard to say. If we’re talking just offense, I think so, but the defense will have to hold against other strong offenses this season for us to see a stunning change for the Jayhawks. Either way, this fall is looking much brighter for Lawrence.