Charlie Weis Meets With The Media Tuesday

March 26, 2013

LAWRENCE, Kan. Kansas football head coach Charlie Weis sat down with the media Tuesday to discuss the Jayhawks’ spring football season to date. KU is returning to practice Tuesday afternoon after taking a week off for Spring Break. The Jayhawks held five practice sessions prior to the break and have 10 practices remaining, including their annual Spring Game scheduled for Saturday, April 13 at 1 p.m., in Memorial Stadium.

Head Coach Charlie Weis

On both men’s and women’s basketball advancing to the Sweet 16 in their respective tournaments:
“One little tidbit for you, we are the only team in the past two seasons to have both men’s and women’s basketball programs make it to the Sweet 16, in their respective tournaments. I want to congratulate both head coaches and each staff as they venture forward. Hopefully, at the end of the day, we come back with a couple of championships to add to the trophy case. I want to wish both teams the best of luck!”

On sophomore offensive lineman Pat Lewandowski’s progress:
“It has been significant. When we moved Pat (Lewandowski) from defense to offense, he probably had the best feet of any of our lineman, including (former offensive lineman) Tanner (Hawkinson). He could always get his lower body in position to do everything it took, but all the nuances and idiosyncrasies that come with playing the position, he has gotten better and better. He is up significantly in weight as he is right around 290 pounds now and when he originally flipped positions, he weighed only 260 pounds. He is up 30 pounds and is still growing. He still has plenty of room for growth, but he is becoming a much better football player.”

On Lewandowski’s mentality switching from defense to offense:

“Adding all that weight should help with his aggressiveness. At the end of the day, that is a unique position on the offensive line. The position that is on the blind side of your quarterback, the left tackle position (for a right-handed quarterback), being in position to pass-block becomes more important than run-blocking and everything else. His feet already put him in position to be successful there. Lewandowski has a high-ceiling that he has not even come close to yet.”

On the toughness of the offense:
“Last year, we improved the toughness of our offense because we became one-dimensional. We weren’t throwing the ball with any efficiency and we were running the ball; other teams knew we were running the ball, and we still ran the ball with some efficiency. We became a much tougher football team, because we clearly became tougher up front. Now, as we have a changing of the guard and different players have to step up, we need to have guys with that mentality that we aren’t going to drop off at any one position, and in turn, we will get much better with our pass-protection. I believe Pat is one of those guys that will help us get there.”

On reflecting on the first five practices:
“We gave them a ton of information in five days. I would say the low number of mental mistakes was encouraging, because when you are giving them a lot of information, you open yourself up for a lot of mental mistakes. Of course, we didn’t move people around very much and today, that changes some; we do just the opposite. We open ourselves up for a bunch of mental mistakes, because when you move a player from one position to another, we do it because that is ultimately where we see the player playing. I think our defensive staff has spent an exorbitant amount of time trying to get people to finish plays, and get all 11 guys running to the football on every play. The term we use in a negative light is ‘loafs.’ (It happens when) a defensive lineman thinks he is out of a play, and thinks he will save his energy because someone else will finish the play. That is one of the things that we have to get much better at, as a defense, to get all 11 guys running to the ball on every single play. When I first got into college football back in the mid 1980’s, I went to the University of South Carolina. They had an undersized defense called ‘the fire-ant defense,’ because they swarmed the ball on every single play. I think, defensively, if all 11 guys swarm the football, you always have a chance of being very successful.”

B. Goodman

On if the coaching staff charts all of the players’ ‘loafs’:
“Yes. Not only do we chart the loafs, but to end every practice, they do up-downs for every loaf. If the team has 22 loafs over the course of a practice, they circle up and do 22 up-downs as a team to end the practice. We make them do it when they are really tired, and we call out the name of each player that loafed, so every player is accountable for the effort they give in each and every practice. It definitely stresses the point we are trying to make.”

On having all running backs return for the upcoming season:
“It is comforting because now you know about them. Last year, we thought we knew about them, but now we know what we have. It gives us an opportunity to try and do some creative things when you have depth at a position with talent. We don’t have a lot of positions where we have both depth and talent. We may have depth at a position, or talent at another, but to have depth and talent together, that is the makings of what good teams do.”

On freshman halfback Colin Spencer’s adjustment to college:
“It was interesting because, at the beginning, he was like a chicken with his head cut off, but I think the game has started to slow down for him. His whole game is his quickness and his strength. The kid has less than two percent body-fat. When you have to think, then you don’t play as quick. As he has become more comfortable, you begin to see him playing more comfortable. In August, he will be totally different than if he were just showing up in August. That is a big advantage for him. He is getting all of the original kinks worked out early so, by the time training camp rolls around, he will hopefully put himself in a position to compete right away.”

On the early workout Monday morning:
“The first thing is you want them to come back, and with the snow and everything, that was our biggest concern. They knew this was coming, this was not unannounced. I want the guys to have a quality of life like any other college kid, and go have a Spring Break like everyone else, but we have business to tend to, and we are right in the middle of Spring Ball. A couple of guys obviously didn’t do a whole lot of work over Spring Break, kind of laid on the couch the whole time. Those were the guys that hit the trash cans before everyone else. If you go away to a beach somewhere, and run on the beach every day, that is a good thing as long as you are doing something to keep in shape. It looks like most of the players put themselves in a pretty good position.”

