Charlie Weis Meets With The Media Tuesday To Discuss KU's Match-Up With West Virginia

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis addressed the media and answered questions during his weekly media session at the Anderson Family Football Complex Tuesday afternoon. Weis previewed the weekend match-up with West Virginia and talked about KU’s focus entering the contest with the Mountaineers before turning the mic over to offensive line coach Tim Grunhard. A transcript of selected comments is below, with full video of the press conference available to Jayhawk Digital Passport subscribers here.

Kansas Head Coach Charlie Weis

Opening Statement:
“Every week I come in and talk about the opponent and spend 15 minutes talking about them and I would rather talk about our guys – I’d rather talk about us. I think we’re at the stage in the year where I’m putting all my focus, all my energy into the last three games of season starting with this one. Every bit of juice that I have is going into this game. I think I’m more concerned with our players than I am with theirs. They’re obviously coming off a disheartening loss where they had Texas, a top team, beat on the road, but you have a late fourth down conversion, and a late field goal, then end up losing in overtime. It was a disheartening loss, they played really well. With that being said, they’re coming in at 11 o’clock in the morning, and I can’t spend too much time worrying about them and their troops, I’m just worried about mine.”

On changing his philosophies over the season:
“Well for example, this week the whole schedule’s different. You have to get them out of a routine- routines can be good and routines can be bad. We are trying anything little thing that you could use to just to try to do something different. For example, today we’re not going to practice any special teams. We’re going to spend all our time on offense and defense. One of the reasons is during the practice you go to the special teams portion of practice, there’s a lot of guys involved in that and some guys are not involved at all. And now you got some guys all lathered up and ready to go and now they’re standing on the sidelines while the special teams are going on. Or they’re walking through the offensive and defensive line and going through walk-through stuff and they just got the juices flowing. Tomorrow we’ll spend an extended period of time hitting the four core units of special team, plus field goal and field goal block. But today we’ll put all our points of emphasis on first and second down offense and defense.”

On if changing the routine is to shake things up:
“(It’s) to do something different. To put a point of emphasis today, I think that there’s been a lot of good stuff that goes on during the week. What we have to have is we have to do a better job of carrying over the classroom, to the field and from the practice field to the game field. I think we have to do a better job with that. It’s one thing if you go into the game and they’re doing things that you totally don’t expect, then as coaches and players you’re scrambling. But that has rarely been the case that we’ve been faced with this year. Everyone’s game plan comes up with tweaks. That’s what they do. Obviously we haven’t been doing a good enough job from the coaching to the classroom, to the field, from the practice field to the game field to execute enough to win games. Today’s point of emphasis is about putting down first and second down offense and defense, no distracting, no punt team going in today, no kickoff team coming in today, no field goal block going in today, no walk through for special teams today. Go over, have a walk through for offense and defense, run and stretch, do some individuals in a group and let’s get going. That’s what today’s going to be. See if we can’t do a better job of getting that communicated and see if we can get that carried over for the rest of the week.”

On making the weekly schedule:
“This is what I do on Saturday nights when you’re sleeping. I try to figure out what can I do, how can I do, give me something different that I can do. Because I think that when you lose, and you accept it and you stand pat, that’s never a good thing. I think that anyone who’s driven, in whatever business you’re in, when things don’t go well, you’ve got two ways to handle it, one way you say, ‘Oh, well.’ And the other way is you try to find another way to do it. I’m always looking for that other way.”

On putting the ‘or’ at quarterback on the depth chart for Jake Heaps and Montell Cozart:
“I know who’s starting at quarterback, but why should I tell them? That’s really what it comes down to. You can’t go to practice with an ‘or’ in mind, because if you have an ‘or’ you really have nobody. But why should they know? As it is, what do they have to practice on? Well, not that we’re trained killers on offense, but you have to practice. Jake’s in the game at quarterback, what do they do when Jake’s in the game? Montell’s in as quarterback, what do they do when Montell’s in the game? Let’s go back and look at last year’s game when Michael Cummings was in the game and let’s see what they do- well is that similar to what they’re going to do with Montell? So you practice that stuff too. Before you get into anything else game plan-wise, there’s three things that you’re already practicing. If I do one out of those three things, and they spend one third of their time on it, then ‘or’ was definitely worthwhile.”

