Originally posted on Rock Chalk Blog: October 2nd, 2013.

Charlie Weis came right out with it.

Weis opened his weekly press conference on Tuesday with “It’s been 1,063 days since Kansas football has won a game in the Big 12… If you exclude Colorado, it’s been 1,455 days.”

That win, against Iowa State on October 10th, 2009, was Kansas’ last win against a current member of the Big 12. Following that win, the Jayhawks lost 12 straight conference games until they beat Colorado on November 6th, 2010.

To break those numbers down into games: that’s 34-straight conference losses if you exclude Colorado, 22-straight conference losses if you include Colorado.

“This would be a good time to get over this hurdle,” Weis said.

There’s no time like Saturday because it is homecoming for the Jayhawks.

The 1,455 days isn’t just a place marker for a conference drought. It’s also how many days since Kansas has won a homecoming football game. Putting that into perspective, the only students on campus that would remember a homecoming win would be super seniors or grad students. Kansas’ win against Louisiana Tech broke the Jayhawks’ 742-day streak for losses against FBS opponents.

Winning on Saturday won’t exactly be easy. The Red Raiders are 4-0,  ranked third nationally for passing yards through the season so far and are currently ranked 20th in the Associated Press poll. Texas Tech is one of three undefeated teams in the Big 12 (Oklahoma and Baylor).

The national ranking doesn’t bode well for Kansas. The last time the Jayhawks beat a ranked team was September 11th, 2010, which is 1,120 days ago.

Don’t count the Jayhawks out, though. “We haven’t played a game this season expecting to lose,” Weis said.

He’s right. The some of the players have taken to Twitter with their excitement for the game.

And the good news for the Jayhawks is that they forced overtime against Texas Tech last season in Lubbock, Tex. Down 27-17 in the fourth quarter, Tony Pierson broke a 69-yard run that set up a James Sims touchdown. With 45 seconds left in the game, Nick Prolago hit a 32-yard field goal. After missing a field goal at the end of regular,  Texas Tech was able to outscore the Jayhawks 14-7 in overtime to win 41-34.

Also, interesting of note is that the last two times Kansas has played Texas Tech, the Jayhawks have scored 34 points in each game. If Kansas can score over 30 points in Saturday’s game, they’ll have a shot at winning.

Even though the Jayhawks are the underdogs (the current line favors Texas Tech by 14 points) and have the statistics going against them, the Jayhawks are letting that be their motivation.

Originally posted on Rock Chalk Blog: September 24th, 2013.

Kansas football’s big win against Louisiana Tech on Saturday showed the Jayhawks have greatly improved from last season. Perhaps the most evident improvement was in the special teams department.

On Saturday, four of punter Trevor Pardula’s five punts were over 50 yards and three landed inside the 20. Pardula averaged 57.6 yards per punt (288 yards total), including his career-long 78-yarder and an additional 65-yarder. Pardula’s 78-yard punt is good for T-8th all time on Kansas’ all-time punting list and was the longest punt since Rich Reith hit a 78-yarder on Oct. 18, 1986.

Pardula’s performance earned him several awards:

  • Special Teams Player of the Week by the Big 12 Conference
  • Ray Guy Award Player of the Week
  • College Football Performance Awards Punter of the Week

So far this season, Pardula has 745 total punting yards on just 15 punts, good for a 49.67 yards per punt average. Seven of his punts were over 50 yards and six landed inside the 20-yard line. Last season, the Jayhawks punted the ball away 62 times in 12 games.

The average yardage per punt was 40.58 with an average of 5.2 punts a game. Through three games in 2013, Pardula is averaging nine yards more per punt. Pardula is averaging 5.3 punts per game 3 games into the season, which comparable to last season’s statistics.

Pardula isn’t the only Jayhawk kicking well so far this season.

Sophomore walk-on kicker Matthew Wyman attempted three field goals on Saturday and he made two of them, a 39-yarder and a 52-yarder. The 52-yarder, as you already know, was the game-winner as time expired launching the Jayhawks to their first win over a FBS team in 742 days. Wyman is 3-for-5 on attempted field goals this season. His first field goal came in the season opener against South Dakota, a 45-yarder.

Last season’s Jayhawks weren’t very good… to put it lightly.

Nick Prolago and Ron Doherty combined for 10 field goals. Prolago was 5-for-6 and Doherty was 5-for-10 over the season. While Wyman’s percentage is comparable so far, the Jayhawks feel like they have a competent kicker for once. Weis regularly went for it on fourth down last season when he would typically attempt to get three points.

