Weis Meets with the Media to Preview Spring Practice

Third-year Kansas football head coach Charlie Weis met with the media to preview spring practice Monday morning. Weis discussed the spring practice schedule, getting new staff members integrated into the program and various personnel updates. The full media session can be viewed by subscribers in the Jayhawk Digital Passport, and a transcript is included below. 

Kansas Football Head Coach Charlie Weis
Opening Statement
“Welcome back. As we get ready to kick off spring ball here I think we have everything settled with the staff. Everything is in place. The schedule is pretty well set. Unfortunately we are going to start a little later. We pushed back the start a little bit because the weather has been so kind to us. We are going to kick it off on Thursday and will go again on Sunday afternoon. We will practice again Tuesday and Thursday (next week) so we will hit four before Spring Break. We will have pro day that last day before spring break (March 14) after an early morning workout with (Scott) Holsopple. Then we will come back and practice that Sunday night (March 23) when they get back from Spring Break will be our fifth practice. Then we will be full go right up until April 12. We considered moving spring ball back until after Spring Break, but the problem is if you are in the JUCO market the JUCOs wrap up their practices and spring games in April, unlike the high schools that you go into. So if you don’t leave yourself time at the end of April to get into those schools, you miss any visual sighting of a guy actually practicing. With Easter/Kansas Relays being the third weekend in April you have two options. You can go with the second weekend or you can go with the fourth weekend. The second weekend, even though hurts us a little bit weather wise, it gives us better options as far as hitting the road recruiting at the end of April and not falling behind.”

On the process for new coaches getting into the fold:
“Well it’s a combination of the two. You absolutely have to do extra. I know that anytime I was, as an assistant, in a situation like this I always wanted to make sure I was one step ahead of the posse. So although he (wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau) might not be caught up to the same level of the rest of the staff, remember now, this is a new system going in. So being that it is a new system going in, really how far behind is he? He is only a couple months behind, where he could be years behind if we were running the old system. So, I think this will be a little easier for him to play catch up because a lot of the things, even though we have kind of meshed some of the terminology from our system and the one John (Reagan) ran at Rice. I mean, the bottom line is it is new, and I think that the newness really helps Eric out, because he’s not nearly as far behind as he normally would be.”

On the goal for installing the new offense:
“Well, I sat there with the offense this morning and I talked to them a little bit about, I mean I think that, the most important thing we need to do is score more points. So, I told John (Reagan) just don’t be impatient, just trying to get everything in, in the spring time. You know, put in things as you want to put them in. But the bottom line is what we have to do is identify the guys that we think that can make plays and make sure that by August we figure out ways that we can get them the ball to give them the opportunity to do that. We know we are going to turn around and hand it off plenty of times, that doesn’t change. Ok, but obviously two of our biggest inadequacies both are tied to the pass game. One was passing game efficiency, and the other was passing game production. And I think that both of those things are going to have to improve dramatically for us to turn into a winning football team, which is the intent.”

On when would you like to have your quarterback decided:
“Well, first of all it is going to be more John and the offensive staff’s decision with my guidance/input. I’m not mandating who he plays, but you just have to let it play out. I mean I don’t think you can come in with any preconceived notion. There will be some people that will say, “well I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t go deep into August,” and that’s never a good thing. It’s never a good thing if it goes deep into August because it means you don’t have one. If it goes deep into August, anytime there is a quarterback competition that goes to the end, I had one, trust me, it means you don’t have one. Ok, I think usually the cream rises to the top and I think that will happen. I just don’t have that answer at this time.”

On if it is possible to evaluate quarterbacks in the spring:
“You bet, because by day four we are going full speed. We are cutting. We are taking them to the ground. We don’t wait around on that. Day three is the first day you get in pads, so I might have a limited amount of full speed in there, but day four that Thursday before spring break, they are all thinking about spring break, I’m going to wear them out. They are going to leave tired, I promise you. I think that the only way to find out is if you do things full speed, and there will be plenty of full speed in the spring time.”

On what improvement you want to see from Jake Heaps:
“Well, I think that what Jake has that no one else has is experience. Experience goes a long way, but at the end of the day, although experience is a definite big plus in his side, when John (Reagan) sits down with the offensive staff, it will be who will put us in the best position based off of the composition of what we have. Who is going to put us in the best position to score touchdowns, and that is what it all comes down to.”

