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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Weis sets KU’s first fall depth chart as Jayhawks get to work

Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis holds a news conference at KU on Wednesday, August 1, 2012, the day before the Jayhawks’ fall camp starts. Weis spoke about the team’s depth chart and his eagerness for the season to start, saying, “I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been.”

Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis holds a news conference at KU on Wednesday, August 1, 2012, the day before the Jayhawks’ fall camp starts. Weis spoke about the team’s depth chart and his eagerness for the season to start, saying, “I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been.”

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With the first football practice of the Charlie Weis era at Kansas University slated for today, we finally know where the newcomers stand on KU’s depth chart.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU football coach Charlie Weis

Kansas football coach Charlie Weis talks to reporters before the first day of fall camp on Aug. 1, 2012.

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Wednesday, during his first news conference of fall camp, Weis released an update that featured 17 new names on the two-deep offensive and defensive depth chart.

Because so many of Weis’ key guys are new, and because coaches cannot watch their student-athletes in the summer, Weis has yet to see nearly half of his top players in action. While that could be a problem for some, Weis is not worried.

“Well, I’ve seen the other guys play,” he said. “I’ve seen what the other guys can do. They were there a whole spring.”

So now it’s time to see what the newcomers can do. Guys like tight end Mike Ragone, linebackers Anthony McDonald and Schyler Miles and wide receiver Josh Ford — along with more than a dozen others — will get every chance to prove they should play. In some cases, they already have. Wednesday’s depth chart featured very few surprises, but listed fifth-year seniors Ragone, McDonald and Josh Williams as starters. It also included the word “or” 20 times, which indicated that there were more than a few position battles ahead.

Quickly, and rhetorically, Weis outlined his thinking with a few of those.

“Who’s the back-up quarterback?” he asked. “The first receivers, all seniors, they’ve done a real nice job. Who can you count on at 4, 5, 6? Ragone’s knee gonna hold up? What about those other tight ends? What’s gonna happen at running back? So there’s a lot of different questions on the offensive side of the ball, where as, on defense, we’re trying to get to 22.”

It all begins at 6 a.m. today, with a conditioning test. Weis said there would be a penalty for failing the test, but added that he didn’t expect many would. The reason? According to Weis, strength and conditioning coach Scott Holsopple did a fantastic job with the team this summer. So good, in fact, that Holsopple made a scrapbook to chronicle it.

“In the book (were) three pictures of every player,” Weis said. “A picture when we first got here, a picture at the end of the spring and a picture at the end of the summer. And then their numbers from when we first got here to where they are right now.”

On more than one occasion, the man who coached in BCS bowls at Notre Dame and won Super Bowls with the New England Patriots found himself saying, ‘Wow,’ out loud.

“Just because they gained all of these numbers in strength and conditioning doesn’t automatically mean you’re gonna win more games,” Weis said. “But to look at some of the body changes on some of these guys. ... I actually had to pull some of the pictures out to show the staff because they didn’t believe me.”

Physical transformation is just one of the steps in Weis’ plan to turn KU into a winner again. And while the past several months have addressed the off-the-field elements of that plan, Weis made it clear Wednesday that he was ready for the next phase.

“We met early (Wednesday) morning because I had go over to Topeka to speak to the high school coaches,” Weis recalled. “And I’m sitting in the staff meeting and I go, ‘Just one more function, fellas. Let me just get through that one more thing.’ We have so much work to do between now and Sept. 1, so I’m really looking forward to getting going. ... I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been.”

Asked what his message to his team would be on the eve of their first fall practice together, Weis was succinct.

“I will not say very much,” he said. “I’ll tell ‘em to be on time, do what they’re supposed to do. I’ll basically tell ‘em it’s time to quit talking. It’s time to quit talking and let’s go to work.”

New faces in new places

The first preseason depth chart reflected position changes for a couple of returning players.

Sophomore tight end Trent Smiley, 6-4, 245, has been moved to fullback and currently is listed as the first-string option. Junior Keba Agostinho, who finished the 2011 season as a 253-pound defensive end, now weighs in as a 283-pound defensive tackle.

In addition to those two changes, the initial fall depth chart also featured new names in the kicking game. Freshman Austin Barone and sophomore transfer Nick Prolago are listed — behind junior Ron Doherty — as second-string place kickers while sophomore transfer Sean Huddleston is listed as the team’s second-string punter (also behind Doherty) and freshman Paul Clark is listed behind junior Justin Carnes as KU’s second-string long snapper.

