Kansas Head Coach Charlie Weis Holds Tuesday Press Conference

April 10, 2012

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis held a press conference Tuesday afternoon in the Mrkonic Auditorium in the Anderson Family Football Complex to discuss the state of the team after two full weeks of spring practice. Following practice wide receivers coach Rob Ianello and selected student-athletes spoke with the media. Below is a transcript of Coach Weis’ session with the media, as well as Coach Ianello and the student-athletes:

Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis
On Justin McCay’s eligibility:
041012aaa_39_7669033.jpeg“I am following that (situation) very close and we were told that this week would be judgment week. I was encouraged the way the chain of command was working because the account manager had told us that they were going to present (McCay’s case) a week ago Wednesday, before the (NCAA) tournament. It came back to us that they were going to move it on up the ladder because normally when you get granted another year it is for one drastic, tragic occurrence. In Justin’s case it is not just one thing, there are a whole bunch of things that are involved. I am cautiously optimistic after they review that the whole case will have a favorable outcome.”

On how McCay’s situation is affecting him:
“I think it is pressing on him and you are still talking about a kid here. First of all, it is not going to end his career, one way or another. I think psychologically it would be so uplifting to have a favorable outcome and have three years to play three instead of sitting for a year and having two years to play two. That would have a lot of negative overtones on anyone if they were sitting there waiting.”

On playing the team’s first three games without running back James Sims:
“I think we will be fine at running back. It never helps to lose a front-line player, but we have Tony (Pierson) and (Brandon) Bourbon, who is as close to being at full-speed as you can be. I am not going to let him (Bourbon) go full-speed because he had an injury that takes six months to be fully healed. Although, he is running around full speed out there at practice, I am always going to error on the side of caution and make sure that I have him fully ready to go. We also have the reinforcements coming right around the corner and we feel really good about the two guys we have coming at the position, so I don’t think it will be too much of a problem for us to handle the fort until he (Sims) is able to come back.”

On Sims’ workload in practice leading up to the suspension:
“It depends on what time of the year you are talking about, because right now it won’t affect his workload in practice. It will affect his workload when you get closer to the start of the season. I am looking at him sort of like Jake Heaps, in that we practice him now, because those first three games we are going to have the best show team running back in the country. He is going to be running show team, because the only way to not get rusty is to go over there and run show team. So, the first three games, if the defense wants to get a look at a good running back, then that’s the running back they are going to be getting a good look at.”

On competition for starting jobs during the spring:
“Guys can put themselves in position to be the guy, but sometimes there is not enough competition to threaten a guy. (Offensive Lineman) Tanner (Hawkinson) is not being threatened. Now he wouldn’t have lost the position anyway, but he is not being threatened. There are other people that are moving up and down the ladder based on their performance in the spring. I think it all depends on how thin you are at a position. For example, there is a lot of depth at the wide receiver position here and a whole bunch of guys that have ability. So there are guys moving up and down the ladder at that position. Everyone knows about (Cale) Pick, they know about (D.J.) Beshears and they know about (Daymond Patterson) some too, but they don’t know about everybody else. There are a bunch of guys here that can play, so I’d say out of all the positions on the team, there has been the most competition at wide receiver.”

On sophomore Marquis Jackson’s switch from wide receiver to running back:
“When we first started, Marquis Jackson was way up the depth chart at wide receiver. He is a big, physical guy and there is a lot of competition at the position, so today when he goes out there, instead of wearing No. 81, he is going to be wearing No. 28. And instead of being at wide receiver, he is going to be at running back, that’s because I try to look at who I have and say, ‘where can I put them so that they are in the best position to get onto the field.’ I know he will play on special teams because you don’t get many wide receivers that are big and physical and want to hit people.”

