Kevin Haskin: Addition of Meacham as offensive coordinator could benefit Beaty

Attention to fewer details could maximize marketing skills of KU’s head football coach

LAWRENCE — After the first touchdown Saturday in the Kansas spring football game, Doug Meacham bounded over to the other sideline.


While crossing the middle of Memorial Stadium, he Jayhawks’ new offensive coordinator playfully reacted as if he was both joyful and dejected, while performing his role as play-caller for both the Blue and White squads.

With practically one motion, Meacham delivered both a fist pump and a body slump after the White struck for its first touchdown in a 14-7 victory in an exhibition that included 10 Jayhawks drafted to different sides.

During media interviews afterward, wide receiver Ryan Schadler was chided by his position coach, Meacham, as some assistants were walking down a hallway inside the Anderson Family Football Complex.

“You see what he just did there,’’ Schadler said. “He likes to make things fun.’’

Listening to KU coach David Beaty, a premium keeping activities upbeat during the week of the Jayhawks’ annual public scrimmage.

Two assistants were chosen to direct each side and much was made about their interactions. Former Jayhawks returned, including a handful of NFL players, and participated in a captain’s breakfast. Fans who attended were treated to a crisp pace provided by a running clock.

“We’ve got to do a better job of finishing and getting the ball in the end zone,’’ Beaty said. “I would have liked to have seen more points scored, but it’s mental mistakes.’’

That, plus the significant reduction of time without all the stoppages inherent to college football, left the game tied 7-7 before Alabama transfer Daylon Charlot caught a 5-yard pass from Peyton Bender for the game-winning touchdown inside the final two minutes.

“There were a lot of things that I thought we may have left on the field,’’ Beaty added, “but I thought (Meacham) did a really good job of using a lot of different guys in a lot of different spaces.’’

That’s the thing.

Meacham is qualified to orchestrate the hurry-up offense Beaty wants so desperately for the Jayhawks to master as they attempt to catch up with other nitro-charged attacks in the Big 12. Meacham’s background with productive offenses, including those at TCU and Oklahoma State, makes him an assistant Beaty should trust.

KU’s third-year coach has been hands-on with assistants in the past, maybe too much so, choosing to take over various obligations after problems arose.

The strongest trait Beaty possesses, however, could be that of a marketer rather than a CEO.

His energetic enthusiasm is prevalent, by all accounts, in meetings with players, interviews with the media, speaking engagements with boosters and visits with recruits.

Why, at halftime on Saturday, Beaty waited before joining his team in the lockeroom.

Instead, the head coach participated in two presentations at midfield. First, he gave retiring chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little a framed jersey. Then, Beaty recognized the family of Eric Driskell, the beloved Blue Valley High School coach who died in February of a ruptured brain aneurysm.

Coaches can certainly do this kind of thing at a spring football game, and Beaty would be among the first to do so.

Yet the tributes were also a sign Beaty believes his offense — which should be more prolific after adding the likes of Bender, a Washington State transfer, and Charlot, an Alabama transfer — can function without him engaged in every detail.

Flaws were certainly noticeable — some within the structure of the competition.

Although it is unconventional to do anything live in a spring scrimmage on special teams, the work may have proven advantageous considering the Jayhawks finished 2016 with minus-10 yards on punt returns. At least one punt, without pressure, was shanked miserably.

While the running clock allowed the scrimmage to flow nicely, applying normal timing rules to the final period, with the game tied, would have replicated a tight contest. The parameters of a 2-minute drill could have been incorporated for the Blue team at the end.

Hey, just nit-picking.

As it was, some dazzling catches from Charlot, the move by Schadler to receiver, the explosiveness of pass rusher Josh Ehambe, the dominance of pass rusher Dorance Armstrong, the sticks leveled by Mike Lee and the arm of third-string QB Tyriek Starks were notations worth scribbling.

There was little separation between Bender and incumbent quarterback Carter Stanley, though smart money would be on Bender.

As for money placed on how much the Jayhawks will improve, a spring game played between teammates does not provide the best insight.

Real fun, however, can be had by winning — something KU seems capable of doing a bit more frequently in 2017.

Contact Kevin Haskin at or @KevinHaskin on Twitter.

Quarterback Peyton Bender makes good first impression at KU football spring game
KU football’s Josh Ehambe jumped fences, kept focus en route to breakout spring game
Kevin Haskin: Mike Lee remains ferocious hitter for KU, even against teammates


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