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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: Talent limiting football offense

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A cynic’s dark soul would insist it won’t make any difference how Charlie Weis tweaks the Kansas University football offense because the centers and offensive tackles will still get pushed up-field and the receivers still won’t get open, a double-barrelled prescription for failure.

But there is no point in viewing it so bleakly when 75 percent of the season remains to be played.

Weis said Tuesday that he enjoyed the imperfect victory against Louisiana Tech for 24 hours and then graded himself on a tough curve, as is his custom.

“Why did I call that? Why didn’t I call this?” he said of his Monday morning self-flogging ritual. “You’re second-guessing everything. You think you do that? Try being the guy who actually does it.”

Enjoy the victory first. Then tear it apart.

“Now you get back to reflect on it, go back and study it the next morning, you say, ‘Oh, God, we’re awful.’ And you sit there one thing after another,” he said. “We can do better at this. We obviously can’t do this. We’re not good enough to do that. Or that player’s not capable of doing that by himself.”

Bingo.

Weis sounded confident that the offense at the end of the season will be better than it has been one quarter into the schedule, and the source of that belief could be traced to knowing his personnel better. Maybe he realizes he must scrap part of his playbook, the part that talented Notre Dame and NFL receivers could execute, but asks too much of Kansas pass-catchers, especially in an offense already burdened by shaky blocking.

Ever since that day in West Virginia decades ago when I bet on a horse that ran like an ox, I’ve had a serious case of X-and-O phobia, so I checked with my friend Chalkboard Denny to see what mix of pass routes might work for the KU personnel.

“Bubble screens with Tony Pierson and Brandon Bourbon,” Denny said. “Running underneath routes into an area where a receiver has cleared the zone, post patterns, hooks or squats, and the occasional seam pattern when they have nine or 10 men within five yards of the line of scrimmage.”

Denny added that all the receivers should study film of the way former KU receiver Dezmon Briscoe, “who was not a blazer,” performed. Denny noted Briscoe “got open because his routes were so precise and crisp.”

A pause in the action for a glossary of terms:

Bubble screen: Wide-side receiver cuts toward the quarterback to receive a quick pass and runs behind a flank of blockers.

Hook pattern: Receiver runs downfield then turns around and runs toward the line of scrimmage to make the catch.

Post route: Receiver runs down the sideline and at medium depth makes a cut toward the middle of the field at a 45-degree angle.

Seam pattern: Receiver runs straight up field. Also called go or fly route.

Squat: Beats me.

Even I have noticed a shortage of bubble screens and underneath routes. It will be interesting to look for evidence of both Saturday morning against Texas Tech.

Comments

pizzashuttle 6 months, 3 weeks ago

It helps to have read Tom's opinion articles up to this point. This article continues on with his thought process. He's identified we have slow receivers and an O-line that can't provide a lot of time for Heaps to wait for long routes to develop. So what pass routes are effective given those limitations? This is the same question Weis is asking himself. The other question is what distance is Heaps accurate to? His passes up to 15 - 20 yards out look ok but beyond that he's less accurate. Heaps also doesn't have the luxury of skilled receivers to catch his less accurate passes. So what routes can get receivers with average speed open and go for 15 - 20 yards or less in the amount of time that our O-line can hold their blocks? Take it a step further Tom. Which routes will work best for which receivers and why - based on the skill sets of the various WR's?

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Steve Hilker 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Squat route today is what used to be called a button hook. Now you know squat. Just need a receiver named Jack.

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mikehawk 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Football is a game of endless variables. Good coaching takes what it has and figures out how to make it work for the skills sets and talent you have to work with. We need to win one more game this year. One dang Big 12 game. Two more wins and we have something tangible to celebrate. But we KU fans are going to have to endure a string of losses coming up and avoid turning on the coaches and the players. Things are headed in the right direction on many levels. Blaming Uncle Charlie OR the players isn't going to cut it. Not now. All of that can be re-evaluated after the season by those payed to do so.

