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.”


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.”


Travis Shinkle 1 year, 8 months 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).


NebraskaJayhawk 1 year, 8 months 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.


Mike Kendall 1 year, 8 months 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!


Nick Cole 1 year, 8 months ago

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


jhawkrulz 1 year, 8 months 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?


741hawk 1 year, 8 months ago

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


hawk316 1 year, 8 months ago

Congratulations to Justin Springer!


Tony Bandle 1 year, 8 months 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!!


Katy Shaflestad 1 year, 8 months ago

This open practice on the this at Memorial Stadium?


Ron Prichard 1 year, 8 months 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!


Kenneth Hillman 1 year, 8 months 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".


Jeff Suther 1 year, 8 months ago

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


KGphoto 1 year, 8 months 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!


Micah Mandy Haase 1 year, 8 months 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.


Micah Mandy Haase 1 year, 8 months 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...



Bangkok_Jayhawk 1 year, 8 months 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?


Bangkok_Jayhawk 1 year, 8 months 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.


Eric Mitchell 1 year, 8 months ago

I like Weis more and more each day.


741hawk 1 year, 8 months ago

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


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