Saturday, November 17, 2012


Opinion: Tony Pierson represents hope for KU football

Kansas running back Tony Pierson makes a move against the Iowa State defense during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Tony Pierson makes a move against the Iowa State defense during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Charlie Weis talks after 51-23 loss to ISU

Kansas football coach Charlie Weis talks after his team's 51-23 loss to Iowa State on Nov. 17, 2012.

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Box score

KU-Iowa State

Rehashing all the bad plays that led to the home team having an awful Saturday night in Memorial Stadium in front of 41,608 witnesses at the beginning and a fraction of that at the end would take too long.

So let’s take a look at the good plays. All three of them. All by the same guy, No. 3 Tony Pierson, a sophomore running back from St. Louis. If not for Pierson’s speed, hustle and versatility, the score would have been far worse than Iowa State 51, Kansas 23.

Pierson scored more than half the team’s points by running for a 55-yard touchdown and receiving a 37-yard TD from senior quarterback Dayne Crist.

But it was the tackle Pierson made to save two points that made teammates and coaches most proud of the team’s fastest player.

Pierson had just found an opening in the middle of the defense and caught one of many accurate Crist deliveries and took it into the end zone to cut Iowa State’s lead to 41-23 with 14:19 left in the fourth quarter.

On the two-point conversion attempt, Cummings threw a pass intercepted a few yards in front of the end zone by Cyclones cornerback Jacques Washington, who had nothing in front of him but a grassy path to the end zone for two points.

“They’re about ready to score two, and it just tells you a lot about Tony,” Kansas coach Charlie Weis said. “Most people wouldn’t be hustling the way he was hustling. Remember, he was all the way in the end zone, and he has to catch that guy all the way down at the other end of the field. That’s a heck of a hustle play right there. I didn’t congratulate him on his touchdown. I congratulated him on that play because that says a lot about Tony.”

Crist, whose night was sabotaged by a pair of third-down drops from junior receiver Chris Omigie, reiterated what he had said about Pierson in the past.

“Nothing Tony Pierson does surprises me,” Crist said. “Nothing. He’s an exceptional athlete, and he’s got such God-given ability. And he doesn’t rest on that. He’s constantly working on getting better, and he’s got a great football IQ. That just shows the heart he has more than anything because we all know about his physical tools.”

James Sims is the team’s best all-around running back and is complemented beautifully by the big-play Pierson, who popped runs of 69 and 49 yards a week earlier against Texas Tech en route to a 202-yard rushing day. On a team that has not had a touchdown reception from a wide receiver 11 games into the season, Pierson easily is the most dangerous deep threat.

“Just the heart and the mental fortitude he showed on a play that really could have gone either way just speaks volume about Tony and the type of guy he is,” Crist said of Pierson’s tackle. “We need more guys like Tony Pierson.”

Bingo. More guys who can outrun Big 12 players. More guys who are tough enough to take verbal challenges in practice and realize they are delivered to make them better. More electric playmakers on both sides of the ball. He represents hope.

What, Weis was asked, gives him hope? Fair question, given he’s coaching a 1-10 team in a league that doesn’t look as if it will get weaker any time soon.

“I think we have as good, if not the best running backs in the Big 12,” Weis said. “It’s a good place to start. It’s James. It’s Tony. It’s Taylor (Cox). It’s Brandon (Bourbon). And they’re all back. Think about that for a second. At times we were inefficient in the pass game and we had to morph into this run-first team. You’re developing your current guys and bringing in new players and you’re going to add a complementary passing game to that running game, and now you’ve got something going. Now you’ve got a lot more ways of winning.”

Other than Pierson and tight end Jimmay Mundine, a skilled pass-catcher determined to become a better blocker, quarterback-in-waiting Jake Heaps doesn’t figure to have many open targets from which to choose. That’s why the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, the first day recruiting visits are allowed, two of the Weis’ four scheduled appointments are with wide receivers. He needs to land them. Pierson can do it all, but he can’t do everything.


741hawk 7 years, 11 months ago

Needs are obvious.
WRs, D-linemen, kickers punters. PS: I can't remember a worse corps of receivers.