On the evaluation of his team’s talent thus far:
“It depends whether you are coaching offense or defense right now. For example, if you guys had interviewed (Defensive line coach) Buddy Wyatt it was a wasted interview because what he is trying to tell you is that, ‘I am going to go out there and coach the heck out of whoever I have right here, but until the calvary gets here the whole complexion of the defensive line is going to change.’ All of a sudden you take five junior college or fifth-year players, a freshman and a couple of guys that have been hurt and haven’t been going all spring, throw them into the mix and you have a couple of guys on the two-deep that are playing right now that are not going to even been in the two-deep (come the fall). Everyone else is going to be running three’s, so his hair is getting real grey right now because he is doing a lot of practice coaching, but that’s what we do this time of year. That is what recruiting is all about and fortunately we hit the nail on the head on with that one. We have some good players that are on their way at that position.”

On how you tell a kid that he may not be the starting player based on spring practices:
“You don’t; you’re just trying to compete. Now if you look at the first offense and the first defense, it’s a landslide (in the different between the starter and the backup). Then you look at the second offense and the second defense, there’s also a landslide the other way; so what is that telling you? It’s telling you that the frontline guys on offense are pretty good but you don’t have much depth and it’s telling you on defense that these kids that are coming in the summer better be pretty good, because if they’re not then my hair is going to turn completely white in a hurry.”

On if there is enough depth at cornerback so receivers don’t have to fill in:
“Those receivers that you’re talking about in particular, those guys are going to play receiver. I’m not taking the first two or three receivers and make them backup corners. Now if you get depleted during the season, then I’m not opposed to taking a guy and playing him on offense and defense; I’m not opposed to that at all but first things first, they have to settle into the position they play. If we get desperate and there’s a receiver that can help us as a nickel back then he’ll play nickel back; ask Troy Brown. It’s just like goal line right now; when we put goal line in on offense, I guarantee there will be some guys playing defense that will be on goal line on offense, they’re just not there right now.”

On the chemistry of the coaching staff:
“I’ve been very pleased, especially after being critical of myself right from the start of one of the things I misjudged after the first go-around. I’m very pleased with where we are right now. I think the defensive staff has meshed very nicely together with the combination of age and experience with youth. I think with the offensive staff, a lot of us have worked together so Reggie (Mitchell) and Tim (Grunhard) had to be the guys that blended in but overall I’ve been very pleased with the cohesiveness of the staff.”

On if the tight end is a hard position to evaluate right now:
“Well, it’s really not tough to evaluate on the one hand because you have two guys that are clearly in the mix for playing time so those guys are getting good work and are competing against each other every single day. Now are there other guys coming in? You bet there are but those guys are probably in one of the more improved positions. It’s also probably one of the thinnest positions right now because you’re dealing with two scholarship players at this time but once again, you have help on the way.”

On sophomore Jimmay Mundine’s potential:
“Well he’s a better point-of-attack blocker than I thought he was; going through the off-season I thought that he had athletic ability and he runs pretty well. My biggest concern was when he lines up at the line of scrimmage, is he going to get the crap kicked out of him? That has not shown to be a problem at this point, so I’d say I’m cautiously optimistic.”

On if he has a preference on who gets the majority of carries:
“I think you have to look at who they are and their body type. You have Tony (Pierson) and Tony has to touch the ball, but how many times he touches the ball is going to be important. If you’re talking about a 12-game regular season – and you always aspire to have a 13th game – then you have to figure how many times he can touch the ball at his size and be able to be at a high level the next week. Now you’re at a catch-22; on the one hand, every time he touches the ball he has a chance of scoring a touchdown, but on the other hand, if you give the ball to him too much then you could get him beat up and then he’s not productive the next week.”

“So that’s my job and Reggie’s job but I think with the volume of guys that we have that are good ball carriers, they’re going to help me make those decisions by their performance. I also believe in playing a hot hand; I’m not one of those guys, who after you get through the openers, won’t go back to a well over and over and over again. If you have something that’s going and you have a running back that’s hot, you have to keep feeding him. I don’t care how tired they get; they can tap their helmet all they want but I’m going to be waving them to go back in.”

On if there needs to be more emphasis on conditioning this time of year:
“Well weight-lifting is maintaining and conditioning is being pushed further and further. Like we’ll end practice today with two minutes where we’ll just run up and down the field a whole bunch of times and then we’ll turn around and run gassers as a team. One of the things that I think as a team we’ve been lacking from the beginning of spring is stamina. You can’t play this game without having stamina; that’s true on both sides of the ball and special teams.”