Just how good was Wyman’s field goal?

Wyman’s 52-yarder is good for sixth longest in the NCAA this season and he’s one of 16 NCAA Division I athletes to hit a field goal of over 50 yards this season. All three of Wyman’s made field goals this year have been longer than KU’s longest field goal during the last two season (37 total field goals made).

For his efforts, Wyman was named one of three Lou Groza Stars of the Week.

The other special team star for Kansas this season is Connor Embree. He has returned five punts this season for a total of 94 yards. One of his returns against South Dakota went for 42 yards.

Last season, Kansas 10 punts return all season (which ranked 118th of 124th in college football) and only had 90 total return yards (100th in college football). Embree had 92 yards in the South Dakota game alone.

Looking at how last season compares to the stats this season, the Jayhawks are in good hands with their special teams performers.

Originally posted on Rock Chalk Blog: September 18th, 2013.

Despite the loss against Rice, Kansas’ defense was on fire.

Junior Ben Heeney had 13 tackles in the first half and finished the game with 18, a career high. To break down the tackles: 11 of those tackles were solo stops and 2.5 were tackles for loss (losses of 12 and 8 yards, respectively). This was the sixth time during Heeney’s career that he had a double-digit total in tackles.

“He’s playing faster than everyone else,” said Charlie Weis.

It’s true. Heeney has been playing faster than the opponents dating back to last season, where he recorded his first sack in the last game of the season against Kansas State. Since that game, Heeney has recorded a sack in both games Kansas has played. The sack he had in the game at Rice was a loss of 8 yards. He’s ranked conference wide and nationally for his attacks on the offense, averaging 11 tackles per game. That places him tied for first in the Big 12 and is tied for twelfth on the national level.

Heeney isn’t the only Jayhawk playing well on defense, either.

Sophomore Isaiah Johnson and junior Dexter McDonald both had stellar performances against the Owls. Johnson recorded seven tackles during the game and made his first career interception while McDonald also picked up his first career interception during the fourth quarter. His pick gave Kansas two interceptions in a game for the  first time since the Texas game last season.

McDonald isn’t just out for interceptions; he’s out to wreck havoc on opposing offenses. So far this season, he has five pass breakups, three of which were at Rice. He leads the Big 12 in passes defended and is sitting at the top of the national charts for the same thing.

Looking at the defense as a whole:

  • 22 different players have had at least one tackle.
  • Three of those players (Ben Heeney, 22; Isaiah Johnson, 13; and Victor Simmons, 12) have more than ten tackles.
  • Three players have recorded interceptions (Johnson, Keon Stowers, and McDonald).
  • Nine different players have recorded tackles for loss (Heeney, Simmons, Keba Agostinho, Ben Goodman, JaCorey Shepherd, Jordan Tavai, Michael Reynolds, Tedarian Johnson and Darius Willis).
  • Four players have recorded at least one sack during the season (Reynolds, Heeney, T. Johnson, and Goodman).
  • Kansas also leads the Big 12 in pass defense and pass defense efficiency.

How is it possible Kansas has performed so well on defense?

“There are very few communication problems,” said Weis. “They played great.”

“The defense, after two games, everyone’s like where has that defense been?” pondered Weis. “Look at the coverage in that game. We haven’t seen anything like that since I’ve been here.”

Well, that defense is here now, and they’re here to stay.

Originally Posted on Rock Chalk Blog: September 10th, 2013.

Three hundred sixty-six days. That’s the amount of days between Kansas football wins from last year to last Saturday.

One streak down, one more to go.

The Jayhawks haven’t won on the road since September 12, 2009 when they defeated UTEP.  When asked about Kansas’ four-year drought on the road, Charlie Weis replied, “I just know the games I was here for.”

Weis and the Jayhawks head to Houston, Texas this week to take on the Rice Owls in hopes to eliminate another embarrassing streak and make more progress in the rebuilding of a football program.

But Rice isn’t a pushover. Their first game was against Johnny Football and the No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies. Well… they played Johnny Manziel for a half of football, at least.

The weather in Kansas the past few weeks should prepare the Jayhawks for the high temperatures and high humidity levels that are constant factors in Texas. “It should be nice and toasty down there,” Weis joked.

One concern that Weis had was how Rice “almost [has] their whole team and coaching staff back.” That’s a rarity. There were no staff changes for the Rice team from last season. Another concern of his was how astronomically high the team stats were last season. Rice averaged 424 yards a game through last season and lead the country in time of possession. Since their players and staff are back, there’s no reason as to why they would want to change that mindset.