On if there’s an advantage to having a drop-back and an athletic quarterback:
“Ideally you’d have the drop-back guy who was the athlete. That’s why you have guys like Aaron Rodgers, who is very successful because he is more athletic than people give him credit for. And a guy like (Andrew) Luck in Indianapolis, he’s much more athletic than people give him credit for. That’s why a guy like RGIII (Robert Griffin III), everyone just thinks he’s an athlete, but he’s just a drop-back quarterback who can sling it pretty good. Then you have a guy like Tommy (Tom Brady) who wasn’t a really nifty athlete – very slow, not slow footed. He learned from guys like (Dan) Marino who learned how to move a couple yards in the pocket, rather than move from the pocket. There are different mentalities involved. I think when you’ve got a really good one, it doesn’t make a difference what their weaknesses are, you can play to their strength.”

On having all the receivers back this week:
“The only one we don’t have this week is Tre’ (Parmalee) and he’s a week or two away, he’ll be back before the end of the year. Now remember some of these guys were on the upswing when they got banged up, (Andrew) Turzilli was just turning the corner, and then he makes that 52-yard catch and then he’s out. Rodriguez (Coleman) was just turning the corner when he makes that big catch when he’s out. It’ll be interesting now that we’ve got a whole head of steam, so we’ll see how this all plays out.”

On the offensive line’s performance:
“Well, all of them pretty much played the whole (OSU) game. And at least you can identify what you need help on and what you don’t need help on. For example, Riley (Spencer), I was a little disappointed in his penalties. And we gave him some help in pass-block and he really wasn’t exposed but at the point of attack, he was much more physical than anyone we’ve had over at that position. It’s a give and take when you’re using different players. You have to make sure to know what they can do and what they can’t do.”

On if James Sims is similar to West Virginia’s Charles Sims:
“He’s similar. I think he’s got about forty catches, I don’t remember exactly, but I think he’s got 40-catches or something like that. But he’s a nice solid back, and I don’t know Dreamius (Smith) personally other than the fact that I know he was here. But he’s actually done a nice job as a backup too. He’s been a nice complimentary player for him as well.”

On what he sees on West Virginia’s defense:
“First, they’re not doing as many things as they’re doing last year. But they’re still a lot like Texas Tech where I expect in the game you’ll see six different fronts, they’ll be even with a three and a one technique, they’ll be even with a one and a three technique, they’ll be under, they’ll be over, they’ll be odd. All those fronts will show up in the game. Now it depends on who they play against, and what coverage they play. For example, by nature they like to play two high. Well when they played Baylor, those two high safeties were so far deep they were out of the picture. I don’t think that’s where they’ll be when we play them, I think they’ll be a lot close to the line of scrimmage. There’s actually plays on tape where you can’t even see the safeties, they’re so far back. In other games you watch – I can dial them up, if you want. Kansas State: they’re close. TCU: they’re close. I watched them all, so I can see where the safeties are in my mind they’re here and then they’re back there. I think they’ll be a little closer against us.”

On if they’re emphasizing the last three games even though they no longer qualify for a bowl game:
“We’re in the same must-win category that we’re in. We’re already in the playoffs, the playoffs started when we got eliminated, right? These last three games count the same for me, these are our playoffs. Our bowl game is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. That’s our bowl game. That’s the way we’re approaching it.”