On if there is any way of knowing player progress like Montell (Cozart), between the end of the season and now:
“No, not really. I think it is when we get out on the field. I think you can always look at work ethic and how things are going down with Scott (Holsopple), but usually the quarterback position is not one you have too many problems with, A) work ethic or B) grades. You know, other positions you are more concerned a lot of times with work ethic and grades, that’s usually not one of the positions. Those guys are usually hard workers and they usually do pretty well academically, so you usually don’t have issues with either one of those two things.”

On when Montell Cozart overthrew guys by a lot, what was the reason?
“I think that it was probably nerves. This is the first time he is playing real college football against the big boys at times of the game that count. You are starting against Kansas State, this isn’t like you are just playing anyone. You are playing the arch rival. He grew up in this area, you have a pretty good idea of who you are going against. I think that a lot of that comes with being a freshman. I’m not making excuses for anyone, that is the facts. I mean, anytime you are a freshman you are in there and some of those passes are sailing, you probably are a tad bit nervous.”

On if you saw enough from (Montell) Cozart to know he will always be a quarterback:
“I think that Montell was recruited to play quarterback, that is what he intends to play, and I think he is good enough to play there. There is good competition at that position. No one is getting handed that job, I mean he is going to have to earn that job. Everyone looks at a quarterback and says, “well if he doesn’t play there lets move him someplace else.” Well, usually those guys at the other positions have been playing there for a long time and have a huge head start over those players. We always look at those things, but I think Montell is a quarterback.”

On Taylor Cox’s health:
“We have very few people on the so called “banged up list,” but he is 100 percent and ready to go.”

On the running back competition:
“I think that right off the bat, we have an interesting make up because you’ve got Taylor (Cox), Brandon (Bourbon) and Darrian (Miller) has missed so much of the year, then Brandon missed some of the year and Taylor missed a good portion of the year, so there are a lot of guys that have a lot to prove. Then we’ve got a posse that we will not discuss today, but we’ve got some reinforcements coming in the summer time too. So it should be a position of talent and depth once again for us. Clearly going into the year that’s what it looks like at this time.”

On Nick Harwell picking up where he left off the last time he played college football:
“Well I think that, that is the intent. It’s funny because my son and I were having this conversation yesterday, almost exactly to a ‘T’ the question right there. You try not to get too excited because he (Harwell) is so competitive and he runs good routes and he catches the ball. He doesn’t like getting beat in drills. He wants to go against the best guy every single time. He is the type of competitor I am used to playing with. If he comes even close to the expectation I have for him, then I think we will be pretty happy.”

On defensive line depth:
“I think that we are pretty salty on the defensive line, that is what I think. People question the move of Goodman. Obviously we have a plan in place now. We aren’t going to take somebody who weighs 250 and put him inside and let him get whaled on by a bunch of 300 pounders, I mean we have a plan in place. I think we have a pretty good idea of how we are going to do this. I think that we have a solid two-deep plus. I’m not saying we are the ’85 (Chicago) Bears now John (Kirby), I am just saying I think we have a solid two-deep plus on the defensive line. I think the defense has a chance of really doing something pretty good around here this year. There are some players that I am really looking forward to getting out there.”

On players he is looking forward to seeing:
“I’m looking forward to seeing how Kevin (Short) plays. I’m looking forward to seeing how Andrew (Bolton) plays. I’m definitely looking forward to both of those young men. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing both of them.”

On Andrew Bolton, and if he looks like NFL player:
“Bolton isn’t the guy you want to fight, because you’re probably losing. Bolton is what they are supposed to look like. A rocked up dude who weighs 290-295 (pounds). I’m saying that is what you are supposed to look like, and he does. We’ve got two years of him, so I am looking forward to it. Now, what he is now, he is raw, hasn’t played in a year.  So there are growing pains you go through, but that is what you are supposed to look like.”

How will practice change for Coach Weis (since he is no longer the offensive coordinator):
“I haven’t not been the offensive coordinator since 1997, so it’s been a couple of years, but I think it will give me the opportunity to be a much better head coach. It is really important to me. I didn’t come to Kansas just to retire. I came to Kansas with a vision, and the vision was to turn Kansas from a losing football program to a winning football program, and that is what I would like to do. I think that with the set up, the way it currently stands, I will be able to help the team much more as a head coach, than when you are putting so much time into the offense. “

On getting “pulled away” from being with offense:
“I got rid of me (as offensive coordinator) because we weren’t scoring enough points. I think that most people won’t swallow their ego and recognize the fact that you aren’t the answer here. Now I think I am smart enough to learn how to try to do that, but I haven’t been doing that. I’ve been doing it the same way for a long, long time. So I thought the better answer, the better alternative was to bring somebody in who is used to scoring in the 40’s. So, that is why I went in that direction.”