Weis also mentioned their “big bruising” running backs, Charles Ross and Turner Petersen (both seniors). He wasn’t joking when he talked about their size. Ross and Petersen both are listed at 235. Ross is listed at 6’1” and Petersen is listed at just an inch taller at 6’2”. Ross leads Conference USA in overall scoring and scoring (touchdowns), with 18 points. Ross also ranks fourth in the conference for rushing yards with an average of 107 per game.  He’s also on the leader charts for all-purpose yards with 131.

Kansas is playing with their goal in mind. “[If they] can end it on the road, all those negative things can disappear,” Kansas linebackers coach Clint Bowen, said.

Weis hopes for a strong Kansas contingence down in Houston, considering “there aren’t big crowds at Rice. To go on the road and not have it be 80,000 people is a good way to ease into [the road games].” Rice Stadium’s capacity is 47,000.

Weis welcomes the road trip, too.

“I feel better having one game under our belt. There’s a lot less distractions on the road. It’s more of a business trip,” Weis elaborated.

Just because the Jayhawks won their home opener doesn’t mean there aren’t some issues to clean up, however.

“We’re gonna have to do a better job of tackling the quarterback this week, otherwise he’ll gash us,” Weis noted.  “We need to do a better job of catching the ball. Throwaways are a good thing. In my book, they go down as a smart play,” he added.

Another change in the Jayhawks line up is that Ty McKinney and Marquel Combs shook some things up a bit. McKinney is listed as back up to Keba Agostinho at the right tackle position and Combs is listed as the back up to Keon Stowers at the nose position.  Weis elaborated on the change: “Ty McKinney is playing really well. Combs isn’t getting many reps. They moved positions. We get two positive residuals out of that.”

Last season, Rice ended up beating the Jayhawks in Lawrence, 25-24, after Rice’s kicker Chris Boswell kicked a 45-yard field goal as time expired. When asked about if the team was using revenge as a motivator, Weis replied: “I don’t ever use (revenge). We were the ones that blew it. We didn’t close out on offense and we didn’t close out on defense.”

“We gotta be ready to go at kick off,” he elaborated.

Bowen was also asked about the game and he replied with: “We didn’t do what we had to do to win.”

How is the game going to stack up? Kansas is already looking better than last year with the one game under their belts. Weis thinks so, too. When asked about the game in comparison to last season, he said: “That was nothing like any game last year. There was not one game that looked like that.”

Is this a Kansas turn around?

“We’re one game into a long season,” Weis noted. “That’s something to keep in mind.”

Originally posted on Rock Chalk Blog: September 7th, 2013.

Bear Bryant once said, “offense fills the seats, but defense wins championships.”

Well, in the Kickoff Game for the NFL season, there was no question that both sides of the ball for the Denver Broncos performed extraordinarily. 37-year-old Peyton Manning threw seven touchdowns. The last time that happened was in September of 1969, when Joe Kapp for Minnesota threw seven touchdown passes against Baltimore. How many guys have done that? Before Thursday night, it was five: Sid Luckman, Adrian Burk, George Blanda, Y.A. Tittle, and previously mentioned Kapp. Now Manning joins that crew.

Being overshadowed by the excellence that is Peyton Manning was Jayhawk alum, Chris Harris Jr. Harris, a cornerback for the Denver Broncos, also had a great game against the Ravens. With the drive starting at 12:57left until half, Joe Flacco threw a pass at his own 16 yard line, intended for Brandon Stokley. However, Harris wasn’t going to have any of that. Harris picked off the pass, being the first player to intercept a pass from Flacco since week 15 of last season. Oh, and Harris just happened to be the guy that picked him off.

Harris also had three solo tackles on the night and caused an incomplete pass.

 

 

Originally Posted on Rock Chalk Blog: September 3rd, 2013.

The last time these two teams met was 113 years ago in the year 1900.  Only back then, the game was played up in Vermillion, South Dakota, on the Coyotes home turf. Head coach Charlie Weis brought copies of the post-game article to the media presser on Tuesday. Could the past predict the future? It’s possible. The Jayhawks beat the Coyotes 36-0.

Fast-forward 113 years. Setting: Lawrence, Kansas. It’s week two of college football. The visiting South Dakota Coyotes (Missouri Valley Conference) has a record of 1-0, beating UC Davis 10-7. The Jayhawks had a bye the first week of the season, making this game their season opener.

“What was it like to sit and watch football games on Saturday? Saturday was just awful. Sitting there watching these games. Put a capital L on your forehead sitting here watching these games,” Weis joked.

