Coach Weis Conducts Weekly Press Conference Tuesday

Oct. 23, 2012

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head coach Charlie Weis held his weekly session with the media Tuesday afternoon in Mrkonic Auditorium. Weis announced early that redshirt freshman Michael Cummings would start at quarterback Saturday against No. 24 Texas. He also previewed the Homecoming game with the Longhorns and talked about last week’s game at Oklahoma.

Below is a transcript of Weis’ press conference:

Kansas Head Coach Charlie Weis

On if he’s had thoughts of moving starting players to play on special teams:
“A lot of (our special teams players) them are on our second team. I told (Special Teams Coordinator) Clint (Bowen) after throwing up this past weekend that all hands are on deck, that he could put whoever he wanted out there. So he knows he’s got a free reign to put whoever out there and he doesn’t have to ask for my permission. Whoever he wants out there that he thinks gives him the best chance, because I saw enough of that myself too, we are on the same page there.”

On what the special teams problems were in the Oklahoma game:
“Let’s not just blame it on the players, because the easiest thing to do is just take the players and throw them under the bus and say, ‘yeah it’s all their fault; we put them right in the right spot and they just didn’t make a play.’ Now to be honest with you, there are times where you have four guys there (to make a tackle) or you have one guy and there are times that you just have to go make the play. There are leverage issues and there are a number of other things that come into play. And there are things schematically that you can try to do to put people in a better position to make a play, so it’s a combination of the two. But on special teams, very often it comes down to just a guy making a play. You’re there, you’re covering the whole field and you have to make one, whether it’s a kickoff return or a punt return or whatever it ends up being. Sometimes it’s one-on-one and you beat a block and now you have to go make the play.”

On if special teams can expose a team that isn’t as athletic:
“It is probably one of the things that came into play the most (this year) as we’ve been very inconsistent at the specialist position to start off with and a lot of times special teams get noticed more when you are not getting a lot of production out of the specialist. For example, on kickoff returns, how many games have we gone to where every one of their kicks is a touchback? You do not have to worry about your kickoff coverage then. You and I can go run down there, because if they balls is going to be kicked out of the end zone and it’s a touchback then you don’t get exposed to that situation. So, it starts with the specialist and it goes from there and they all come into play.”

On the starting quarterback:
“We’re going to start (Michael) Cummings. We’ll take the infamous ‘or’ off (of the depth chart) when you get your list right there. I’m just trying to keep you guys all from tweeting the whole time. I just figured that I’d rather you hear it from me rather than you hear it from me then read it on a piece of paper and then you’re putting it out there. We’re going to start Michael and we’ll see how it goes. They (both Michael and Dayne Crist) both have been told that and they both know Michael’s starting and we’ll see where it goes. But I think that, at this point when you’re 1-6 and things haven’t gone real well, I think you owe it to your team to see what you have.”

On what Cummings did against Oklahoma to earn the starting nod:
“The game wasn’t too big for him down in Oklahoma. Now of course, I did not throw the entire playbook at him and everyone says, ‘why don’t you do more?’ I don’t want to get the kid killed, either. Any time you start with an inexperienced quarterback, it is probably a good thing to protect him some. But we’ll do a little bit more with him this week than we did last week, obviously. When you score seven points, that’s not good enough no matter who you’re playing, so you have to give your team a chance to score more points than that. At the same time, they’re (Texas is) averaging 44 points a game. So the last thing I want to do is have our offense go three-and-out a bunch of times and have our defense on the field all game.”

On why he doesn’t think things have worked out for Dayne Crist so far this season:
“The season is not over yet, but I think that right now he’s disappointed. I’m disappointed and we’re both disappointed. But really, I’m the head coach of Kansas and my job is to make sure that I put our football team in an upward spiral, not a downward spiral and if the status quo doesn’t show any improvement, then you have to find some way to make improvements and this is one of the ways. Hey, at left guard, when you get your sheet, you’re going to see (Duane) Zlatnik or Damon Martin, not Zlatnik and David Martin, because if you went based off the game the other day, you might play Damon Martin first. You’re going to see Chris Omigie as the first ‘Z’, because based on how he played the other day. Now, we didn’t throw it to him a whole bunch, but based on how he played the other day he deserves to be the first ‘Z’. So I think that our coaching staff doesn’t sit still and just sit there and play people, because they are entitled. I think we try our best to put our team in the best position to win.”

