Sunday, November 11, 2012

RBs Sims, Pierson provide KU football with dynamic 1-2 punch

Kansas running back James Sims salutes a pack of KU fans after his touchdown against Texas Tech during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas running back James Sims salutes a pack of KU fans after his touchdown against Texas Tech during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas.


The concept has been used dozens of times by football teams at all levels.

Call it thunder and lightning, smash and dash, hit and run or power and speed. Regardless of the moniker of choice, it now also can be called incredibly effective for Kansas University’s football team.

After weeks of watching junior running back James Sims and sophomore speedback Tony Pierson deliver solid performances separately, the Jayhawks used the two tailbacks in unison for extended periods of Saturday’s 41-34, double-overtime loss at Texas Tech. KU racked up 390 rushing yards, the most by a Kansas team in the Big 12 era.

KU coach Charlie Weis said Sunday night that using Sims and Pierson at the same time was something he first considered right before Pierson injured his elbow and missed time while recovering. Now that Pierson, who ran for 202 yards on 16 carries in KU’s latest loss, is healthy again, Weis said he loved the idea of using them both.

“Every week, I go sit in there on Monday morning and try to best utilize our guys to get ’em involved in the offense,” Weis said of his weekly game-planning routine done on the day he calls “by far” his favorite of the week. “And when I looked at our sideline and saw either one of those guys standing on the sideline when the other guy was in, I felt we weren’t putting our best players on the field.”

So Saturday, they both played. Sims ran hard 30 times and picked up 127 yards and a touchdown, while Pierson used his top-line speed to torch the Red Raiders on the edge.

“They both can run inside and outside,” Weis said. “But if you were just picking one to do one, you’d pick James inside and Tony outside.”

With Sims and Pierson having such obvious strengths, Weis said it had become a challenge to find ways to keep KU’s running game unpredictable, but Pierson insisted that, because each guy can handle the entire load, the KU running game has kept opposing defenses off-balance.

“With me and James in the game, they don’t know if it’s an outside run or an inside run,” Pierson said.

Weis wasn’t so sure that was true.

“You have to give the next defensive staff credit that they’re gonna realize when No. 3’s (Pierson) in the game, the ball’s going outside, and when 29’s (Sims) in the game, the ball’s going inside,” he said. “So you can’t think like that.”

One thing that helped KU’s cause Saturday was that red-shirt freshman quarterback Michael Cummings (41 yards) also was a threat to run. When Weis first conceptualized this type of two-back approach, senior Dayne Crist was KU’s starting quarterback. But even though Crist is not a runner like Cummings, Weis said all that mattered was that the quarterback offered something.

“Either way, (the defense) has extra things to worry about than just the two (running backs),” he said.

Sims’ sixth straight 100-yard game — a school record — moved him into eighth place on KU’s career rushing list. In seven games this season, he has 875 yards and eight touchdowns on 180 carries. Clearly, he had done fine by himself. But Weis said he believed adding a healthy Pierson and even more creative game plans to the mix would make KU’s attack even more dangerous.

“Once we get through these last couple of games, where we’re gonna run it and everyone knows we’re gonna run it, and we can get to the offseason, where, through development and personnel substitutions, (we) get the passing game going, I think this has established a physical identity that’s gonna make us a much better team down the road,” Weis said.

A plea to KU fans

Saturday’s 6 p.m. kickoff against Iowa State will mark the final home game for 23 KU seniors. Although Weis has been with them for just one season, he took to Twitter on Sunday to encourage the KU faithful to come out to support them. Sunday night, he explained why.

“Well, it means a lot to me,” Weis said. “There’s two different ways that new coaches treat players when they come in. Some coaches say, ‘Wait ’til I get my guys here, everything’s gonna be great.’ And then there’s other coaches who say, ‘These are my guys.’ And that’s who I am.”