On defense, with the fast pace that you’re playing on a weekly basis in the Big 12, you have to have stamina. You can’t have substitutions right in the middle of the thing and all of the sudden you look like the Bad News Bears. You have guys running on and off the field because they’re too tired to be able to hold up. Conversely on offense, I’ve never had a skill player that was any good that didn’t have stamina. If you have a wide receiver that runs one deep route and he’s done for the next five plays, what good is he? They have to be able to establish some form of stamina and that’s what we do this time of year.”

On if he noticed the lack of stamina with guys halfway through practices:
“This wasn’t that; as you become a better and better team, stamina is one quality that all good teams have. All good teams have staying power. This isn’t critical of anything, this is just an observation. I thought our stamina was not very good from the start of spring. Now they might have been in shape for Scott (Holsopple), but football shape and strength and conditioning are not one in the same, contrary to popular opinion. When you go out there and play football, it’s not the same as being in a weight room because it’s all bursts. How many times do offensive linemen run 40’s? Everyone always talks about 40’s but who really gives a crap about a 40? How fast can they run 10 or five? That’s really what the game is; the game is a bunch of 10-yard bursts. So it really has to be more position specific when it comes to conditioning.”

On quarterback Dayne Crist:
“He had his best day Saturday. He was a man among boys, which was encouraging. Well, it depends on if you are the offensive coordinator or the head coach. As the offensive coordinator, it was very encouraging. As the head coach, it was halfway encouraging and halfway discouraging. He was on. If we played Saturday, it would have been a good day for the offense. He had one ball that wasn’t right on the money. That ball should have been caught. He had a good day. I hope he looks like that today. He won’t, but I hope he does.”

On how Crist’s presence impacts the offense:
“It isn’t the offense. It’s really the whole team. If you’re a defensive player and you see that guy on the other side picking you apart, you’re saying we’ve got a chance. If we’re in a game, we’ve got a chance. When you’re the offense and you come into the huddle, he has a presence. It helps all the other quarterbacks, too, because they see how he does it. Now, Jake (Heaps) is the next closest thing, but we all know Jake isn’t eligible to play this year. That’s no big secret, so Michael (Cummings) has been getting more and more (repetitions) as the time’s going on. Blake’s (Jablonski) got some, too, but Michael’s been getting more and more because you have to start getting somebody ready to be No. 2. Then you have Turner (Baty) coming in. We’ll see what he does when joins the mix. Just watching his (Crist’s) presence in the huddle, you don’t have to worry about the offensive line identifying the front because he identifies the front. You don’t have to worry about delay of game penalties. You don’t have to worry about check-with-me’s. You don’t have to worry about him potentially getting you out of a bad play. These are things that are learned over time, so we cheated. We got a good head start. It really helps, especially the first year when you’re installing everything for the first time.”

On how Crist has handled being the face of the team:
“The one thing he does is that he’s quick to defend everybody else. It was interesting because we had a national media person that he just had a conversation with for a different reason last week. Not for an interview or anything, but it was a national media person. The national media person started talking about, ‘I hope things work out.’

He said, ‘Don’t worry about that.’ The national media person was caught off guard a little bit. (Dayne) started rattling off why he thinks things are better than the national media person thought. Not once did he mention himself. He rattled off the offense, why it was going to be better, the defense and why it was going to be better. It wasn’t about him. That’s what good quarterbacks do. When you finish talking to them, you never feel it was about them. You always feel it was about everybody else. That’s what he’s been able to do.”

On how Crist identifies the defense:
“It’s really simple. All he has to do when he comes up there (to the line of scrimmage) is identify who the middle linebacker is. Then, every other call that you make with the offensive line is predicated by who that guy is. It doesn’t make any difference if it’s a run or a pass. Protections are predicated by that. Blocking schemes are predicated by that once you know who that guy is. Now we don’t have to sit there and watch Trevor (Marrongelli) move his head around trying to figure out who it is. Dayne walks up, ’54 is the Mike.’ The decision making is over. He’s already made the decision. Now it gives you that five or 10 seconds to talk about what your assignments are before the ball is snapped. It really helps the whole operation. To go one step further, that also affects hots and sight adjusts because now guys that have to break off (routes) because you don’t have enough guys in protection – those outside guys also need to know who that guy is. That tells them which guys become potentially dangerous guys because they are unblocked. It’s really the starting point of every play. When you’re at the line of scrimmage and two seconds after you’re there, you’re saying, ’54 is the Mike,’ it really makes everyone’s job that much easier.”

