Kansas Football Holds Weekly Media Conferences Tuesday

Sept. 18, 2012

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head coach Charlie Weis and senior quarterback Dayne Crist had their weekly sit down with the media Tuesday afternoon. This week both Weis and Crist took questions regarding the Jayhawks’ upcoming game at Northern Illinois. The following is a transcript of the media session:

Head Coach Charlie Weis

On Riley Spencer’s situation:
“Alright, I know that you’ve seen the depth chart and a couple of tweaks there. I want to talk a little bit about Riley Spencer. Now Riley has, for some time, needed eventually to get work done on his knee. With Gavin (Howard) having settled down our right tackle position, we talked yesterday and decided to go ahead and have Riley’s knee fixed, which will end up costing (him) the rest of the season. We were trying to debate when to have it done. We were going to wait until after the season to have it done. It was basically going to be a six-month recovery time to be full-go, so we figured if we had it done at the end of the season, we’d have him by the summer. But we’ve decided, instead, to go ahead and get it done now so he’d be ready to compete in spring ball as he feels that he needs to be ready to go for spring ball, especially with the number of seniors we have leaving (on the offensive line).”

On both teams having streaks going:
“You know, the good news and the bad news is we both have streaks going, only we’re going in the wrong direction. They’ve won 16 consecutive home games since 2009. And we’ve lost 13 consecutive road games since 2009. And if you want to throw in those three games against our ex-arch rival that no longer is a rival, that were neutral site games, you could add those three losses in there, too, and make that 16. So 16 seems to be the magic number here. They’ve been winning at home and we’ve been losing on the road. And we’re hoping to end a couple of streaks.”

On Northern Illinois’ coaching staff:
“Coach (Dave) Doeren went in last year and did an excellent job. He went 11-3 in his first year there. Obviously, you know, most of know he went to (Bishop) Miege (High School) and he’s been around for a while. And his first year as a head coach did an outstanding job with that team. They ended up winning their last nine, won their bowl game. They’re 2-1 this year; they very easily could be 3-0, having lost a nail biter against Iowa in Chicago, where they were up most of the game. Mike Dunbar runs their offense. We’ll talk about their offense here in a minute. He’s been coaching forever. He’s been around for a good 35 years. And they’ve co-defense coordinators with Jay Niemann, who works with the secondary, and Ryan Nielsen, who works with the defense line. That’s always a good mesh if you’re going to have a co-defensive coordinators, to have somebody that can coordinate the front and somebody that can coordinate the coverage. That’s always a good combination.”

On Northern Illinois’ defense:
“They return most of their front; their front three out of four and their whole secondary. (Sean) Progar and (Alan) Baxter are their starting ends and they’re both very good, athletic, speed pass rushers. They also are not afraid to throw in (Joe) Windsor in there and substitute him in at defensive end. But, Progar and Baxter are the mainstays. They are seniors, along with (Nabal) Jefferson – their nose inside. He’s a senior, as well. They’re all returning starters. They’ve got a lot of experience. (Ken) Bishop plays a three technique for them, and just like at end, they’re not afraid to roll guys in on at defensive tackle. They’re not afraid to put in (Anthony) Wells. As a matter of fact, he plays pretty good as an inside defensive lineman. At the linebacker position, that’s one place where they have had a big turnover. (Jamal) Bass returns as their field linebacker. (Tyrone) Clark is back. He was gone last year, but he’s back and either (Victor) Jacques or (Michael) Santacaterina, one of those two guys will handle the MIKE position. And as I said before, they return their whole secondary. All four of those guys do a nice job. (Jimmie) Ward’s gotten a lot of pub. They’re a nice secondary, you know, (Demetrius) Stone and (Rashaan) Melvin basically handling the outsides and Ward and (Duchane) Durante basically handling the safety position.”

