Weis, Crist Hold Weekly Press Conferences Tuesday

Aug. 28, 2012

082812aak_975_8019844.jpegLAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head coach Charlie Weis and senior quarterback Dayne Crist both held their weekly press conferences Tuesday afternoon in Mrkonic Auditorium. Both men spoke of the excitement associated with the opening week of the college football season and previewed KU’s first-week opponent, South Dakota State.

Below is a transcript to both press conferences:

Kansas Head Coach Charlie Weis

On South Dakota State coach John Stiegelmeier and his staff:
“The Jackrabbits’ head coach (John) Stiegelmeier has been there for 16 years. The last ten years, they’ve had eight winning teams. He’s been there forever. There’s a lot of consistency in their program. He’s a defensive guy by heart. He has co-defensive coordinators–Clint Brown, who works with the defensive ends, has been there for four years, and Jay Bubak, who’s coaching the linebackers, has been there for eight years, and as a matter of fact, he was with the defensive backs a couple of years ago and moved back to the linebackers.”

On SDSU’s defensive personnel:
“The defense returns seven starters. Everyone will talk about how undersized Andy Mink is, No. 52, but he’s a true pain in the butt for whoever is going to go against him. He’s a good, solid football player. They have several locals, one is an Olathe product, Doug Peete, No. 34. He’s listed at weak side end for them, but he’s the guy who brings versatility in their in their defense to allow them to go back and forth between even fronts and odd fronts by being able to play weak side end, then being able to stand up and play outside linebacker. Their defensive secondary has got three seniors and a junior. The one junior is one of the Wright brothers, no pun intended, from Lee’s Summit (Mo.), Winston, who, led the team last year with three interceptions and seven pass breakups. I’ll talk about his brother (Dom) here in a bit.”

On SDSU’s offensive personnel:
“On offense, they return nine guys, including their whole offensive line, although we’ll address that one a little bit here in a second. Last year, they led their conference in passing. This year, they’re trying to get to more of a balance and be able to run the football a little more, and with the size and experience of the offensive line, you could see why they’d want to be doing that. Coach (Eric) Eidsness is in his first year as a coordinator, but this is his third tour of duty at South Dakota State, so he’s very familiar with what they do and how they do it. They’re about a 50/50 spread you out team or line up and pound you team. They use 12 personnel more than most teams we play. 12 personnel, as we talked about earlier, is with one back, two tight ends and two wide receivers. Most teams you play are using 11 or 10, which is three-or-four wide receivers and we’ll talk about their tight ends here in a bit and why they’re in a position where they can go ahead and do that.”

On the SDSU quarterback situation:
“(Austin) Sumner had a really good year last year. He’s 6-5, 230, completed 60 percent of his passes, threw 16 touchdowns, he’s got a good arm, he’s got good arm strength and he’s very accurate. The word is that he injured his thumb. He hasn’t practiced for a few days. We can’t take that as gospel. We have to be ready to play as if he were going to play, but either way if he doesn’t play, they have a redshirt freshman, Eric Kline, who’s 6-4, 205, and I think that they’ll feel very confident about him, as well. Sumner is who we’ll prepare for and it ends up being Kline, we’ll be ready to go.”

On other SDSU offensive personnel:
“They have several explosive guys on offense. Aaron Rollin, who’s 6-foot, 210-he’s No. 5-you’d better learn who he is, because he’s a dynamic wide receiver. In addition, he could be back there on kickoff returns. He’s another local guy from Lee’s Summit. They have a tweener running back/wide receiver by the name of Tyrel Kool. He’s shorter, 5-9, 190, but he’s really good in the passing game. He’s a good runner. He provides a lot of versatility to their game and he can play either position, and they can do a lot with him. Then, they have a bigger guy, Zach Zenner, who’s 6-0, 215. When they go Wildcat, which I call Jayhawk for obvious reasons, but when they go Jayhawk, he would be their quarterback in that situation. He provides them a different change of modes between the running backs carrying the ball for you. Now, they’ve got two really big tight ends. No. 82, Vince Benedetto – he’s 6-3, 250. He was their starter last year. He was more of their stationary guy last year, but they feel really good about Seth Daughters, as well, who’s 6-5, 250, so they’ve got two 250-pound tight ends, which allows them, going back to my original statement, to go in and out of different personnel groups and get into that twelve personnel. Last, but not least, on the offensive line, they return all their starters. They’ve got a ton of experience, and one of the interesting things is one of their best guys, their right tackle, No. 69. It looks like, right now, even though he’s been a three-year starter, it looks like right now he’s running second team, to a guy, No. 66, by the name of Trevor Greger. They probably feel really solid about those guys up front and it gives them a lot of that versatility.”

