This corporate sports world in which we live feeds us so many football coaches skilled in the art of dancing around questions as if they’re land mines.
And then there is Charlie Weis. Ask him a question and he — get this — answers it. It’s so difficult to retrain the brain away from the knee-jerk reaction of, “OK, I need to process this. Why is he saying what he’s saying, what does he really mean, and he doesn’t really think I’m going to fall for that, does he?”
Weis, as a communicator, is nothing if not direct. That quality comes in handy with the players he coaches.
“He’s always direct to us and that’s the first thing he told us,” said defensive end/outside linebacker Michael Reynolds, voted Saturday the Defensive MVP of the spring game. “He said he’ll be 100-percent honest with us, and so we can put our trust in him all the way. That’s exactly what everybody should want.”
Asked about Reynolds, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound rising sophomore from Wichita, Weis didn’t get vague. It’s not his style. He doesn’t believe in wasting his time and nobody needs to wear boots to his news conferences.
“Michael Reynolds is one of the guys here who has the ability to come off the edge with speed,” Weis said. “He’s a fast guy. Whether he’s playing outside linebacker or defensive end, he has edge speed and we don’t have many guys right now who have that kind of speed, so if he can figure it out, he’ll help us.”
How much progress has he made in figuring it out during the spring?
“I’d say he’s been up and down,” Weis said. “Some days he’s been really good. Some days he disappears. We’ve had that conversation several times: ‘Which Michael Reynolds are we going to get today?’ ”
Weis and Reynolds both talked about a recent practice in which three different coaches had to “coach him on one play about going full speed,” Weis said. “And then at the end of practice I called Michael out. I said, ‘Michael, do you realize why you have three different coaches calling you out? It’s because you’re one of the guys here who can make that play. If they didn’t think you were good enough, no one would be talking to you. They would just be ignoring you.’”
Lay into him. Pump his confidence back up. That tactic only has staying power if the coach has credibility and Weis has it because he doesn’t have the time or energy for B.S.
“Hopefully, today is another step for him turning the corner,” Weis said in what amounted to a challenge for the talented pass-rusher.
Reynolds received credit for three quarterback “sacks,” which in the spring game meant he touched the QB. He had a fourth that the ref didn’t see. He looked fast and eager to please. He and Toben Opurum stood above the rest of the front-seven defenders shuttled in and out.
“They told me their expectations are better than what my expectations are for me,” Reynolds said. “They want me to work harder to meet those expectations.”
His goal is to make his vanishing acts disappear.
“I have to make sure my stamina is up to be there every play to make plays for us,” Reynolds said.