Weis had nothing but positive things to say about the Coyotes at the media presser.

“They do a very good job at taking care of the football.”

He also commented on the strengths of their team, one those being the offensive line. “If you’re looking for a small offensive line, you can forget it,” he added. For example: South Dakota’s starting left tackle, Matt Huffer, is 6’7”, 300 pounds. Their starting left guard, Marc Murtha, is 6’6”, 310 pounds. Cody O’Neill, their center, is 6’3”, 305 pounds. Their right guard, Andrew Schofield, is 6’5”. 290 pounds. Starting at right tackle, Derek Chancellor, is 6’5”, and is 295 pounds.

Kansas doesn’t have a small offensive line either. On the depth chart released September 3rd,  Aslam Sterling has the starting left tackle position, standing 6’5”, 315 pounds. Ngalu Fusimalohi is starting at left guard, standing 6’2”, weighing 310 pounds. Pat Lewandowski is starting at center, standing at 6’5.5”, weighing 295 pounds. At right guard, Mike Smithburg, stands at 6’3” and weighs 300 pounds. Zach Fondal has the starting position at right tackle, standing at 6’5” and weighs 295 pounds.

“Fondal is the best pass blocker we have,” said Weis. “He can pass block on both sides.”

Weis forewarned to watch out for South Dakota’s halfbacks. “[Trevor] Bouma and [Jordan] Roberts (both redshirt freshmen) are like clones.” Both Bouma and Roberts stand at 5’11”. Roberts weighs just five more pounds than Bouma, weighing in at 215 to Bouma’s 210. In their game last week, the two combined for 27 carries for 162 yards.

James Sims and Taylor Cox are the go to halfbacks for Kansas. Sims stands at 6’0” and weighs 200 pounds. Cox is 5’11” and weighs 212 pounds.

One major change on the opposite side of the ball on the depth chart is Cassius Sendish going back to free safety, instead of leading the charge at nickel. “Cassius is capable of playing two positions,” said defensive coach Dave Campo. “He has the skills to play both the nickel and safety position.” Weis talked about how the coaching staff was concerned about the depth at safety more than the depth at nickel. “[Victor] Simmons and [Courtney] Arnick developed at nickel,” he added. “Cassius is unique. He can play a number of different positions. Victor’s a different guy. He went from safety to a linebacker. Now he’s kind of a hybrid,” added Campo.

For team goals, Weis went off on a tangent. “Let’s look at this realistically. Every time we go into a game, we better be counting on winning. If you go into a game and look at the record or schedule and think “we could win five”, if you look at that, you should be fired or you should quit.”

Weis also added, “From 1-11 last year, we’re 0-0 right now. We’re psychologically working in that direction. There’s only one way to change it. Winning,” “…it’s been a while since Kansas has won,” added Campo. Weis explained, “They need to get a taste of something good.”

Originally Posted on Rock Chalk Blog: August 28th, 2013.

The steam whistle has blown. That only means one thing; class has started on The Hill. That leads to another thing; the football season is just around the corner. The Kansas football team has several returning starters, but there’s a lot of fresh faces on the squad.

Let’s start with the freshman class. There are 10 new Jayhawks joining the squad from the Class of 2017.

#2 Montell Cozart, QB. Kansas City, MO.

#13 Ishmael Hyman, WR. Manalapan, N.J.

#16 Jordan Darling, QB, Dallas, TX.

#20 Colin Spencer, HB/Flanker. Dallas, TX.

#46 Kellen Ash, LB. Manchester, MO.

#53 Colton Goeas, LB. Mililani, HI.

#59 Cameron Rosser, LB. Las Vegas, NV.

#67 Joey Bloomfield, OL, Louisville, KY.

#68 John Wirtel, LS, Orland Park, IL.

#69 Peter Gallo, DL, Leawood, KS.

#78 Joe Gibson, OL, Prairie Village, KS.

#84 Ben Johnson, TE, Basehor, KS.

Now for the Class of 2016: the sophomores.

#5 Isaiah Johnson, S, Cary, NC. (Transfer from Iowa Western CC.)

#26 Brandon Hollomon, CB, Philadelphia, PA. (Transfer from Pierce College.)

#37 Beau Bell, LB, Wichita, KS. (Transfer from Hutchinson CC.)

#44 Michael Zunica, LB, Palos Park, IL. (Transfer from Columbia.)

#71 Pearce Slater, OL, Hawthorne, CA. (Transfer from El Camino CC.)

