Big 12 spring game review: Kansas

The Jayhawks hosted their spring game on Saturday, the third team in the Big 12 to cap their 15 spring practices. Here's a closer look at the goings-on in Lawrence.

What happened:

  • Quarterback Jake Heaps completed 20 of 28 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns to lead the White team to a 34-7 win over the Blue team.

  • Running back James Sims led all rushers with 74 yards on 16 carries.

  • Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay caught eight passes for 99 yards and a touchdown, sharing offensive MVP honors with Heaps.

  • Linebacker Ben Heeney made five tackles and one tackle for a loss, earning defensive MVP honors.

What we learned:

  • It's a spring game and Kansas' defense isn't exactly Alabama, but how could you not be encouraged by the numbers Heaps put up, and what he looked like doing it? Quarterback has been the biggest gaping hole on a Kansas team full of them, but the hope that Heaps could fill it seems a whole lot more legitimate after Saturday. I don't think it's fair to expect Heaps to put up those kinds of numbers every week, but look back on what Dayne Crist did in last year's game: He was 11-of-19 for 156 yards and no scores. Those numbers were typical of what we saw in the fall. Heaps has had a year to work in the system, and his receivers should be a little bit better than what Crist had. McCay is proof of that point. "We are still working. We made a lot of good plays out there today, but it is a constant work in progress," Heaps said of his and McCay's day. "Justin will admit that there are things he could work on after today and there are things that I can work on and things that we missed today. It is a constant work in progress and we are going to get there. It’s definitely where I want to get with all my receivers."

  • To continue on with Heaps, I saw him start at Texas in person in 2011. Maybe I'm crazy, but he looks like he's bulked up a lot. BYU listed him at 200 pounds and Kansas says he's only up to 210, but he definitely looked like he's got a five-star kind of arm. Playing quarterback is a lot more to me, but he looked like a completely different player than the decent quarterback I saw with the Cougars two years ago.

  • It's a little presumptuous to start wondering if McCay will be hitting 1,000 yards next year. But in a new program that badly, badly needed help at his position, he looks a bit like he's in a class of his own among the KU receivers. Considering the next touchdown a Jayhawk receiver catches will be the first since 2011, up is the only way to go. Restarts for talented players can be so healthy, though. Maybe we'll see that for McCay. Ask Arthur Brown what a change of scenery and a move back home can do for a player's career.

  • Heeney came out of nowhere last season to lead the team in tackles, but KU's defense really can build around him. He's exactly the kind of defender that's most valuable in the Big 12: Built like a safety with speed to match but the toughness to play close to the line of scrimmage and offer run support. Not that the spring game does much to make me think this, but he could have a huge 2013 ahead. "Both the linebackers, Heeney and [Jake] Love, were all over the place. I think both defensive fronts showed up today," Weis told reporters. "We got a little banged up in the secondary because when Cassius [Sendish] went down early with a precautionary (injury) it caused us to do some tweaking on both teams in the secondary. I thought Michael [Cummings] playing with the second tier wide receivers and I thought he was respectable as well."

  • Another guy to keep an eye out on Kansas' defense: Tackle Jordan Tavai. He made six stops and half a tackle for loss.