On if the extra time off (at the end of the 2013 season) helped Tony Pierson:
“Yeah it was, definitely without a doubt, the right thing to do. And we’ll be a little bit cautious with Tony (Pierson) in the spring. He might not be much different than the quarterbacks. There might be days we put him in a red jersey and other days he’ll be in a regular jersey. What we’re not going to do is try to knock him out in the spring. That defeats the whole purpose, but he also has to get hit just like the quarterbacks have to get hit in this offense. He has to get hit, but you know you just don’t want it to be a free for all and have him just open game all the time.”

On how much interaction he had with Tony (Pierson) personally about his status at the end of the 2013 season:
“He was saying at the end of the year “don’t shut me down.” I said, “you don’t have an option.” This was not an open conversation where I asked his opinion. I think he knew it was best for him to do that. If you look at early last year three and a half games in he’s on his way to 1,000 yards as a receiver, and probably a bunch more as a runner. When he went down, when he got slammed at Texas Tech, that was basically the end of his year in reality. He was on his way to a really big year, so he’s a guy that, knock on wood, stays healthy, and you have a chance of getting a lot of production out of Tony.”

On who is the second fastest player on offense:
“I wouldn’t know who is second. I know Tony (Pierson) is clearly first. It’s not close for second. When Tony runs, everyone else is significantly behind.”

On if he’s coached faster guys in the NFL than Tony (Pierson):
“Have I had a faster player than Tony? I probably didn’t have a faster player than Tony, no.  There are guys faster than Tony, you know? I was at Marvin Harrison’s workout at Syracuse when he ran 4.27. I looked at my watch and figured I’d screwed it up and I looked at the guy behind me he had 4.27. There’s a reason why some of those guys have big numbers and are going to the Hall of Fame now. Deion (Sanders) still hasn’t tackled anyone, but he ran a 4.2. Contrary to what Dave (Campo) wants you to believe, he still hasn’t tackled anybody.”

On James Sims leadership void being filled:
“I think that both Brandon  (Bourbon) and Taylor (Cox) have an opportunity to be in that position. I think that (Nick) Harwell’s personality is so dynamic, that you don’t have to worry about somebody besides the quarterbacks getting on players because Harwell is on everybody all the time. He’s on the defensive guys. He’s on the offensive guys. If somebody is not running, I no longer have to count on the coaches to say something because Harwell is already yelling at them. That’s a pleasure to be around. I’ve had a lot of players like that. Tony (Pierson) is the type of guy that doesn’t want to say anything. When you get him in an interview you know that’s not his favorite thing. But he goes one hundred percent on every single play and that’s how he shows leadership. You don’t necessarily need a guy at the position to carry the torch if there are a couple of dynamic personalities on your team. For example: a guy like Ngalu (Fusimalohi) on the offensive line. He won’t say much to you guys, but he’s the guy that everyone looks up to. He’s the type of guy that it won’t just have to be the offensive line coach that has to say something. He’s a guy that will naturally say things himself.”

On where Joey Bloomfield will practice in the spring:
“We’ll play him at guard in the spring. He could play either. Right now I think that as we go through the spring, he’ll start off inside and we’ll give him a good look because we have a pretty good idea of what we want to see with the competition in the spring at the tackle position.”

On possible position changes
“I’m excited to see one of the things you mentioned, a guy like Kevin Short. What we’re trying to do is get an opportunity to get the best guys on the field at the same time.  Kevin after being out a year, those two corners right that we have right there, he’ll have a tough time beating those two out. I don’t know if he can beat out JaCorey (Shepherd) or Dexter (McDonald) to tell you the truth. But when you’re playing with a third corner on the field, now all the sudden things change. That’s definitely a possibility. That’s one of the reasons why you see him listed as not just a corner. You see Kevin listed as a nickel/corner.”