Boouk 7 years, 11 months ago

Don't forget about replacing Brown, McDougald, and Smith in the secondary too.

Jeff Kilgore 7 years, 11 months ago

You mean, the trio that could rarely stop third and long? I'm sorry, but our secondary was torched all year.

Boouk 7 years, 11 months ago

Revis and Cromartie would get torched too if they had to cover for 7 seconds. We don't want to replace those 3 with guys who were further down on the depth chart than they were.

Nic Andrews 7 years, 11 months ago

shouldn't be hard to replace - passing defense was horrific all season, except for a few notable games. Brown torched, McDougald torched, Patmon torched, Smith torched (Smith is good on run defense but not so much on the pass). Shepherd shows some good signs, but needs to learn how to tackle better or it's not going to be good especially in Campo's system. Play yards off, pretty much give up the pass, but be ready to tackle philosophy. Really doesn't matter who we put in there unless they are absolute beasts because with no pressure on the QB, ever, it will take some crazy talented folks to cover better. Need to grab a juco or two.

Mark Lindrud 7 years, 11 months ago

If McCay is as good as advertised along with Mundine becoming a go to TE then we need one good possession receiver to open up the offense. We cannot win running as much as we do because we are easy to defend as the game goes along. Obviously we need to replace 3/5 of the line and I do believe we have depth in that area. I also hope we get more speed in our secondary because we've been exposed too many times back there.

JakeBarnes 7 years, 11 months ago

KU's needs at quarterback, one who can run and pass, and a defensive backfield. Without this improvement I fear for next year. I was amazed by the magnitude of the loss. Never expected it would be so bad. Wiped out a lot of improvement I thought I had seen.

Also with 8 and 9 men in the box any team would find it nearly impossible to run. I was happy to see KU's running backs do as well as they did. The offensive and defensive lines did tolerable jobs.

I hate to say the obvious but ISU's coaches out coached ours.

Ashwin Rao 7 years, 11 months ago

You could say that if they were dealing with equally capable teams... I give credit to Charlie for giving his best shot in each game... WIth limited athletes, there is only so much you can do... I do believe that in 2-3 years, our team will be quite competitive.

Nic Andrews 7 years, 11 months ago

We played equally capable teams and lost those too in terms of athletes on the roster (Rice, NIU, Iowa State to name a few....) outcoached and outadjusted --very obvious in the Iowa State game. They had our number from kick off. Hats off to the Iowa State coaches. Awesome preparation, which was very apparent.

Boouk 7 years, 11 months ago

KU's talent level isn't even close to ISU's.

90sHawk 7 years, 11 months ago

The magnitude of the ISU loss wiped out a lot of improvement you THOUGHT you had seen? This loss doesn't erase those prior games, where improvement was indeed being made.

Saguaro_Jayhawk 7 years, 11 months ago

Ben Heeney, also a Sophomore, represents hope for Kansas football, but on the other side of the ball. Definitely need more players like 31.

rockchalknation 7 years, 11 months ago

Jake, you are way off on the outcoached comment. I have been at all the home games this year. I sit on the visitors’ side about 20 rows up near mid-field and get a good look at the opposing teams players. The talent level of Texas and ISU O-line and D-line is very close in my opinion, and we know that Texas gets the pick of the litter in the Lone Star State. We battled hard in the trenches but were outmanned. The two dropped passes by Omigie were right in front of me; unacceptable play at this point in the season for anyone on the field. That is not being outcoached. The talent level at receiver hurt us (and Dayne Crist) all year so we morphed into a running team (coaching). When Dayne came in, ISU immediately went to a pressure package. Our O-line handled it OK, but not at a high level. On the defensive side of the ball, we continue to be unable to cover the 7 yard out to the field side and drop interceptions at key moments in games. That is not coaching. The improvement throughout the year and the fact that the effort was at a high level for 60 minutes is all coaching. I am very encouraged by the coaching staff. We have some needs from a personal standpoint that need to be addressed. Hopefully we get those filled soon via recruiting and player development.

Nic Andrews 7 years, 11 months ago

So it's the players when things go wrong, but "all coaching" when things go well and improve?? Gimmeabreak. Ku's underperfomance and 1- win this year === blame goes all around. We lost to Rice and NIU....and it had nothing to do with talent level.

