Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Weis singles out stars of KU football camp

Kansas running back Brandon Bourbon carries a ball through drills during the first day of football practice on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Kansas running back Brandon Bourbon carries a ball through drills during the first day of football practice on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo


One week into fall camp, Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis has seen enough to feel comfortable handing out a few gold stars.

The positive reports, which came during a meeting with the media Tuesday morning between two-a-day practice sessions, included both newcomers and veterans and reached both sides of the line of scrimmage.

And while Weis praised a half-dozen players individually, few received the kind of glowing review that Weis gave junior running back Brandon Bourbon.

“If we asked everyone to rate the best five players in camp, he’d be on everyone’s list,” Weis of the 6-foot-1, 225-pound “F” back, who opened camp with the second team behind junior Tony Pierson. “Offensive coaches and defensive coaches would all put him on the list. So that’s good for us because he runs, he catches, he runs routes. It’s really given us another guy that we thought would be a back-up guy but now you’re trying to find more ways to get him involved and get him on the field.”

While that may be tough to do in an offense that appears to be loaded with weapons — particularly at running back, where Weis said everyone had looked sharp but senior James Sims was “still clearly No. 1” — finding a similar camp gem on defense has been a piece of cake. And that’s because of junior-college transfer Cassius Sendish, the Jayhawks’ first-string nickel back.

“It’s pretty obvious when we’re out on the field that one of the people that stands out, both as a leader and performer, has been Cassius,” said Weis, noting he was not surprised. “I’m very happy to see how that’s gone. (Sendish is) a corner-type guy who can rush the passer, drop into zones and also play man coverage. And, at that position, you need to be able to do all those things.”

The other standouts whom Weis singled out on Tuesday were wide receiver Rodriguez Coleman and linebacker Ben Heeney.

Coleman, 6-3, 195 pounds from Garden City Community College, has impressed coaches from Day 1, particularly with regard to his superior physical shape.

“He could’ve run the conditioning test again after he ran the conditioning test,” Weis said. “Stock is way up on Rod. Once again, if we’re rating players on the team and people talk about wide receivers, everyone would bring up Coleman.”

Later, when asked how Heeney had looked thus far, Weis left no doubts about the junior’s status as the rock of the defense.

“I have no concerns with Ben at this point,” Weis said. “Ben is ready to go. He looks like a caveman, but he’s ready to go. I might institute a cut-your-beard policy here before too long, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be one of the main factors in not only performance but also leadership of our defense.”

QB update

Weis said junior quarterback Jake Heaps had carried over his terrific offseason into fall camp, but had even greater compliments for the guys on the depth chart behind him.

“Michael’s had a really good camp,” said Weis of second-string QB Michael Cummings. “I didn’t know whether Michael’d be competing to be No. 3 or competing to be No. 1. I didn’t know which way that would go. But he’s competing to be No. 1.”

Weis later clarified his comments and said Heaps remained the clear-cut top option at quarterback but emphasized that Cummings was pushing him every day.

As for freshmen Montell Cozart and Jordan Darling, Bishop Miege grad Cozart has taken the early lead in the battle for No. 3.

“Montell might be playing as good as anybody,” Weis said.

Linebacker battle

Weis said the battle at Will linebacker between sophomore returner Jake Love and juco newcomer Samson Faifili was so strong that he was considering cross-training whichever guy did not win the job.

“Those two guys have played so good that I could see one of those guys rotating in and out at Mike linebacker,” Weis said.

Special teams crowded

It’s still early in the special teams battles and Weis said nothing had been settled. Place-kicker Michael Mesh has had a couple of good days, but fellow newcomer Trevor Pardula has looked better from long distance.

“I could possibly see using a shorter field goal kicker and a longer field goal kicker,” Weis said. “But we’ll just wait and see how it plays out.”

As for return duties, Weis said six guys were in the mix for kickoff return and three or four had been working on returning punts. Neither group included junior Tony Pierson, who Weis said likely would be his choice to handle either job if the Jayhawks faced a must-deliver return scenario.


ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 2 months ago

I feel like HCCW and the LJW staff may know a little more than what they are letting out. A hidden optimism?!? Could some thing special be brewing in Larryville?!?!?

Lucas Town 8 years, 2 months ago

Just a thought and I am not being cynical. Just a Kansan who sees and hears from both camps. Why do we get so much optimism coming out of Lawrence and the team has not done much on the field as of late? Is it the writers who know little to nothing about football? I always try to get info from other alumni and boosters. And why does Snyder always make it seem like his players are not quite ready to competing in the Big 12? Yet they always perform well on the field.