On special teams competition at returns and if Kevin Short will practice there:
“We have about a half dozen guys that we’re going to look at punt return and kick return and he’s (Kevin Short) in both categories. There’s some interesting competition there. I really am not sure how it’s going to play out, but I know one thing, the punt return opportunities that you get are few and far between as you realize with all the spread punt that people use now. When you hit one you usually hit it pretty good because it means you get through that wave, then everyone is kind of there at the same time. Whereas, kickoff the whole key is whether or not it’s a touchback. Because so many times teams kick it off and you’re starting off at the twenty five because the ball’s a touchback.”

On if special teams are the easiest place to play as a true freshman:
Well, kickoff return is easier than punt return, but I think special teams–not just returner–anywhere on special teams a true freshman has the best chance of getting on. Just as long as you’re not wasting them. You want to make sure you’re utilizing them. We got a few coming in that we’ll give a good look to, once they get there. But we don’t have them this spring so there’s no use talking about them at this time.”

On RB Darrian Miller’s status:
“It’s really important for all of us, when somebody is dealing with an issue that’s personal even though I’m heavily involved in the issue, you have to keep it that way.  So it’s best for the kid’s sake. Usually when you have an issue it’s always an issue. The things are everyday things when you have issues. I think it’s important that we keep working with Darrian, as we would anybody, to make sure that the best thing for him would be when we kickoff that first week in September to have those issues as minimal as we possibly can.”

On status of LB Marcus Jenkins-Moore:
“He can go full go in practice. Now, he’ll be a little slow and rusty. He probably won’t look nearly as good in the spring as he will in the summer time. You know because his knee is fully healthy and ready to go it’s just he’ll be a little slow and a little rusty when you get going. That’s the standard with anyone coming off of something like that. So that same explosion that you saw on tape, he’ll work himself into that. That will be something that just happens by being out there more and more and more. Where most people wear down he’ll actually get better. He should actually get better as time goes on. He’s fully ready to go.  He’s not on the injured list.”

On BUCK Victor Simmons:
“I think what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to get more small guys on the field, not more big guys. Last year Victor was that tweener, that safety/linebacker tweener type.  But now all the sudden if you’re playing a wide receiver in the slot that isn’t the greatest matchup in the world. A tight end is one thing, a wide receiver is a different thing. So what we didn’t want to do is all the sudden when we’re playing with three corners out there and Victor’s sitting on the bench without the opportunity to be out there. Because now you take a guy who’s arrow is pointing up, and he’s standing on the sideline next to you. So because that guy over there is normally either pass rushing or dropping, which are the two things he did at that other position. It gives him an opportunity to make sure he stays in the game plan the whole game, not just minimized when you go against certain opponents.” 

On K Matthew Wyman:
“I think that Matt has an opportunity. Look it, he’s not the sole contender here. As a matter of fact we have a new walk on that came in here and kicked great coming in. But the bottom line is Matt has all the tools to be a top line kicker. But a fifty-fifty kicker is no good for anybody. I think that long field goal, that game winner (vs. Louisiana Tech) was both a good thing and a bad thing for him. It was a good thing for the team. It was great to win the game, but I think all the sudden now you’re thinking you’re good and you’re forgetting what got you there. I think it was a big learning process for him where I’m expecting him to be a lot more competitive this year. I’m not saying it’s his, I’m saying he can make every kick. There’s no reason for him to not be a much more consistent, much more efficient percentage wise than what we saw out of him.” 

On (Trevor) Pardula’s inconsistencies at competing at field goal:
“I’m telling you that I’ve seen the kid drill some and say, ‘God, he’s our kicker.’ And then the next one goes about 20 yards to the right. He’s perfectly content with kicking off and punting. He’s perfectly content passing that torch on field goals. That’s what he sees himself as. Those long striders, usually field goals is something that has to get off like this (quickly), and those long striders don’t like that nearly as much because they don’t get an opportunity to take those long strides.”

On Pardula’s punting speed:
“He gets it off. He had one ball – the one that was blocked- but really we had problems with two balls. One, they ran right through the wedge, and the other one he was standing too close to the wedge. Those were really the two issues we had with him. If he was standing back another yard, it wouldn’t have gotten blocked. The other one, the wedge – those three guys, the reason why you put three 300-pounders in there is to not get knocked back. So that’s the goal. The goal isn’t to get knocked back, into the kicker. I think that he gets it off good enough. I thought that the timing wasn’t the big issue with him.”

On if the approach to coaching special teams will change:
“That won’t change. I think that we were much more efficient on special teams last year. And that will be more of the same.”