On if he’s alarmed that no KU wide receivers have caught a touchdown this year:
“You could say it’s a reflection of the passing game as a whole, of which the wide receivers are certainly a major component of. There have been times they have been open that we’ve missed them. There have been time they’ve been open and they’ve dropped the ball. So there have been opportunities for touchdowns to be had that haven’t taken place, but let’s not just hang them out to dry. Once again, you know I’m not a ‘throw under the bus guy’ that’s the last thing I want to do. Are they are part of the problem? Yes, but they don’t stand alone.”

On the status of wide receiver Daymond Patterson this week:
“He’s still in that questionable range and so until he’s out of questionable range, I’m going to list him as if he’s not playing. Once again, head injuries are not something you mess with. And if he meets with the doctors and says he’s still woozy or has headaches, what am I going to say? No, you don’t have a headache. That’s not something you play with. Now if this was 20 years ago you’d say ‘tough, get out there and go’. But that’s one of things that has changed, we’re wiser about head injuries today.”

On how he felt like some of the younger guys responded to playing time at Oklahoma:
“Well, it depends on who they are, but I’ll cite Damon (Martin) for one of them. In that drive that he was in, he played really well. He wasn’t playing against some bum now, he played physical. He was one of the guys that we wanted to consider playing (last week). The reason why we did that was mainly, because of how he’s looked in practice. If you would’ve asked me last spring, if I see him playing in a game, I would’ve given you a lot of odds that he wouldn’t be seeing the field even this year. But he’s gotten better and better and put himself into the mix. So each guy is unique. Every position is different, but there are guys that we see getting better and better that we think can help us.”

On what Damon Martin has improved the most:
“Well, he already has strength, but he didn’t play to his strength. So it’s one thing when you have strength and you play like a slug. But when you start figuring it out mentally, then you play to your strength. When you’re out there, instead of thinking about plays, you already know what to do and it lets you play different. It’s no different than with a skill guy, like a young wide receiver that knows what he’s doing runs a lot faster than when he doesn’t know what he’s doing, because when he’s thinking about it, he doesn’t run nearly the same as when he can just turn and let it loose.”

On where cornerback JaCorey Shepherd is with the transition to defense:
“JaCorey, after we made that trade for draft choices and conditions and he went over to the defense, he got better and better. To be honest with you, some of the young guys we’ve seen in practice every day: Greg Allen, Tevin Shaw, Tyree Williams and Nas Moores; they get better every day to. They are in a position where the dividends with those guys will be paid down the line; the dividends won’t be paid now. Now JaCorey on the other hand, he looked the most ready to play and that’s why he’s playing. Since he’s gone over there, he’s always around the receivers and now the next phase is to be making plays on the ball.”

On if there was anything JaCorey Shepherd could have done to prevent Oklahoma’s first touchdown:
“He’s right there. It’d be one thing if he’s getting out run by five yards, but he wasn’t out run by two yards. He’s right there, but once again, with experience, instead of being there you’re making a play on the ball instead of making a play on the wide receiver. And I think that he has the ability to where we can eventually see him being pretty solid at doing that. Just the fact that he was right there with a 44-yard throw that was right on the money, it’s a good sign that he’s there and now you have to finish it off.”

On the status of running back Tony Pierson:
“His elbow is better. What did we give him about 14, 15 carries last week? He touched the ball enough and we’ll try to get him the ball some more this week. As a matter of fact, he felt better. I think he was a little afraid of what was going to happen the first time he got hit. I mean, I know he said to my kid (student manager Charlie Weis, Jr.) ­– because he’s very close to my son — he said that, he just needs to go out there and get hit a couple of times. He didn’t say that to me, that’s not a conversation he’ll have with me, but I think that, a lot of times that’s what they want to do after they’ve got banged up some, so they know that everything’s okay.”

On Jimmay Mundine’s future in the offense:
“He’ll be one of those ‘or’ guys. He’ll be one of those guys in some packages this week. He’ll be a first (team) guy. Here’s a guy who has made some plays in the passing game, but hasn’t been as productive as the other guys in the running game. We’ve been a run first team, so you better put the best blocker out there first, so that’s what we’ve been doing out the three guys and the guy who blocks the best is Mike (Ragone). Jimmay is probably the guy who catches the best. But when we run it, 60 times and throw it 30 times, you better put the guy who can block at the point, because if not, you’ll be in for a long, hard day. He just needs to keep working on that.

