Weis Weekly Press Conference: Previewing Kansas State

Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis met with the media inside the Anderson Family Football Complex, previewing this weeken’s contest against in-state rival Kansas State. Weis addressed what the Sunflower Showdown means for his program, in addition to his admiration for KSU head coach Bill Snyder. Selected comments are list below, but a full video replay is available to Jayhawk Digital Passport subscribers here.

On what he wants to see when KU plays Kansas State, other than a win:
“That’s pretty much where it goes. What do you want me to say, that I want a close loss? When Missouri left to go to the SEC, I think it was time for Kansas to recognize that Kansas State is, without a doubt, the most important game of the year. I think Coach Snyder has done that for years; he’s magnified the importance of this game and you could see how, over the last several years, it’s turned into a one-sided affair. I think that it’s important for Kansas, and the Kansas football program, to treat the game with equal billing to what they (K-State) do. This isn’t competing with them, this is just reality. My first touch with real college football was 1985, when I went to the University of South Carolina. You could go 1 and whatever, as long as you beat Clemson. Nothing else mattered; beating Clemson. In this state, it’s Kansas and Kansas State. It’s been one-sided as of late and nothing would be better for us. We don’t have a bowl game coming up; this is it. It all ends Saturday. So nothing would be better than to put our best performance of the year out there on Saturday morning and see if we can’t beat a formidable opponent, who happens to be our in-state rival.”

On what he’s learned about the Kansas-Kansas State rivalry:
“I’ve learned that they have done a better job of magnifying the importance of the game. Let’s forget about the game itself; let’s talk about the attitude that’s permeated from the top on down, the significance of the game and it’s for several reasons. Bragging rights in state. It’s when you walk into the grocery market with someone who roots for the other team and you get the last jab. When you’re at work and one of your compadres comes up that you know is a K-State fan or a Kansas fan, it’s all those things. So you’re not playing just for your football team and your student body, for all those people who go into work on Monday and have an opportunity to take shots, most of the time we’ve been receiving the shots. It would be really nice to walk into work on Monday, for most people, and be able to fire the shots instead of taking them.”http://www.kuathletics.com/showcase/

On if the Kansas-Kansas State rivalry is similar to anything he’s been a part of in the past:
“Notre Dame tries to act like every game is the same, but USC is always different. Michigan was big, Michigan State was big, but USC was always different, it was a different game. Obviously, things have changed, their programs have changed. When I went to school there and for all the years after I left school and then went back, it was always all about that one. I think here, obviously, Kansas’ big game was Missouri. Kansas State’s big game was Kansas. Now, with Missouri being long gone – I was never a part of that; I was never a part of the Kansas-Missouri rivalry, so I don’t get it – I understand proximity and all that stuff, but I really don’t feel it. I have no compassion in any way. For me, all my compassion, and all our compassion goes toward trying to beat a very good football team that I have the utmost respect for.”

On how his approach for walk-ons and K-State’s system for walk-ons compare:
“Let me talk about (Ryan) Mueller because that’s the one I have the most familiarity with. Remember, I’ve only been here–just wrapping up two years. Here’s a guy that no one was jumping on the table for, a little undersized, who plays with a passion. He might be 245 (pounds), maybe 250 pushing it, but he might be 240 at this stage of the season – but he plays with such passion, such leverage and effort. You watch him play and that’s the type of guy you want playing on your team. There are a lot of guys, within proximity to Lawrence, within close driving distance to Lawrence, that sometimes they just don’t gel yet leaving high school. They’re just good high school football players, but develop into good college football players. I think the walk-on mentality, the walk-on program; you bring many good players in to see who can rise above, is always one I’ve been promoting and permeating. I think we’re starting to do it. We did it at the last place (I was at) and had a lot of success there (with it). I think we’re starting to get a better crop of guys now over the last couple of years.”

