Thursday, August 8, 2013

Weis: KU football’s juco reinforcements ready for first practices

Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis goes over his depth chart and other changes to his team with an audience of media members on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013.

Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis goes over his depth chart and other changes to his team with an audience of media members on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013.


It took Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis less than seven minutes Wednesday to answer the question that often dominates early-August football discussions.

And it was a question that became particularly important this year because of the large number of junior-college transfers Weis and company signed in the offseason.

At his opening news conference of fall camp — the first practice is set for 2:50 p.m. today — Weis revealed that all but two junior college players had made it to campus and were ready for fall camp. While that number sounded impressive enough on its own, Weis pointed out that the two players who had not arrived yet, offensive tackle Pearce Slater and cornerback Kevin Short, were expected in by the end of the week.

“All those juco guys that you’re all questioning about, they’ve all cleared, they’re all in school and they’re all here,” Weis said. “Obviously, when you go this route that we took, to get all their academics in order was quite a challenge. And I’m very happy that that’s where we are right now.”

Perhaps the biggest reason for Weis’ joy was the fact that 15 of the more than 20 juco newcomers the Jayhawks brought in this offseason appeared on KU’s initial two-deep depth chart of the fall, which Weis revealed Wednesday at the Anderson Family Football Complex.

“Last year at this time, I had a tough time giving you a two-deep,” Weis said. “And I probably had a tough time giving you one-deep in some cases. What I did this year was I put down a three-deep.”

In some instances, four names were listed on the depth chart at a position, meaning not only will Weis and his coaching staff have more bodies doing battle during camp, but they also plan to see some intense battles play out during the next few weeks.

“In the beginning, the depth chart will be fluid and they will have from now until Aug. 17 to stake their claim,” Weis said. “So I’ve already given you my drop-dead date. If they’re not in the mix on Aug. 17 then they’re basically gonna become show-team players. But I think I owe it to every player on the team to see what we’ve got. Don’t have too short a leash because I think if you do that you could make a mistake and make a rash decision because you’ve got more players.”

Harwell to sit

Weis said it would take a magic wand to make transfer wide receiver Nick Harwell eligible this season, so the Jayhawks are moving on as if he will red-shirt.

“The bottom line was he was never allowed to complete his last six hours,” said Weis of the Miami (Ohio) University senior-to-be who needed to complete just six hours this summer to graduate and be eligible to play at Kansas this season. “And unless someone does something I’m not anticipating here, my intent with him is to treat (Marcus) Jenkins-Moore (injured linebacker) and Nick Harwell like I did Jake Heaps and Justin McCay last year. They’ll work on everything football-related, get their academics in order, work on community service. There’s a bunch of things they can do to make themselves better prepared and better people and proud Jayhawks.”

Harwell is in town and will practice when the Jayhawks take the field for the first practice of fall camp tomorrow.

Bodies by Holsopple

For the second consecutive offseason, KU strength coach Scott Holsopple worked wonders with the Jayhawks during the summer months.

“My favorite part of my conversations with Holsopple is his book of body changes,” Weis said. “He comes in and he shows you two pictures and it’s really disgusting. If he showed me 80 pictures, 75 of them you can’t even believe it’s the same kid. I’m not saying that that automatically correlates to winning games, but, by deductive reasoning, you could figure these guys had to be working their butts off.”

Martin fallout

In mid-June, Weis dismissed juco transfer Chris Martin from the squad after the defensive end failed to meet expectations outlined for him following an armed robbery arrest in May. Weis said Wednesday that losing the former five-star prospect who had committed to Notre Dame and played a season at Florida early in the summer was better than losing him early in the season.

“Sign me up,” Weis said. “You’d much rather be already dealt the cards and then you can figure out how you’re gonna play ‘em. No one wants things happening like that, but ... with (sophomore) Ben Goodman, we were going in the other direction. He was going up to 270 (pounds) to go play defensive end and I called him in and said, ‘Not so fast, big boy. Time to go on a diet.’ So he went from eating like a pig to starving himself. He wasn’t too happy with me that day, but the good thing about Ben is Ben just wanted to get his butt on the field. And that gave him an opportunity.”

Injury report

Other than the absence of Jenkins-Moore, who figures to miss the season while recovering from knee surgery, KU enters camp with just one other notable injury. Weis said sophomore safety Tyree Williams was still recovering from an offseason injury and would not be ready for the start of practices.