Fan Appreciation Day

Saturday, Aug. 11 will provide KU fans the chance to get a sneak peek at this year’s Jayhawks.

That’s the day that Weis has dubbed “Fan Appreciation Day,” which will feature a full practice open to the public from 8:45-10:45 a.m. and a 30-minute autograph session following the day’s drills.

Springer promoted

Thanks to the departure of assistant strength coach Juney Barnett, who recently was hired by the Baltimore Ravens, former KU linebacker Justin Springer has been promoted into a full-time position with the KU football program.

Springer, who played at Kansas from 2007-10, now will serve as the Jayhawks’ No. 3 strength coach.

“I tracked his career at KU; I like having more KU guys around,” Weis said. “He was a heck of a player and a wonderful young man who the players really respect.”

Weis also announced that Leon Beckum, who graduated from Indiana last May, had been hired to fill Springer’s role as the strength program’s graduate assistant.

Another Shula on the rise

In other staff news, Wednesday, Weis announced the hiring of Matt Shula, the grandson of NFL coaching legend Don Shula. Shula will serve as the Jayhawks’ quality control rep for recruiting.

Shula recently graduated from Florida, where he ran the Gators’ video department and got to work with Weis.

“I figured he had good bloodlines,” Weis said. “So he’ll be helping us in recruiting.”

Comments

741hawk 2 years ago

Sounds good. Should be a lot of fun following this program. Thanks, Matt, for good info. Keep it comin'.

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Eric Mitchell 2 years ago

I like Weis more and more each day.

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

Since the day he was hired he has made this program feel relevant and on the way up. A+ off season!

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

We have all seen the positives of Weis... The guy can bring positive attention, recruit, part ways with bad apples, and I hear he may be able to run an offense too! The negatives on Weis, often stated by Notre Dame fans and Weis himself, are that he didn't have a cohesive coaching staff and also that he was unable to have players develop in his system at ND.

Negative 1: Coaching staff... His coaching staff obviously has big names with great reputations and they command a presence with recruits. I have to believe since Weis hand picked some of his old guys at Notre Dame that they were ones he worked well with. I would like to hear how guys like Campo, Bowen, Mitchell, Wyatt, and Grunhard are fitting in? Is it a good collection of talented individual coaches or a good group?

Negative 2: A LOT of player development is strength and conditioning and that seems to be "handled" with Coach Holsopple. Tait raves about him as do the players. I am curious as to the rest of the player development?

That being said I am very optimistic about Weis and the direction of the program. Those two areas are worth paying attention to, but I have faith.

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oldalum 2 years ago

Re: #2, I don't think the other coaches are allowed to work with the players during the summer, so S&C is probably the only thing there is to report. The rest of the player development begins today.

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

OK... I'm going to do it: I'm changing my prediction from 2-3 wins to 4-5 wins.

3 non conference victories

A victory against either ISU or BU

A "steal" victory somewhere along the line. Tait says TCU... Not a bad choice. Maybe KState?

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Robert Brown 2 years ago

I think that is a reasonable prediction. I would be very disappointed if we went winless in the conference even if we were competitive. It might be tough to win all three non conference games. At NIU will be tough. I'm not sure why we agreed to play them on the road. You get no credit if you win and it looks bad if you lose. Rice can be pesky as well. They won at Purdue last year. Living in Houston, I am excited that KU plays at Rice next year!

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Ron Prichard 2 years ago

KU playing at Rice would be similar to KU playing at NIU. Not sure why we agreed to home and away games with either of them. Have we really fallen that far? Is it a two for one deal? I can see a home and away deal with a lesser team in a power conference (similar to us) but I just don't understand it with NIU and Rice.

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texashawk10 2 years ago

DeKalb isn't very far outside of Chicago which is one of KU's largest alumni bases outside of the Lawrence/KC area so there should be a pretty healthy KU crowd at the game. Also considering the state of KU football right now, this a pretty winnable road game for a team that hasn't won outside of Lawrence since 2009 (UTEP), a streak that currently sits at 15 road/neutral games in a row. I would also imagine there was a recruiting purpose as well as there is a decent amount of talent in the area.

The logic for scheduling a game at Rice is probably the same. Rice is a very winnable game next year, there's a decent alumni base here in Houston, and it's good exposure for recruiting in Houston which is one of the elite recruiting areas in the country and a place KU has landed quite a few recruits in recent years.