KJD 8 years, 2 months ago

I see the two coaches as displaying a dramatic contrast in their public persona. Snyder is tight lipped, reserved while Weis's New Jersey manners help add color for copy. In the KU press conferences you can hear Weis work at creating informative relationships with the press while Snyder is going to make a TV camera man walk backwards through a crowd if you want a halftime interview. Seems like Weis is more comfortable using the media as a positive tool and will have fun with it, including to use media for player motivation and recruiting, while Snyder seems to play everything close to the vest.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 2 months ago

Gotta love that Bourbon and Coleman are getting such strong reviews. Especially Coleman from a need perspective. Sounds like CW is going to figure out ways to get BB & Tony on the field with the ball in space. Lots of misdirection options with those 2 on opposite sides.

kellerman411 8 years, 2 months ago

I'm not happy to hear that Michael Cummings is "pushing" Heaps. I mean I'm happy for Michael of course but I was just hoping Jake would be a huge upgrade over what we had last year. Unless Cummings just improved that much..

BringBackMark 8 years, 2 months ago

Cummings could be lethal if he were allowed to roll out (not run for his life but roll out). He's not a pocket passer obviously. He's got a rifle for an arm and seems to have the "sense of awareness" of where the defense is. Unfortunately, last year he wasn't given a chance until the team was in the meat of the schedule and their confidence was pretty much shot. Even then, if he had a bad series or two the next thing we'd see is Crist running back on the field.

Pass blocking is going to be key for either QB. As well as the O-line blocked for the running game last year, they blocked equally bad for the passing game. That seemed to be inherited from Gill.

bad_dog 8 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps "bringbackMark" is the place where officials spot the ball following a penalty...

BringBackMark 8 years, 2 months ago

Come on clown, what difference does it make what my handle is? Grow up and pay attention to content rather than my handle. If I didn't know better I'd say you're related to Weis or Gill..... This is the third or fourth time you've been more obsessed with BringBackMark than what the content of the article is. Mark may not be the Mark you think it is.

jhox 8 years, 2 months ago

I've heard Cummings believes he'll win the starting job before the season is over. He's apparently a very confident kid.

Last year, clearly, our coaching staff didn't have enough confidence in his passing ability to call passing plays on anything but the most obvious passing downs, and that hurt our offense. I'm optimistic Heaps will get a chance to throw a lot of first down. That's the easiest down to throw on, and if you're successful, it loosens the defense and makes running the ball easier. Last year our play calling was all about not giving the QB's the chance to make mistakes. It's amazing we ran the ball as well as we did.

I've heard great things about Cozart. He could turn into a great college QB before his college career is over.

Jim Erickson 8 years, 2 months ago

Sims and Pierson combine for a great 1-2 RB punch... Any chance Miller can play WR?

texashawk10 8 years, 2 months ago

Sims and Miller are a great 1-2 punch out of the backfield. And yes Pierson can catch which is why he was moved out of the back field and will play a role similar to Percy Harvin as a guy who can do a little bit of everything.

KGphoto 8 years, 2 months ago

More specifically, Randall Cobb. Slighter build and eerily similar running styles. This is a position that is building steam. It will be interesting to see how Bourbon looks in this role.

Matt Tait 8 years, 2 months ago

Important to note that what they ask Pierson to do in the F role and what they ask Bourbon to do in the F role will be two different things. Not sure what yet or how it'll be different, but you can make an educated guess based on their size, etc.

The way I see it, it's almost like Pierson is the F1 first-stringer and Bourbon is the F2 first-stringer.

NebraskaJayhawk 8 years, 2 months ago

Agree with everything...especially about Coleman and our WR position.

CrystalJones 8 years, 2 months ago

Seriously, I think it's time to take a deep breath and look at what we have on this team. 1) It's clear that we do have the best running back unit in the country. 2) We have a QB who was the #1 high school QB recruit in the country. 3) We have superb receivers in Pierson, McCay and Coleman. 4) A former NFL head coach in charge of the defense. 5) One of the top linebacker units in the Big 12; 6) Top-ranked juco class in the country. 7) A head coach who has Super Bowl rings.

I mean, how can we miss? I'm telling you guys, I think we're going to do some serious work in the Big 12. This is the year we slay some demons. We WILL finally beat K-State, and I think we're going to finally beat UT for the first time since the conference started.

It's almost here, and I'M READY.

Chris Bailey 8 years, 2 months ago

Are you really a KU fan or are you a kstater on here trying to make us overconfident? You've taken a few points and throw them into your responses. Having great coaches doesn't translate to wins. Having a five star rating out of high school does nothing if you can't preform on the field and he lost his job at BYU for a reason. Are WR are unproven at best. Beating kstate will take more than a little improvement. We've gotten shelled 3 straight yrs by an avg of 50. And this high powered offense with the #1 running back stable in the country goes nowhere without a line that can block on the division 1 level. We're unproven. I've tempered my expectations. I hope we go 13-0 but 3 and 9 will be a huge step forward especially if we don't get blown out.

Randy Bombardier 8 years, 2 months ago

I'm with you, kid. My personal favorite is raspberry kool-aid.

BringBackMark 8 years, 2 months ago

Very perceptive. You've described the team we should have. However, last years team should have been at least 5-7 rather than 1-11. Any KU fan should expect a bowl season as a minimum. Especially with the heavy recruiting of juco players. If this team goes 3 wins or less its time to dig deep down in the pockets and pay off another overpaid coach.

