Wednesday, October 9, 2013

KU football searching for right fit on offense

Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps throws out of the Jayhawks endzone against Texas Tech during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps throws out of the Jayhawks endzone against Texas Tech during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.


It’s starting to look like a painful game of musical chairs for the Kansas University football program, as head coach Charlie Weis continues to search for ways to shuffle the deck in hopes of getting the Jayhawks’ offense going.

Heading into Saturday’s 11 a.m. Big 12 battle at TCU, the Jayhawks are averaging 18.5 points and 332 yards per outing, numbers that rank at or near the bottom of the Big 12.

Weis said Tuesday he was not worried about how his guys have handled the constant change and added that he would not stop until he got it right.

“The concern is if you’re not willing to do that,” the second-year KU coach said of regular tweaking of the depth chart. “It’s a bigger concern if you’re not willing to do things to try to fix ‘em. We have an obligation as coaches to explore every alternative we can to try to make things better.”

Most of the changes have come on offense, where the Jayhawks have struggled to both score points and sustain drives. Those issues not only have hurt the point-producing side of the ball but also have made life tough on KU’s rapidly improving defense.

This week alone, 13 of the 24 spots on KU’s two-deep, offensive depth chart featured names in new places from a week ago, with the biggest changes taking place along the offensive line and at wide receiver.

Asked if he’s ever had to make such drastic moves week after week, Weis made it clear that he was operating in new territory.

“No, not to this extent,” he said. “This is a large volume of changes, but, really, we only have so many alternatives. We’re kind of running out. We’re not gonna just start throwing names in a hat, pick out five and that’s where we go. We have to start settling down into what we’re gonna be. This week we’ll get (another) opportunity to see where we are.”

While the offense has rolled in a couple of dozen different players, the defensive side of the depth chart has remained largely unchanged. The only tweak this week came at Will linebacker, where sophomore Jake Love was promoted to the first team and senior Prinz Kande slid in behind him because of an injury to the former starter, junior Samson Faifili.

Junior quarterback Jake Heaps, one of the four team captains made available to the media on Wednesday, said the fluid nature of the depth chart has forced the captains to work overtime to make sure the team’s confidence remained high, but both he and junior linebacker Ben Heeney said confidence was not an issue.

“You try and make sure that everyone is staying focused and staying positive,” Heaps said. “Whether it’s guys that are getting moved up and you’re making sure they’re on the same page with you, or guys that are dropping down and making sure they continue to stay positive, that they’re not in the tank.

“As you can see, anybody can play at any given time, and they gotta prepare and work hard just like they were the starter. This is a perfect example of that. (Guys are) gonna get an opportunity. It’s all about putting the best guys out there on the field and trying to give us the best chance to win.”


Doug Cramer 4 years, 7 months ago

Had an epiphany yesterday when thinking about KU football:

  • Let Coach Weis be strictly O-Coordinator...and put him in the booth.

  • Let Reggie Mitchell be Head Coach on the sidelines.

  • Coach Campo continues to do his thing at D-Coordinator.

  • Blasco does nothing except recruit trench players of NFL caliber.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 7 months ago

I highly doubt that Weis would give up command of the ship. And if he did, I don't know if that would improve his play calling any, anyway. But it's definitely another adjustment that could we worth a try after none of these other "tweaks" have seemed to make a difference.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 7 months ago

(Jayhawk_Unto_Death) Is it possible that Weis just doesn't have the offensive linemen to compete at the I-A level, no matter who he shuffles in there? I hope when he goes out recruiting that he'll start bringing in some linemen.

Doug Cramer 4 years, 7 months ago

Amen Bryce...and maybe some much needed D-linemen as well.

Marc Frey 4 years, 7 months ago

I have been saying it is the talent on the field. When you watch other games, it is very clear.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 7 months ago

TCU's offense is bad, but they've also played some stiff competition already against LSU, OU, and TTU.

It will be tougher to commit to the run without the outside threat of Tony Pierson available, hopefully Darrian Miller can get to the edge a little bit to spread things out for Sims.

Also, I hope that we see a lot of Brandon Bourbon in both the short passing game and the rushing game.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 7 months ago

FYI, if you hover your cursor over one's avatar or "real name" it will display your screen name.

I didn't read the article because the title makes it sound like there's nothing new in it from what I read yesterday.

I don't understand what the problem is with our OLine. It seems like we've got the big bodies. Are they still lacking strength? OLine requies both upper and lower body strength, but probably more so the base or else you'll just get pushed around. Are they still learning the right technique? Do they not understand their assignments? Is it just a confidence thing?

It seems like simply recruiting big bodies isn't enough. The best OLineman over the past several years seem to be guys who change positions after coming to KU. Didn't Anthony Collins start on Defense? Wasn't Tanner Hawkinson a Tight End?

We didn't recruit this guys as NFL caliber OLineman, but now they are NFL tackles.

Maybe the problem is that we're recruiting too many OLineman, and not enough guys who have the raw, physical tools to turn into monsters on the OLine. I'm talking about guys who are athletic, have huge frames, broad shoulders, strong muscular legs, etc. Guys who can be transformed into OLineman in 1 two 2 years after arriving.

Just a thought. Maybe it's way off...

Matt Tait 4 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, the headline probably should've mentioned depth chart musical chairs because it's all about the massive changes they've made these first four weeks and not so much about the offense. It just so happens that most of the changes have been made on offense.

Terry N Tom Denner 4 years, 7 months ago

You would think spring and summer camp they would of found the right fit for the OF line ??

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 7 months ago

The chemistry last years OLine had took 2-3 years of playing together to build. Constantly changing around players does not build chemistry. Personally I believe the OLine was doomed to failure after Weis started screwing around with the different positions after the spring game. I believe the OLine this week is pretty close to what the OLine was in the spring and that realistically should help a little bit. I'm not going to say they will instantly look as good as last year because that just won't happen because these guys simply aren't as good. I personally would prefer to see Weis go with the line up he used in the spring and let them have 3-4 games where they don't have to worry about losing their spot or moving positions and seeing what happens. Weis doesn't have much to lose by trying that and I've always been of the opinion that continuity is one of the foundational blocks of improving over the long term and this certainly qualifies as a long term project.


Brooke Estell 4 years, 7 months ago

At the end of the day, Weis is only playing who he recruited. Dent started all last season and did a great job, yet Weis claims he had an injury, threw him on scout, then refuses to play him because he was brought in by Mangino. Honestly, he's willing to make the entire team suffer than put new starters in rotation. Not to mention, aside from Dent and Sterling, who actually knows how it feels to play in conference? Most definitely not those JUCO starters who are being continually ran through. I think starting Dent is only right. He's a senior who's suffering because of Weis' stubborn attitude. It's a shame that kids are getting played like pawns in his game. Half of the O-Line that starts definitely doesn't need to.

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