Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-On Monday night, the Busters traded in the swampy practice fields for synthetic turf. It signaled a new era in Garden City Community College athletics: It was the team’s first practice at their future home stadium.
“It looks good,” Athletic Director Ryan Ruda said while taking in the two-hour practice session from the sideline. “They finished things up this morning and said the team could practice on it.”
Practice will be the only thing that Garden City can do at the new facility, at least for now; construction of the stadium isn’t expected to be completed until late October.
As for what happened on the field: Spectators got their first look at the wildcat package with Tyreek Hill running the show. On one play, Hill broke three tackles at the line of scrimmage before shaking the second line of defense out of their shoes-on his way to a long touchdown run. Not surprising since the sophomore is considered as one of the fastest guys in the nation.
Now while Hill definitely stole the show, it’s been the steady improvement of freshman quarterback Akeem Jones that seems to be dominating the headlines.
“It’s night and day,” Head Coach Matt Miller said regarding the difference between Jones now and when they started practice ten days ago. “He’s cerebral. He made a spectacular check against an all-out-blitz this morning; you don’t normally see that from a true freshman.”
Jones’ maturation might just be enough to earn him the starting spot come week one vs. Independence; however Miller remains tight lipped on the battle between “the freak” and sophomore Jake Curran.
Though he misfired on some early throws during 7-on-7 drills, Jones had some on the sidelines gawking after he completed a couple of long, touchdown strikes.
“This kid (Jones) was here talking to guys during the summer doing some routes,” Miller said. “But that’s a whole lot different until you’re out here getting coaching. He’s putting the time in. He’s going to the dorms at night; Nile Daniels is sitting with him; his ex-throwing mate at Miami, Carol City High School Brandon Snell-they’re sitting and talking. Things are digesting for him, and he’s making improvements everyday.”
Of course Jones faces tough competition because of Curran’s in-game experience and knowledge of Miller’s spread offense. And the sophomore was extremely sharp in 7-on-7; squeezing the ball into some very tight spaces. His nicest throw of the night came on an out route towards the sideline, where he fit a tight spiral into the chest of his intended target- who was sitting in between two defenders.
“Jake Curran is always steady,” Miller said.
Now the question is: Which quarterback gives you the best chance to win on game day? We should have that answer in four days.
“We’ve got a fairly good idea, Miller said of his two deep. “The 20 out-of-state players and the 63 is starting to show itself.”
Of course this is the first year teams in the Jayhawk Conference are allowed 20 players from outside of Kansas; last year it was 14. The roster also jumps in 2013 from 55 players to 63.
Clarity on the offensive line
Garden City High School product Mitch Moore might have nailed down the starting left guard spot.
“We’re getting some guys that we feel pretty good about on the offensive line,” Miller said. “He’s (Moore) doing not a bad job for us.”
In fact Monday’s practice featured a slew of former Buffaloes including Jason Carreon at center and Ben Blood filling in at left tackle for the injured Dontavious Blair (missed third straight practice because of an eye infection).
“With Dontavious out we had a whole Buffalo left side,” Miller said. “It was definitely Buffalo pride today.”
Other news and notes
Busters return to the practice field Tuesday afternoon at 1:15. Sports Information Director Dan Delgao announcing that Friday’s scrimmage is set for 7:00 pm at Buffaloes Stadium. Admission is free.