Robert Brock 7 years, 11 months ago

Our complete lack of talent at the receivers position is nothing short of amazing. I am praying that the Hawks can find someone who will get open and catch the ball when the quarterback hits him right in the hands. Hint: it ain't going to be Omigie.

ArgyleJayhawks 7 years, 11 months ago

KU lays an egg after "paying" for students to come and Weis preaching how he wanted the seniors to go out right and this is the column we get? I'd love to see the type of column this would be if Turner was the coach.

Andy Godwin 7 years, 11 months ago

Kudos to Pierson. I was at the game and marveled at how he could run the opposing play down. That was special. His heart and effort exemplifies the type of players KU needs on their team to develop a winning program. Pierson should clearly be the offensive captain next year, hands down. Coaches need 3 to 4 years to recruit and develop talent when a program is this far down. We saw signs of life at times this year but in the end it is talent that can compete with the big boys around the country. Weis' job is to assembly a team with players of Pierson's drive and abilities. If he can, then the KU fans will stay to the end of games and the visitors will go home unhappy for a change.

vd 7 years, 11 months ago

Why are we putting all our future hope in players that were signed by one of the "worst FB coaches in our history", Gill. Shouldn't we be putting our hopes in the SB rings wearing coach, who is soooooooo much better? Didn't he recently beat out Duke for a recruit? It's good to see we are no longer getting blown out by our opponent and playing competetive FB. Who cares if we've gone from a 2 win coach to a 1 win coach? All the FB experts on this board see great improvement from the previous coach. We almost beat Texas, last year we were blown out. We almost beat Tech, last year we were blown out. We were blown out by ISU, but last year we almost won. We were blown out by Baylor, but last year we almost won. We almost beat Northern Ill., but last year we did beat them. Luckily we replaced the guy who recruited Pierson, Love, Heeney, Cummings and replaced him with the guy who recruited Crist, Ragone, McDonald and all the other great ND leftovers. My son asked me last night "why is ND good." My reply, "they fired CW."

90sHawk 7 years, 11 months ago

If you're trying to say Gill should be here instead of Weis, just come out and say it.

Boouk 7 years, 11 months ago

Actually, we beat out LSU, Oklahoma, Mississippi State, and Iowa for Andrew Bolton, who also had interest from Alabama.

Boouk 7 years, 11 months ago

You can't say that back in December you thought Webb was better than Dayne Crist, even though that still might be true. Also, if Weis doesn't get Crist, he probably doesn't get Heaps either.

Nic Andrews 7 years, 11 months ago

but there were some small voices who questioned the greatness, as he was benched at ND for a reason.

Boouk 7 years, 11 months ago

Again, if we don't get Crist, we probably don't get Heaps. Crist talked to Heaps about KU and Weis before Heaps committed to KU. I'll go out on a limb and say despite all the close games KU's had this year, we still wouldn't be bowl eligible if you and vd's beloved Jordan Webb and Turner Gill were still at KU this year.

BayPark 7 years, 11 months ago

We're just bad. And despite the line about promising recruits playing time, recruiting players with D-1 talent to a 1-11 team is tough. We're in for a slow climb. Maybe Heaps will be an improvement, maybe McCay will help, but our lack of depth is killing us.

Jim Jackson 7 years, 11 months ago

We won't be able to recruit the cream of the crop in the HS rankings at 1-11, but we will get physically ready JUCO players and that's what Weis is going to do.

90sHawk 7 years, 11 months ago

Yep, definitely need to help plug holes with JUCO guys. One of the best leagues is right there in Kansas with the Jayhawk league.

Austin Bergstrom 7 years, 11 months ago

I have a young son participating in sports and I tell him all the time its not how you act when you're winning but your actions when you are losing that represent who you are! Tony Piersons defensive tackle will gain more respect from true football enthusiasts than any TD run he achieves in his 4 yrs as a rb. A true display of heart, pride and desire...Thanks TP!

Jeff Kilgore 7 years, 11 months ago

There isn't a single spot on this team that doesn't need lots of help. That's clearly obvious every single play.

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