On what he has seen from Jake Heaps and Michael Cummings:
“They are getting all of the reps. Jake’s (Heaps) experience level puts him in a really good position to be way ahead of where he would ever be than if he were just getting here. He has a high level of understanding in the passing game. Michael’s (Cummings) level in the passing game is not nearly at the same level; that does not mean Michael doesn’t have the same arm, because they both have big arms. The thing is, Michael’s experience in the passing game is not nearly as involved because we had to cut back last year significantly in the passing game because of our ‘inefficiencies’ or ‘inaccuracies.’ There is a lot of stuff we had in our system last year that we are just now implementing with him. We have given both of them a load of information, and I have been pleased with their progress.”

On what qualities Jake Heaps brings to the quarterback position:
“He just needs to get out there. I know last year, everyone was always talking about (former quarterback) Dayne (Crist) and how it didn’t turn out according to plan. What we don’t want to do is put any unnecessary pressure on him as ‘the savior,’ but at the same time, the expectation I put on Jake won’t exceed the expectations he puts on himself. He has high expectations for himself and that is a good place to start because normally, the problem I have is, my expectations are higher than the players’. That is not the problem with Jake. Every time he makes a mistake, he feels bad about it. If he misses a throw, he gets mad at himself for missing that throw. He is a very accurate passer.”

On if Jake Heaps is the starting quarterback:
“I would say that he’s the man to beat out. I put him first (on the depth chart) for a reason. If I thought he deserved to be second right now, I’d put him second. One of the obvious questions I’d have to ask myself if I were sitting in your seat would be `How could you put guys first (on the depth chart) ahead of guys who played last year?’ My answer is we were 1-11 last year, and I’d prefer not to be 1-11 again. If I think certain guys are better than other guys, I’m putting them ahead. We have new guys coming in the summer time. Guess what? If I think those guys are better than the guys who were practicing in the spring, I’m putting them ahead of the other guys. There are at least a half-dozen on defense that have a chance of being on the field the first play of the game when we play in September. When you’re 1-11, you don’t worry about being in love with anybody; you put the best guys out there, whoever they are. That’s the only way you’re going to get better.”

On what he’s done differently this year compared to last year in spring practice:
“People want to talk about changing the culture (of a program), I don’t call it changing the culture. It’s cleaning out the program. Let’s not say that all with a negative vibe. Cleaning out the program meant top-to-bottom. If you don’t want to be here, leave. I could care less whether you’re here or not. Either you’re a Kansas guy, or you’re not a Kansas guy. Don’t talk to me about the depth chart; if you want to move up on the depth chart, go play better than the guy ahead of you. It’s a very simple philosophy. I am totally unsympathetic to any player that wants to come in and talk about the depth chart, I’m not interested. Don’t bring it up. Go play better than the other guy and you’ll move up.

“But it wasn’t just that. It was the expectations in the classroom, it was the expectations socially; we got rid of 29 guys, you think about that, 29 scholarship players and a lot of them were guys that were really playing. When you’re making that much of a commitment to wiping out the program, then obviously the question you ask is `where do we go from here?’ As we do that, you keep in mind that your ultimate goal is for all of your guys to graduate. Now, while you’re doing that, you want them to play football at a high enough level that you can improve the state of the union of Kansas football. That’s why Huldon Tharpis in school right now. He wanted to walk away, but I wouldn’t let him walk away. I said to him `you come back here and graduate.’ What would have been the point of going to school all that time if you don’t graduate? That defeats the whole purpose. You have 100 guys on your team, if 10 of them play a down in the NFL, that’s a high percentage. If 10 percent of them play, that’s a high percentage. But now, we’ve gone through our 1-11 and getting rid of the 29 guys and changing the culture academically. Now they know me and I know them a whole lot better than at this time last year and there’s really no gray area any more. It’s all black-and-white; it’s either this way or that way. There’s no `how am I going to look at that?’ they know how I’m going to react. If you ask them a question of what my reaction is going to be, they know what my reaction is going to be. There’s no guessing game here.”

On if it’s comforting to be in the same place two years in a row:
“I could have stayed at those places too, it just didn’t work out that way. I didn’t choose to leave Notre Dame, they chose that for me. I went to the Chiefs and my daughter had a bad experience there, so that’s why we left there. I went to Florida and really had no intentions of leaving there, but after talking to Dr. (Sheahon) Zenger a few times, I just felt like this was a place that I wanted to be, and want to be for a long time. Now, if I want to be here for a long time, there are a lot of things that have to change. One them is we have to start winning more football games. That would be a good place to get to this year.”