On what he saw offensively at Oklahoma State:
“I thought it was a little frustrating. When you run the ball for over a couple hundred yards you think that you’re going to end up with the ball in the end zone. Obviously we dropped a couple touchdown passes. That hurt some. We missed the one short field goal. But, still you’re making them kick the field goal when you get down there. We’re not taking advantage of field position at least twice. Tony’s reverse that got down there close and the kickoff return by JaCorey where we got shorter field. The biggest disappointment in that game, I know a lot has been made, I make a point to not study what the media is saying, especially after a loss because I know what happened and I don’t need them to tell me what happened, but the big difference in that game between them and us is the big chunks in the passing game. That was the difference in the game. Let’s exclude the kickoff return for the touchdown because we had a 60 yard return too that put us in position to get a touchdown. Excluding that, they had chunks in the passing game, and we didn’t. Our rush defense, for the most part, stifled them pretty good. They averaged about three yards a carry or less. They rushed for about 100 yards when they had been rushing for 200 yards. We rushed for 200 yards when they haven’t been giving up anywhere near that. It’s just that they got chunks in the passing game, and we didn’t get any of those chunks.”

On CB JaCorey Shepherd:
“JaCorey obviously was originally a receiver when I got here, went through a year and really had a tough time catching the ball. On kickoff returns, the best part about JaCorey is that he is very gifted with the ball in his hands. That’s why he was originally an offensive player. Kickoff returns are not a very difficult thing to do as far as catching the ball because when you catch a ball you don’t have anyone right in your face like you do on a punt return. On punt returns these guys are about six inches away from you half the time. He is dynamic with the ball in his hands. He’s fast, he’s physical, he can read the openings, and he runs with power. It’s no big surprise to me. The problem is, I’m going to use him again this week, but I would like not to use him. We’re so thin at the corner position and he’s played so well for us. It’s just that he has proven to be by far our best kickoff returner. You need to take every advantage you can get, especially against a team that hasn’t had a lot of touchbacks. They haven’t had a lot of touchbacks this year. You’re going to return some of these kickoffs so you’re going to want your best guy back there.”

On QB Montell Cozart’s confidence:
“I thought it has been good for us to be able to do it the way that we’ve done it. I know a lot of people have done it different ways and there have been a lot of people that have played a freshman that has come right in and been good right off the bat. But, I think the fact that he has been able to ease into it, I think that it has been good for him. I think that in the beginning he was pretty nervous when he first started playing. A true freshman quarterback, you’re playing Oklahoma, that’s not exactly hey let me go in there and start off against Oklahoma against a good defense. But, each week he’s gotten more comfortable in there. One of the things is just calling the plays. Calling the plays isn’t as easy as everyone thinks it is. If you knew everything that goes in just calling the play, it isn’t like you just say six fourty on one. It’s not like that. You have things like zero out slot alert fib jet 36 sub z-swing on second sound. There’s a lot of talking in there. It’s not as easy as everyone thinks. And then the information that I just said to you, then he has to go do it. You’ve got to remember to bring them over to the right. Then you’ve got to bring them in. Then you’ve got to time it up with the snap count, come up and make the mike call, then go execute the play. So I think for him, doing it in practice, this is sort of like my initial comment when I say take it from the classroom to the practice field to the game field, step one is taking it from the classroom to the practice field. The much bigger step is taking it from the practice field to the game field because you’ve got to execute with a bunch of people in the crowd. And you don’t get any do overs in the game. When you mess up, you mess up.”

On how good QB Montell Cozart is at observing defenses:
“Yeah, he keeps it. I say that partially laughing and partially not. Every week we all do the same thing, every one of us. We sit there and we watch game and the play looks like garbage and all the sudden the quarterback is running 30 yards down the sideline. There were a couple times where Ron wanted to say something to him and I would say shut up. Like he was supposed to run to the right and he ran 10 yards to the left. He wanted to say something and I said don’t say a word. I call that an atta boy. Atta boy is when somebody does something they aren’t supposed to do but it works. So it’s like no, no, atta boy. He had a few atta boys in the game last week. That’s the one thing, when a quarterback freezes, we’ve all seen games when a quarterback freezes and what happens now? We’ve had a lot of problems in the last couple of years when the quarterback freezes, the plays now over. One thing that happens with him when he freezes is the play could just be starting. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but there could be a lot more action. He gave me a mini heart attack when he was running to the left and he spins around. I think that Barry Sanders being at the game might have inspired him. Not that he knows anything about Barry Sanders. But, Barry Sanders at the game might have inspired him starting at the left and spinning around, then giving up ground where now you’re going to lose 10 yards, where now you outrun them and now you gain 10 yards. At the end of the play, it looks like the quarterback just ran to the right and gained 10 yards. That’s a good result.”