Your Jayhawk Juniors:

#1 Rodriguez Coleman, WR, Cincinnati, OH. (Transfer from Garden City CC.)

#2 Marcus Jenkins-Moore, Buck, Louisville, KY. (Transfer from Pierce College.) *Side note. Jenkins-Moore has one of two pre-season determined redshirts, due to an injury that required surgery.

#7 Kevin Short, CB, Florissant, MO. (Transfer from Fort Scott CC.)

#7 Mark Thomas, WR, Brooklyn, NY. (Transfer from Nassau CC.)

#12 Dexter McDonald, CB, Kansas City, MO. (Transfer from Butler CC.)

#15 Michael Mesh, K, Hutchinson, KS. (Transfer from Hutchinson CC.)

#16 Trevor Pardula, P/K, San Jose, CA. (Transfer from De Anza College.)

#33 Cassius Sendish, Nickel, Waldorf, MD. (Transfer from Arizona Western, previously played at College of the Canyons.)

#51 Samson Faifili, LB, Laie, HI. (Transfer from American River College.)

#63 Ngulu Fusimalohi, OL, Daly City, CA. (Transfer from CC of San Francisco.)

#65 Mike Smithburg, OL, Fairfield, IA. (Transfer from Iowa Western CC.)

#72 Zach Fondal, OL, Houston, TX. (Transfer from Navarro College.)

#92 Marquel Combs, DL, Memphis, TN. (Transfer from Pierce College.)

#95 Andrew Bolton, DL, Bolton, MS. (Transfer from Hinds CC.)

#97 Ty McKinney, DL, Weatherford, TX. (Transfer from Trinity Valley CC.)

#99 Tedarian Johnson, DL, Jackson, MS. (Transfer from Hinds CC.)

The seniors:

#88 Nick Harwell, WR, Missouri City, TX. (Transfer from Miami.) *Side note. Harwell has the other pre-season determined redshirt.

Those who were redshirted last season (Grade in parentheses) :

#9 Jake Heaps (JR), QB, Sammamish, WA. (Transfered from BYU in 2012. He had to sit out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.

#15 Matt Henjes (R-FR), WR, Eureka, MO. (Redshirted his freshman season at KU.)

#18 Eric Kahn (R-FR), K, Spring Hill, KS. (Transferred from MidAmerica Nazarene in 2012. He had to sit out last season per NCAA transfer rules.)

#19 Justin McCay (JR), WR, Kansas City, MO. (Transfered from the University of Oklahoma in 2012. He had to sit out last season per NCAA transfer rules.)

#22 Greg Allen (R-FR), CB, Houston, TX. (Redshirted his freshman season at KU.)

#28 Matthew Wyman (R-FR), K, Bloomfield Hills, MI. (Redshirted his freshman season at KU.)

#30 Tevin Shaw (R-FR), S, Piscataway, NJ. (Redshirted his freshman season at KU.)

#39 Austin Barone (R-FR), K, Frontenac, KS. (Redshirted his freshman season at KU.)

#40 Preston Randall (R-FR), HB, Lawrence, KS. (Redshirted his freshman season at KU.)

#54 Neal Page (R-FR), Buck, Birmingham, MI. (Redshirted his freshman season at KU.)

#58 Courtney Arnick (R-FR), Nickel, Dallas, TX. (Redshirted his freshman season at KU.)

#62 Zachary Young (SR), LS, Kansas City, KS. (Transfered from Indiana in 2012. He had to sit out last season per NCAA transfer rules.)

#74 Brian Beckmann (R-FR), OL, Overland Park, KS. (Redshirted his freshman season at KU.)

#75 Sean Connolly, (R-FR), OL, Kirtland Hills, OH. (Redshirted his freshman season at KU.)

#81 Billy Owens, (R-JR), WR, Galveston, TX. (Transfered from the University of Saint Mary. He had to sit out last season per NCAA transfer rules.)

#87 Jordan Shelley-Smith (R-FR), TE, Waco, TX. (Redshirted his freshman season at KU.)

#94 Tyler Holmes (R-FR), DL, Garland, TX. (Redshirted his freshman season at KU.)

Taking a glance at the newcomers and one can easily see that there are a ton of them. It’s almost overwhelming. How do they stack up in comparison to the returners?