On SDSU’s special teams personnel:
“Similar to us, their kickoff guy, the guy who’s going to kick off and be their punter is one in the same, Ethan Sawyer. Last year, he didn’t handle the punting, but he’ll punt as well as kick off this year. As I mentioned, (Winston) Wright in the secondary, right now his brother is their leading punt returner, Dom Wright. He’s somebody in the punt return game, and with Rollin as the kickoff returner, all these Lees Summit guys are guys that you have to be concerned with.”

On the loss to North Dakota State two years ago:
“I think they’re well aware of that. I’m always jabbing them about a whole bunch of things. I live in the present and future. I really live in the past, but I think that bringing back moments from the past, both good and bad, are always good teaching points. I could also talk about a few years ago winning the Orange Bowl, so I talk about that too. They’re well aware of a slow start, especially how that 6-3 game turned out. That’s not too far in their distant past.”

On not being over-confident:
“I don’t think that we’re worried about being overconfident. We just lost 100 in a row. I don’t think there’s any overconfidence on our part. I think we’re just trying to win one and the one we’re trying to win is this one. The least you’ll have to worry about for our team is being overconfident.”

On worrying about nerves:
“There’s always nervousness for players when they go out to play. The one thing I think, though, followed me and that’s not me. I do most of my yelling in practice. I reserve most of my yelling on game days for officials because they deserve it, and then for somebody that does something stupid, like getting a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Other than that, I’m usually very calm and cool and I think that even if they are nervous, which I’m sure there will be a fair amount of that, they usually follow your lead.”

On junior Jordan Tavai playing two positions:
“He’s been one of our best guys in his brief time here, so rather than put him as a backup at strong-side or weak-side end, which, as you saw on the depth chart, he’s practiced both of those, and we could play him in the game as both of those. Right now, if we were putting our best four guys out there first: Josh Williams, Tavai, Keba (Agostinho), and Toben (Opurum) would be the best four guys to put out there. I told you we’re going to be playing two-deep anyway, but he’s the one player inside of those five guys that are listed in those two spots, he’s the one player inside that could play outside, effortlessly. We could just bump him out to end. I always talk about inherent depth and versatility. He’s the guy who allows us to do that.”

On junior Aslam Sterling playing right guard:
“I did that a little while ago and moved from tackle into right guard when I knew that Riley (Spencer) was going to be definitely healthy enough to be playing. He was banged up for a while, and that was going to be a big question: what’s going to happen with Riley? Riley hasn’t practiced full speed that much. He’s practiced and he’s up to par now. That’s why Gavin (Howard) deserves, with the camp he’s had, to be in the starting lineup. Right now, we’ve settled the offensive line down. Instead of there being roving parts, we’ve settled it down, so Gavin and Riley have settled down at right tackle and Aslam and Randall (Dent) have settled at right guard. I think that you should expect to see all four of those guys playing in the game.”

On if he would hold anything back the first game:
“I think it’s important for us to win the first game. We will worry about the second game after the first game. Most people say `let’s be really conservative’, I don’t think that’s the way we should approach this game. I think we have to go win this game. We will worry about the second game after the first game. Secondly, any time there is a new coaching staff there is always the unknown of what they’re going to do. But there are volumes of tapes out there, where you have to pick your poison because fortunately/unfortunately I’ve done a lot of different things. So, I think that you have to decide what you have to get ready for.”