He continued: “I think it’s really, really important, with all the trials and tribulations that went on with this team, that the coaching staff and all the non-seniors do everything they can to send these guys out with a good taste in their mouths. And we really need as many fans as possible. I can’t ask (the fans to show up) for me. Right now, I’m a new head coach that’s 1-9. But I can ask ’em to do it for (the seniors).”

ISU favored

After coming oh so close to their second victory of the season, the Jayhawks move forward as single-digit underdogs for just the second time this season.

After being favored in their first two games, the Jayhawks have been underdogs in every game since. That stretch has included KU being double-digit underdogs in all seven Big 12 games.

But the early Las Vegas lines list the Cyclones as eight-point favorites, marking the first time since Week 4 at Northern Illinois that KU’s opponent was favored by fewer than 10 points.

Although the line opened with Iowa State favored by eight, by Sunday night the line had dropped in some spots to ISU -6.5.


Steve Reigle 8 years, 11 months ago

We will not be able to attend but we will sure be watching it on tv, as we have every televised game. This team has done some good things and our guys deserve a lot of pats on the back.

Boouk 8 years, 11 months ago

To finish the season with one more win would be huge for KU. Our seniors deserve a win and a great crowd on Saturday.

yovoy 8 years, 11 months ago

Though I'd been going to games since I was in school, it was at this "wheels-have-all-but-fallen-off" stage of the Mangino regime that I started to go to games and actually CARE. I sat through heat, cold, rain, and wind for those guys, and I stopped going when the bandwagon got too full ('08, but I went to the O-bowl), but I'll be there for the Seniors on Saturday. I'll be there next year as well.

I like the grit these guys play with.

Jim Erickson 8 years, 11 months ago

It's amazing how much the game of football has changed. The teams who could run the ball usually won big. We have a great rushing attack, maybe the best in the league, and it means very little. KState aside, the teams in the Big 12 that win are the teams that can throw.

Football has changed. The pass is king. Heaps + McCay 2013!!!

KGphoto 8 years, 11 months ago

-Can't really say "K-State aside" when they are the best team in the league. They will run you to death but keep you honest with the pass. This year the have almost exactly 2100 yards passing and rushing.

-Saturday's showdown of a heavily favored "all pass" team at home vs. an "all run" team, ended in two overtimes.

The top four teams in the league have balanced offenses. There are only 3 "Pass is King" teams in the Big 12 and they are sitting 5th, 7th and 9th in the league standings.

We aren't necessarily a pass happy league, we just have good offenses.

Yes, by all means bring on Heaps + McCay, but just to get us into the balanced category.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 11 months ago

Sims won't go in the draft. Even if this were BB, where all sort of players go early, it is unlikely he would go early.

CW has some respect with NFL scouts, so his opinion does matter some. If a player were to leave/desert the team early, the player isn't going to get nearly the positive comments that one would get by standing together with his teammates.

Besides, this is the first year that Sims (and th rest of the team too!)has gotten into competitive D1 shape. They've got to know that another offseason of conditioning with this staff will pay huge dividends next year.

Bville Hawk 8 years, 11 months ago

! at end of every sentence. JHWKDW might want to think about switching to decaf.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 11 months ago

"Win Lose or Tie!I am behind KU Football RCJH!"

Sometimes even in the middle of the sentence, but I love the enthusiasm!

Stan Unruh 8 years, 11 months ago

Dave Campo deserves a huge raise. Without him this team gets killed. HCCW hired the right guy to run the defense!

NH_JHawk 8 years, 11 months ago

This team and the coaching staff deserve our support. Even though the wins aren't there yet, I have confidence that we will start to see them next year. Despite the loss Saturday I felt good overall about how we played in Lubbock...miles apart from anything we witnessed the last 2 years in terms of being competitive. Watching Sims and Pierson run all over the Red Raiders was awesome! RCJHGKU! Let's win this last one for our seniors!

W Keith Swinehart II 8 years, 11 months ago

It's helpful that both Pierson and Sims can catch the pass as well as run. Cox, also, is turbulence that can be tossed in with the thunder and lightning.