On the offensive side of the ball, there are 38 positions on the depth chart (most recently updated August 7th). 16 of those slots are filled by freshmen, transfers, and previously redshirted. Here’s summarizing those players and their respectful positions on the depth chart:

In the X slot for the wide receivers is Justin McCay (listed first), Mark Thomas (listed third), and Ishmael Hyman (listed fourth). For left tackle is Zach Fondal (listed second). Ngalu Fusimalohi (try saying that three times fast) is listed first for the left guards. At center, Joe Gibson is listed third. In the right guard position Mike Smithburg is listed first and Joey Bloomfield is listed third. For right tackle, Pearce Slater is listed second and Brian Beckmann is listed third. For the tight ends, Jordan Shelley-Smith is listed third and Ben Johnson is listed fourth. The quarterback position is mostly dominated by newcomers. Jake Heaps is at the top of the depth chart, Montell Cozart is listed third, and Jordan Darling is listed fourth. At flanker, Colin Spencer is listed third. To round out the offensive positions, in the Z slot for the wide receivers is Rodriguez Coleman (listed third).

On the other side of the ball, there are 33 positions up for grabs. 16 of those slots are taken up by those new to the KU team. Again, here’s summarizing those players and their respectful positions:

In the left corner, Brandon Holloman (second) and Nasir Moore (third) are listed. At the new nickelback position, Cassius Sendish (first) and Courtney Arnick (third) are taking up the challenge. For the left ends/tackles, Marquel Combs is listed first, and Tedarian Johnson is listed third. In the nose tackle position, Ty McKinney is slotted in the third spot in the depth chart. At right end/tackle Andrew Bolton is listed second and Tyler Holmes is listed third. At right corner, Dexter McDonald leads the pack by being listed in the first position, Kevin Short is listed second, and Greg Allen is listed third. The right corner position is the only position on the depth chart that has no returners in the lineup. At strong safety, Isaiah Johnson is taking the cake, and sits atop the chart. In the middle linebacker position, Colton Goeas is slated third. For the weakside linebackers, Samson Faifili is listed second. Rounding out the defensive side of the ball, Tevin Shaw is listed in the second spot for the free safeties.

The specialists are a special bunch to say the least. There are 12 positions slotted for the depth chart. The incomers take 8 of the positions. (Granted one incomer takes three positions.) For the kick off squad, Trevor Pardula is listed first, and Eric Kahn is listed second. At place kicker, Michael Mesh is at the top of the chart, followed by Pardula and Matthew Wyman. For the punters, Pardula takes the top again. To round out the special teams, Zackary Young and John Wirtel are listed second and third respectively for the long snappers.

With all of that taken into account, the 2013 season is going to be a new experience for the Jayhawks. There’s many new players and a different defensive scheme. Also, with the perks of having a new quarterback comes a different offensive feel. Even though the coaching staff is the same as last year, the 2013 team will have a different feel than the team of just a year ago. It’s a new year with many different options, and that is what this Jayhawk team needs: a fresh start.

Originally Posted on Rock Chalk Blog: On August 7th, 2013.

One thing’s for sure, what was slated in the spring has changed to what Charlie Weis was saying today in the Press Conference following the opening day of camp. However, things can still change. “In the beginning, the depth chart will be fluid,” Weis noted. “The Drop Dead Date is August 17th.” Until then, players can move up and down the chart as the coaching staff sees fit based on their performance at practice. “What I did this year was put down a three-deep… some positions I’ve listed four,” Weis said. He contrasted what he did this year to last year, where he had two-deep in some positions, one-deep in others, and struggled for one-deep for some positions as well.

“We’ve gotta make a bunch of changes if we’re gonna compete in this league.” Weis recollected, talking about a conversation in December/January with his staff. Well, changes have been made, so far, since the Spring Depth Chart was released back on March 4th. (The current one is right here for your viewing pleasure.) For example, on the offense, Christian Matthews is now ahead of Tre’ Parmalee in the Z slot for Wide Receivers. Weis also talked about the true freshmen coming in and could very well get some playing time with the skills he’s seen so far. The overall plan for the offense? Weis thinks “…we’ll be running the ball a lot… I mean I think we’d be stupid not to.” With the skill set and depth at the running back position this season, don’t be surprised if Jake Heaps hands the ball to three-four-maybe even five different guys on a regular basis. However, that’s not the whole story because Weis also said, “If we can’t throw the ball, we can’t win.Our passing game can take pressure off our running game.” By the end of the year, he said wants the team to be about 50/50 between going through the air versus going on the ground. To protect the ball, Weis wants “… big physical guys. I want guys that aren’t the nicest people.”