On DL Ben Goodman being a player on the rise:
“First of all, he learned by watching (former DE) Josh Williams practice last year. Josh took him under his wing; Ben was like his puppy dog. One of the best things that Josh left with us was his work ethic; he was wonderful and Ben was his guy. Ben has carried that over. He goes full-speed on every play, just like Josh did. I think that has put him in a position, where he already had some God-given ability, but when you’re going full-speed on every play (it helps you tremendously). I called Josh out in front of the team at the end of the year. I said `Ben Goodman’s performance is because of you; Ben Goodmanis going to be a good player because of you.’ I told him `when you leave here, even though you’re leaving a team that went 1-11, Ben owes you a great debt, because that’s why he’s going to become a player around here.'”

On LB Darius Willis:
“I’m very encouraged with Darius. I felt that he was one of those entitled guys (when I got here last year). He was the leading tackler on a team that wasn’t any good. So you’re the leading tackler on a team that wasn’t any good, does that all of a sudden make you good? Instead of going up the depth chart, he started moving down on the depth chart. Eventually, he got buried to where he wasn’t going to play anymore, so he went over to the show team. Now, when you go over to the show team, one of two things can happen: either you’re going to go through the motions and you’ll be anonymous the rest of your career, or you’ll fight your way back. He worked his butt off. He worked his butt off in everything he did where eventually I said `we need to find something for him to do.’ We put him as an outside player, because he has a fast twitch off the edge. He started turning into somewhat of a pass-rusher behind (former DE/LB) Toben (Opurum) and we started to see some production. Now we’ve tweaked what we’re doing on defense, so you need a couple of bigger bodies at inside linebacker. He’s a little undersized for `Buck’, but he’s plenty big enough to play inside linebacker. To be honest with you, he’s pushing (Ben) Heeney. It’s not a run-away with Heeney in first. He’s pushing him for playing time. It’s been a nice competition and I’ve been very pleased with Willis. He’s one of those guys that could have thrown in the towel and been the 30th player that wasn’t here, but he went in the other direction and kudos to him, because that’s why he is where he is right now.”

On comparing LB Ben Heeney to LB Darius Willis:
“Ben is a little smaller and a little quicker. They are both very physical players that can take on the inside game that most teams will sprinkle in at you. They’re both capable of doing that, it’s just Darius is a little bit bigger. He’s a little bit slower, but also a little bit bigger.”

On what changed with LB Darius Willis that kept him going:
“When you’re trying to run everybody out of here, because I would have gotten rid of 50 if I had to, some guys will go the other way. They don’t all have to be great players. For example, Dexter Lintonwas a guy I had gone, but he ended up playing a whole bunch last year. Why? Because he came around. You always hear about the guys who are gone, but you don’t hear much about the success stories, about the guys who had one foot out the door and fought their way back here, not only to back to be around, but back here to be productive.”

On what he likes about the competitiveness of the team this spring:
“We have better competition in two aspects (this year compared to last year): You have better competition within your own depth chart on offense and defense and then you have better competition offense against defense. If you remember last year at this time, you and I could have started on the defensive line in the spring. It was in shambles. That’s not the case anymore. Now you have decent players going against decent players and that makes everybody better. There is competition on each side of the ball and then there’s much, much better competition when the offense and defense are going against each other. Much better than it ever was at any time last spring.”

On how returning players have responded to being listed below newcomers on the depth chart this spring:
“I don’t care how they feel about being listed below other players; I care about how they respond. I don’t care how they feel about it. If you’re a football coach and you’re worrying about people’s feelings, you’re not going to hang around in this business for very long. Obviously, there are guys that move down the depth chart and guys that move up the depth chart. We talked about (Darius) Willis, he’s a perfect example. He’s listed at No. 2 (at mike linebacker), but he got some reps at No. 1 last week. There are guys that move both ways. I learned a long time ago a very simple phrase: Go by what you see. That’s a coaching phrase saying just watch what happens and go by what you see. Don’t play guys based off of reputation, go by what you see. As long as you live by that, you’ll be okay.”

On how he feels about his wide receivers:
“There are a couple of players that I’ve been very pleased with, and I will site them. A couple people have seen Christian Matthews on the two-deep, but he’s been running with the first team for the whole last week. He’s been the most pleasant surprise of anyone. I was hoping that Justin McCay would move up into that realm and he has moved up in that realm too. So those guys who were running as twos (to start with) are running as ones. Who could have evaluated Christian Matthews at wide receiver last year? His claim to fame was as wildcat quarterback and that’s what anyone knows about Christian Matthews, but if we had to play a game today, he would start at wide receiver, and so would McCay. Those are two guys – one was on the show team last year and the other was wallowing away in anonymity. Now, they’re both factors. And you have to remember, there are a number of guys coming in at that position – we talked about the defense having a half-dozen – but that’s the one position on offense where there are a few guys who could get into the mix in a hurry. So the guys that are here better stake their claim right now, because I’m not going to sit here and put them on the bench and not find out what they can do. Some people are going to be second-guessing me when they see their names on the depth chart ahead of some of the guys that are here. But for the guys that are here, this is their time now. They’re five practices in and they’ve got 10 to go. Now is the time when they can position themselves based off of their performance.”