On Northern Illinois’ offense:
“Offensively, before you even talk about their quarterback, which is a great place to start, (you have to know that) they shift in motion on almost every play. You have to make sure that you get lined up right, or else they cause a lot of problems for you. And one of the things they do maybe 40 percent of the time, they end up in an unbalanced line and you have to make sure you don’t miss a line and treat somebody the wrong way, or else you can get yourself in trouble. (Jordan) Lynch, their quarterback, he might show, 6-feet, 215 (pounds) or so, but he plays a lot bigger than that. He’s a dangerous player. First of all, he’s a dynamic rusher. Anytime you’re a dynamic rusher (at the quarterback), it opens up the passing game, because everyone has to worry about stopping the quarterback as well as the running back. And he does a nice job in the pass game, as well. (Leighton) Settle is the running back and he’s 5-foot-9, 200 (pounds), but he’s very, very quick. Two totally different receivers, (Martel) Moore, he’s got pretty good size, he’s 6-foot, 183 (pounds), and then you’ve got (Tommylee) Lewis, who’s 5-foot-7, 155 pounds. But one thing about Lewis, he is fast and he is quick. He’s also one of the two guys – it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure this one out. But he’s one of the two guys that goes back there when it comes to punt returns and kick returns. You’re going to have to contend with that guy. You know, he’s a very dynamic player. They have two tight ends they play. One’s the bigger one, that’s more on the line of scrimmage guys, (Jason) Schepler. They’ll also use (Luke) Eakes as kind of their move tight end. Then you get to their offensive line. (Matt) Krempel is their biggest guy. He plays the right tackle. He’s a good 6-foot-5, 310 (pounds), I’d say, somewhere around there. He’s a big, physical player, who plays with an attitude. You know, (Tyler) Loos plays opposite of him. He’s not quite as big. The next biggest guy, actually, is their left guard, it looks like. (Jared) Volk, he’s 6-foot-3, 315 (pounds). And then you’ve got (Andrew) Ness and (Aidan) Conlon in there. But both the right guard and the center, both are about 6-foot-3, 285-290 (pounds), so they both have pretty good girth.”

On Northern Illinois’ special teams:
“When you look at their special teams, (Ryan) Neir handles their punting. (Mathew) Sims handles their kicking. And then (Tyler) Wedel, he handles their kickoffs. And then, with their punt returns and kickoff returners, You have to worry about Lewis, as I mentioned before, but (Perez) Ashford is back there with him.”

On what he sees from NIU’s run defense after the Army game:
“There’s nothing misleading about what those stats were. I mean, Army does that against a lot of teams. They run the ball very efficiently. That option game is pretty tough that they run. But I think that any time you’re returning three or four guys up front, that’s always a good start, especially your best two pass rushers. And in the secondary, when you return your whole secondary, it’s a slam-dunk for your defense getting better. And I think that that’s what is happening with their defense.”

On the changes in the depth chart on the defensive line:
“Well, it’s a little bit skewed in the fact that last week, you know, how we’ve been listing Toben (Opurum) at end/SAM? Well, last week he played a lot of SAM in the game. So what happens there is Keba actually plays the end opposite of Josh when we do that. So that is based off of lining up just in a true nickel front, where we’re in that rotation that we’ve been in. So, Jordan (Tavai) and Keba (Agostinho) are best suited in nickle to play three technique. And Kevin (Young) and John Williams are best suited to play one technique. But when we play end, we want to get bigger; the guy that we decide we will move outside, we’ve been using Jordan and Keba in both of those capacities. So we wanted to settle Jordan down into one spot right there, so that is what that was all about.”

On the most exciting part of bringing James Sims back into the lineup:
“Well, I think that the most exciting thing is that he’s seen those other two guys (Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox) play pretty well. And he knows for him to get snaps, he’s going to have to earn them. A lot of times when a player leaves, he figures ‘well, they need me.’ He’s sitting in the stands those games, watching those guys run the ball pretty well. And then he’s starting to question, ‘I wonder if they need me?’ So, I think he’s very hungry. That excites me.”

On how Sims handled his suspension:
“It was a combination – he worked hard. But the best part about it is, we gave him enough reps early in practice so that he didn’t forget what we do. But the rest of the time, we sent him to show team. We made him go against the No. 1 defense the whole time. We might have had the best show team in America. I mean, we’ve got that No. 9 (Jake Heaps) over there as the quarterback, and we’ve got (Justin) McCay over there as one of the wide receivers. And Sims is a better running back. Sometimes when I looked over there, I wanted to watch the show team. But any time you get to run in practice, full speed, against a defense, you’re getting to practice things at the speed that the game is played at. When you go against a show team, that isn’t the speed that the game is played at, because you’re looking off of cards. So it always slows down. I think that he’s got some great opportunities to go ahead and refine his skills and get beat up a little bit in the process; those are two good things.”