For the defense, another large change to the game is that “Cassius [Sendish] is a nickel.” This stems from the decision to switch from running a base defense to a nickel defense (in a nickel defense there are 5 defensive backs, rather than your traditional 4.). In Coach Weis’ words a nickel defense is this: “What a nickel does is let you match up versus all the spread.” He also talked about how the game has changed from “The Olden Days” to present. “[Now] the tempo of the game has dictated us to almost no huddle defense.” “There’s no time to flip from one side to the other side.” “You don’t have a lot of time to substitute anymore.” Keeping those aspects in mind, there was no better time to change up the defensive side of the ball than now.

Weis also made mention of how he wants coaches, defense especially, on the field, rather than upstairs. “We have to have the three main defensive coaches… they all have to be on the field coaching.” Another coaching decision was to immediately give two redshirts; one to Marcus Jenkins-Moore, due to injury, and Nick Harwell, due to his transfer from Miami (OH). Also, as of currently (knock on wood), there’s only one player other than Jenkins-Moore who isn’t completely ready to go. “Tyree Williams isn’t 100% healthy,” Weis mentioned.

Right away in the press conference, Weis started talking about his “JUCO guys”. “All the JUCO guys are good to go,” he said. Only two JUCO transfers haven’t reported, and that is due to summer classes, however, all the others are ready to go on the hill. Weis assured that both boys would be in Lawrence in the coming week to ten days.

Of course last season came up… more than once. “I hate losing,” Weis said, thinking back to last year’s 1-11 season. He put the blame on himself for that. He also talked about theoretically winning just one more game last season still wouldn’t be good enough.

Remember the Big 12 Media Days? That came up too. Weis had a lot to say about that as well. “…It’s almost comical,” he said. “Did they not watch our team last year?… Give me a break.” “I put myself as the leader of that group… I always sit there and say “what could I have done?”” He kind of joked about the situation a little and stirred some laughs from the crowd, but that’s Charlie Weis. He is the type of person who says what is on his mind and doesn’t think much of it. “Okay, did I know when I answered the question honestly… that it was going to get that traction… I was clueless, but people have told me I’ve been clueless about other things, so that’s not the first time I’ve been called that.” His “infamous quote” from the Big 12 Media days wasn’t exactly “politically correct”, Weis joked, “How else you gonna describe it? You want me to give a more cleaner way? It wasn’t very good.”

So, with camp underway, in the words of Coach Weis, “It’s time to shut up and go to work.”

Originally Posted on Rock Chalk Blog: On August 2nd, 2013

For most teams in the country, fall camp is just starting. In Big 12 country, West Virginia got the ball rolling early, August 1st, with players reporting July 31st, as did Oklahoma and TCU.  K-State  and Oklahoma State aren’t too far behind, kicking off camp on August 2nd, with the players reporting the day before. Texas Tech and Texas gear up August 3rd. While, Baylor and Iowa State roll out August 5th. And Kansas? TheJayhawks are among the last in the nation to start camp. Practice begins the 8th, with the reporting date for players being the 7th. Few other teams start camp as late as KU, such as Memphis (American Athletic Conference) , having the same dates as KU, UTEP (Conference-USA), kicking off camp August 9th, andStanford (Pacific Athletic Conference-12), arriving last to the college football party, starts their season with practice on August 12th. (The Jayhawks, Tigers, Miners, and Cardinal teams can get away with having later camp start up dates due to having a week one bye, starting with their season opening games September 7th.)

On July 31st, Quarterback Jake Heaps (@jtheaps9) tweeted: “1 week until fall camp starts! Cannot wait to begin the real work with my brothers! #FOE #RockChalkJayhawk”. 

Other players (and coaches) have also taken to twitter in excitement, such as, Safety Cassius Sendish, Linebacker Ben Heeney, and Defensive Coordinator Dave Campo.

Regardless of how excited the players and staff are, camp is around the corner. Before they know it, the 2013-2014 season will be underway. The first practice with full pads is August 12th.

Some other dates to consider are:

KU Kickoff, in Prairie Village at Corinth Square: August 16th.

Fan Appreciation Day: August 17th. On Fan Appreciation Day, practice is open free of charge to the public from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

Professor Appreciation Day: August 22nd. On this day, practice is open to KU faculty.

KU Day at Kauffman Stadium: August 25th.

Season Kickoff vs. South Dakota: September 7th at 6:00 p.m.

The Jayhawks have a tough road ahead of them. Their schedule is daunting. They play four teams that were ranked in the top 25 Coaches Pre-Season Poll… and if it was top 26, it’d be five. (K-State was just out of the rankings.)

