Football Season Review Press Conference Transcript

Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis met with the media late Thursday morning inside the Anderson Family Football Complex to wrap up the 2013 season and discuss recent happenings with the team, including the hiring of John Reagan as offensive line coach and offensive coordinator and the signing of three players during the December signing period. A transcript of selected responses is below and a full video archive is available to subscribers of the Jayhawk Digital Passport here.

Head Coach Charlie Weis
Opening Statement
“First of all, I wish everyone happy holidays here in this festive time of the year.  We’ll obviously broach different subjects.  This presser will be more a Q & A than it will be me giving you anything in particular.

“Obviously the two issues since last we spoke    well, two issues, one connected and not one second. Tim leaving and going back to spend time with his family, and me hiring John Reagan as a replacement coaching the offensive line and to coordinate the offense. There’s one issue that’s fair game.

“Yesterday was early signing period for junior college players, which everyone knows by now we signed three guys. We signed an inside offensive lineman in Keyon Haughton down from Georgia Military, starting left guard for them but played center, guard and tackle for them while he was there. His college coach couldn’t be any higher on this young man: wide, big, physical, not the tallest guy in the world, but just a rocked up unit. I like the way he plays. He’ll be here mid year and be a factor in our depth when we get to depth down the road as it goes into the spring.

“We also brought in two guys for secondary help, Ronnie Davis and Anthony Smithson.  Ronnie was a corner pretty much for them at NEO last year. He has played corner and safety. He originally was an offensive player, was a quarterback to be honest with you. We picked up Anthony Smithson there late. It was kind of the no one knew this was happening, but that no one included us. This was one where his brother kind of solicited some people that he had relationships with to see if they would have any interest, and then we did our due diligence of going through our whole staff, watching tape and going back and forth between me and the defensive staff.

“I even went one step further because I can’t mention any people that aren’t coming here mid year, but we have one young man that we recruited as a safety that I told him that we intended just to take one safety this year, and if he committed that were him.

“So before we went on Anthony, we actually contacted that young man and let him make the call. We let him    we said, we told you we were only going to bring one safety. We have a guy that we think can help us at safety right now, but we told you we were only going to bring one safety, so you can make the call. We got him to sign off, and his family and everyone was comfortable with that, so we jumped on Anthony, and Anthony jumped on board, and I’m very, very glad that we got both Ronnie and Anthony to help our depth in our secondary, and Keyon should be able to instantly come in there and be able to compete in the interior part of our offensive line.

“From there, everything is open. I’ll try to answer as honestly as I can, try to tell you as little as possible, but I think that it’s been a little while, and this is our one opportunity, and I figured you guys will probably want to keep it short because you’re getting a free lunch out of me here momentarily. On that note, it’s time for any questions you’d like to ask.”

Will Keyon come in and play guard and center?
“He’s played both guard and center. I think because of his height or lack thereof it kind of limits you, at least on this level playing tackle, although he has played tackle.  We’ll bring him in at    we’ll bring him in and get it figured out, but he has played both guard and center. He started at left guard. That’s what he started at.”

Bringing in those secondary guys, was that something you targeted or was that just a case of these guys are the best players we can get after right now?
“Yeah, what we decided    last year at this time I had already made my mind up that we were going to change our scheme to an odd configuration. I had not really met with the defense until the first week in February after signing to go over those plans, so we were trying to recruit to that    to what I was looking for, okay.  That being said, this year the one thing that has    we’ve had time to now this week, especially do our due diligence and say, okay, going forward here, what were our issues and what are the simplest answers. Let me just go over one generic one to start off with.

“When teams are playing three and four wide receivers, three and four wide receivers, you have to get more DBs on the field. And what we wanted to do was we wanted to build up our depth in the secondary because some of those guys    for example, Victor Simmons, who played our star position or the Sam linebacker, he might end up flipping over to the other side and being a buck next year so that we can get another DB on the field.