“He’s not 100 percent healthy so he won’t run with the third group right now,” Weis said. “But knock on wood, walking in the door, he’s the only guy that isn’t ready to go.”

New-look D

In addition to listing a bunch of new names on the depth chart, the Jayhawks also unveiled a new defensive scheme.

“We’re not listed as a base defense,” Weis said. “We’re listed as a nickel because everyone’s got three and four wide receivers and you can’t match base defense against three and four wide receivers and be competitive in this league.”

The nickel defense, as one might guess, employs five defensive backs, three linebackers and a rotation of defensive linemen up front based on the look given by the offense.

“Defense in this league has changed,” said Weis, who added that KU could put as many as six or seven defensive backs on the field at times this season. “This league has evolved. There are so many teams that are snapping the ball so fast and I really had to do a lot of study in December and January to sit down with my defensive staff and say, ‘Fellas, we gotta make a bunch of changes if we’re gonna compete in this league.’”

Heaps red-hot

Poised to enter his first KU camp as the starting quarterback, junior Jake Heaps is coming off of a fantastic offseason and has the confidence of his coaches and teammates. Asked what he wanted to see from Heaps in the coming weeks, Weis simply said more of the same.

“Carry over what we’ve seen so far, because if what we’ve seen so far is what we get, I think we’re all gonna be happy,” the second-year coach said of his first-year QB. “That’s what we gotta see. It’s gonna be a little different now. The whole tempo changes. This isn’t spring ball anymore. This is guys trying to earn positions for the next couple weeks and it’s gonna be very competitive out there.”


Larry Smith 4 years, 1 month ago

Is this "The Calvary" v2.0? I certainly hope the results are better.

texashawk10 4 years, 1 month ago

Didn't another Big 8/Big 12 school win 3 national titles and play for a 4th during your "Decade of Dominance"? Enjoy Snyder while you can because KSU is headed back to being Futility U once he's gone.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 4 years, 1 month ago

that's adorable....looks like they've already removed the KSU post.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 4 years, 1 month ago

there was a KSU fan comment calling us trash and saying we're gonna get steamrolled by the cats again this year.

hawk316 4 years, 1 month ago

And I had such a clever response for the visiting Wildcat. Oh well...

nuleafjhawk 4 years, 1 month ago

“My favorite part of my conversations with Holsopple is his book of body changes,” Weis said. “He comes in and he shows you two pictures and it’s really disgusting. If he showed me 80 pictures, 75 of them you can’t even believe it’s the same kid. I’m not saying that that automatically correlates to winning games, but, by deductive reasoning, you could figure these guys had to be working their butts off.”

If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.................

Doug Roberts 4 years, 1 month ago

I heard the same thing about Holsopple and what great physical changes the players' bodies went through last year, and that certainly didn't result in more wins.

Carter Patterson 4 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, we should have won the Super Bowl last year. Holsopple sucks. 2012 was 10 times better than 2011 with half the wins.

nuleafjhawk 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm sorry guys, it was early in the morning ( for me ) and I was referring to Coach W commenting on people's body types.

HAWKS1 4 years, 1 month ago

I was with you Nule - first thing I thought too.

kellerman411 4 years, 1 month ago

The Nickel defense is absolutely brilliant. He who protects all, protects nothing. By giving up some run stopping ability, we'll force teams to put 10 and 12 play drives together in order to score. Plus, there will just be more all out speed.

Jim Erickson 4 years, 1 month ago

About Heaps... When it comes to QBs, unfortunately it doesn't mean a lot until it comes to the games. I seem to remember an incredible about of hype regarding Crist (I'm guilty of buying into it myself) before the season started. Heaps has shown to be a decent QB in games (Crist had not) before he transferred so I'm optimistic in that regard.

A good Heaps could be a crucial factor to make the difference between the 1-3 win seasons we have watched the past few years and a significant step forward with 4-6 wins.

Only the first game will tell.

Joseph Kuebel 4 years, 1 month ago

I agree I am also wary of praise put upon Heaps. Crust did have a good freshman yr for ND, got hurt, and was never the same. I really hope this offense is at least mediocre, and can have a WR catch a single TD this season... That's just mind-blowing how bad that stat is. 4-5 wins would be a blessing as a Jayhawk football fan...