On if the work Sims had on the show team has prepared him for game speed:
“I expect him ready to go. I really do. I don’t expect there to be any rust.”

On how he plans to use three running backs:
“I think that you’re going to have to wait to see how the game plays out, because I’m not going to sit here and say exactly what I’m going to do in the game. You know, ‘hey Dave, do you want the game plan?’ I’m not going to quite do that, but I will tell you out of our backs, that the most polished receiver out of the backs would be Tony (Pierson). So, that gives you an opportunity to do some things that he would just be better than the other guys at doing.”

On Randall Dent’s progress switching to the offensive line:
“I think the fact that he’s been able to move ahead of guys that have played that position on a regular basis says a lot about Randall Dent. I mean, I’ve been very pleased at Randall Dent’s progress, and he just keeps getting better. I already knew he was a powerful guy, because when we played him on defense, the one thing he could do was he could knock everyone back. He just couldn’t get off the block, because he’s an offensive guard. But as an offensive guard, that’s what you’re looking for. So, I kept looking at him and I said, ‘(Defensive Line Coach) Buddy (Wyatt), don’t worry, he’s going to be on offense.’ Buddy says he can’t make a play. I said ‘don’t worry, he’s going to be playing offensive guard anyway.’ I mean, so he’s actually now settled in nicely. And actually, that right side of the line has settled in pretty nicely. And what we’re going to do now, with Riley being down, is we’re going to get into a little bit of a three-man rotation and get Aslam (Sterling) more involved here between the people who have position flexibility or Aslam and Gavin, where Randall’s settled in at right guard, so that’s what we’re going to try to do now.”

On if he feels comfortable with the depth on the right side of the offensive line:
“Yeah, you’ve got three (guys) to play two (positions). Most people have two to play two. That’s it. You don’t lose too many guys at that position. What do they do? Wallow around on the ground a little bit, , I mean, you don’t get too many of them who really get hurt. They just get banged up. They usually don’t get hurt. They get banged up and feel sorry for themselves, that’s all.”

On if he’s noticed in Andrew Turzilli’s confidence since Saturday:
“We’ve actually been trying to push Andrew into this position since the spring time, because some of those things you saw in the game the other day, we’ve been seeing all along. It is just that you have to be willing to take an older guy’s job. And sometimes people don’t understand that. You have to be willing to not say ‘well, he’s a senior, when he’s gone, then it will be mine.’ You have to be willing to go take it and if you just are willing to sit back and let that matriculate, then you’re not there. He started to challenge more and more, instead of just settling in and being the No. 2 guy. He’s competed to be the No. 1 guy and he’s potentially a very good weapon.”

On if Turzilli’s emergence will mean more deep balls down the field:
“With him in there, will there be more balls that will be thrown deeper? Absolutely. Because it’s easier to find him. You know, that is one of the things that no matter how fast you are when you are a little guy, I mean, the quarterback is throwing to a spot then and not a person. When the bigger you are, the easier you are to see.”

On D.J. Beshears’ struggles:
“D.J. has gotten the same amount of reps as he normally has. Maybe he took more of the second reps last week, rather than the first reps. But our receivers all get plenty of reps. So, you have to go by performance. You can’t go by seniority. You’ve got to go by performance and who you think gives you the best chance right now. And right now, D.J.’s not out of the mix, it’s just Turzilli’s playing better. That’s why he’s playing.”

On if he thinks Tre’ Parmalee will get a shot at returning kicks:
“I think that the one thing you better do is, if you have other people that can do that job, see if somebody else could do it better. I think that if you just settle in and just say he’s the guy, then you aren’t doing something about it, as a coach, you’re not doing your job. You know, part of our job is to find answers. And when things, no matter what they are, aren’t working too well, you can scheme as part of the answer. And then you can change personnel as the other part of the answer. So, we’ll see how that works.”

On if he does anything special to address the road losing streak:
“I will be using it – they (the team) will hear about it several times this week. That will be one of my main messages. It will be my vintage New Jersey sarcasm, okay, and you can take that for what it’s worth. But of the two things they are going to hear about, you know, that is certainly one of them.”