On Anthony McDonald’s status:
“As I told you last week, Anthony McDonald’s strength is when he’s a very physical player; as physical of a player as we have. I don’t believe Anthony can just turn it loose right now. When he can turn it loose, the depth chart will change. Being around the kid for long time, I think he needs to be a guy. He’s not the fastest guy in the whole world, his whole game is physicality. I think that right now, I just don’t see him being able to turn it loose. That’s why I have Schyler (Miles) and Jake (Love) backing up (Ben) Henney in that position right there. If this were the last game of the year, and we had nothing else to play for, he’d play this week. But it’s the first game of the year and I want him to play when he plays like I just explained to you. I want to be able to see him do that, because these other guys, you know, I think are pretty good.”

On the importance of being able to work with a familiar quarterback in Dayne Crist:
“It just makes things that much easier. You know, it’s that much easier when you are talking the same language and you know even when you’re correcting him. There’s some time when the other quarterbacks won’t understand what the correction is because, let’s say you are watching a game and you see a QB complete a 14-yard pass, perfect route, right on the money. But let’s say that’s not where he was supposed to go with the ball, so nothing is said at that time. But when I’m sitting here watching the tape, I’ll say `What were you looking at? Why are you throwing it there?’ Now you might say what difference does it make? It’s a 14-yard completion. But that’s not what he’s supposed to be doing. So, I think it’s been so much easier having him here. I can’t think of any situation that could have presented itself any better for me than, in the first year when I came in here, for him being the quarterback for our team. I can’t even think of one. I can’t think of an alternative.”

On what makes Dayne Crist perfect for this situation:
“The first thing, if you are not a leader at the quarterback position and the team doesn’t want to follow you, then you have no chance. You are never going to be any good. That’s the first thing. If you think about it, you come in here at the semester; you have never played here; you have all these guys that have been a part of the program for three, four or five years and they pick you as the captain. I mean it’s a crazy thought to think that could even happen. The second thing I’ve always known these guys had the physical tools to play the game and you know we got some players around him that are pretty good. So it isn’t like he’s coming into an empty cupboard. You know everyone wants to talk about `well there aren’t enough (great) players.’ Maybe we don’t have a ton of them, but we have some and the ones we have, they’re pretty good so he’s going to have the opportunity to make some plays.”

On if he wants the depth chart to settle soon:
“Hopefully, they’ll never resolve themselves. The reason why you have those (ors) is because you like them both not because you like neither. It’s a little tougher when the ors are the first position. That’s when you have a problem, especially when you have a quarterback where you say this guy or that guy, then you don’t have one. If you have two you are trying to make your decisions on, then you don’t have one, because if you had one, he’d be playing. At a back-up position, you want multiple guys to play. Let’s take Jake Love, no one really talks much about Jake Love, right? So here’s a guy who shows, first of all on special teams, similar to (Tunde) Bakare, that he can make plays on special teams. So here’s a strong, athletic kid who can run and hit, all-state wrestler, I mean why wouldn’t you want a guy like that in contention to play on your team?”

On if game week is different than any other week:
“I don’t get any less sleep than normal. I am not a very good sleeper unfortunately. I usually always have a lot on my mind during football season. I wake up and I actually make little notes because I will forget what I was thinking. I will write some stupid things down. There is a lot of stupid stuff in there. But I don’t get nervous, I don’t really get anxious. I am really excited for our team to see how they are going to play, more than anything else. We have been talking about this stuff forever, now it’s time to play and get an opportunity to see where we are. Next time I talk to you, it will be after we played. We are going to come in here and the game will have taken its own shape. It is going to be the aftermath of what has already matriculated. Right now I am interested to see how that plays out.”