An aside comment, sportscasters on Wichita TV last night were uncharacteristally complimentary on the change in direction of the KU football . A "change in culture," discipline and stability were some of the descriptions used. The segment wrap was the opinion that the football program at KU seems to be in good hands with Coach Weis. Nice statements coming from a TV source that typically boosts WSU and K-State.

tophawk87 8 years, 11 months ago

Turner Gill was given two seasons to build a winning program. If the Athletic Dept. is consistent, Weis has one more season to turn this thing around. By the way, Turner Gill is 5-5 so far this season and Weis is 1-9. Most fans believe two years was not enough time to develop a winning program, let's hope Weis can do it by next year.

eastcoasthawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Weis has already turned this "thing" around. If you can't see that, it is your problem. And comparing Liberty's record to KU's is ridiculous. You forgot to mention that Gill already has one more loss than the previous season at Liberty. Puhleeze.

John Thomas 8 years, 11 months ago

Gill also is one win away from winning a share of the conference title....something Liberty didn't do last year. Thanks to Gill landing Pierson last year and being able to retain Sims after Mangino left, gives Jayhawk Nation something to hold on to for success in the future. Hopefully Weis can keep the charge going but don't act like Gill hasn't left him anything. Oh yeah, Liberty's win this past weekend was their first ever against a top 10 team in SCHOOL HISTORY.

Matt Kenton 8 years, 11 months ago

Top 10 team, the Stony Brook Seawolves. No doubt Gill can coach up and inspire young players at the D2 level, but it takes more than that to be successful in D1, especially the Big12 conference. TG was clearly in over his head at this level.

Jack Jones 8 years, 11 months ago

Turner Gill's success this season is really terrific news. Not only do I believe he is an excellent FB coach, he also appears to be a very nice and bright human being - a triple combination not often found in his chosen profession.

Now, how about we agree to put an end to the Gill-Weis conversation.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 11 months ago

Liberty (the "Protestant ND"?) is probably a better place for Turner.

As for the turn round at KU, it began last semester when we went from 50 failing grades to one of the best GPA's. Dr. Z has seen a quality program being developed and could see that it wasn't happening at KU with TG. If things fell a part next year, maybe CW would be gone, but the reality is that Dr. Z knows there is more to evaluating a program than the W-L. CW has a plan that is being executed on & off the field. He'll be around for at least 5 yrs.

John Thomas 8 years, 11 months ago

Even if Weis only wins a game or 2 next year, I hope he gets more than 2 years. It takes time to get the players you want and let them develop over time. Let's be real though, if TG won 7 or 8 games last year, Dr. Z wouldn't have cared less if 50 plus people had F's. It is about wins and losses.

troutsee 8 years, 11 months ago

Show up against ISU. This team has earned our support. We can win the next two games.

fan4kufootball 8 years, 11 months ago

This team has definitely improved this season and we have been there every time to cheer them on! Yes - we like to win but we will be there as long as the team (including coaches) has the passion for the game and plays hard! See you on Saturday!

Dustin Engelken 8 years, 11 months ago

I hate to pack it in early this season, but the more I see this team play, the more excited I am about next year. Sims has 875 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns in 7 games, and that's with absolutely no passing game to help him out! Can you imagine what this guy could do next year with a full season and a QB?!? Even if Heaps is a bust, he has to be better than what we've seen this year, and we'll always have Cummings to fall back on, if necessary. I really believe this offense is poised to do some big things next year.

Bob Zielinski 8 years, 11 months ago

This team is definitely improving. You have to consider the level of competition KU is playing as well. They have the most difficult schedule in all of college football and they are matching up weekly against very high-powered offenses.

Yes, a win or two over Northern Illinois, Texas or Texas Tech would feel better but this team is moving in the right direction for certain.

milehighhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Not to nitpick, Matt, but I'm not sure about your Pierson/Weis passage: ** “With me and James in the game, they don’t know if it’s an outside run or an inside run,” Pierson said.