When the losses start coming, Uncle Charlie is going to be the primary target. Again, you have to understand firing him after two years will only make things worse. KU, when we talk football, is not Oklahoma. No one with a cup of Blue Kool Aid in their hand seems to believe me, but we are not going to attract some high profile coach in football. We are going to have to throw our lot in with Uncle Charlie at least for four years. Hopefully, during that time all goes well and we stop always talking about firing the coach and talk about how he built a respectable Big 12 team which can compete, year in, year out, and be something more than a Big 12 doormat.

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lama 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Talent limited this column. What happened to all the "talent" Keegs has been talking up since last Spring?

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Bob Bailey 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The Jayhawks lost to LT by 20 points, 34-14. Fortunately their coach and players relied on skills they didn’t have or hadn’t developed. The ‘blown ‘ 6 points is easy to understand – no kicker. But the 14 points on no touchdowns is different. It has to be ‘the luck of the game’. Their QB fumbled the ball going into the end zone! Coach Weis was right on top of it; thank you Coach Weis! We got the ball on the 20 yard line. The other incident was the fumble recovery on the 2 yard line. Coach Weis took advantage of that as well. Thank you coach Weis. And Coach Weis has brought us some big, talented guys with football skills and training! Thanks again, Coach Weis, really good progress!

But the plethora of talent doesn’t make up for the shortage of training in tackling, coverage, and Defensive scheme!

There is NO SUBSTITUTE for Elmer Schaake’s Rules of tackling: 1. Belt Buckle (follow the ctr of gravity) 2. Hesitate, Adjust Route (2 steps from carrier) 3. Wrap Him Up (get legs between knees and hips, lock each hand on wrist of other, squeeze like hell) Possible 4. If stiff-arm, give him the fore-arm shiv inside his elbow (either break the hold or break his arm ) Possible 5. Slam Helmet into carriers wrist/hand (to help paralyze it when your team mate fights for the ball)

The talent is great. But an example in this game: our db charged the pass receiver 2-3 yards behind the line of scrimmage. He flung his body at the receiver’s legs (disregarding Rules 2 & 3). The receiver side stepped him, made up the 2-3 yards, plus another 10 for a first down. Which would be better, to make them kick from their 30-40 yard line, or recover a fumble at the 2?

The odds are grossly different if you follow the Rules. If you fling your body at the carrier, you will miss the tackle 50-60% of the time! If you do it right, the odds go to 99% success. If you grasp him by the shoulders, about half the time he will drag you 2-6 more yards. At that point the opponents get 2nd down and 3-4 yards to go. Our Defensive Team MUST learn to tackle the best way!

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AzHawk97 6 months, 3 weeks ago

“Why did I call that? Why didn’t I call this?” he said of his Monday morning self-flogging ritual. “You’re second-guessing everything. You think you do that? Try being the guy who actually does it.”

“Now you get back to reflect on it, go back and study it the next morning, you say, ‘Oh, God, we’re awful.’ And you sit there one thing after another,” he said. “We can do better at this. We obviously can’t do this. We’re not good enough to do that. Or that player’s not capable of doing that by himself.”

After these "insightful" quotes, maybe some specific follow-up questions should have been asked. You have Weis there in front of you, so ask him specifically about play calling. What can the team get better at? What did he see on film that they obviously cannot do? What aren't they good enough to do? Is this a personnel issue, either not having the right players or the current players just not able to do some of the things they are being asked to do? Can they be coached up or is it something with the coaching itself?

It just seems to me that Weis has been let off the hook time and time again. Even at the presser on Tuesday when Keegan asked specifically about McCay's scout team and spring game prowess not translating to the field. Weis blew the question off and Keegan accepted it. Weis gave an answer about who is playing best and how McCay could start, blah, blah, blah. If we are going to be taken for a ride when the players are being hyped up, then we should be able to get some answers when they fall short of the hype.

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Doug Cramer 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Why the hate and criticism toward Tom ? Stop being so ugly. Whether you like the article or not...would you like being criticized like that ?