On if the team has any specific goals for a game:
“We have offense, defensive and special teams goals. We have boards that we put up with ten goals for each facet. The number one goal for each of those is winning. What does make if you achieve all the other goals and you lose? We have goals, for example on offense, no turnovers, that is the goal. One turnover, you don’t achieve that goal. The number is zero, because why would any offensive coach set a goal for turnovers higher than zero? That is what the number should be.”

On if he has an idea of what to expect for the first game:
“There has been times when I have thought, man we are going to lay a whooping on them and we have gone and laid an egg instead. There has been other times when I have said, `we are not ready to go,’ and everything goes right. You think you have your finger to the pulse of how everything is going to go and sometimes it doesn’t play out. That is why I said I am excited to see how it plays out, because with some of the unknowns, you don’t really know how it is going to play out. You expect your guys to go fight their butts off for 60 minutes. You expect that. You expect to not go out there and be the Bad News Bears when you go out there. You expect them to get in and out of the huddle and not have to call a bunch of timeouts for not being able to get lined up. Those are things you expect to see. Even though there are openers and growing pains, those are things you expect to see. We will see how it plays out. I will be just like you, the only difference is I have a bit more of an active role, because I call the offensive plays.”

“My greatest pet-peeve is a delay of game on offense, because I call the plays quickly. We huddle most of the time, not all the time, but most of the time, but I get the plays in quick enough that there should never be a delay of game. If there is a delay of game, I will publicly take the blame and privately somebody is going to be getting hammered.”

On if he has determined a fourth captain yet:
“Usually our fourth captain will be, whoever played the best on special teams the previous week. We haven’t had that take place yet, so we will wait until after this week’s game.”

On the conditioning of junior Aslam Sterling:
“He can now do more than two plays at a time. I think he’s in way better condition (than when he first arrived), he’s dropped a bunch of weight. He’s probably dropped 20 pounds since he’s been here. He’s spent a lot of extra time with (Strength and Conditioning Coach Scott) Holsopple, both in the morning and after practice. He’s in much better condition. Can he go 70 plays? I don’t think so, but that’s why I told you about our confidence in (junior) Randall (Dent). Could (junior) Riley (Spencer) go 70 plays if he were the starter? Probably not, but having him and Gavin (Howard) over there, we feel pretty good about those two positions.”

On his pregame rituals for game day:
“I point up to the box to where my wife is in so that I don’t get into any trouble. I find out where that is – I have one person assigned to tell me where that is – so when I walk off the field I can point up to her. If I don’t point up to her…let’s just take it from there. That’s the one thing I do try to do. I try to stay out of the way, that’s what I try to do. I do try to get to every player during warm ups to wish them good luck for the game. I try to get around to everyone and I do try to do that. But that’s it for the 43 minutes that we’re out there. We’ve practiced this multiple times. I think we have it down. I think even when a team comes out, if you see that they’re not very organized, as a fan it doesn’t send a very good message. We’re pretty fine-tuned as far as that stuff goes.”

On if he has talked to any former players/colleagues before the first game:
“They talk to you, but we don’t talk about football. More of your old players call; I had a bunch of them call last night, because Monday is a day off for a lot of those pro guys. I talked to a bunch of college guys and pro guys. To be honest, we don’t really talk about the season. We don’t talk about the first game, it’s more `how’s your wife doing? How are your kids doing?’ We talk just like everyone else. The last thing you want to talk about is work.”

On if he is worried about opposing teams’ scouting practice from the Oread:
“We’ve done so many things on offense that if you videotaped all we’ve done and tried to get ready for it, it would take you three years. That’s how many different things we’ve done. If they can figure that out, they’re a lot smarter than I am.”

On Tre’ Parmalee’s role on Saturday:
“I’m assuming that he’s going to play; how much I can’t tell you. It’s going to be dictated by how the game is going. He is going to play though, I can tell you that. He’s a backup. He’ll play when it’s time for him to go in. He has been one of the most pleasant surprises here. Not that I didn’t think he could play, because I thought he could, I just didn’t think he would move up the depth chart that far this quickly. If you want to talk about surprises, that’s a surprise. I’ve known the kid forever now. Remember, I’ve been friends with the Parmalees since the 90’s. It’s 2012. I remember him as a baby. The funniest part is we have Dayne Crist coming in, he remembers (Tre’) as a 13-year old running around Notre Dame’s practices when he first got there. Now he could be throwing to him. That’s the funniest thing to think about.”