On if he is surprised that the offense has struggled this late in the season:
“Let me make sure I answer this the right way, so it doesn’t look like an excuse. You have to play complimentary football. When you’re looking at Texas and you’re looking at Kansas, you see more good athletes on Texas than Kansas. So to play complimentary football, I could probably put us in a position to score more points, but it would have to be more wide open and it wouldn’t be heavily running the football. So now you put yourself out for a lot more turnovers and a lot more bad things that could happen. So I think, as you’re growing your program and this is my first year here, you say ‘what’s your greatest strength on offense?’ And right now clearly our greatest strength is our running game. No one would refute that. So one of the things you do is, by running the football, you build toughness within your team and you don’t put your defense out on the field nearly as much as they would be, so it’s part of the growing process. Now I could go wide open and we can sling all over the yard and you know what? We might score 28, but we might give up 80, but that’s now the style of football I don’t think anyone from Kansas wants to see, starting with yours truly.”

On if he had to pick up the spirits of the team after Saturday’s loss:
“That was Sunday. That’s what we do on Sunday, because what happens if you wait until Tuesday to do that, then they were sitting around for 48 hours sulking and then you just wasted 48 hours. That’s what you have to do on Sunday. Let me tell you something, Saturday nights aren’t so easy for yours truly, because I have to figure out what my plan of attack is going to be the next day and it’s not just with the players, in case you’re wondering. It’s with the coaches, it’s with the support staff and it’s with everyone else you run into. I’m the same every single day, I never change. It doesn’t make a difference if things went well or things didn’t go well. Now, I wasn’t always like that. It’s something as you get older and more experienced, you’ll learn how to be more even-keel with what you do. And then you will also figure out, how bad is he versus how bad is he? So what am I going to have to do to help him out versus what am I going to do to help him out? I think that by the time they leave the building on Sunday, they have to be ready to move on and usually by practicing on Sunday that really takes care of the majority of the problems.”

On after seeing several Big 12 games if he’s thought of changing the way the team plays:
“No, I think we know what we have to do. We have to coach the heck out of the guys we have and we have to go get more players. That’s really a very simple process. I don’t think it’s a question of whether or not we have enough experience on our coaching staff. I think I have a very quality coaching staff. We know what we have to do with the guys that are here and we also know that we need to recruit more good players, so that we can put ourselves in a better position to win. That’s what we need to do. Recruiting is the life line (of a college program). Development of your own players and recruiting, that’s it. It’s not a question of whether or not we know what to do X’s and O’s. I’d love to be able to do what Oklahoma did last week. Let’s line up in one front and one coverage and just play it on every down. Let’s sit back there and eat a hot dog and drink a soda. Hell, let’s play even double time and cover four stick every single snap. And once in a while let’s play one just for the heck of it. Just for the big wrinkle. You could’ve called a game for them last week. With what they played, you could’ve called a game. And the thing about it, you knew what they were going to do and we knew what they were going to do. So we both knew what they were going to do and they just did it a lot better than we did. This isn’t a question about whether or not we’re smart enough to figure out what they’re going to do and what to do against it, sometimes you better go get some Jimmys and Joes, it might help you just a tad.”

On if it’s tough to find a balance in development versus recruiting:

“Yeah, because you have a responsibility to your own guys to develop them as much as you possibly can. And some guys will have ceilings and some guys aren’t even close to their ceilings. They’re the ones you’re counting on. We have some players that you say ‘hey, they could be really good players, not just okay players, they could be really good.’ Some players we have are just going to be okay players. That’s what they are. That’s what I was. I mean, I wasn’t even okay. I would have liked to have been where some of these people are. But I know our responsibility is to take every one of those guys and try to make them the best they could possibly be and to even try to push them past that level and then go get more.”

On what he’s seen from Justin McCay in practice:
“A big, drastic improvement. I was a little bit concerned in the spring, because to me he looked like just another guy. He looked like another guy, but what happened was he was in the tank about this whole eligibility thing, which we ended up losing out on. But now, his best buddy is (redshirting quarterback) Jake Heaps. I mean, they’re tied at the hip. I could understand why there’s a rapport there. They might have the best rapport for two guys not playing in the entire country. They’re two really good players. I compare them to some of the starters on other teams. I’ll say, ‘well, he’s a poor man’s Justin McCay.’ So I obviously think that Justin has made great progress. But in the spring, I couldn’t have said that to you, because he just looked to me like he’s another guy. And I said ‘where’s this guy that I remember watching?’ And I would say that to him often. And that’s maybe a little different vernacular but I would say that to them all.”