“I think that you have to get more DBs on the field because you could get mismatch personnel wise. Schematically you could be in good shape, but personnel wise you could get exploited some.

“So we felt that we’re a long way we’re going to bring in more than what we’ve got right now in the secondary right now. Those are just what we’re bringing in right now. We need to bring in some more depth even yet because if you look at all the teams that are playing four wide and three wide on all these plays, you need to be able to match up and get personnel out there that can go ahead and play with them.”

I know Tim came to you early in the process and kind of let you know his feelings.  What went into the decision that you wanted to hire a coordinator and not just an offensive line coach to replace him?
“Well, let’s separate the two things. Let’s start with Tim, and I know that one is leading to the other one.

“I think that Tim’s departure stemmed all the way back to Andre (Maloney), and I think that people don’t realize how much of an impact Andre’s passing had on our team, but Tim in particular, Thursday he’s talking to him in the afternoon about how many tickets you want for the game on Saturday, and on Friday he’s gone.
And I think that day was kind of a slap in the face to Tim saying he’s got all these kids that are all going to be in high school and he’s not there; he’s here. And I think that that day, that weekend after he got through the cold reality of what had happened I think was the time where Tim said, I’m going to coach the hell out of these guys for this year and then at the end of this year I’m going to move on.

“So we started talking all the way back then, so this wasn’t like some rash decision that just happened all of a sudden.

“I had already in my mind, as the year went on, there’s some things as you evaluate your team, you evaluate yourself, too, and I think that there’s some things I’m really good at and some things that I’m not so good at and some things I’m in between, okay. But I thought that if we were making changes on offense, I thought one of the things we needed to do was have somebody that could be the lead person on offense not being me.  And for those people who think I hired somebody to be just my manager, that’s not what I’m doing.

“I think that I’ll do a much better job of being the head coach with a guy like John being the coordinator. That’s what I think.”

Did you consult with anybody about other coaches or other people in the building?
“No. No, I didn’t consult with anybody. Once I had the candidate, you know, I went to administration and said what do you think of this thought process, and administration has been wonderful since the day I’ve gotten here, but I talked to the powers that be and we talked about the guy and they had familiarity with the guy. I kind of zeroed in on one guy a long time before you guys heard about it. I mean, this was the guy I zeroed in on a ways back.

“Now, there’s a protocol, there’s a proper way of communicating with John, and I did everything right with Bailiff. I requested permission to talk to him. He said I’d prefer if you don’t talk to him until such a such a time, so I did not talk to him until that time, and then we talked and I offered him the job. We kind of agreed that it was going to work out, but then they’re in the midst of a run to try to win their conference first and then have a chance of playing for the championship of their league second. So there was also that    let’s not be disrespectful to the program he was coming from.

“Other than the fact that it came out a little earlier than you’d like for it to come out, it all worked out for everyone. They won their league, and we got our guy. So it’s worked out for everybody.”

Will he run his offense or run your offense?
“No, it’s funny, he’s running the offense. He told me after spending now a week on his own and then a week with the offensive staff, he intends to mesh some of the terminology that he had with some of the terminology that we had because a lot of the verbiage is similar. The things that are drastic will just be the way he wants to call them, but he’s going through the meshing process right now, which I’m really interested now when we get to that first week in January when they    before the convention and before we go back on the road recruiting, that’s going to be a grind week because right now we’ll be a little bit behind on offense because that meshing is going through. But it’ll be his    it’ll be his system but it’ll be a combination of taking verbiage we had and verbiage he had and kind of putting it all together.”

What was it about John that made you zero in on him?
“I wanted an offensive line coach that could coordinate, and that really cuts the pool way, way down. There’s very few guys that fit into that, and the reason why I wanted that is because I’m confident with our staff, and if he wanted a liaison to run ideas by, I’m there for him to do that. I don’t go to the meetings, okay, because I’m not    if I’m there, then who do they listen to? Are they going to listen to me or listen to him?

