Sunday, October 6, 2013


Opinion: Kansas football making same mistakes


Blowouts happen, but when they feature so many of the same issues that have eaten at the football team getting blown out all year, it’s especially disturbing. You have to wonder why things keep getting worse.

For example, all season the play of the offensive tackles and centers has cheated talented running backs of necessary breathing room to bust big runs and has made quarterback Jake Heaps understand what it’s like to be a fugitive, forever on the run.

But it’s never been as bad as it was in Kansas University’s 54-16 loss to Texas Tech in a Big 12 opener Saturday at Memorial Stadium, all but empty by late in the third quarter.

In what has to be some sort of record for ineptitude, inattentiveness, incredibly undisciplined football, Kansas was flagged for six false-start penalties. Six! Left tackle Aslam Sterling was flagged multiple times, and center Dylan Admire and right tackle Zach Fondal also were penalized for the unforced infraction.

It’s one thing to get shoved up the field, but to cost your team five yards before it ever has a chance to make a play? Six times? In the fourth game, not the first?

Both centers, Admire and Pat Lewandowski, also struggled snapping the ball. Mike Smithburg was shifted from center to guard after the spring game because he couldn’t get the snap down. Who’s next, Gavin Howard? Head coach Charlie Weis said he and offensive line coach Tim Grunhard “were kind of discussing possibilities in the fourth quarter.”

By then, the game had long since been lost, the chances of an upset fading away with a seven-possession stretch that started with a 10-0 lead midway through the first quarter and ended early in the third quarter, by which time the Red Raiders held a 37-10 lead.

During that stretch, Kansas ran 22 plays, picked up one first down and totaled 20 yards. On the eight first-down plays, Heaps completed one of five passes for nine yards, was intercepted once and sacked once. James Sims ran the ball once, gaining two yards, and Michael Cummings lost three yards on a run.

Kansas didn’t score again until Andrew Turzilli removed the moth balls from his helmet and made a great catch near the right boundary of the end zone on a 28-yard throw from Cummings.

“Here was that play,” Weis said, “I called the protection. I called the play. I said, ‘Michael, throw it to him.’ How do you like that for a play? And that’s one of the few ones that worked in the game. Maybe I should do that more often.”

He was joking, but at this point might jokes represent an upgrade? Is it time to make things more simple for the players?

“You’ll see a lot of formations out there, but there are not a lot of plays out there,” Weis said. “We’re already dumbing it down.”

Now it’s time for the offensive coaches and players to get smarter.


clovis_sangrail 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I think they should enclose the south end of the stadium, fill it with water, and use it to re-enact ancient naval battles.

I would pay good money to see The Battle of Actium on the Plains.


mahkmood 6 months, 2 weeks ago

This is a great article by Keegan. I'm thankful that the media is beginning to use its influence to - hopefully - evoke positive improvements / change.


FinalFinal 6 months, 2 weeks ago

We are as stupid and inept in football, as we are special and proficient in basketball.

A comedy of errors program. Lew Perkins killed any hope we had at being decent in football.


BringBackMark 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Hat's off to your non-emotional approach to breaking down the KU program. Here's a couple of things to think about:

1) If Zenger can't fire Weis, he equally can't extend his contract. That means that after this year Weis will only have 3 years left on his contract. That becomes an almost impossible scenario to recruit under. The only players that want to come play for a lame duck coach are more juco's.

2) I think you're confusing the "pro style" offense with what most Big 12 schools run today. The 5 wideouts was not the pro style that Weis seems so fond of. That's a spread offense meant for a mobile, play making, quarterback. Cummings is much better suited to run the spread but I have to agree that the way he was used against TT made no sense.


Dyrk Dugan 6 months, 2 weeks ago

it was a bad game....disappointing to say the least. i sat thru the whole thing.

the o line is bad, yes....false starts? way too many....but how about the offensive system itself? Charlie comes out 5 wide, and we're down the football field for 120 yards and 10 points...and then nothin. ran Cummings out there.....Heaps tried to throw swing pass to Sims....we NEVER throw to the wideouts (are they open? i don't know frankly...maybe they are, maybe they aren't).

i really thought we would compete this game.....our head coach and d coordinator, dwarf the coaching experience of Kliff Kingsbury...but it didn't mean a thing. and don't talk to me about a huge disparity in talent....that's two frosh QBs in at TTech that both killed us.

all this being said, i've said since the beginning of the year, we're still a year away. with all the JUCO kids that have either been removed from the team because of demotion, academics, or have been injured, the cavalry really didn't come this year.

we can't fire this football coach...for better or worse, he's here for at least two more years after this one. maybe we settle down on the o line....maybe SZ makes him get an offensive coordinator. i wouldn't mind HCCW being the coordinator too...if he would run the pro style offense all the time! we have a dropback QB, great RBs...and we go five wide....or put in the "Jayhawk' formation package, or .....whatever. it's just so darn frustrating to watch, is all i know. yes, we moved the ball with the 5 wide, and i don't think TTech was ready for it...but then we go away from it. where is the belief, that you have a system, and then run ALL plays from it....which would include the pro style offense? But if we go five wide, then DO IT!

