New head coach Paul Haynes separated himself from the ways of Darrell Hazell pretty quickly on Day 1 of spring football practice.
For much of his practices, Hazell was the shark, quietly lurking around midfield and surveying each positional group before a flurry of action at the end. Haynes is the bulldog determined to get in your face from the first whistle. He jumped around from group-to-group, barking instructions and giving quick critiques in-between reps. At one point, he grabbed a pad and got in on the action. Later, he took safeties Fabrice Pratt and Jordan Italiano aside for about 15 minutes to give them specific instructions. Haynes also came out to practice Tuesday morning, held outside in 30-degree weather and with occasional snow flurries, in shorts. Hazell had always worn a couple layers topped with a windbreaker nearly every day without fail in cold weather. Haynes was the only person on the field not bundled up. He says the shorts are here to stay.
"I'm a shorts guy. ... I'm totally different than Darrell," Haynes said. "You'll actually see my legs. This is the first time you've seen the coaches' legs in two years. I get too hot because I do move around."
Safety Luke Wollet lit up when asked how the first practice with the active Haynes went. He said it's a changeup, and one that the team needed.
Gold for now
The Flashes put on their gold helmets from the bowl game, though they dropped the eagle eyes and the old logo is on the side. But Haynes says the gold helmets are only here for spring and that he's a "blue guy." KSU will go back to the blue helmets in the fall.
Archer to return punts
Dri Archer is still expanding his repertoire and is now returning punts. Haynes says that Archer came to him in a meeting and said he wanted to do it, and of course Haynes agreed. Due to an NCAA rule with returning kicks and punts, cornerback Darius Polk is leaving Archer as the sole No. 1 on the team and will take No. 11 this season.
Haynes wants the team's most explosive player around the ball as much as possible. Archer wants a fourth way (runner, receiver, kick-off returner) to get the ball. Teams are already doing enough to kick it away from him. They'll have to do that on kickoffs and punts.
Gettings the kinks out
It's only the first day of spring practice under a new head coach, and as such first-day mistakes were expected, and evident. Quarterbacks had some trouble getting the exchanges cleaned up to running backs and the defensive secondary was a step ahead of the passing game. Offensive coordinator Brian Rock wasn't pleased with how sloppy the offense looked, first day or not.
Quarterbacks David Fisher and Colin Reardon—the two vying for the starting nod in week 1—both made some strong throws and both were intercepted. Wollet got Fisher on a deep cross and Nick Cuthbert jumped a route and took a pass from Reardon the other way. Cuthbert is a transfer from Georgia Tech and will have to sit out this season, per NCAA rules.
TRIPLE DOWN BLACKJACK