New QB Jake Heaps impressive in Kansas spring game
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Jake Heaps and Justin McCay had an entire season to get accustomed to each other.
They showed off how tight they've become on Saturday.
Heaps threw for 257 yards and four touchdowns, one of them to McCay, and the pass-catch combo that had to sit out last season after transferring to Kansas led the blue team to a 34-7 victory over the white in the Jayhawks' annual spring game.
"Justin has a little advantage because he's been hanging out with Jake for quite some time now, and you can't underestimate chemistry,'' second-year coach Charlie Weis said. "I think one of the reasons Jake had a big day is Justin had a big day, and vice versa.''
Heaps didn't appear to have any rust to knock off after transferring from BYU. He completed 10 straight passes at one point in the first half, showing the kind of zip on the ball that made him one of the nation's top quarterbacks coming out of high school.
He found a favorite target in McCay, a transfer from Oklahoma who also sat out when an appeal to play immediately was turned down by the NCAA. McCay caught eight passes for 99 yards.
"They were on the show team together all last year,'' Weis said. "They've done it a bunch.''
Tony Pierson ran for 32 yards and also caught five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown, and James Sims - the Big 12's top returning rusher - finished with 74 yards on the ground.
The offensive output had to be encouraging give the way things went last season.
Behind former Notre Dame QB Dayne Crist, Kansas was last in the Big 12 in scoring (18.25 points per game), 113th nationally in pass offense (148.67 yards) and 120th nationally in pass efficiency, while averaging just 360 yards per game - also last in the conference.
The result was a 1-11 finish, the only win coming in the opener against South Dakota State.
Heaps, a prep standout at Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline, was on the mark right from the start for a blue team made up mostly of starters a windy, sun-splashed day at Memorial Stadium.
After Pierson dropped his first pass, the junior quarterback hit on his next 10, finding Pierson for a 13-yard touchdown strike and tight end Jimmay Mundine for a 19-yard touchdown pass.
Heaps found Mundine for another TD later in the half, and then hit McCay in the end zone early in the fourth quarter against a white team defense that included a few expected starters.
"Just being efficient,'' said Heaps, the offensive MVP of the game. "Don't turn the ball over and be out there for my teammates. It was a lot of fun to be out there and enjoy the moment.''
Michael Cummings, who took over midway through last season when Crist proved ineffective, was 8 of 13 for 94 yards. The sophomore quarterback is considered more elusive than Heaps, but he was unable to showcase that side of his game since quarterbacks couldn't be hit.
Cummings did throw a nice ball to Josh Ford in the first half, and the senior wide receiver made a leaping grab for a 25-yard touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone.
Matthew Wyman added a pair of field goals for the blue team, while defensive back JaCorey Shepherd recovered a fumble and also picked off a pass on the final play of the game.
Weis said players will meet as a team to review the game film early next week and then individually with the coaching staff to go over the entire spring program. The Jayhawks won't reconvene as a team until the start of training camp later in the summer.
"We have better players, better talent, better competition. We're hopefully coaching better,'' said Weis, who watched the spring game from the press box because of a broken ankle.
"You'd like to think we're a little bit better in all facets.''
SI Now Live Friday December 20, 2013
SI Now: Olympians on Liberty Mutual, gearing up for Sochi