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Ron Prichard 2 years ago

I hadn't thought too much about the recruiting angle. That makes some sense. I still would like to see KU get a 2 for 1 home/away out of the deal, though.

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texashawk10 2 years ago

A 2 for 1 would be nice, but I don't think KU is in much of a position to get a two for one with very many programs at this point. I do like the idea of KU playing road games against MAC schools because those are generally winnable games and give KU some exposure in the Ohio Valley region. Also playing at Rice like I said gives a presence in the Houston area. Before TCU joined the Big 12, North Texas or SMU would've been good for a presence in D/FW, but playing TCU in Ft. Worth every other year takes care of that. Playing FAU, FIU, UCF, or USF on the road would give KU winnable games in Florida and a nice presence down there. If KU was a power school, I would say that there is no reason for them to play on the road ever in non-conference, but KU needs that exposure and presence in fertile recruiting areas and that was something that Mangino was very good about in the way he scheduled KU's non-conference games.

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Micah Mandy Haase 2 years ago

I haven't made any predictions yet because every year I am overly optimistic. Here is my first prediction I am publicly making....

In 4 years we will look back to year one with HCCW and be like, It seems crazy that we was only hoping to win 2-3, or 4-5 wins and now we will be dissappointed with 8-9 wins.

Also it feels good to be back in the states again even if it is in enemy territory here in Norman, OK.. BUT you can bet your butt I will be at the Oct 20 game here at OU wearing nothing but KU gear...

RCJHKU!

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Robert Brown 2 years ago

I like your optimism. but I believe that in this league with the round robin schedule, a nine win season will be the ceiling and will be considered a great year rewarded with a trip to the Alamo Bowl. This conference is tough and KU has not been successful in competing in the conference even under Mangino. I may be mistaken, but I think KU has had ONE winning conference season (2007) since 1995. Eight wins requires a winning conference season.

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Micah Mandy Haase 2 years ago

Maybe it's just me but with all this realignment in 4 years we will be back to 12 or more teams and the round robin will be gone..

If that isn't the case then I agree 8-9 wins will be difficult in this league. Still we will think 4-5 wins a year will be way behind us.

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Robert Brown 2 years ago

I agree. I don't think a lot of people appreciate the difficulty of the round robin schedule which takes away a non-conference game. it is possible that if we go back to twelve teams, we could still play nine conference games if ESPN and Fox indicate they will pay more money.

I would like to think we could ascend to the middle of the conference. I think UT, OU, WV and possibly OSU are the upper echelon teams. We should be able to knock off one of these teams every so often. There should be no reason we can't be competitive with Baylor, TCU, Tech, KSU and ISU year in and year out.

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texashawk10 2 years ago

I don't see expansion happening now that the playoff format has been set as the top four teams. Notre Dame is the team that would've triggered another round of expansion, but with this format, they have no reason to join a conference in football now. Could we still see their olympic sports move over to the Big 12, it's possible but I don't even see that happening now.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

He just reminds so much of Parcells. He's way more laid back and funny, but they just have an approach to the game that is unmistakable. Use common sense to identify the problems, and use superior knowledge to figure out the solutions. No nonsense, no BS, no excuses.

This worked for Parcells in resurrecting the Giants in the 80's, the Patriots in the 90's, and to some degree the Jets 10 years ago.

Weis took a slightly different path in coaching a team who's definition of resurrection (pun is strictly accidental) is different than most schools. They weren't cellar dwellers, they needed to go from middling to their dominant glory years instead. There isn't another coaching position in football, pro or college, that is as uniquely difficult to succeed at than Notre Dame.

I think that's why Weis is so motivated. He sees this as his first real opportunity to resurrect a program in the dumps like Parcells had done before him. Those traits they share seem tailor made to do this. It's natural for him to want to fix things. Using basic discipline and accountability to gain their respect. Giving them the proper tools (conditioning, technique, game plan) to be successful. All the while building their confidence (Dressing up for Media Days) and creating a belief in the team. These kids haven't even had a real practice yet and they are ready to go through a wall for Weis, because they've seen what he's already done for them. They can already envision success.

I believe Weis will succeed here, just like Parcells did in his first real shot with the Giants in the 80s. Teams do rise from the ashes. It happened at K-State. You just have to find the right coach.

So props to Zenger and full speed ahead!

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clevelandjayhawker 2 years ago

"Use common sense to identify the problems, and use superior knowledge to figure out the solutions." great way to break it down.