Chris Bailey 4 years, 1 month ago

The Heaps comment is about as obvious as the sky being up. If he can't perform we are screwed!

texashawk10 4 years, 1 month ago

7th straight year KU has changed its defense. Changing defenses every year is a big part of why KU's defense has been garbage since the Orange Bowl. I firmly believe that keeping the same defense for more than one season will make KU's defense better. When changing defenses, practice time is spent learning the base sets of the new alignment instead of implementing new twists disguises for a defense run the year before.

I understand adapting to personnel, but at some point you have to adapt the personnel to the defense so that you can work on making the defense better by implementing exotic blitzes and stunts and allow the defense to better disguise the coverage they're in.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 1 month ago

one more reason why next year should be the year we make a big jump... if we don't change the defense again!

Steve Reigle 4 years, 1 month ago

But if what you're doing isn't working, then doing it the same year after year just so you can get better at it and it still isn't working..... I think it makes more sense to first find a defense that works and then work to improve it year after year.

Waylon Cook 4 years, 1 month ago

I don't think thats the only reason it has been garbage..............

Aqib Talib leaving didn't help, then the Mangino turmoil year, then well Turner Gill for two years then Weis having TG players(o lord how did we win 1 last year?).

Just saying.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 1 month ago

Reality finally sets in for Matt Tait about Nick Harwell, as he confirms what us fans have been suspecting for a month. It's not a bad thing at all though, because now he gets a year to practice and study the playbook, a year to learn the opposing offenses week by week for the show team, and he will be eligible to play for us next season when logic would indicate we are due to take a huge step forward due to half of the team being in their second season at KU.

hawkshot 4 years, 1 month ago

Need to forget about Crist. I had bought in too, but remember crap happens.

Dave Harris 4 years, 1 month ago

A more effective passing game and the abililty to make a field goal from 40yds or less instead of going for it on 4th down.

These two things, in my feeble mind, would have added 2 wins last year.

Count me as one of those who is (likely overly) excited about this season.

CrystalJones 4 years, 1 month ago

Please tell me this is a misprint:

Fifteen players on our two-deep are juco players that were brought in this year? Players who have never practiced at KU? It's a little hard to fathom how they can be penciled-in on the depth chart before they've even had to compete. Is our depth that speculative?

Joseph Kuebel 4 years, 1 month ago

Yes, given that around 8 guys were top 100 JuCo players, and that our talent level was horrendous the past couple years now... Yes, I think it just goes to show you how (un)talented our 1-11 team was last year.

kellerman411 4 years, 1 month ago

ESPNJuco100 players belong on the first team... I don't care if they have never looked at Lawrence on a map. This is KU football. Those 7 or 8 on this list will be about the most athletic kids on the roster. Not saying you still can't miss but with recruiting service these days, you really gotta be a man to get in the top 100.

texashawk10 4 years, 1 month ago

Did you actually watch KU last season? There were maybe 6 players last year who could've started on most other Big 12 teams. Sims, Hawkinson, Zlatnik, Heeney, McDougald, and Brown. If KU's current depth chart didn't have a bunch of new names on it, I would be very concerned.

KGphoto 4 years, 1 month ago

Back away from the cliff, and let’s break this down.

-First of all, they aren’t freshmen. They’ve at least competed at a level above high school, most of them for a couple years. Secondly, I only counted 11 on the two-deep, 14 on the three-deep. Of those 11 players...

-Two of them are former Jayhawks. (Miller, McDonald)

-Two of them are kickers. (Pardula, Mesh)

-One of them was the #1 JuCo recruit in the nation. (Combs)

-Most of them had offers from legit BCS programs. Many of them had offers from schools like LSU, Michigan, Nebraska etc.

There really are only a few players out of the group that I’m not certain are upgrades. In addition, part of this is Charlie playing head games and heating competition. There is no telling what that chart will look like when the season starts.

Does that make you feel any better?

rockchalk_dpu 4 years, 1 month ago

Keep in mind that several of them arrived on campus at different stages of the summer and were enrolled in classes and going through conditioning with Holsopple. We only had a few stragglers that are coming in at the start of camp, its not like everyone Weis mentioned just got to Lawrence.

sporty 4 years, 1 month ago

ku will suck, as usual. Not only will K-State steam-roll you girls, every other team on your schedule will beat you. Oh, well, maybe next year....or not!

KGphoto 4 years, 1 month ago

Don’t know what’s more K-State of you, the comment itself, or the fact that you gave a thumbs up to your own comment.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.