On how Crist is enjoying another opportunity to play for Coach Weis:
“He’s not doing anything that I wouldn’t have expected. I’ve known him since he was in 11th grade. I’ve known him such a long time. What he has done is exactly what I would have expected. When he came on his visit, he wanted to hang out with the offensive lineman. He didn’t want to hang out with the wide receivers. He didn’t care about those guys. ‘Who’s going to keep me on my feet?’ That’s a good place to start. That’s usually what quarterbacks start with. Let’s befriend the offensive line to get going. If the quarterback gets hit, they should feel bad. That’s a good place to start. I know there’s a camaraderie there. For a guy to come in, to not really know these guys – these guys have been together for a really long time – and become one of the boys that quickly, that’s an unusual quality to be able to have as a person.”

Wide receivers coach Rob Ianello
On if he is surprised at how deep the wide receiver position is:
“It’s a good looking group of guys. They’ve been really competitive. It’s been really positive in our receiver room during the course of the spring. Certainly, you don’t know what to expect when you come into a new situation, but I’m certainly very pleased that we have the numbers and the depth and the quality. It makes it a very competitive position right now, which has shown on the field. Each day we have guys pushing each other back and forth on the field. That’s how you get good. You build your depth, from the bottom, up.”

On what will allow a certain receiver to separate himself from the rest of the group:
“There are a lot of variables involved to separate yourself. Knowing what to do is obviously a very important component when separating yourself, making plays when the opportunity presents itself to you and then we’re just looking for guys to be complete players. Complete players know what to do, complete players play physical. They block, they play physical in the releases, they make hard catches and they are really committed to being good technicians. We’re trying to keep pushing players every day. We have a long way to go to be that, but we’re making progress.”

On if he can tell a difference between the receivers who have playing time compared to those that don’t:
“There are several guys out there with a lot more experience playing and some guys with a little bit of experience playing. That shows up on the practice field, but they’re all freshmen in our system. They’re all freshmen in our offense and I’m coaching them as if they are all freshmen.”

On if the receivers are in good shape:
“Well, we’re growing in that area I think as a whole team. One of the emphasis’ Coach (Weis) put on us was our stamina. As a receiver you have to be able to run that third down route in the fourth quarter when it counts, like you did in the first quarter when it was third and eight. You have to be coming out of your route and we have to be able to count on you. We’re still working in that area, obviously as a receiver group. We’re green and growing every day.”

Senior quarterback Dayne Crist
On spring practice so far:
“There has definitely been a lot of positives, we are happy with those things. With spring practice there are so many things that you want to make sure you are correcting, you are constantly fixing and correcting the things you see out there, but with a group of guys who have never run this offense before there has been a lot that has been great out there. I enjoy seeing the progress guys are making. We are getting to a point now where guys are comfortable with their assignments and schemes that they can just go out there and play and be athletes.”

On if he recalled the offense:
“It was just re-polishing on some things. I think when Coach left Notre Dame I was in a good place as far as my understanding of the offense. What I was lacking was just my experience on the field with that offense. As soon as I knew I was coming here and got back into the playbook, it really came back pretty fast. That is something that has really been great about this entire situation.”

Senior wide receiver Daymond Patterson
On the different style of this year’s offense:
“We are spreading it out a lot more and getting the ball in the air more. We are still a balanced offense running the ball and everything, but I think we are getting the ball in the air a lot more than we did the two previous years.”

On what he likes about the playbook:
“Just the whole playbook. It is a lot of reading the defense. It is a pro system so you get to see a lot of things they see on Sundays, so I really like it. You are really reading what the defense is doing and it helps you, especially if you can make plays, to get open.”