On what Justin Carnes’ return could mean for the team:
“Well, I think that first of all, let’s start with Reilly Jeffers. I think Reilly Jeffers did above and beyond the call of duty. There’s a guy who had never snapped in a high school game. And this kid snaps for the first three games of the year. Not every snap was perfect, but I mean, our punting average has been really, really good. So, we are not going to just hand the job over to Carnes. I think Carnes is probably better than Reilly, but he’s going to have to show that in practice that he is, or else we’ll keep snapping Reilly. I think we will gain more on the short snaps. I think that Trevor, when you are all taped up to play the interior line and then have to short snap, it is not the same as when all you have to go in there and fire one back there. And I think that we will probably gain as much or more in that position.”

On JaCorey Shepherd moving up the depth chart in the defensive backfield:
“JaCorey has been somebody who (Defensive Coordinator Dave) Campo’s been tooting his horn about (for a long time). First of all, we had to have a trade between the offense and the defense. We need to have a trade and there were draft choices and everything that were involved. There were considerations for down the road on this one to take him from offense to defense. But really JaCorey was competing, at the time, he was our third slot, at best. Where, Campo believed that he could play himself into the two-deep (on defense). And to be honest with you, right now, he’s played himself into the two-deep. So he’s played himself into a backup corner. I think JaCorey Shepherd would be a fine slot receiver, so I don’t think that he’s without skills on offense. I think that he sees himself having the greater opportunity to move up the ranks on defense. And he’s got quick feet, he can backpedal and he can turn his hips. Not every offensive player can play that position.”

On the chances of Kale Pick or Lubbock Smith playing this weekend:
“I’d be very surprised if Kale didn’t play, after watching him run on Sunday. He looked pretty normal on Sunday. He didn’t look nearly as normal last Thursday. So, Lubbock looked a little bit behind him, but he’s practicing today. And I told (Defensive Backs Coach) Clint (Bowen), and I told (Defensive Coordinator) Dave (Campo) that when today’s over, I want a kind of state of union on where we are with him to see whether or not he’s a front liner, whether or not he’s a backup, or whether or not he’s going to be on the trip. I’m not really sure what status he is yet. But I know one thing, the only one that is on the true questionable to doubtful list is Reilly (Spencer). And I’ve got another backup who’s got pneumonia, but other than that, we should be in pretty good shape.”

On if there personality differences between offensive and defensive linemen:
“Actually, the defensive guys – defensive coaches – have always said ‘when they’re a good enough athlete, they go over and play offense’. That’s what defensive coaches say. But actually, the best offensive linemen are guys who play with the defensive mentality. If you think about all of the really great offensive linemen, they are all nasty players. So I think that there’s a lot of benefit from having flipped over from that mentality on defense over to offense.”

On what he likes about Tony Pierson in the passing game:
“I’ve shifted him out into the slot and he’s run corner routes that he’s got open and caught. I kind of like that. He’s come out of the backfield and run a wheel route for about another 25 yards. I like that, too. Alright, so, I just think he’s got good ball skills and good route running ability for a running back. But make no bones about it, he is a running back, he’s not a wide receiver.”

On if he thought Dayne Crist played loose last week:
“I think that it will just get better and better each week to be perfectly honest with you. I thought he was better this week than he was the first two weeks and I think it will be better this coming week than he was last week. I am talking about turning the corner – there are several things that when you come in, you have to make sure that you don’t get your priorities wrong. And to turn the corner, one of the things that had to take place is that you have to get in the battle for the whole game. Now that I’ve seen them do that, my expectations would be for that to be the case every week; because I have already seen evidence, they can do it against a good team. So now, we just have to play better. I think that starts with Dayne on offense, because other than the center, he is the only one who has the ball in his hands on every play.”

On what makes winning on the road more difficult than winning at home:
“I’ve never really thought about it like that. Sometimes the crowd is more against you when you are home. But usually that’s well deserved, you know. There have been times when it has actually been easier playing on the road. But I think that the team has the environment of their home stadium. I know that they know the wind and the weather. I’ve played in stadiums where you look at the flags up top and the winds on the field are totally opposite or there’s areas of the field that looks like it’s breezy, but there is wind on the 30 yard line on the left hash. You get to know the nature of your own place. But other than that, I think that sometimes there’s even an advantage to playing on the road. Because when you go there, as long as you handle it as a business trip, you have very few distractions.”