God help us when we host OU and Baylor. they may beat us a combined 150-20.


Andy Tweedy 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I didn't have a big problem with the "pile of crap" comments made by Weiss, last season's play earned it. But that's a dangerous road to go down. Calling the play in year one of your regime a "pile of crap" is easy because it's pretty clear to everyone that you're pointing the finger at just about everybody but yourself. So what will be said next year if we finish 2013 playing like this and get out of the gate this way next year? If the "pile of crap" comment sticks, there will be nobody to point the finger at but the head coach. I hope that doesn't happen...but right now, I'm not seeing a lot of reasons to think it won't!


FCCoHawk 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Sorry, must have missed the posts earlier with the upcoming talent on OL


FCCoHawk 6 months, 2 weeks ago

My two cents...First, our OL is bad, real bad. My question is, why are we constantly rotating players? I can see that maybe in the first week or two, but now? Injuries can be an issue also but I don't think that is the case. I have always heard that the line needs to know what the other is doing without having to ask, a very tight group of players. The most successful lines are ones that have been together for several seasons. It would seem to be better to evaluate the players, pick the best we have and stay with the unit, giving them a chance to work together and improve as a unit. It can't be good to keep moving them in and out of positions as each player is different and upsets the mix. I had high expectations for our OL coach due to his pro background, but maybe he can't communicate well or get the line motivated, who knows. Second, why are we having so many penalties this yr? Last yr we had very few and it was actually a positive. It seemed the players were being coached well and we were just going to have to wait to get better talent in the system. This year, total opposite. Thirdly, I do think our defense is better this year, still a ways to go but improving. Finally, I won't give up on the 'Hawks this yr. It is early to look to next year, but I expect a much better team next yr with all the returning players or it might be back to basketball only for me. I have drank the kool aid the last couple years (and was trying to be optimistic w/ our previous coach) and am getting tired of the disappointments each and every year. it is more painful than ever to hang in there as a fan. We are not as bad as K-state was before Snyder but we are sure trying to get there. Anyone know what the prospects are for the OL next year? Hopefully we have some guys that are red shirting that will help.


Michael Leiker 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Charlie just seems sloppier and sloppier to me the more I see and hear of him. Been to the last few Hawk Talks at Salty live and he mumbles, can barely hear what he is saying. His appearance is sloppy, not necessarily talking about the overweight piece, but just how he dresses, carries himself. I understand he's had surgeries and has a limp, but dang it he just does not come across as a guy capable of getting a lot of toughness and attention to detail out of 18-22 year olds. He goes off on tangents, seems to be more interested in talking about the people he knows in the NFL than he does about his own team.

Really trying hard to get behind this and I honestly do see improvement out there, but the lack of discipline just kills me. I think there are a bunch of kids out there playing really hard and I do wish KU Fans would support that piece of it and get behind those kids.

Charlie needs to tighten his game up, as it goes along he seems to get looser and more comfortable even as his team continues to perform poorly.

Does anybody really get the feel that he's truly at his core upset about what's going on? I don't see it or hear it.

This idea that you can scheme your way to success just isn't the case. We all have experience on what really works in developing young low to mid level recruits into disciplined, assignment sound football players and I'm definitely not convinced Charlie has that ability.


Mike Nicco 6 months, 2 weeks ago

In-game adjustments...the other team makes them better than we do/don't.

To me, this game was typical Charlie Weis at the college level. Great initial game plan, other team's defense adjusts and Charlie has no answer.


milehighhawk 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Good article, Tom.

Nice to see it when writers articulate the sentiment of the fanbase instead of just being a PR megaphone for the team.


Enoughsaid 6 months, 2 weeks ago

KU Football, what a joke. Its pretty sad when Coach Weis calls last years team a Pile of Crap. Its funny the media has a new name for this year team, The Walking Dead. The Athletic Department should fire Zenger for hiring Weis and fire Weis because he is a pile of crap.


namohcan_99 6 months, 2 weeks ago

"You have to wonder why things keep getting worse." I wish Keegan would have tried to tackle this statement in his first paragraph. Instead he just described the symptoms. To quote Melvin Udall from As Good As It Gets, "I'm drowning here, and you're describing the water!"

But yes, there are problems here and the line is a huge problem for us. It seems we put all of our egg's into Smithburg being our starting center and it has not materialized the way they wanted it to.

Our offense sucks. We have great RBs, but what's the point of having them if we are looking at games like Saturday?

I think fans should be hard on Weis. Where is the Offensive Coordinator? I can't see where it would hurt this program to have another coach who is there to help the offense. Specifically with the line and maybe our wide receivers because in some areas we are seeing no improvement or in some cases with our line, more problems.