After the home opener against South Dakota…

September 14th: at Rice

September 21st: vs. Louisiana Tech

October 5th: vs. Texas Tech (Homecoming Game)

October 12th: at Texas Christian (Ranked 20th Pre-Season)

October 19th: vs. Oklahoma (Ranked 16th Pre-Season)

October 26th: vs. Baylor (received 80 votes in Pre-Season Poll)

November 2nd: at Texas (Ranked 15th Pre-Season)

November 9th: at Oklahoma State (Ranked 14th Pre-Season)

November 16th: vs. West Virginia

November 23rd: at Iowa State

November 30th: vs. Kansas State (received 113 votes in Pre-Season Poll)

In the words of Sendish during the Big 12 Media Days: “We understand that until we prove something on the field that they’re going to rate us how they rate us. We’re looking forward to producing.”

Looking ahead to that challenging schedule, Sendish is on the right track with his statement. It’s time for the Jayhawks to “produce”. Where else would a team want to produce their skill set? Of course, fall camp.  The only thing a team predicted to finish last in the conference can do: is go up.

Originally Posted: on Rock Chalk Blog on July 23rd, 2013

All press is good press? In the case of Charlie Weis, let’s hope so.

One thing he said during the Big 12 Media Days “blew up” on social media networks and sports writers everywhere ran with it.

When posed a question about how he recruited prospects he replied: “Have you taken a look at that pile of crap out there? If you can’t play here, where can you play?” (The full Weis transcript can be found here.)

As a head coach of a Division One football team, one would imagine that he would be a little more supportive. Back in October of 2012 before the rivalry game against K-State, the University Daily Kansan (UDK), the University’s own campus newspaper, wrote an article about how the Jayhawks were going to take a “bad beating”.

Weis had a couple tweets in response to the cover of the UDK that week.

His first tweet discussing the cover and article read: “Team slammed by our own school newspaper. Amazing! No problem with opponents paper or local media. You deserve what you get! But, not home!”

The second one read: “I personally could care less. You are what (sic) are. On the other hand, if I don’t support the players good or bad, who will??”

With what he said in his interview at the Big 12 Media Days, he may have just answered his somewhat of a  rhetorical question.

Regardless of the press he’s received,  last year’s team, under his leadership, did better than teams under former coach Turner Gill and some of the teams during former coach Mark Mangino‘s era.

In 2012, the Jayhawks (under the helm of Weis) went 1-11. However, as unattractive as that statistic is, one needs to look deeper at the losses. Kansas played five ranked teams that season (TCU, K-State, Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech). One of those games (Texas Tech) went into overtime, with the final score culminating at 41-34.The game against Texas ended in 21-17. Five of their nine losses in the season were lost with 7 or less points in deficit (Rice, N. Illinois, Oklahoma State, Texas, and Texas Tech).

In Weis’ interview during Media Days he also stated: “… the proof’s in the pudding”, when talking about the team’s expectations.  Here’s some of that “pudding” from last season. With those 7 point or less deficit games, KU had better team statistics in several areas than their opponents. In the Rice game, KU had more rushing yards than their opponent (195-167). In the N. Illinois game, KU dominated time of possession (31:30-28:30) and had less turnovers (1-0). In the Oklahoma State game, the Jayhawks had much better statistics than the Cowboys, in many aspects of the game. Kansas led OSU in first downs (22-17), total yards (398-371), rushing yards (187-116), and had a better time of possession (33:35-26:25). Against Texas, KU had more first downs (18-16), more rushing yards (234-211), less penalties and penalty yards (1/5-5/65), less turnovers (1-2), and had the ball longer during the game (32:48-27:12). In the only overtime game for the Jayhawks during the season, they had better statistics than the Red Raiders in rushing yards (390-63), less penalties and penalty yards (3/25-7/74), less turnovers (0-1), and more time of possession (31:55-28:05).

In 2011, KU (under direction of Gill) went 2-10, where they were routed by Georgia Tech (66-24), Oklahoma State (70-28), Oklahoma (47-17), K-State (59-21), Texas (43-0), and Texas A&M (61-7).

When Weis was asked about his JU-CO recruiting, he came back saying: “When you go through a transition coming in and you dismiss 29 scholarship players, which I did for a variety of off-the-field issues — not one of those players did I get rid of because they weren’t any good. You can’t do it for that reason. So now I took a team that already wasn’t very good, and I made them worse talent-wise. So that led to we need to fill the holes right now.”

Keeping the stats from last season in mind, he’s giving the team he walked into less credit than what they deserve, regardless of the previous season’s record.