Weis wasn’t so sure that was true." ** Weis's quote was in reference to Pierson and Sims playing one at a time, but Pierson was making the point that when they play together, defenses don't know what to expect.

Either that or I completely misread the section. Otherwise nice work, sir.

shelleysue 8 years, 11 months ago

Looking forward to a win for the seniors on Saturday. Thank you for hanging in there and playing with enthusiasm and pride in spite of all the challenges and not so fun times you've seen in your years at KU. You are helping turn this program around, and this is one fan who will will always be grateful. ROCK CHALK!!

vd 8 years, 11 months ago

“Well, it means a lot to me,” Weis said. “There’s two different ways that new coaches treat players when they come in. Some coaches say, ‘Wait ’til I get my guys here, everything’s gonna be great.’ And then there’s other coaches who say, ‘These are my guys.’ And that’s who I am.”

WRONG, ask Webb and all the other players you said goodby to. When Weis looks in the mirror, does he see a fit 190 lb. 25 year old?

Dirk Medema 8 years, 11 months ago

A honor to be thinking like the Ralster :-)

Dirk Medema 8 years, 11 months ago

Wrong - CW gave an honest eval to Webb, so Webb decided to finish his degree and attempt to be a D1 QB elsewhere. He seems to have proven CW correct at CU. Some of the players that left in the change were also suspended by TG, so maybe they had inherent discipline problems. If we could dig deeper, you probably find that some of those players were also part of the 50 failing grades reported by LJW last spring. "These guys" are the guys that remained; the ones that were willing to work on and off the field. Most of the ones that left probably shouldn't have been here in the first place.

Boouk 8 years, 11 months ago

Do you miss the Gill Era? You can't honestly say you thought Webb was better than Crist back in December, and Crist still could be better than Webb right now too. Crist also knew Weis's offense way better than Webb, so you can't blame Charlie for taking Crist over Webb. I doubt Webb's completion % would be higher than 55% anyways.

wildjayhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Things are looking up and the Ku football team is on its way up. Sure glad Gill was replaced and now Ku has a coach that knows how to coach. Gill couldn't coach his way out of a paper bag given the instructions. Looks like the Mangino years are coming back as far as a football team KU can be proud of.

nuloser 8 years, 11 months ago

Hey, wildjayhawk, I have to agree with you on the progress of your football team. We up here were not that keen on Gill as a coach. He is alright for as low assistence job but, far from being anything better. KU did the right thing firing Gill when they did, and really shouldn't have hired him in the first place. Kansas does have a great football coach and team there in Kansas and that is the Kansas State Wildcats who have one of the best in the nation. This sure is making a lot of NU people up here jealous. As I can say I am not a NU fan at all.

justinryman 8 years, 11 months ago

I would love tobe there. These seniors deserve us there. They have been through more than any other group of seniors in College football.

Unfortunatley circumstances keep me from being in a car that long or around a lot of people or lots of noise.

Go get em Jayhawks!!!!

wsjayhawk1 8 years, 11 months ago

Is it just me or all the accolades for Campo sort of overblown considering the pass defense in the 2 OTs. When you have a short field(25 yards) you can't have a prevent defense with 7-10 yards playing off a receiver. Envery time a pass was completed by TT the defensive back was 5 or more yards off of him. They would have scored 100 times in 100OTs. With a short field you need to play up on a receiver because there's no chance they can go long on you. Just saying. However this is a much better coached team than Gill's.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 11 months ago

Wasn't the comment that the D made a balance O 1-dimensional? It's not complete, but the D has made huge progress.

It's also overblown to say that we would have failed 100 out of 100 times after playing a half in which we held them to 2 FG's, or are you saying that we suddenly started playing a different D scheme in OT?

In the end, this is a much better D, both in scheme and player development than we have seen in the recent past, but still a work in progress.

NebraskaJayhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

I would agree that it's been blown out of proportion. Although the defense is greatly improved, there really was no excuse to allow TT that much cusion with 41 seconds left in the game. I think you have to take some chances every now and then. But the D is coming around and I'm glad Campo is here. Hopefully we get some athletic Dbacks that are capable of playing bump and run because this 5-10 yard cushion thing is rediculous.