I feel confident we will be able to make adjustments during the game/at half this year, something we haven't seen for a couple years

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Jeff Suther 2 years ago

Seems like some good stuff going on. I will consider this a dream season though if KU can win 3 games.

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Kenneth Hillman 2 years ago

Can we get some of the stats that are referred to in this article? I see Keba's weight but what about some strength numbers? Would love some context around the "transformation".

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Ron Prichard 2 years ago

Junior Keba Agostinho, who finished the 2011 season as a 253-pound defensive end, now weighs in as a 283-pound defensive tackle.

“But to look at some of the body changes on some of these guys. ... I actually had to pull some of the pictures out to show the staff because they didn’t believe me.”

Wow! Just wow. What on earth was Gill doing with our strength and conditioning program? Was there even a program? I'm still blown away by the total ineptitude of the coaches the last two years. Gill played for Nebraska during the pinnacle of their success. He HAD to know what was needed to have a successful program in a power conference. How, how, HOW did he let everything fall so far so fast? The more I hear, the more I wonder what Gill did when he was here? Yes, he was (is) a good guy, but absolutely HAD to know what was needed, and it seems like he just totally ignored all of it and decided to create a happy, sunshiney place with rainbows and kittens.

I could not be more excited for this football season if you...if you...well, I don't know what, but I'm freaking excited!

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Tony Bandle 2 years ago

I've stated this several times in the last two months but I feel that there is a decent chance that Kansas shocks the nation and finishes 6-6.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, expects a thing from us and I am sure there are at least 10 or 11 "W's" against KU already pencilled in on schedules around the country.

I can't explain this feeling but it seems like it's just our turn!!

Please feel free to rip me a new one..I even sound crazy to myself just rereading this post!!

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clevelandjayhawker 2 years ago

not crazy. we get our def off the feild for a play or two last year we beat baylor and tech, we dont play run-run-short pass on 3rd and long every game we score more points. we make adjustments at halftime we compete better in the 2nd half. we know where to line up on D, we get some penration on the D-Line and our coners dont play 10 yards off....we dont allow as many points. we get a great QB, an improved O-Line, buy some time with the occasional unpredictable play calling, have better wrs/tight ends than last year and we score more points.

If we dont allow as many points as we score we will win. I dont think your crazy, plus we should have the whole conference thinking of us as a pushover, so when they dont show up and we do....upsets

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Ron Prichard 2 years ago

"If we dont allow as many points as we score we will win." I think this was a Yogi Berra quote!

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Ron Prichard 2 years ago

Seriously, though, I do think this team will surprise some people. I am really looking forward to this season. It will definitely be more fun than the last two.

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Linejudgemick 2 years ago

I don't think you're crazy either... I think we'll have to have the ball bounce our way a time or two. If we can win half of the games that go 7 points, or less we will have that decent chance. Some reasons I think this is at least possible. I doubt we run on first and second down and have to try a pass on third and +4 three out of four offensive series. The team from everything we've read has had an exponential increase with strengh and conditioning that hopefully lead to the Hawks being in more games. Finally I think there is a real chance that some real coaching happens at half time and during the second half, that will give us a chance to actually win those 7 points or less games.

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hawk316 2 years ago

Congratulations to Justin Springer!

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741hawk 2 years ago

Did I miss it? Where is the depth chart posted?

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jhawkrulz 2 years ago

Matt, I know I am being a little lazy here, but any chance on the depth chart, there could be an asterisk for Returning Starter or Transfer?

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Nick Cole 2 years ago

Anyone know if The Gridiron is going to continue? I really enjoyed that the last couple seasons.

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Mike Kendall 2 years ago

Like Oakville, I think the football Jayhawks will surprise/shock some teams this season. If they just take it one game at a time and build some confidence, then, HCCW will do his magic (motivation). I am cautiously optimistic. But Matt said this numerous times---there are so many unknowns and it is hard to figure out expectations. Makes for an exciting beginning. Can't wait until Sept. 1st! Rock Chalk!

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NebraskaJayhawk 2 years ago

"Sophomore tight end Trent Smiley, 6-4, 245, has been moved to fullback and currently is listed as the first-string option."

I think this is a really smart change of position. Just another option to throw to for Crist. Bad deal for Sizemore with the offensive scheme change, but this is a great call in my opinion.

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Travis Shinkle 2 years ago

I would take three wins with few, if any, blow outs like last year. I think that if KU gets into October at 3-1 while entering into the bulk of the conference schedule, with confidence, they might mess someone else's season with a big upset win (like Iowa State did last year to Oklahoma State).

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