On what he’d like to see for game day atmosphere at Memorial Stadium Sunday:
“What’s your ideal? Your ideal is that you go play a solid game in all three facets. You win the game and you play solid on all three facets. There always will be plenty of constructive criticisms to lay out with the players after the game. But enough to where the players were excited, the fans were excited, the students were excited; everyone hung around for the entire game. You go out (on the field) afterwards and shake their (your opponent’s) hands, you go sing the alma mater; you come into the locker room where we’ve got this little dance thing that we do in the locker room after we’ve won a game. You turn them loose after the game and then you come back the next day and do it all over again. That’s what I’d like to see. If you ask me that question next week, that’s the same answer I’m going to give you next week, because I’d like to see that next week too. That’s really what this is all about. I would like to see the students, the alumni and the fan base and the football team start to have a positive connection. Part of that is us playing well.”

Kansas senior quarterback Dayne Crist

On how quickly he and Coach Weis became comfortable working together again:
“It was amazing first coming here, seeing where we had left off and just the familiarity that continued to resonate. That level of comfort has been the same and been consistent. It’s just great being able to pick up where we left off.”

On if he is nervous about the game Saturday:
“Not nervous, (I’m) very anxious, very excited. I just can’t wait. I haven’t been this happy or this excited in a long time. I’m just so grateful and so thankful for the opportunity. I just can’t wait to go out there and compete with my teammates.”

On any differences between now and the last time he was preparing to start a football game:
“At the point that I’m at, with this being my last year no matter what, I think that you’ve got a different sense of urgency. You realize that this is all you have left. You cherish this time. Everyone talks about how Saturday can’t get here quick enough. While I agree, you also realize that with the level of experience I have at this point, I realize how important every day leading up until that point is as well. As much as I want Saturday to get here, we’ve got some work to do still until we’re ready to go.”

On how long it seems like it has been since he started a football game:
“Forever. It feels like an eternity. Again, I’m so happy to be where I’m at and just so incredibly thankful for the opportunity.”

On how much progress the offense has made since practice began:
“I think a great deal. The one area I’m most pleased with, just being a member of the offense, is seeing the way that the level of confidence has grown. Guys are just playing so much more confident. When you do that, you play faster, you make plays and you go out and do what you love. Guys can really show their athleticism and show their talent. If you’re thinking or if you’re unsure, you play a little slower than you actually are, so I’m just happy to see that everyone is consistent in their approach and that the level of confidence is pretty high right now.”

On his routine on Saturday before the game:
“I’m a pretty laid-back individual by nature. A lot of guys kind of do different stuff on Saturday, but if you’re not ready to go on Saturday there’s something wrong with you, because it’s so much fun. It’s what you work all week for, all year for. I just try to relax as much as possible leading up to the game. Certain positions need to be fired up and crazy by nature. That’s understandable, but I feel at the quarterback position you have to be cool at all times, have an even keel and just be the rock for the rest of the offense.”

On the hardest thing for opponents to prepare for regarding KU’s offense:
“I think we’re pretty versatile. I won’t go into schematics or anything, but I think in general there are a lot of playmakers on the field and that’s something that’s encouraging at the quarterback position – knowing that you have a lot of guys around you that can score points and make some big plays.”

On if the team has more playmakers than he anticipated when he arrived at KU:
“I really tried to eliminate all expectations walking through the door. I wanted to start with a clean slate because I had no pre-existing relationship with guys. I don’t understand or know what was going on last year or things like that. I started with a clean slate with everybody, but I think I was very pleased in seeing the number of playmakers that we have on this team.”

