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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Weis’ ways evident as Jayhawks emerge for spring football

Kansas University quarterback Dayne Crist, left, listens to KU coach Charlie Weis during spring drills on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at the practice fields south of Memorial Stadium.

Kansas University quarterback Dayne Crist, left, listens to KU coach Charlie Weis during spring drills on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at the practice fields south of Memorial Stadium.

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It may have taken Kansas University athletic director Sheahon Zenger 11 days to find new football coach Charlie Weis last December, but it took only about 10 minutes on Tuesday to comprehend how much Weis already had changed the culture at Kansas.

With the sun shining and temperatures soaring into the upper-70s, the KU football team took the field for the first day of spring practices Tuesday under the direction of its third different coach in the past four springs.

Unlike Weis’ predecessor, Turner Gill, who opened practices with a smile and closed them with talk of enjoying the college football experience, Weis and his coaching staff got after the Jayhawks during their first official practice with the team.

Strength coach Scott Holsopple barked out orders, position coaches sternly encouraged players to pick up their intensity and Weis, hands-on at times and hands-off at others, kept an eye on everything.

“Rather than set specific goals, I think you have to have one general goal,” Weis said when asked what he hoped to accomplish this spring. “Any time you come in as a new coach, rather than sling arrows at the previous staff, what you have to do is you have to break the team down and then build the team back up. That’s what the offseason’s been and that’s what the spring is gonna be all over again.”

KU’s recent spring break marked the end of one of the most intense offseasons the program has endured. Weis designed it that way, and Holsopple ensured that the boss’ wishes were carried out. Players lifted harder and ran more than ever before. Discipline was ratcheted up a couple of notches and players, both high-profile and under-the-radar, were held accountable for everything from reps in the weight room to test scores in the classroom. The new focus resulted in a team with a different mindset, more confidence and a greater understanding of what playing college football is all about. Weis said he was generally pleased with the production of his offseason program.

“It was very easy to get the players to buy in because they didn’t have an alternative,” he said. “It was either buy in or quit — those were their two choices.”

Weis’ first steps toward rebuilding Kansas football were not limited to workouts and academics. He also took seriously the relationship aspect of the gig, believing that, in order to get what he wants out of his players, he first must know the players and they must know him.

“I think the most grueling thing I did this spring was have interviews with every player, and it was a time- consuming task,” Weis said. “But now when a player walks up to me, I know where he’s from, I know his family situation and if he’s in a serious relationship. There are certain things you need to know and insight you need to have or else you can’t make proper value judgment.”

One player whose interview likely was shorter than the rest is senior quarterback Dayne Crist, a Notre Dame transfer who once played for Weis and came to Kansas to do it again.

In addition to helping his head coach teach the offensive philosophy to teammates, Weis believes Crist already has emerged as a clear-cut leader.

“It’s not just him as a player,” Weis said of Crist, who currently sits atop KU’s depth chart at quarterback. “He makes all of the other offensive players better, and every one of them will tell you the same thing. I’ll tell you when you know a kid is special is the day he walks in and the players look at him as a leader and he hasn’t even done anything yet.”

With Crist in place, the offense figures to have a leg up this spring. Because of that, Weis said the coaching staff would throw more their way.

“We are going to put in as much as the offensive players can handle,” Weis said. “We are going to put in a whole bunch of things, and we will judge it by how well we can mentally handle things during the spring. I have an installation schedule right up until April 28, but we do have huge holes where we can adjust things based on how well we handle everything. The more we can handle, the more we can do.”

As for the defense, Weis believes defensive coordinator Dave Campo’s approach will be a little simpler.

“I think the most important thing we need to do on defense is create a fundamentally sound defense,” Weis said. “If you can’t get lined up right and be fundamentally sound, you have no chance.”

Prior to Tuesday’s first practice, Weis released an early version of the spring depth chart. Nowhere on it did the word “or” appear and nowhere on it were players who had not proven themselves. The two-deep look on both offense and defense featured a heavy slant toward KU’s more experienced players and Weis made it clear that the newcomers would have to earn their way onto it when they arrive this summer.

“I’m looking forward to them getting here,” Weis said. “But the best thing about it is, without them here, it’s a great opportunity for a limited number of guys to get more reps to kind of stake their claim to where they fall on the depth charts. The depth charts right now are very fluid.”

As spring turns to summer and KU’s roster takes shape, Weis’ focus will not change based on the guys who stand in front of him. This spring is going to be tough; it’s going to be demanding. In short, it’s going to be everything Weis thinks football should be. He’ll worry about the rest later.

“You need to have the team playing with confidence by the time you play a game,” Weis said. “But now’s not the time I’m worried about their confidence. I’m worried about them doing things the right way. I’m worried about them practicing the way we want them to practice, and I’m worried about them being fundamentally sound.”

Weis and the Jayhawks will hit the practice fields for Day 2 on Thursday.

Comments

David Leathers 2 years, 8 months ago

Sounds to me like Weis is one finger poke and curse word away from being shown the door!