On his approach with local players, getting them to stay in Lawrence:
“For example, I have a couple guys who are ‘Legacies’; that’s really a tough one, when you’re dealing with kids of guys who played here. That’s a tough one because every dad wants their guy to be offered scholarships from everybody. But they’re the type of guys that you like coming in here and let’s see what they have. Not that you’re opposed to going ahead and putting them on scholarship down the road, but let’s see what you have. You have to finesse it a little bit. But I think having guys from in-state going to ‘The University Of’ is definitely a mentality that, I agree with you 100%, could be quite beneficial to the lifeline of your program.”

On what he has tried to steal from K-State’s Coach Snyder on building a football program in a state that doesn’t have a lot of talent:
“Let me say ’emulate’, not ‘steal’. When I took this job, I didn’t know a lot about the University of Kansas. I knew where it was; I’d been here for a couple of hoops games, but I didn’t know a lot about the University of Kansas. One of the first things I did was go online and study Kansas State; they’re winning, they’re not winning, why? One thing he’s had is the uncanny ability to bring in junior college guys that he’s molded very quickly together and had great success. Obviously, we took an overabundance last year, out of necessity, but I think that mentality, to mesh in, to fill as many needs as you have to, with junior college guys; let’s face it, two years in and you can still see the glaring holes that we have. We have less of them than we did a year ago, but we still have glaring holes. I’m not saying how many Division-I football players come out of the state of Kansas, but it’s not a big number, let’s just say that. On top of that, you’ve got several of us competing for the same guys. One thing you have to be ready to do, other than spreading your wings on a high-school recruiting angle, is that you better be able to go supplement your roster with junior college guys that could walk in the door and play. We just won’t need as many of them as we had last year, but there are still positions of dire need. That’s what he’s (Snyder) been able to do as good as anyone I’ve seen in college football over the last bunch of years; he’s been able to say ‘Hey, I need a center’ – there’s a center. ‘I need a wide receiver’ – there’s a wide receiver. ‘Hey, I need a quarterback – there’s a quarterback. All of a sudden, they blend in because you’re not taking as many of them, but the ones you’re taking are filling those needs of guys that need to get into the mix. (K-State’s) Starting quarterback (Jake Waters) is a perfect case in point. A year ago, he’s at Iowa Western (Community College). He’s at Iowa Western and they go undefeated. Any time you’re a quarterback at a school that goes undefeated, that’s a good thing, because it already shows that you’re a winner. Now, all of a sudden, Colin (Klein) leaves. (He) had a great career there, but now there’s this void. They bring him in, they start off the year and they’re splitting time. The year goes on and he’s playing more and more and there’s another ‘find’. It’s not like this kid had a 100 different schools recruiting him, but he fit them. That’s what he (Snyder) does very well.”

On DL Tedarian Johnson’s play this season:
“Tedarian is probably one of the more pleasant surprises. Everyone wanted to talk about Andrew (Bolton) coming in because they are coming from the same school. Andrew has benefitted tremendously this year without playing a down. He is grinding academically. He is healthier, but the time we get to spring ball he will be healthy. This year has helped Andrew as much as it has helped Tedarian. Tedarian is a guy you weren’t maybe expecting as much help from, but because he is such a grinder he has become a fairly productive player for us. I have been pleased with those guys for two different reasons even though they came from the same school and are the best of friends.”

On running the ball vs. Kansas State:
“Well in last week’s approach a similar thing was said and it did not play out so well. Has there been production in the run game against them? Yes. Do you they play sound, fundamental defense that they have been playing? Yes. I just know we are going to have to play a heck of a lot better than we have been playing recently for us to have a legitimate chance to win the game. Here are a few stats for you: if you don’t score in the high 20s to low 30s against these guys you usually don’t beat them. If you look at all their games, every game they lose it is in that range. We have only scored over 30 points twice this season. That is the first thing that comes in to play. Just like anything else, injuries factor in to these games. We have had significant injuries that have hurt us. Defensively they have one significant injury that hurts them. If you go back and track that young man in the games when he plays and when he doesn’t play, I think you would see the point differential is significant.