On if he has a good feel for how good the offense can be:
“I think you need to have some more game experience before you can really get a feel for how we’re going to operate, but I know the potential that’s there. I’m excited for the stuff that we’ve shown on film in practice and things that we can do. I’m just excited to translate that to the field and to a game setting.”

On how the right side of the offensive line has come together:
“I think it really stemmed from a great deal of competition at those right guard and right tackle spots that you want to talk about. I think all the guys in that rotation have done a great job being consistent and showing mentally they know what they’re doing, they’re locked in, they can be trusted and they can be counted on. I think that the two guys that we have in there right now are doing a great job, and we’re excited to see them make some plays on Saturday.”

On if 6-5, 360-pound Aslam Sterling is the biggest right guard he’s ever seen:
“Right guard, yes. Left guard, we had a guy a little bit bigger. Chris Stewart was huge and 400 pounds or something like that at one point. Aslam’s very athletic for his size. It’s great to see him develop. You’ve definitely seen him grow in the short time that he’s been here. It’s a guy you love having in front of you, protecting you.”

On how Aslam joining the team late has impacted his chemistry with Dayne:
“It’s great how mature he is. He came in with a total business mentality. He knew he was a little behind walking in the door. He got here late, but the ground that he’s been able to cover has been pretty remarkable, especially from the mental side of it. The other guys there had an entire semester in the spring, but he’s done a great job. He’s very competitive. In terms of chemistry, he’s a great guy. He’s a little quiet, but a great guy and great guy to be around.”

On being teammates with Tre’ Parmalee:
“It was a little weird walking in with both Tre’ and Charlie (Weis), Jr., and some of the other guys around. They were just little kids running around on the field when I first got to Notre Dame, so it’s kind of cool, but definitely a little weird seeing him out there and making plays. He’s a great player. He’s going to be great for us here, short-term and long-term. It’s nice having some familiar faces as well.”

On the significance of the running game to open up the passing game:
“It’s huge. Coach Weis is all about winning. It’s not about, `We have to get this set amount of runs or throws.’ It’s whatever it takes to win. If we have to run every down, you best believe we’ll run every single play of the game. I think our running game has definitely grown and improved from spring, summer and all through camp. It’s a big part of our offense. It’s as important, if not more important, than other stuff we have going on. That’s something that we’ll have to continually work at and continually work to improve.”

On being named a team captain:
“It was a great honor, very flattering that my teammates felt that way, but at the same time it’s a great deal of responsibility and something that I really want to relish. I want to serve this team. I want to do everything I can for this team. At the end of the day, I`ve always been someone who has tried to be a leader. Just being able to fulfill that role is something that’s important to me and something that I want to do well all season long.”

On D.J. Beshears and Daymond Patterson being compared often because they are both shorter receivers:
“It’s unfortunate that that’s the case because they’re very different in style and approach. They’re very different. They’re both very skilled. Any time you talk about a shorter receiver, you get the Wes Welker comparisons, but they’re both very versatile. They can play inside and outside. We’re excited to have both of them. We’re counting on them to make a lot of plays, so expect both of them to have big years. We’re excited for both of them.”

On if he has helped his teammates become comfortable with Charlie Weis’ coaching style:
“From time to time. I think it was more so early on when guys didn’t really have a bead on Coach as much as they do now. I think at this point, guys are very well acquainted with Coach and understand him and how he operates. If there’s ever a question or an issue, that’s definitely one way I can help assist those guys in understanding what he wants or what’s going on. Again, I think that just goes back to the relationship we have. At this point, the team and Coach are very much in-sync with each other.”

On his expectations of Coach Weis when he first joined Notre Dame:
“If you talk to any player that has played for Coach Weis, they love playing for him. When I first met him at Notre Dame, that’s what all the players said regardless of what comes across on the practice field. All the guys that played for him loved playing for him. I think the guys here love playing for him. The most important thing is winning to him and being competitive. I think that’s everyone’s goal as an athlete. You want to be as successful or competitive as possible. When your coach has the same mentality as you, it makes it very easy to play for him.”