“We just talked about it a little while ago.  He said from time to time he’s going to want me to come into the meetings to describe empty protection, do this how you would do it, and at the end of the day when I leave it’s going to be how they want to do it, that’s the way they’ll end up doing it.”

How would you describe his offense at Rice?
“Well, I’d say a lot simpler than what we were running, but also I would say much more efficient than what we were running.”

Other than personnel, what made it more efficient?
“Well, I mean, production.  That’s really a very, very simple    when you get production versus not getting production. I had watched their games, I’d be sitting here on TV watching Rice games. I might have been the only one in Lawrence looking for the Pay Per View Rice games that are on or whatever was on, but I had been watching him for some time.

“He’s very well respected in this community to start off with. That’s important to me. That’s important to me. And he’s been very well respected as an offensive line coach for a long time, and he’s done a really nice job over the last three years coordinating the offense. And I think that the combination of all those things led me to John.”

Having had a couple of weeks to reflect on the season, how much better was this season overall from season one for you?
“Well, I’m not to the season.  I have more segmented right now. Remember now, we just came off the road on Sunday. I mean, so I’ve been on the road right to the end here. It isn’t like I’ve been sitting in here watching tape.  I’ve been doing a little bit of traveling, but we have had now three and a half days to evaluate the whole season, and I think that if you ask me a pointed question, I could probably give you a pointed answer. Why don’t you give me a more pointed question, and I’ll try to help you out.  It can be a specific.”

Let’s go back to the offense and we’ll work from there.  Specifically with the offense, do you think there was a big improvement or an improvement at all between year one and year two?
“Well, let’s start with the running game. The run game was numerically productive, but percentage wise and efficient.  What that means is most of our runs were    as an average for the season have winning numbers.  Most of our runs, okay, which that wasn’t exactly the case. There were fewer runs that had winning numbers from the year before even though the production was good.

“Now, the problem I have is when the efficiency, which means if you run the same run 10 times and you average five yards a carry, okay, that’s 50 yards, okay, but on two of those runs you got 20 yards, so that’s 40 of the 50 yards, you might only have been productive    you might only have been efficient on four out of the 10 runs even though you averaged five yards a carry, okay.

“So on the one hand we had more production. On the other hand we were less efficient, and that’s an area that has to be addressed because what you can’t do is have runs be inefficient because then it leads to trouble down the road on 2nd and 3rd down.”

Was blocking a big part of that issue?
“Well, everything is what you can’t do is segment things and just blame one area of concern. I mean, for example, I’ll give you an inconsistency. You talk about    you start to talk about the quarterback situation. How many dropped balls do you think we had this year? Forty-seven. Forty-seven dropped balls. By our charts, 47.
Now, regardless of the other problems, okay, the other problems in the passing game, when you have 47 dropped balls, so basically four a game, when you have 47 dropped balls, there’s a good chance that your passing game is not going to be efficient. So your first question is going to be about the quarterback. I have to look at the whole passing game and say, okay, break it down. I’m just giving you one facet of the passing game is dropped balls, accuracy is one facet, getting open is a facet, protection is a facet. They all factor in.  Okay, mental errors is a factor. But I’m just giving you one obvious one that every one of us watching a game can see when a guy drops a ball. Forty-seven of them, so that’s obviously one of the areas in the passing game that leads towards inefficiency.
So if I told you every quarterback, just add four more catches a game, right now, okay, all of a sudden some of those numbers look totally different. So I’m just using that. You can’t just look at it from one angle. You have to break down each element to go ahead and give you the most critical evaluation of where the areas of concern are.