To be honest...I think this is one of the more realistic pieces written this year.

Machinegun - We can have all the 5 star talent in the skill positions...but it gets wasted because our offensive line talent level is more like division 2. We're trying to play a Big 12 schedule with a division 2 offensive line.

Our defensive line isn't much better...which you will all see come Saturday.

Tom is right...we lack talent in the trenches...and until we get talent in the trenches...this program will continue to struggle.

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gchawk 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I believe Jeff Goldblum, who was depicting a writer for a weekly gossip magazine, said it best in The Big Chill: "What I do is just good, investigative reporting. I have 1 rule, don't write any article which would take longer to read than an average crap would take", I believe you hit the mark with this one, Keegan.

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msmimi 6 months, 3 weeks ago

@ Brock,,,,Now, that is one of the best comments I've read in days !!

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msmimi 6 months, 3 weeks ago

@ Brock,,,,Now, that is one of the best comments I've read in days !!

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namohcan_99 6 months, 3 weeks ago

A third straight article about our lack of talent at the WR position? This just in... Our receivers are bad.

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Robert Brock 6 months, 3 weeks ago

End of days. Keegan finally admits that he doesn't know SQUAT.

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machinegun 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Here we go again...talent is the problem according to Keegan. Don't put the finger on Weis and Grunhard? Are you kidding? I am sick of you blaming these losses on the kids who give everything for this team.

Jake is the second 5-star QB to come to Kansas to play for Super Bowl Charlie. The first one was turned into a rambling wreck before he got thrown under the bus and Jake is on his way to the bench. Weis is the one who is responsible not those two kids.

I realize that Keegan and his friends have to go easy on the administration and coaching staff in order to keep their jobs. But don't blame the kids who work their butts off every day in practice. It's not a matter of talent. It is poor coaching that has gotten us to this point.

Weis was a risky hire because he had done so poorly at Notre Dame and Florida. It appears that he has never made the transition from the pros to college. He and his coaching staff will have very few opportunities to win games during the Big 12 season. I suggest that they approach each and every one as their last at KU starting with Texas Tech. I am praying for rain on Saturday.

Bring it on Weis apologists. Maybe you can call the school and see if there are any openings for cheerleaders. Oh, please shave your legs first. Looking forward to seeing you on the track on Saturday.

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Reuben_J_Cogburn 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Nothin like a front-page women's basketball article in October to get you pumped up for our football team to pull off an upset....on Homecoming.

....touche, KUsports.com.

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Charles Logan 6 months, 3 weeks ago

All summer long all we heard was how much talent we have. Now we don't have any???? C'mon now... Our team was once again over-hyped. But we have talent. and lots of it. Weis isn't exploring all options. Option #1.... That's just it use the option! Triple option at that! and not with Heaps. Option #2 use a full back to help with the run game especially up the middle. Option #3 almost the same as #2 use more than just one back in the backfield. Doesn't have to be a full back. And use toss sweeps to either side. Option #4 try different QB's. Why experiment with every position except this one? Heaps isn't doing bad, but he has no fire. Maybe our fire is on the sideline watching......... Option #5 Stop trying to run an NFL Pro-style offense with College style players. Option #6 hire an offensive coordinator????.....

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eastcoasthawk 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Seems the natives are getting restless prior to the conference start. Good, bad or ugly I look forward to seeing it all play out. I especially am looking forward to seeing improvement as we go. If not, it could be ugly and I am tired of ugly. Rock Chalk!

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hotrodm 6 months, 3 weeks ago

My 3rd grade grandson could have written this article. What a waste of my time reading this bush league article.

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amatxjayhawk 6 months, 3 weeks ago

This article is worse than chewing gum. A senseless activity that does not satisfy.

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Janet Scott 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The KU offense and the play calling: both a 'pile of crap', using Charlie's words.

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actorman 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Some good points, but why would you quote someone on using the term "squat" if you don't know what it is? Just leave that one out, or even better, do some research (you know, like, say, a journalist).

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