“When you are home, and I am not saying having your family or friends in is a bad thing, it’s a great thing. But you know, you are worried about tickets. You are worrying about where dinner is going to be after the game. There’s a lot of other factors. In our case, we are worried about recruiting weekends, which kids we can have in, which are unofficial, which are official; do you have to do a recruiting dinner Saturday night? I mean all those things tie in there. For you as a coach, when you are going on the road, you go to a hotel and have your meetings, watch a little TV, go to bed, get up and have meetings for the day, hop on the bus, go to the game, and let’s go. So if you really think about it, there are a lot less distractions when you go out on the road. The biggest thing you have is the bus trip from the hotel to the game.”

On if he can explain KU’s road losing streak:
“No, I think that usually good football teams win at home. And usually bad football teams lose on the road. We’ve been one of them. So that’s one of the things – you know, there are several steps that we have to take this year – one of them is win a game on the road. Let’s get that one behind us, too. This would be a good time to do that.”

On if he studies last year’s Northern Illinois game at all:
“Yeah we show them (the team) that game. We’ve also read that we didn’t win the game, they lost the game. So you use that a little. Obviously, it wasn’t because you played good, it’s because they played bad. It wasn’t because you made plays at the end of the game; it’s because they didn’t play well at the end of the game. So you use that tool. You watched the thing, the same defensive coordinators, they didn’t change. I mean the same guys ran the defense that ran it last year, same head coach. I think it’s really not going to be that much of a difference, other than our scheme is quite different than the scheme they ran last year. That’s the difference.”

On what Dayne Crist brings to the team during the week:
“I think that’s where we’ve had the greatest benefit and we’ve all had the greatest benefit of him being here. Now, you know him personally a lot better than these guys do, and you know the way he carries himself and that was one thing that was definitely a void here. You didn’t have that guy that the team would just naturally look up to and follow. He’s done an outstanding job in that role. The other thing that he has really done along those lines is we have this kid from BYU (Jake Heaps) that’s come in that can’t play this year, but (Dayne has) kind of mentored him too. And I think that that’s going to have a huge benefit not only for this year’s team, but for years to come.”

On how Crist has bounced back from his injuries:
“I think it’s taken a little time. I think he was a little shell-shocked in the very beginning, because the first time the real hits started flying were the opening game. In the spring, you know, I’m not letting him get hit. The first time his knees are going to get hit – you know he lost both of them; he’s had two knee injuries. Just this past week, he got hit in the mouth multiple times and the fact that he is sore, he actually feels great. He feels good to be sore. Now you are back to being a quarterback again. Last week we threw it more than we’ve been throwing it the first couple weeks and they started throwing the ball more down the field than we threw it the first couple of weeks and he’s getting closer – he’s getting closer to being back to what I was expecting.”

Senior quarterback Dayne Crist

On what was sore after taking several hits in the TCU game:
“I do not know if I can point to one thing. After a game like that, there’s just some soreness, but you know, as the week goes on you feel better and better and then obviously, you get back close to 100 percent for Saturday. The training staff does a great job every week of getting guys back.”

On if being sore on Sunday was a good feeling:
“Yeah, it is always a good sore; it is always better after a win obviously, but the soreness you are feeling is because you are playing. That is the most fun thing for you, so you will not ever hear me complaining about that.”

On if the emergence of Andrew Turzilli leads to more shots down the field:
“I don’t know if there is a direct correlation there; I know Drew is a big body and he is a guy that is a definite playmaker for us. (He’s) a guy that I think we all have a lot of confidence in, but we expect him to make plays and we are going to count on him to do as well as the other guys. But with him entering the mix a little bit this past week, that will be a guy that we will continue to develop and work with.”

On if he thinks the TCU game helped Turzilli’s confidence:
“I definitely think that was big for his confidence. He is a quiet guy by nature, but a definite competitor. You can see it in the way that he practices and plays, but I think he knows that he belongs and I think Saturday solidified that a little bit. Like you said, I think it is great for his confidence more than anything else.”