UmbertoConforti 2 years, 8 months ago

At last another coach who will kick As*. Not exactly the reincarnation of Mangino, not fat enough yet, but headed in that direction. Better yet he has recruited some very good players, a few even excellent. Win the BB national championship and let's get football underway!!!

Terry N Tom Denner 2 years, 8 months ago

Sounds to me that you have already givin up on Charlie Weis. If the players can't take the heat in the kitchen then they should tuck their little tails between their legs and go home and cry themselves to sleep. If they can't also take some yelling and cursing and a poke to the chest to get their attention they are in for a big surprise in the real world after the graduate. Kids now days need to Stop being so pansy azz and grow up.

Rolland Remmert 2 years, 8 months ago

I suspect he had that aspect of his coaching method worked out with this AD before he took the job. There are times tearing down the old and building a new one is far better than trying to remodel the old one.

SaltLakeHawk 2 years, 8 months ago

Bring back Turner Gill.

I want a coach who will encourage the players to embrace their inner vag*na.

I want a coach who will encourage the players to paint their feelings when they feel stressed or sad.

I want a coach who will encourage the players to watch The Notebook instead of studying the playbook (or text-books).

This Weis guy sounds like a meanie! Bring back Turner Gill.

Or not.

Jason Keller 2 years, 8 months ago

These dogs need someone to rattle their cage. If you win 2 games, you are not a good team. They need to be treated accordingly until they prove they are ready to represent KU in an acceptable manner (at least 6 wins). I couldn't love what Charlie is doing any more if I tried.

gammimc 2 years, 8 months ago

Sounds to me like KU football needs to toughen up, or else punt the program. I'm tired of football only being something to do until basketball gets started, and losing games by 50+ points year in and year out.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 8 months ago

The popular view is to see te pendulum swinging, but I think Charlie is the middle ground. Thought I heard that he laid into them pretty good at the first meeting, and a bunch didn't even make it that far. The ying to the yang tho is that he has had them all in to get to know them.

Think back to the comments from the guy with the burns from crawling across the turf as punishment. He would have accepted it with saying a word except that MM later ridiculed him for it. Charlie may use the same discipline, but he'll take care of the guy afterwards as well.

april28 2 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, I don't think that Weis is as maniacal as Mangino - remember Mangino got thrown out of a high school football game! Weis reminds me more of a good ships' captain - run a tight operation but give the crew some room to breathe (as evidenced by the individual player meetings).

If you look at the two top college coaches right now - Saban and Miles - both have high-intensity approach. Bill Snyder, though not outwardly intense, if a task master and a perfectionist.

At the college level, kids still need strong coaching leadership to succeed.

Rivethead 2 years, 8 months ago

Allegations. You're repeating allegations from a situation where only on side of the story has ever been told.

Regardless, I think you're main point is spot on. Coach Weis isn't an a$$ kicker. Nor is he a Dave and Busters buddy. He's somewhere more in the middle.

clevelandjayhawker 2 years, 8 months ago

hope the D-Line is leading the charge in the weight room

2 years, 8 months ago

It sounds like Crist at QB will basically be like having an assistant coach out on the field in the offensive huddles - - very cool. After what we endured the past two seasons, I don't think it has fully sunk in yet that we have Weis and Campo coaching our football team. No wonder there is so much excitement surrounding the program :^)

flyingfinn 2 years, 8 months ago

Man do I like this guy already especially the tough conditioning and its my way or the highway attitude. These kids will be much tougher in the fall and will surprise some teams!!!

martyks 2 years, 8 months ago

My problem with this is, I grew up near South Bend. I saw this thing play out, all 3 acts, before. This is identical to Weis' first year at Notre Dame. Tough talk, description of great conditioning workouts, my way or the highway stuff, yatta yatta yatta. While I hold out hope that CW learned from his (many) mistakes at ND, I also have to accept the reality that this is exactly the way things looked at ND... and I mean EXACTLY. In the end, it felt like we had all been flimflammed by a snake oil salesman. The fourth quarters at ND were gruesome, just plain painful to watch. No team faded worse. Defense was pathetic. Almost any team could run the ball down their throats. Offense was inconsistent. Blocking along the offensive line was incredibly poor. Games were embarrassing. Blowouts were common.

So, has he learned? Will Kansas do more with less than ND? I doubt it very much, but I do hope it will happen. I just have to tell you all, as I keep an open mind to the possibility that KU will field decent football teams in the next few years, I believe you should keep your eyes open to the possibility that nothing will be all that much better than it has been. CW is either going to be an upgrade, or he is still selling snake oil. Trying to figure out which way this is going to go by listening to the man himself is totally impossible.

april28 2 years, 8 months ago

A very important part of Weis future success at KU is that he learned something from the ND experience. If he did not, and it's simply Act 2 of the same show, then we are in trouble.

However, a bad Weis is so much better than what we had, many KU fans will still be thankful.