On the possible new rule to allow defense 10 seconds to substitute:
“I don’t see any way they’ll pass the rule. I don’t know how that could happen. I will say if you watch those teams that snap the ball in a hurry, they’re never set. That I will say. So, I don’t think they should change the rule, I think they should call an illegal procedure. Because how many times have they set? Just watch the games. The ball’s being snapped and there are still guys moving around and that’s a penalty. But those guys who can snap the ball in 10 seconds, more power to them, if everyone’s legal. Like last year we really, can you think of the number of times, watching the game where the defense looked like they weren’t ready to play? There weren’t too many of them. It just forces you to practice that way. And you better practice that way because if you don’t, you’re not going to be ready to go. Not a chance.”

On KU’s plan to get more pressure on the quarterback:
“I think we have a chance to have more edge pressure with a couple of the guys, and a couple current guys that we expect to be better. And a couple of the guys that aren’t here yet. Ideally, you wouldn’t want to have to blitz all the time to get pressure. And I think that we have a couple guys that might give us an opportunity to do that a little bit more than we’ve done in the past.”

On WR Rodriguez Coleman’s eligibility status (gained a year):
“His second year in junior college, he played. His first year, he ended up getting a medical. So that was a late add-on because that didn’t happen here. So he’s a two-for-two, so that’s a good thing for the good guys.”

On OL walk-on Joe Gibson:
“I think that Joe Gibson has a chance of playing here. I don’t look at Joe Gibson really like a walk-on, to be honest with you. Now, I try to treat walk-ons the same as every other player, but I don’t view him as a guy who can’t play here. I’d be very surprised if Joe Gibson, during his stay here, didn’t end up being a scholarship player because I think he’s on his way. He was a little late, when he first got here, but now his weight’s up, his strengths up – he has a chance.”

On if OL Damon Martin is athletic enough for playing outside:
“Yes. To put it like this: if Damon doesn’t start at guard, he will start at right tackle. I’ll continue doing what I do and hopefully, sometimes a change of scenery, new guy in, sometimes you get older, sometimes you get hungry, who knows what it is. All I know is he’s till the strongest of all of them. And he’s athletic enough to play guard and he’s big enough to play tackle. To put it like this: if the three guards are three of the best five players, one of them’s playing tackle.”       

On the offensive line:
“We have a pretty good idea of what we expect to see in the spring. Some of that will be some of the guards playing tackle. We mentioned four guys, (Mike) Smithburg, Ngalu (Fusimalohi), Keyon (Haughton) and Damon (Martin). Well, if those four guys are four of the best five guys, they’re all going to be playing. We’ll find a way for all of them to play. The five best guys are going to be out there. None of the five best guys are going to be sitting on the bench.”

On LB Courtney Arnick:
“He can still play nickel. The reason we did that was because we put a nickel down and put in more DB-type players. So you saw Greg Allen listed, slashed over there. Courtney (Arnick) is a guy we’re really high on as a player. Just like Victor Simmons, even though he’s listed as BUCK, both Victor Simmons and Courtney Arnick could be over there playing at that same nickel position if we were playing with a more linebacker type, both those guys. He’s a sideline-to-sideline player. I’m aware he comes from a great football high school. Sometimes you just have to go by what you see. Remember now, his freshman year, when he got red-shirted – he was one of the two guys who were the best guys on the show team that year. We’ve liked him since he’s been here. He’s done nothing but improve since he’s been here. That’s a good thing.”

On the tight ends:
“I think Jimmay (Mundine) is clearly the front-runner there. I think that we have a lot of names there, including one guy who hasn’t played yet. That’s the biggest upside of all. Let’s throw Ben Johnson into that mix – I think he has a huge upside. He hasn’t played a down yet, so you can’t anoint anyone at this point, but I think that Ben Johnson could be pressing. He could be pressing to get out there. Usually when I’ve recruited tight ends in the past, when you’ve gone through the full gamut, starting recruiting them when their sophomore or junior year, most of the good ones were basketball players that realized they weren’t going to go to the NBA, so they played football. Usually those guys have good ball skills. And Ben (Johnson), between track and basketball – forget about just football. We knew he had really good ball skills. He’ll be 250, easily. He’s going to be a big man. And there’s another guy who’s very competitive, but when you’re just on the show team, like the guys you would hear about every week, would be (Nick) Harwell and Ben Johnson.”