Wednesday, November 14, 2012

KU football coach Charlie Weis uses ‘window dressing’ to keep KU’s running game humming

Kansas running back James Sims takes off for a touchdown past Oklahoma State defensive end Ryan Robinson during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back James Sims takes off for a touchdown past Oklahoma State defensive end Ryan Robinson during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.


There’s been plenty of talk during recent years about Texas owning the Big 12 Conference, particularly during the conference realignment craze that dominated the past two summers.

But when it comes to running the football, it’s the Sunflower State that owns the league, as Kansas State and Kansas University rank first and second, respectively, in the conference in rushing heading into this weekend’s games and Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle, a Wichita native, leads the Big 12 in rushing by an individual.

Although the 10-0 Wildcats, who rank No. 1 in the current BCS standings, feature a slightly more balanced offensive attack than the Jayhawks — QB Collin Klein ranks fourth in rushing but also leads the conference in pass efficiency — neither team has made any attempt to hide the fact that running the football is its bread and butter and they’re going to do it week in and week out no matter who is staring at them from the other side of the line of scrimmage.

There are a couple of reasons both teams have enjoyed sustained success on the ground. It starts with talent, as KU's James Sims (875 yards, 8 touchdowns on 180 carries) and Tony Pierson (657, 3, 103), along with K-Staters Klein and John Hubert, are among the most effective runners in the conference. It extends to the efforts of the head coach and offensive coordinator, which, in KU’s case, is the same man.

“It’s kind of challenging,” said KU coach Charlie Weis. “I’m fired up (to figure) out how are we going to run it this week.”

“Window dressing” is the phrase Weis used to describe the concept of tweaking the offense’s look to allow the same couple of backs to continue to anchor the nation's 20th best rushing attack.

“They know we’re going to run it, we know we’re going to run it, but you’ve got to stay one step ahead of the posse,” Weis said. “Let’s say we take last week’s game plan where (we rushed) for 390 yards and let’s go put it against Iowa State. We would get the crap kicked out of us. They would dog us because they would have answers to those things. Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t run those plays, but you have to figure out a different way to run them.”

Asked how different this week’s attack might look compared to last week’s effort in a loss at Texas Tech, Weis simply smiled and said: “Window dressing. There was a big, healthy order of it dialed up on Monday, so we’ve got a lot of it.”

Crist to play Saturday?

With fifth-year senior and first-year Jayhawk Dayne Crist being one of 23 players who will play the final home game of their careers at 6 p.m. Saturday against Iowa State, Weis was asked if the former starter who came to Lawrence last December might get back on the field.

“Michael will start at quarterback,” Weis said. “You know, I might play Dayne in the game, but Michael will start at quarterback. Hey look, I brought Dayne in here. No one loves Dayne more than me. But this is about the team. There’s no better way for me to honor those seniors, Dayne included, than to win.”

Senior speeches?

Several KU seniors had the chance to speak to the media this week and, when each was asked what he expected in terms of emotions on Saturday, the overwhelming response went something like this: Chills but no tears.

Whether that holds true remains to be seen, but, until then, Weis said the team would focus on preparation for Iowa State first and Senior Day festivities second.

“I’ll do some of those things towards the end of the week,” he said when asked if any seniors would address the team. “Right now, it’s all business. I don’t really worry about those things until you get through Thursday. I mean, there is so much mentally — you know, installation and all that other stuff. There’s so much that takes place in three days in a very little window, you really don’t have time to let guys get up there and talk for an hour.”


Boouk 5 years, 7 months ago

It's amazing how KU continues to be successful running the ball when everyone knows it's coming. They're so one-dimensional Weis is saying publicly they're going to have to find creative ways to run the ball against a loaded box. I'd look for Weis to implement more QB runs with Cummings instead of handoffs where the defense can key on the RB only (like on that long Cummings run on 4th down in the TTU game) and for KU to take shots down the field off play-action (first play of the season) or throw screens when Crist is in the game to utilize his height.

texashawk10 5 years, 7 months ago

KU ran a bunch of zone read against Tech which is the play Cummings got his big run on. That is the staple play of teams that run the ball a lot and have athletic QB's. Bottom line is it comes down to execution, can Cummings make the right read on the zone read, can Sims, Pierson, and Cox make the right read on which hole to run through, can the OLine hold their blocks long enough for the backs to get to the second level. KU's going to be running essentially the same 10 or so running plays all game long. The only difference in them will the formation it's run out of and to which side of the field the plays are run to.

wildjayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

I was quite impressed with the game the other day and it looks like Weis has the team looking like a team from the Mangino days. Looking forward to better days ahead, maybe like the other great team here in Kansas, like the Wildcats.

Jayhawker111 5 years, 7 months ago

Crist should play Saturday. All the seniors should play.

Being a football player take a whole lot of effort - physically and then having to go study --it is very hard.

Every senior player has been through a lot.

Congrats to all and finish strong!

rhollinshed 5 years, 7 months ago

Great job coach. I can actually see a team playing!!!! You will get us there. We trust you! Thanks seniors for sticking it out and giving us your all. Much appreciated!! RCJH!!!

JayhawkinNE 5 years, 7 months ago

I, like probably a lot of others, had too many expectations for this team. We were hungry....we wanted to win. However, with that being said, I truly think HCCW has done an excellent job...I love the team we've become and think the best is ahead of us. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!!!!

Philip Nguyen 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm with you, I expected at least 4 wins this year. But this team is fun to watch now, I can't say enough about Sims and Pierson. It's too bad our record doesn't show the improvements. We need a "W" here in the last two games to keep everyones motivation and interest up. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!!

squawkhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

Fun to watch yes...and disappointing at the same time!

Armen Kurdian 5 years, 7 months ago

Mason & Mangino both did poorly in their first years, and got better. You can definitely see an improvement in this team as the season has gone on. We have been 1 or 2 plays away in 4-5 of our games from being a .500 team.

But next year if we don't win the national championship in football well then I'll never be a KU fan again!!!!! (How's that for trolling?)

Lucas Town 5 years, 7 months ago

Mason's 8th year (inherited a 1-9-1 team) and Mangino's 6th year (inherited a 3-8 team) were their best years. I look for us to get to a bowl game in year 3 for Weis and from there who knows. Please don't base your fanship off of whether or not we win the NC next year...that is crazy talk man.

squawkhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

I doubt Weis and crew will be here in three years. They will eventually get tired of losing and move on to greener pastures.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 7 months ago

National Title or bust! We gave Gill 2 years and he didn't get it done. Charlie Weis take notice, next year is your year make or break! (all fiction, except the Turner Gill part)

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