I tend to believe that Weis was humbled by the ND experience, that he internalized it and has grown from it.

dtdjayhawk 2 years, 8 months ago

Did Notre Dame have Dave Campo? Ya that's what I thought

shelleysue 2 years, 8 months ago

I am cautiously optimistic. Because of Weis' history I am unable to allow myself to get overly excited. However. It appears as though conditioning and defense are headed in the right direction and in my opinion those are the two most important components. I'm looking forward to the spring game and super excited for fall. I say cautiously optimistic but who am I fooling. I've already started my "bowl game fund"!

ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 8 months ago

You just described every year at ND since the '80's, no matter who the coach was/is.

TheShot122293 2 years, 8 months ago

And there it is; Ahperse nailed it. I like to see ND succeed, only because I am a fan of tradition and domination of the elites (i.e. Kansas basketball), but they have been A-W-F-U-L since Lou Holtz left. While I do appreciate a cautionary note based on real life experience, I agree that this is a completely different situation. To begin with, if he is 35-27 after five years, he will be getting a contract extension, not the boot.

Eric Guinan 2 years, 8 months ago

Martyks: I like the attitude inherent in your comment that Kansas fans should be as demanding in their expectations of quality play as ND fans are. I am NOT one of these KU fans who think a blueblood basketball team and a 7 win football season is acceptable....it's not.

Did Weis make mistakes at ND? Yep, otherwise he'd still be there. But before we start this "Act 2" stuff, I'm giving the brother one year off to reclaim our team from the depths of laughingstockdom. The Oklahoma State game last year was the abyss (OSU starters pulled in second quarter to avert actual 100 point score). I will take hardnosed play and quality coaching decisions this year, win-loss be damned, before I indulge any thoughts about Weis' past demons.

Frankly, I expect to see some pretty crazy improvement out there with Crist, etc. on the field.

91TEKU 2 years, 8 months ago

Given what we've endured for the last two season I welcome this approach. Every coach who takes over a struggling program has to break it down and remove the dead weight before he can build it up again.

In Glen Mason's first season he had the team run the hill by The Wheel until guys would quit. You can use any cliche you want (chain is only as strong as it's weakest leak) but the fact is when you aren't especially talented or deep you need to be mentally and physically "conditioned" to perform your best.

Mangino was great at getting the most out of his players. Let's hope Charlie can do likewise...and recruit better.

Randy Bombardier 2 years, 8 months ago

From afar it seems to me that there is going to be a big difference in that we know who the QB is going to be. My guess is that unless he gets injured again Crist will be the man no matter what. Nice to have that settled.

machinegun 2 years, 8 months ago

The Preacher, "Boys, we have choir practice tonight. Your Mommies and Daddies called me and told me I am much nicer than your previous coach. Have a nice day!"

Coach Weis, "Men, work harder than you did yesterday, get faster and stronger, become fundamentally sound, get an A in Calculus, and you will get to play on Saturday. Oh, by the way, buy in or quit."

Two years, 5 total wins, $10 million down the drain, and the cry babies are already starting to whine to their Mommies and Daddies! "Coach is mean to us...Coach is mean to us...Coach is really really really mean to us!" LMAO

jazzhawk 2 years, 8 months ago

This is a strange question, but I have never played football in school, so... Why do so many of the players have those knee-brace pieces? At first I thought it was guys who had some knee issues, but it looks like the majority of players are wearing them. Are they for protection, strengthening, ?? Can anyone explain? Thanks!

railer20 2 years, 8 months ago

A lot of coaches require players (especially linemen) to wear them as more of a preventative measure....gives them the "satisfaction" of being able to use their legs more without worrying about knees going out.

HAWKS1 2 years, 8 months ago

Haven't been on here for a looong time. Maybe someone else has mentioned this, but wondering if Mike Golic Jr. of Notre Dame may be one of the graduates Coach Weis mentioned who may be transferring with one year of eligibility left. That would be a great pick up if it happened. Any rumors about Golic Jr. Matt?

Kirk 2 years, 8 months ago

Yay! Go Jayhawks!

Can hardly wait till football

troutsee 2 years, 8 months ago

We will be lots better. Lots. Weis has a chip on his shoulder and a coach with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove will get the job done. I don't care what happened during CW's first year at ND. People learn and change. We will be in good hands with this coaching staff. Expect a much better brand of college football.

Scott Roulier 2 years, 8 months ago

Weis is a normal football coach. Gill and his staff were a disaster; Mangino had major anger problems and was petty sometimes with kids. Talk to girls on the softball team, boys on the swim team, etc. If you are getting a full ride in sports you need to work. You need to be in class, lifting weights, working out, etc. Our football team was a disgrace not because they lost, but because they were lazy and undisciplined across the board. I'm rooting for Weis to succeed on the field, but we have already won a major victory by instilling some sort of work ethic.

Jason Keller 2 years, 8 months ago

The overall talent on our football team has improved by 40% at least. We're gonna win 6 games the first year out.

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