As for the Super Bowl rings, it seems the rings kept coming even after Charlie was gone. I'm not too sure what his impact was. His stint at Notre Dame was less than impressive. So far Campo is the most impressive coach of this regime.

KGphoto 8 years, 2 months ago

The Pats haven't won a super bowl since he left.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 2 months ago

31 days till I get to see it with my own eyes. Come on Sept. 14

Jim Jackson 8 years, 2 months ago

Anyone know if Kevin Short has arrived?

vd 8 years, 2 months ago

Sims had a 3 game suspension last year for his off the field problem. Has any one heard what Heeney's punishment is going to be? I'm guessing that there will be different treatment this year, because CW has more pressure to win.

lv_jhwk 8 years, 2 months ago

There could very well be different treatment, but because of the different circumstances rather than the reason you give.

shelleysue 8 years, 2 months ago

Have I said yet today how much I hope our coaches and players take all the crap being said about Kansas and use it as motivation to shut all these people up?! SO sick of hearing how awful KU is. But then I guess our own coach did call them a pile of crap, so ... Even after the 2007 season and Orange Bowl win, Kansas got absolutely no respect. I hope on September 7, we kill them at every position. And keep pounding, and keep pounding and keep pounding. ROCK CHALK!!

lv_jhwk 8 years, 2 months ago

Should have known better, but thought this was over... Weis did not call the players crap, he called last season crap. The difference might be hard to tell, but its significant nonetheless.

shelleysue 8 years, 2 months ago

I KNOW he was talking about last year's team. It still made negative headlines and helped make KU a laughing stock. Doesn't matter which team he called a pile of crap. He used the words "pile of crap" to describe the Kansas Jayhawks.

texashawk10 8 years, 2 months ago

So you would rather hear the Turner Gill "the sky isn't falling" type speech every week. Do you have a better way of being honest about a 1-11 team that didn't beat a single FBS team last year? I'm also pretty sure KU was already a laughing stock in football before Weis made that comment. That recruiting pitch didn't seem to hurt KU's chances with a lot of highly touted JuCo players so I'd say the speech had its desired outcome foe Weis.

shelleysue 8 years, 2 months ago

That's why I said it 'helped' make us a laughing stock. If that's what Weis wants to use as motivation, that's what he'll use. He doesn't need to announce it at media days. I would prefer to have positive things said in the media. You can have your opinion and I'll have mine. Thank you.

Chris Bailey 8 years, 2 months ago

They called him Jake in the article. Wonder if they were trying to do some kinda play on words. It was a good article nonetheless thanks for sharing!

tdscpa 8 years, 2 months ago

Yahoo edited their article to correct their error after that post was made. That has happened to me. Easy to see if the times on the post are compared to the time reported under the title of the article.

KGphoto 8 years, 2 months ago

I like how Heaps was surprised how the bench was reacting towards the end of the Texas game. “We might win this” And how he expects to win. “We’re gonna win this. We’ve been beating them the whole game”. Good stuff.

KGphoto 8 years, 2 months ago

Speaking of stars of camp. Anybody watch McDougald man-up against the Saints last week? Five solo tackles and one complete mugging of their all pro TE Graham. That guy is making the team.

KJD 8 years, 2 months ago

Seeing a three-deep depth chart has been good in better seeing where the re-building process is at for Weis and company. Overall I'm seeing an 18 month window for this group due to the small number of Seniors penciled in to play significant roles. I definitely can see why the current class being recruited can be geared towards signing many more High School Seniors. I know that this depth chart can change a lot next week, though it still says something about where the coaching staff plan is at and what they think they've got as they enter camp and pursue recruits.

There are 8 Seniors listed on Offense of the 38 players listed with 4 Seniors currently listed on the first team. Slater and Fondal sound like guys with size and talent tot plug into the first team Tackle spots for 2014 and both seem like they will compete this year for playing time behind the two Seniors of Sterling and Spencer. Losing Sims and Cox will be a bummer at H back though Miller, Bourbon and Pierson will all be back plus Wrench is committed. Sounds like Coleman is already pushing Matthews at Z, at least with Coleman's work ethic, conditioning and his speed.

Of the 33 listed on defense, there are only 5 Seniors and only Linton is listed to run first team going into camp. Even the 'Specialists' group will return most everyone for 2014.

KJD 8 years, 2 months ago

As a recent example of 'getting-it-done', I like hearing about the two offensive teams running up-tempo against one defense, not just to get the players accustomed to the pace and avoid the fire-drill confusion in a game, so that the coaches too have practice to implement their new sideline communication system. Weis and his staff have already been so much more enjoyable to follow as a fan compared to the three years before his arrival. I'm optimistic for wins over the next two seasons too.

Lloyd Kinnison 8 years, 2 months ago

The bottom line is that the Jayhawks post more wins than last year! I predict .more than 100% wins over the prior year

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 2 months ago

So how high do you go, do you stop at 3 wins, for a 200% increase or do you go up to 500% for a total of 6 wins?

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