On how Turzilli has improved since spring camp:
“I think again, you have seen his confidence grow and with that comes a more natural feel out there (on the field). You talk about the game slowing down for guys once your confidence reaches a certain point. He is a guy that cares about his craft and is continuing to work on his game and figure out ways that he can be better in route-running and catching and being more consistent. But again, a guy that you love having on the field, because you know that he wants to compete and be out there.”

On if Turzilli’s size can add another dimension to the passing game:
“It is a big advantage; I think it adds a great deal of versatility. Of the guys that we have, all are very different in their skillsets, what they can do and bring to the table. But again, I think Coach Weis and the staff, obviously, knows what they are doing in moving guys around and getting guys in the right position to maximize their skillset, but at the same time I think versatility is always going to be a great thing for an offense.

On if it’s easier to throw to a bigger receiver:
“Yeah, I think anytime you have a big body in there, that is something that will always help a quarterback. Again, you just have to find ways to get guys the ball, be accurate and just throw before guys are really getting the full separation there.”

On what James Sims will bring to the offense:
“I think he is a great player for us and a guy that we wish we had earlier on, but circumstances are what they are and I know that he is very excited. There is a huge relief and release lifted off is shoulders now that he can go play and he is very excited. I know that without even seeing him, I know we are going to get a great day of practice from him today and really all week long, because this is something that he’s really been counting the days to get back to.

On what he saw from Sims during his suspension:
“A guy that was just itching to get back. He was dying every day he was not out there. Sims is a great guy and he has got my respect and the respect of the whole team. You know that he just wants to be there and compete. The word that we had gotten back from the other field was that, he was obviously giving the defense a great look and was going hard every day, which is great, because he was not wasting the time that he was away. He was using that to try and find ways to get better and going against a starting defense is always going to help you out and cultivate some new things for you.”

On right guard Randall Dent:
“Well, I think that it fit. I think he is a natural fit at guard and I think he had talked about being a two-way guy in high school, so it was not something that was so foreign to him that he could not relate to it. At the same time, he has worked really hard, do not think that anything that he has, the success that he has had now has just come to him, he has worked very hard at it. He has fought all fall and really all of camp in trying to get this thing right and taking on the new mental component of playing a new position. He is also very fortunate to have two of the smartest guys on the team on both sides of him (in center Trevor Marrongelli and tackle Gavin Howard), so they can help him out quite a bit and get him caught up to speed with some of the things that may cause an issue. I think that between those three guys, they are always finding ways to communicate and get things done on the field, so I have no issues there and I am not ever worrying about what they are doing. I think that they have done a great job so far this season.”

On what kind of spark James Sims can provide for the offense:
“I think he is going add a different energy. Anytime you have three talented backs, you are just licking your chops just trying to find ways to get them the ball and I think that it adds a little bit to how fresh their legs are and it gives you a little more energy, just in general, to the run game.”

On if he watched any film on James Sims from last season:
“Not like sitting down studying, but definitely highlights. I knew that he was the leading rusher and I knew that he was a definite playmaker and saw him in some game settings, but the most experience I have had with him is, obviously, on the field with him and seeing the plays he can make. It is definitely is something that is encouraging.”

On if he notices a difference in Sims from this year compared to last year:
“Just in the short time I have been here, physically, he looks very different from the time that I got here to right now. But everyone has commented saying that he definitely looks to be in better shape and again, that is all positives for us.”

On how the team has responded to the TCU loss:
“Yeah again, no one is every happy with a loss. You talk about the things you can take away from a loss positively and negatively and you worry about the things you can correct and build on the things that you did well. At the same time, guys are hungry for a win. We realize that every week is its own separate entity and we just have to do everything in our power to go get one win. We worry about one at a time and do not look too far down the road. I think it starts in practice and I think we had a great week of practice this past week and we have got to be even better this week. So it is encouraging seeing signs of improvement and at the same time guys are hungry for another win.”

On the keys to a quarterback playing well on the road:
“Definitely being a leader for the offense and keeping guys under control. I know emotions come into play when you are playing on the road, a little bit. There is a lot of energy and playing in a hostile environment, you realize that you are all you have and you just have got to stay calm and cool for the rest of the team and go out there and just do what you are capable of doing, execute and do everything to walk away from that with a win.”

On the team’s road losing streak:
“Just looking at that statistic is very surprising. It is something, obviously, that no one here is proud of and again, that is what our goal is to work all week this week to correct that and end that streak.”