What type of discussions do you have with recruits now?
“Well, see, you don’t have every position. It’s different by position. It depends on what position you have. For example, right now if you’re an offensive tackle, if you’re an offensive tackle, well, the guy who was starting at the end of the year, both seniors, they’re both gone, okay.  Well, if I were an offensive tackle, okay, and if I were looking for a place where I think I had a good chance of playing early in my career and I saw that the first two guys that were starting there weren’t there anymore, I would think that that would be a viable option.  So when I’m sitting in a young man’s home, you could bet that that’s one of the things I’m talking about.
Now, there’s certain possessions I can’t say that at. There’s certain positions    I’m not going to say we don’t have a middle linebacker, am I?  I’m not going to say that because that would be a lie.  Conversely I’ll say we might have the best linebacker in the league, okay, but he’s going to be here for one more year.
It all depends on what position you’re talking about with what you say to them. But my thing is I always tell the truth, and that doesn’t always work. But I always do it.

“But one thing will never change. I will never change the support of our administration; that won’t change. This building is always a good representation. The housing that we live in, I mean, no complaints there. The food they eat, no complaints there. Academic support, no complaints there. So when I go into it, I don’t just talk about the football situation. I talk about this building. I talk about the dorms. I talk about the training table. I talk about academic support, and I talk about the academics in general.

“When you lay that all out to a kid, if that’s not good enough, then it’s not good enough. But that’s what it is.”

Is it less raw than maybe it was two years ago when maybe you felt?
“There are less holes.  I mean, look at the defense. What defensive player walking in the door right here knows they’re going to play? You’re beating out those two safeties?  You’re beating out those two corners? How about the linebackers? Are you beating them out? Could you say that a year ago? Okay, we’re starting to be    there’s starting to be some positions where it’s going to be    you’re going to have a tough time beating one of these guys out. You’re fighting for playing time now. Really that’s where you need to get to.

“Now, the problem is we don’t have that at every position yet, and that’s where we intend to get to. Because once you get there now you’re not recruiting    you’re not recruitin everyone to come in and play walking in the door.  You take a handful of those guys when you have a glaring hole or glaring need, or other than that you bring them in to develop them to get ready to take over when those guys are gone, and that’s what good programs do.”

And you feel you’re in a much better place?
“Than a year ago this time?  We’re in a much better it’s not even close. It’s not close.”

Running back has been a deep position for you, and I know Tony (Pierson) is a hybrid, but you’ve got Darrian Miller’s issue…
“Darrian will be okay. He’ll be okay. Look, I can’t go into it, but he’s got some issues, and he’ll be okay. He’ll be around. It’s just when the time is right, the time is right. It still won’t be something that we’re really going to talk about.  He’s got some personal issues that are obviously major or else he would have been back. It has nothing to do with football. He’s not in trouble with school, he’s not in trouble with football. He’s got some things he’s got to deal with, and we have to leave it. But Darrian will be there. You can count on the odds of him being there and ready to go I think in the spring, when we go into spring, I think you’ll see him trotting out there just like everybody else.”

How often have you ever signed a kid without him visiting the campus?
“Seldom. Not the only time, but seldom. It just kind of fell into place. We were looking for a range safety, a range safety and a kid    a punch of picks, good range, just kind of fell in your lap now. The kid (Anthony Smithson) was going to Utah, and that’s where he was going. He went to high school out there because his brother is out there. His brother raised him. He was going to go to Utah, and then he’s back in Maryland, didn’t really want to go out to Utah, so his brother did some inquiring and got to us, and we did our due diligence, and there was a lot of scrambling trying to get him there at the end because now all of a sudden he’s open game. If he’s opening up    it was nice the way it went down, because it went down in a hurry now. I mean, it did, it went down in a hurry.”

You mentioned you evaluate everybody, your players and coaches and all that, and then you mentioned you do some self evaluation.
“Well, I’ve hired an offensive coordinator. How do you like that one?  I made a change there. I think that everyone you look at, I think that you have to find their strengths and find their weaknesses and see if you can’t help address the weaknesses and play to the strengths. And that includes yourself. I think you’ve got to play to your strengths and try to minimize your weaknesses.

I’m always, it’s funny because people think that you’re dogmatic in your approach and how you do things, and I’m probably the antithesis of that because I’m always looking for a better way.  Always. And I think that this gives us a better chance to win.”

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