Friday, October 18, 2013


Opinion: Kansas football offense to learn if less is more


Seventeen games into Charlie Weis’ tenure as head coach of the Kansas University football program, quarterbacks have found wide receivers for touchdowns just three times, all this season.

Jake Heaps connected with Justin McCay once and converted running back Tony Pierson once. Reserve QB Michael Cummings hit Andrew Turzilli in the end zone once.

It’s not the offensive system, insists wide-receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello, who worked for Weis in a similar role from 2005-2009.

“We’ve had great success with receivers in this offense, a lot of production and a lot of guys who have played on Sundays, a Belitnikoff (Award) winner,” Ianello said.

True enough. Jeff Samardzija, Rhema McKnight, Golden Tate (2009 Belitnikoff winner) and Michael Floyd all had huge seasons under Weis and Ianello.

But different plays work for different athletes. Jamari Traylor is a good fit for catching a lob and dunking it. Naadir Tharpe is better suited to be on the other end of the play.

The guess here is Notre Dame’s quarterbacks had more time to throw than Heaps, and the Fighting Irish receivers had far more talent than KU’s crew.

Some of the plays might be too ambitious for the talent-challenged KU offense.

Part of Weis’ tweaking of the offensive-coaching-staff duties includes him spending more time instructing quarterbacks and receivers in the film room and on the field.

Weis spent one season coaching wide receivers under Bill Parcells with the New England Patriots and three with the New York Jets.

That’s all KU’s receivers needed to hear to perk up their ears.

After asking a couple of receivers what changes they have noticed, both revealed a new approach I loved hearing.

“We definitely polished up certain routes instead of working on everything in our route tree,” McCay said. “It’s definitely working. We’re getting more time with the quarterbacks. The way you get good at something is you work on it day in and day out.”

The way you look lost is by working on so many different things no one thing becomes a reflex. Josh Ford noticed a similar change.

“We worked on one route for a few minutes until we got it down to exactly how he wants it run, instead of working on six routes in two minutes,” Ford said. “It worked at one-on-ones when we could put it to a true test.”

As long as a healthy number of the routes being stressed are of the quick-hit variety and don’t require the line to protect for too long, this new approach could result in significant, quick improvement.

The real test, of course, comes Saturday against an Oklahoma defense that tends to blow up the best-laid plans. The Sooners have the 12th-ranked pass defense in the nation.

Texas upset the Sooners by staying with a potent ground game. Typically, that would mean the next opponent would try a similar approach, but there is little typical about the unpredictable Weis.


Adam Tyler 8 years ago

“We worked on one route for a few minutes until we got it down to exactly how he wants it run, instead of working on six routes in two minutes,”

“We definitely polished up certain routes instead of working on everything in our route tree,”

No wonder we have been so inept offensively the past year a half. Chuck is flooding their minds with way too much detail and the players are experiencing information overload.

Hopefully the changes we are making on offense address this issue, otherwise we will continue to score less than 20 a game.

Joe Ross 8 years ago

There have been times when the offense has been dumbed down for the receivers, notably when Weis first arrived and then at one point during this season, but their fundamentals had proven under par and they still dropped passes. While teaching fundamentals is also a coaching issue, I don't know if you can pin the problems down to complexity alone. There are certainly additional elements on top of these two in considering the ineptitude of the offense, and they don't all have to do with the processing ability of the players.

Jim Erickson 8 years ago

Woah!!! No username? I feel very exposed all of the sudden....

Last year there was a lot of talk that "year 2 would be better because the system takes a lot of time to implement". Frankly, if you have a difficult system to implement, recruiting JUCO boys who will play for only two years doesn't seem like the most sensible approach.

Love what HCCW has done in terms of excitement, but the program is no better today than it was under HCTG. To Coach Weis' credit, he isn't afraid to make changes. Lets hope a simplified approach makes the difference and notches us a couple victories this conference season.

Jonathan Allison 8 years ago

"the program is no better today than it was under HCTG."

This is simply not true, the program is better. The on field result however is arguable. The defense appears to be much improved under Weis. The offense is lagging. I'm hoping that what we've seen so far is the valley, and we're about to start the climb.

Jim Erickson 8 years ago

Jonathan... I agree that there are encouraging signs and admit I might be jumping the gun, but at some point, it needs to be about wins and losses and not moral victories. Unless we win 4 more games this year, HCCW's production will be below that of HCTG. They inherited very different programs, which is also worth mentioning, but it has to be about winning soon.

Michael Leiker 8 years ago

Anybody in Hawaii know if the game will be seen live on ESPN Saturday?

Jonathan Allison 8 years ago

I wish I could answer that for you.

Andy Tweedy 8 years ago

"The guess here is Notre Dame’s quarterbacks had more time to throw than Heaps"

If I'm reading that right, our offensive line isn't good!


Brandon Mahon 8 years ago

I know this has nothing to do with the offense, but I think I still like the KU on the helmets.... they should just use the Jayhawk head instead of the whole body

Andy Tweedy 8 years ago

Totally off the topic, but it's more fun to talk about than the results we've had so far! I REALLY like the red helmets and the only slightly different blue jerseys, that war hawk is pretty cool. I am optimistic that I'll like whatever we throw around those black helmets, too. At least we have looked good on the field.

Kit Duncan 8 years ago

"that war hawk " is better known as the "Angry Jayhawk" circa 1941.

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