Sunday, April 29, 2012

It’s a wrap: Game caps dramatic spring

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis calls a play during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis calls a play during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.


Saturday’s 45-0 romp by the first-string Blue team in Kansas University’s annual spring game marked the final activity of one of the most intense and trying springs at KU in recent memory.

From the time the team returned to Lawrence from winter break in mid-January until the time the scoreboard clock showed 00:00 on Saturday, the Jayhawks were put through a grueling few months of back-breaking workouts, mind-molding mental challenges and the early stages of a seismic shift designed to eliminate the team’s ability to accept losing.

First-year coach Charlie Weis promised on the day he was introduced as KU’s next coach that the spring “was not going to be very pleasant” for his new team, and in many ways it wasn’t. But Saturday, with the sun shining and more than 15,000 fans filling Memorial Stadium’s seats, it all seemed worth it.

“I would like to call it just hard work and discipline,” said sophomore running back Tony Pierson, the game’s offensive MVP. “I wouldn’t call it miserable, though. I made it out.”

Beyond the fact that Weis engineered a way to get so many people to show up for a scrimmage — likely many of whom just six months ago had all but given up on the program — there were plenty of highlights Saturday. Reverses went for touchdowns, flea-flickers were both called and executed, and players, young and old, who have been dubbed “play-makers” for the past couple of years, actually made plays again.

“I think we’ve taken a bunch of steps,” Weis said after the game. “But I think we have a bunch of steps to go. Too many times, coaches give you some kind of phrase to sugar-coat it. But for us to be competitive on a weekly basis, we have a lot of work to do.”

For at least the next couple of months, a lot of that work will be spent on recruiting the Class of 2013 so Weis’ future spring games at Kansas will include defensive linemen who play for one team, not both. The players still will work out on their own and will continue to get to know strength coach Scott Holsopple in ways they probably wish they wouldn’t.

“There are several different ways that you can run an organization,” Weis said. “I just think that they are starting to figure me out more. I’m easier to read now. They are not used to people coming in and just saying it to (them). They are used to coaches playing mind games, where you have to try to figure out what the coach is thinking. That’s not what I do.”

People have taken notice.

“I think he’s just been incredibly consistent in his message,” quarterback Dayne Crist said. “He’s always honest, always telling the truth, whether that’s what you want to hear or not. It’s just common sense. It’s using good judgment. Everyone has a conscience, and, doing the right thing, he’s huge on that.”

Weis’ plan stretches to all corners of their responsibilities as student-athletes, and, whenever possible, he makes sure to point that out.

So while many left Saturday’s game talking about Pierson’s 141 yards, Crist’s arm or the fact that the Jayhawks — with their names on their jerseys again — looked like a football team again, Weis’ focus shifted to finishing strong so he could have all of his weapons this fall.

“Right now, I’m more concerned with them finishing the semester and taking their exams,” he said.

Still, football never is far from his thoughts, and, even though he knows there’s still work to do, Weis seems to be looking forward to August.

“Offensively, we’re ahead of our defense,” he said at the risk of stating the obvious. “But I truly believe that we’re going to be much improved on defense.

“Not only philosophically do I believe in what they’re doing, but I do believe that with some of the guys coming in, interjected with the people here, we’ll be much improved.”


baldwinjhawk 1 year, 11 months ago

Agreed... 6-6 gets Charlie coach of the year! He's lost a lot of weight. Anyone know how much he's dropped? Looks like at least 50. Maybe Holsopple is working on him also. Rock Chalk


ejlumus 1 year, 11 months ago

Saw losts of improvement, S&C, on off field sharp, one penalty .... major improvement in knowing the plays. Stabnd by my prediction:

Win 3 non-cons

Win 3 TT, BU, ISU

Win 1 KSU, UT, TCU

Northern Illinois will determine good or bad season.

DC best drop back QB since Jaynes. Consider TR a scrambler.

CW coach of the year in B12.

Book mark it ...... end of story


Tony Bandle 1 year, 11 months ago

All, please remember, the spring football game is like a progress allows the coaching staff to evaluate each player's development compared to their perceived strengths and weaknesses.

It's really just the first true indicator of how far away KU is from being competitive.

A} The reality is that there are a number of games on our schedule that if we stay within 17 to 21 points that will mean improvement.

B] There a re a few games if we stay close with a chance to win, it will mean real progress.

C] And there are several games we have a decent shot at winning.

So, maybe we shock someone from "A" edge out a couple from "B" and win a few from "C"...thus maybe 4-8 or 5-7 or if we get every break in the book, even 6-6

PS. If Kansas goes 6-6, Charlie Weis should be COY.


John Miller 1 year, 11 months ago

What about the Wide Receivers as a whole? I saw very little separation from the second team DB's and a lot of dropped balls.


ja3hawk 1 year, 11 months ago

So whats the word on McCay? I thought they were going to appeal to the proper committee at the NCAA and they had a deadline of like last Monday (or is it today?)


Ryan Shelton 1 year, 11 months ago

I've never been to a spring game. For those of you in the know, is 15,000 good? Was the crowd excited and into it? Sounds like singing the alma mater went well.


Sayers44 1 year, 11 months ago

At the Spring Game, Crist and Heaps were set up to look good.

There was no pass rush, the white team did not ever blitz, there was never any rusher within 5 yards of these Qbs' when they threw.

Both Crist and Heaps were like rocking chair Qbs' --never having to worry about being hit and having all day to pick out receivers.

The game was lethargic. I never heard any pads popping, it seemed as players were just going through the motions.

Crist will be an improvement over last year. I suggest waiting on judgement of Heaps, as anyone can throw when there is no pass rush.


bville_hawk 1 year, 11 months ago

Better organized, better discipline, better conditioning. Substantial progress has been made over what we have seen the last 2 seasons. The talent level has been upgraded with more (hopefully) arriving this summer. CW is taking us in the right direction, our job is to be patient and supportive if the wins don't come immediately.

Thanks, Matt, for the Monday football article!


squawkhawk 1 year, 11 months ago

I was somewhat disappointed and not that impressed with Crist. I guess my expectations were much higher with him playing against the 2nd string of the worst defense in the conference last year. 11 of 19 for 150 some yards...meh.


squawkhawk 1 year, 11 months ago

I was somewhat disappointed and not that impressed with Crist. I guess my expectations were much higher with him playing against the 2nd string of the worst defense in the conference last year. 11 of 19 for 150 some yards...meh.


Jim Jackson 1 year, 11 months ago

Tait, any news as to why Mckay didn't get in the action much? He has superior physical attributes so I am just curous as to why he didn't see much action. Thanks!


clevelandjayhawker 1 year, 11 months ago

I hope the baseball team can go to omaha sometime, this dead time from the spring game/march madness till football/late night seems too long.

Excited for KU football again, may take a few years but I like the direction.


Cole Hogan 1 year, 12 months ago

Rock on HCCW!! one question...will sims ever be the number 1 back if HCCW is here and pierson is healthy?


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