Bulldogs finally begin football practice

By Steve Sell
August 20, 2014

Tuesday tidbits…

• BULLDOGS FINALLY UNDER WAY — While rival KCAC schools such as Bethany College and Kansas Wesleyan already have a dozen football practices under their belts, McPherson College's Bulldogs took to the practice field for the first time Tuesday.

The Bulldogs, under first year coach Steve Fox, will have to ramp up preparations for their season opener Sept. 6 at Bacone College. The teams met last year at McPherson Stadium with Bacone rallying from a 21-9 halftime deficit to eventually win in overtime, 37-31.

Mac, which was 5-6 last year, has a brutal start to the season. In addition to Bacone, which was periodically ranked in the national poll last year, it plays at longtime NAIA power MidAmerica Nazarene in Week 2 as part of the KCAC-Heart of America Challenge. KCAC teams put up an admirable fight last year against the Heart, splitting the five games, but it's the Heart's turn this year to play host and I have a feeling KCAC schools could be hard-pressed to win more than three games.

Fox released his latest team roster on Tuesday. He admitted in the last few weeks it has been somewhat fluid, as some players decide at the last minute to come and others decide go elsewhere. There are also some players who are waiting to be cleared academically, a couple of them being impact players who could be the difference between a winning and losing season.

If and when everybody has been cleared, Fox should be working with a squad size around the 85-player mark.

I went to practice Tuesday and was struck by how physical this team has a chance to be. The offensive and defensive lines appear to be the strength of the team. I really like the looks of the O-Line, where former McPherson High standout and Shrine Bowler Collin French is expected to make an impact. The defensive line is led by sophomore Grant Narcisse, who was picked to the All-KCAC Preseason Team, which is quite an accomplishment for a second-year player.

The two areas of concern that I see are depth at running back and the secondary. Terrance Jones returns in the backfield after suffering a season-ending knee injury against Kansas Wesleyan. He looks to be close to 100 percent, but finding capable complements will be a priority after the graduation of Havelock Pomele and Scott Thibodeaux, while last year's impressive freshmen Gerald Hardridge and Isaiah Franklin did not return. Also, McPherson High graduate Austin O'Bannon had transferred in during the spring, but did not come back this fall.

The secondary will definitely be under the microscope. The Bulldogs gave up a lot of long pass plays last year, so they will have to tighten up. The front seven looks very strong, however, and you might see more blitzing as linebacker Trent Forrester will be among the KCAC's best.

One other note, remember this name — BJ Oyefeso. He's a transfer from Lamar University and has great size for a wide receiver at 6-4 and 215 pounds. He looked really good in the spring game and should make an immediate impact.

• BAD NEWS FOR JAYHAWKS — If the Kansas University football team didn’t have bad luck, it would have no luck at all.

The Jayhawks have been perennial Big 12 doormats ever since their glorious 2007 season that resulted in a 12-1 record and Orange Bowl victory.

Since then, the Jayhawks have crashed and burned. They have been light-years behind every other Big 12 school and both the Turner Gill and Charlie Weis experiments have failed miserably. Weis enters his third year at KU having won only five games.

Now more disaster has struck. In consecutive days, the Jayhawks lost both their No. 1 and 2 running backs in Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox, respectively. Weis had been raving about how the running back position had been one of strength, now it’s one of weakness. Since Bourbon and Cox already have achieved their degrees, their football careers are over. Both had patiently waited for bell cow James Sims to graduate and now they will not get their chance to fulfill their dreams.

The Jayhawks are left with untested De'Andre Mann and Corey Avery. Weis has even moved over defensive back Joe Dineen to lend depth. He may be forced to move Tony Pierson back for emergencies even though he could be KU's top receiver.

KU just can’t get a break. When does basketball start?

• ROYALS KEEP ROLLING — Maybe the Royals should just live the rest of the season out of a suitcase.

With Tuesday's come-from-behind 7-4 win over Colorado, the Royals are now 10 games over .500 on the road at 37-27, the second-best road record in the American League.

Overall, Kansas City is now an astounding 15 games over at 70-55 as they continue on their amazing pace after starting 0-4 following the All-Star break. Since then, they are 22-5 as the offense finally has caught up with the pitching.

Kansas City has another game tonight in Colorado, then goes to last-place Texas for three games over the weekend. The Royals are doing what championship teams have to do — beat up on the sub-.500 teams. 

It seems like every button Ned Yost pushes is working. The big test will be what happens when the bats finally cool off, as there's no way they can continue on their recent pace. Because this is baseball, they'll have another stretch where they lose three or four in a row. They just can't allow it to extend to seven or eight.

When's the last time the Royals have pushed the Chiefs to the back burner this late in the year?