On if finishing with a softer schedule will help Kansas mentally:
“Well, fortunately or unfortunately, the way the games are dialed up, that’s how you play them. I think that obviously we went through a brutal stretch with a bunch of teams that are really good, and most of them all ranked, it is what it is. You’re going to play nine games in the Big 12. That’s the way it is. This year you play five at home and four on the road, next year you play five on the road and four at home. I don’t look at it as being softer, I think that West Virginia’s capable of beating anyone like they showed when they beat Oklahoma State at home. Like they showed last week when they had Texas basically beat. But, they could lose to anybody too. The good news for West Virginia is that they went out and scored 40 against a good defense. The bad news is they gave up 47. I can’t worry too much, I respect everybody, I respect the coaches, I respect the players, I know who they are, I know what they do, but I have to be more concerned with what my guys do. That’s where every bit of energy this week is going into that. I started on Sunday and continued a text-athon on Monday. We drill into them Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, until Saturday morning at 11 o’clock.”

On H/F Tony Pierson’s play against Oklahoma State:
“I think there was some good and some bad. I thought he was a little tentative on some things. He was a little tentative as a receiver. Now he didn’t look tentative when he was running those reverses. He didn’t look tentative when he had that one sweep that he ran for nine or 10 yards and made a couple people miss. But, I think he’ll be a lot better this week than he was last week. I think that his natural ability led him to some numbers, but I still feel like he was a little tentative. He probably was a little afraid to tell you the truth. When you’re coming back off of concussion you have that in the back of your mind, no pun intended once again. But, what if I get hard? Am I going to get another concussion again? I’m with him. I don’t want that happen again either. But, the fact that he didn’t, that bodes well, that gives us a better chance to move forward this week.”

On if QB Jake Heaps’ attitude has changed due to playing time:
“I don’t think we could have done anything that we’ve done if it wasn’t for him. Jake isn’t happy when he’s not playing all the time. Jake wants to be the starting quarterback and be in there for every snap. So when he’s not playing all the time, he doesn’t like that. But, he’s such a team guy, not that you’re happy when you’re not playing, but you can only play one quarterback at a time. It’s not like the wide receivers when you can play two, three, four, five of them on one play if you wanted to. Only one quarterback can go out there at a time.”

On when HB Darrian Miller will be available:
“Just like you asked me the other day, I don’t want to invade Darrian. People want all the answers sometimes and sometimes the answers are just left unsaid. He’s got some personal things that he needs to deal with that are more important than football. He’s not in any trouble with the football team and he’s not in any trouble in school. He’s got some personal issues that he needs to deal with, and when they are resolved he’ll be back. I don’t know when they will get resolved. You’ve got to remember, I’ve told you several times, those things are very important to me. He has carte blanche from me. When those things get resolved, then I’ll have him back.”

On the recent success of screen passes:
“We had a couple of ones that should have been homeruns in this past game. But we miss crack blocks, we miss a crack block with the wide receiver so therefore the only guy out there is who the lineman is supposed to block, but the because we missed the crack block, the lineman had to block the guy that we missed. So, that means that there is one guy out there and he is unblocked and he makes the tackle. We had a couple of homeruns, a couple of really big ones, plays that got a couple of yards that could have gone for 50. But, that’s what happens. You miss one block when there’s only two critical blocks the way we ran the screens, a crack block by the wide receiver, and a kick out block by the guard. When the guard has to block the same guy that the receiver was supposed to block, you’ve got a corner standing out there all by himself who made the tackle both times. It’s a sure completion at a very low risk.”