On what quarterback Michael Cummings stands to gain from playing this season:
“I think that we have a lot of factors at the quarterback position. Michael sees Jake (Heaps) every Sunday and as encouraging as it is for me, for those guys right there, they know they have their work cut out if they’re going to beat him out (next season). They know that. They see it every Sunday, because every Sunday he and Justin (McCay) are treated just like everybody else. One day a week they get to be like everybody else. And they see it so I think the more experience he can get, the better off he’ll be. Not because he wants it to be his job. He doesn’t want it to be somebody else’s job. He doesn’t want it to be Jake’s job. He doesn’t want it to be Turner’s (Baty) job. He doesn’t want it to be those high school kids we got coming in who I can’t mention. He wants it to be his job. And I’ll tell you what, on Sundays he gets to see what he’s competing with. He’s got his work cut out for him.”

On the importance of Sunday practices:
“(Defensive Coordinator Dave) Campo told me on Sunday that he did as much coaching this Sunday that he’s done at any practice the entire year. He said now that’s a good practice, because we spent a lot of individual time and a lot of group time and not as much team time as we’ve been going on Sundays to really work on the things that we’re not very good at. And they’ve been a big help. And going back to the question before, but psychologically practicing on Sunday kind of gets the feeling sorry for yourself out of the way.”

On Texas coach Mack Brown:
“Actually, we’ve known each other for a long time. And our wives have met and his wife’s a horse person and my wife’s a horse person. Don’t ever hook up wives that are horse people, by the way, it’s not a good thing. But no, we’ve talked about a lot of things over the years and I’m a big fan of his. I’d rather leave some of the personal stuff out of it, but I’m a big fan.”

On if he thinks he’ll have success recruiting the same type of players that he was able to recruit at Notre Dame:
“We’re recruiting two tiers, two different types of players right now. We’re recruiting some high school kids and we’re recruiting some junior college kids. I think that we need to have a blend of both of them. You’re looking for different things out of those players, but between the two of them, I think that we can answer the call. And I think that’s going to kind of be the mode of operation at every position. Let’s get the high school guys that we can develop with a high ceiling that could end up being as good as anybody, but guys that want to come to Kansas. (We don’t want) the guys that say, ‘oh, well, I have 93 offers.’ Who cares? Do you want to come to Kansas? Do you want to be a part of this? Do you want to be a part of the reason why that we went from not very good to good? Then with the junior college kids, you say ‘do you want to play? Well, if you can’t play here, where are you playing?’ The kid, ‘well, I’m being recruited by Alabama.’ Yeah? Have you looked at the roster? Have you taken a peak? You’re going there to start, right? You’d be surprised how quickly you can get them on your side. I mean, you people laugh when we say that, but let’s think about it. If you’re a junior college player, whether you’re an offensive player or a defensive player and you want to go somewhere where it’s a good school with great facilities, you know everything about the town is wonderful. The town is just waiting for the team to win in football. You have a chance to be a part of it and get coached on the offensive side of the ball by a guy who’s done it for a long time or on the defensive side by a guy who’s done it even longer. I mean it really is not that tough of a decision if you really think about it. Everyone says, ‘well, how are they going to get him?’ Why wouldn’t they come here? It almost doesn’t make sense to not come. So I look at it totally different than everyone else. Everyone goes, ‘what’s going to happen in recruiting?’ We’ll get a bunch of good players. That’s what is going to happen. It’s going to happen like that every year.”

On what he would like to see in the last five games of the year:
“First of all, we still have to get a win at a conference game, okay? That would lift my spirits, in case you were wondering. And then the other thing that I really think that it’d be important for us is to go beat somebody on the road. I don’t know if we’re going to do either one of those things the way we played last week, but I know one thing, they’re going to play hard for 60 minutes for five games, even if things go bad. They’re going to play hard. And we just have to play better; we have to coach better and we have to develop our players. And at the end of the year, they have got to be better than they are right now. They have to be better football players than they are right now. They can’t be stagnant.”