Are we so strapped for cash we couldn't go out and get an Offensive Coordinator or is it that Weis thought he could do it all? It's apparent, Weis can't do it all. He needs help. I know I personally am disappointed seeing someone like James Sims with a chance to go into the Kansas record books as being the best back to step on the field at KU be thrown away quite literally by this inept passing game and questionable coaching schemes.


LakeShawnee 6 months, 2 weeks ago

This is a very nice piece from Keegan. I honestly thought he mailed it in this weekend with the piece on the botched fake punt, but this is a good piece. I agree that the problem here is coaching. Not pointing the finger directly at Weis, but the O-Line not being able to block or fail to not false start is not a talent issue, it's a coaching/work issue.


dhinkansas 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Hard to turn a program around when 25,000 people show up and Homecoming hype is over basketball practice. Yes, it was an early start and yes, I got cold in the lot before the game started, but overall, it turned out to be a nice day.


Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I know, I know, I knwo!!!!!! I know what is wrong!!!!

Basketball has already started!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


edmondjayhawk 6 months, 2 weeks ago

jhox mentioned that we have to get out of this "coaching musical chairs" thing. How about Charie getting out of this QB musical chairs thing. In my opinion, the offense starting sputtering when he brought Cummings in to run the option. That's when the false start penalties and the bad snaps from center started. The offense totally got out of rhythm and the momentum was gone. Heaps and the offense looked like they had things going in the right direction until the QB platoon system started. Why mess up a good thing?


Gary Amble 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Mangino recruited football players, not body types. We have a team full of 4.5 / 40 guys but when the whistle blows the only guy moving is Ben Heeney. Maybe we should compete in the flag football league.


Eric TheCapn 6 months, 2 weeks ago

"Getting blown out all year"? Do you mean last year? Because I'm pretty sure this was the first blowout this year and just the second loss. Your whole lead is confusing.


jhox 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm not sure how a guy who is just a few years removed from being the brightest offensive mind in the NFL, can do such a poor job coordinating a college offense, and calling plays.

It is pretty clear to me that the best offensive minds are coaching college football, not pro football. It's time for Charlie to bring in a bright young offensive coordinator because, clearly, what's happening offensively on the college level has passed him by.

This is not the time to fire him. He needs at least one or two more years, but on the condition that he hire an offensive coordinator. I like some things he's done with the program, and he deserves a chance to finish what he's started. We have to get out of this coaching musical chairs game we've been playing. The juco /transfer experiment isn't the total bust that some believe it is. There are guys contributing, despite some of the higher profile busts.

I'm far from ready to replace Heaps, he's played ok given how poor our line play has been, but if we're going to run a two QB system lets take the red shirt off of Cozart. Cummings is not a passer. Let Cozart come in and run a little read option. Let him throw a few passes when the defense expects run.


Robert Brown 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Dannyboy- I agree with you but unfortunately the coaching staff decided and thought they could turns things around quickly. Why bring Dayne Crist and other transfers in last year if you didn't think you could make a quick turnaround? Why bring in 20 JUCO players? Weis thought he could turn this around quickly.

Had he outlined a plan of bringing in high school players who fit the system indicating that the the first few years would be tough, I think people would have bought into that. That is why a new coach has the security of a long term contract.

Every move that Weis made gave the fans the impression that he could turn this around quicker.


Danny Hernandez 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Maybe we shouldn't have been looking for a quick turnaround


Janet Scott 6 months, 2 weeks ago

General Custer did a better job at Little Big Horn, and General Pickett had a better outcome at Gettysburg than Weis is having at KU. KU should forfeit the balance of their games before someone REALLY gets hurt.


Jim Erickson 6 months, 2 weeks ago

The season is still young, and a lot can happen, but as of now this team has not shown progress since the Turner Gill regime. To be fair, this is a very small sample size, but the quick turnaround we were looking for certainly isn't there.


741hawk 6 months, 2 weeks ago

It's too early to junk the JuCo experiment. Teams that are successful with it get to a point where most JuCos are redshirted, giving them a year to be in the program to get stronger/faster and learn the plays/system before they are asked to perform on the field. We are not there yet. Most of ours were thrown into the fire . . . maybe a reason #99 missed his block on the fake punt. Pardula could have run 40 yards if that block had been made. Just sayin'!


Doug Cramer 6 months, 2 weeks ago

The three guys we needed most to step up big for this program:

1: Pearce Slater 2: Chris Martin 3: Marquel Combs

This program is in big trouble. The JUCO experiment didn't work. We could of had 6-8 offensive and defensive linemen who are freshmen...getting Holsoppled...and waiting in the wings for playing time the next 4 years.

Now we're left with a bunch of under talented juniors and seniors...that won't have much impact on our program. So where does Charlie go from here ? I think that's the million dollar question.

If we keep getting blown out every week...does he stay with the program...or does he resign ? We can't fire him...we've already had to payout Mangino, Perkins, and Gill. Can we really afford to pay Weis out...AND...hire another coach ??? I doubt it.


sloppyscience 6 months, 2 weeks ago

But hey, we can all sleep well knowing no one had to do a bear crawl.


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