JayHok 8 years, 11 months ago

Once you start to see what a win feels like it puts it all into different perspective. For the first time since I dont know when I say there realizing, hey we're one stop from winning this game. One stop. Haven't we stopped teams time and time again this year when we weren't expected to? Well we didn't quite get it done on those two OT possessions but we all know how close we are.

When I see KU's team I see a bunch of winners. My heart especially goes out to Dayne Crist. It just wasn't working this year. I really like the class that most KU fans have shown regarding Dayne. I really think in the NFL combines he'll be surprised to see 6'5" receivers with massive glue hands who can fly up the field. He certainly has the tools. Who knows if the ACL surgery was still affecting him. He's certainly worked with the right system to do well in the combines. The NFL is just a whole different ball game and his game to me fits much better in the NFL if his accuracy can increase with the open field and taller receivers. He already knows progression ideology which many college QB's are clueless about.

Look how much Klein's accuracy increased over two months after getting over an injury.

Rock Chalk Dayne and ku TEAM!

Dirk Medema 8 years, 11 months ago

What was the name of QB-INT at KSU under Prince? He made it in the NFL for at least a short stay. My guess is that Dayne gets invited somewhere as an undrafted free agent.

texashawk10 8 years, 11 months ago

Josh Freeman? He was a pretty good QB when he wasn't playing against KU's defense and he's having quite the nice season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year while leading them to a 5-4 record so far this season.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 11 months ago


I agree about Dayne Crist. He's still worth a look if you're an NFL GM in need of a 6'5" 240lb backup QB with a big arm, and a high football IQ, who could materialize into a decent starter down the road.

He's gotta be better than the guy backing up Manning all those years in Indy!

nostradavid 8 years, 11 months ago

I saw all the running highlights again last night on the coach's show. Awesome!

hawkdds 8 years, 11 months ago

Wish we could also get Cox more playing time somewhere, he's a bruiser and goes 100% like Heeney.

Jack Jones 8 years, 11 months ago

Mr. Sims - Mr. Pierson MR. INSIDE - MR. OUTSIDE see,

Mr. (Glenn) Davis & Mr. (Felix) "Doc" Blanchard - US Army FB circa 1945-46

Army FB record 27-0-1 Mr. Blanchard Heisman Trophy winner - 1945

                               Mr. Davis  -  Heisman Trophy winner  - 1946

Pretty good company.

Jack Jones 8 years, 11 months ago

Would love to have access to film highlights - + as 6-mo Ks > Prescott, AZ transfer, and 65-year long KU radical fan, supporter, ( with Forrest C. 'Phog' Allen autograph - he was guest speaker at our ( 1954 Russell, Ks HS Athletics Banquet) - I am crushed at having to only be able to follow games by your Twitter Posts, which by the way, I obviously very much appreciate having at least that form of media available.


Ethan Berger 8 years, 11 months ago

My main worry is O line for next year. It appears we get an upgrade at qb and wr, while maintain two great rbs. However, we lose our 3 best o linemen. I fully believe in Gunhard, but it will be big task. Defense we will keep improving.

wsjayhawk1 8 years, 11 months ago

All I'm saying is your pass defender has to play up on the man when the field is shorter in OT. I know it's a gamble but a loss is still a loss so why not take the risk when you're losing every game.

Micky Baker 8 years, 11 months ago

If Crist doesn't make it in the NFL, I'd take him here to develop into O Coordinator, and potentially a head coach some where.

NebraskaJayhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

It's about time we get back to a two-back set. That's what made us good in 07-08.

Terry N Tom Denner 8 years, 11 months ago

The son & I are really looking forward to this weekend game. Smell a victory in the makings. Really excited about next year with Sim's & Pierson back to be the 2 headed KU monster running backs. Next year and KST at home !! Ass kicking on KST here it comes !!!

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