Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Weis announces Jayhawks’ Week 1 lineup, position switches

Kansas defensive back Cassius Sendish gives a high leg kick as he and his teammates gets stretched practice on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Kansas defensive back Cassius Sendish gives a high leg kick as he and his teammates gets stretched practice on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo


When the Kansas University football staff received a commitment from defensive back Cassius Sendish during the winter recruiting period, KU’s coaches felt like they landed a pretty good player.

As it turns out, what they got was a guy capable of playing multiple roles and influencing several positions. That much has been obvious throughout Sendish’s first eight months in Lawrence and became even clearer Tuesday, when KU coach Charlie Weis released the first depth chart of the 2013 season. On it, Sendish was listed at his third different starting position since March. The 6-foot, 195-pound junior from Arizona Western will open the season as the Jayhawks’ starting free safety after spending the summer at nickel back and spring at cornerback.

“What we did was we took a position of strength and we strengthened a position that we thought was a weakness,” Weis said.

Both Weis and Dave Campo, who oversees KU’s defense, said Tuesday that such a move would not have been possible if not for the emergence of junior Victor Simmons and red-shirt freshman Courtney Arnick at the nickel back position. Simmons, who has played both safety and linebacker at Kansas, slid into Sendish’s first-string nickel spot and Arnick landed as the backup.

“Really, it’s not an incrimination of anyone,” Weis said. “Those guys are playing good enough that it allowed us the flexibility to move Cassius back to safety. We felt good about the nickel position, but we were really concerned about the safety position because we didn’t feel like we had any depth that had any experience at Big 12-caliber football.”

Shifting from position to position is nothing new for Sendish, who has been on the move since he first started playing football at age 6. He started as an offensive lineman, moved to running back a year later and finally settled in as a cornerback his freshman year of high school.

Campo said Sendish reminded him of a smaller Darren Woodson, whom he coached as both a safety and nickel back for the Dallas Cowboys. The big difference is their size, as Woodson tipped the scales at 6-2, 218 pounds. In every other aspect, though, Campo said the comparison was solid.

“The one thing about Cassius, he demonstrated right from the very beginning that he was capable of playing two positions (and) understanding what we were trying to accomplish defensively,” Campo said. “He’s got corner ability, he’s got safety smarts and he’s physical. He can play a number of different positions and do it relatively easily because of his mental capacity.”

As for Simmons, who stands 6-1, 220, he more closely resembles Woodson in physical stature.

“Victor has had an excellent camp,” Campo said. “I think the lights turned on for him. He’s a physical guy with speed. I think he’s made really good strides. I don’t know that we would’ve made the move if we didn’t feel like Victor and Courtney had made an awful lot of improvement during camp.”

Sendish’s flexibility not only allows the KU coaching staff to plug holes but also brings a sense of calm to a thin position that will receive its first test at 6 p.m. Saturday against South Dakota at Memorial Stadium.

“If we’re not strong there, it results in touchdowns,” Campo said of the safety position. “If we’re not strong at nickel, it may keep us on the field a little longer, but it’s not as big a touchdown-producing position. I think it was important for us to get a feel that we were strong across the board with guys at the back end.”

Kicking game looks good

In 2012, KU’s kicking game gave fans and coaches headaches throughout the season. Although results on the field will reveal just how much of an upgrade Weis and company made at those crucial special teams spots this offseason, the general feeling is that KU’s kickers can get the job done.

“I’m really confident in Pardula as both a punter and a kickoff guy,” Weis said of juco transfer Trevor Pardula. “And the guy who was probably the most pleasant surprise of anyone was (place-kicker Matthew) Wyman. The kid’s only missed a couple kicks since he’s been here. He was running the fourth kicker, then he was the third kicker, then he was the second kicker, then he was the first kicker and he hasn’t looked back.”

Wyman held off Pardula, Hutchinson Community College transfer Michael Mesh and veteran Ron Doherty to win the place-kicking job this fall and has restored his coach’s faith in the field goal.

“All the kid did was clearly win the competition and it wasn’t really close,” Weis said. “The fact that the ball’s on the 30 and you kick a 47-yarder and you’re not saying, ‘We have no chance,’ (is nice).”

Slater all but gone

Weis was asked early during Tuesday’s news conference if there was any update on offensive lineman Pearce Slater, who reported to KU in early August but then went home to California because of a family medical emergency and has not returned.

If reading between the lines means anything, it does not appear as if the Jayhawks are expecting Slater back. KU no longer lists the 6-8, 340-pound tackle on its roster and Weis was in no mood to talk about him Tuesday.

“He’s not here,” Weis said. “I’ll talk about the guys that are here. That’s the end of my comment.”

Cox not red-shirting

Senior Taylor Cox was the most logical candidate in KU’s deep and talented running back corps to red-shirt the 2013 season, but now it’s quite clear that Cox won’t be taking the year off.

Despite offseason discussions between Weis and Cox about the 5-foot-11, 212-pound tailback’s options, Cox showed enough during fall camp to keep his place as a viable part of this year’s team.

“I let him have the input and said, ‘OK, we’ll go through training camp as long as you earn the right to be in this mix,’” said Weis, who added that Cox was concerned about being too old to attract attention from pro scouts if he stuck around an extra year. “And he’s just had a great camp. We’re worrying about this year right now. We’ll worry about next year next year. ... No one’s playing way better than Taylor.”

Balance the goal

Last season, in 871 plays, KU ran the ball 64 percent of the time, largely because production in the passing game fell well short of expectations.

At the Jayhawks prepare to kick off the 2013 season Saturday night with a clean slate, Weis said he believed the presence of junior quarterback Jake Heaps and a variety of weapons around him would make things different this time around.

“I’m looking forward to being able to be more balanced,” he said. “I’m looking forward to, when you come in on Monday, not saying, ‘OK, what are the 80 ways we’re gonna run the ball this week.’ When you’re open to more things that you can do, it makes it a little bit easier.”

Injury update

The Jayhawks appear to be ready to enter Saturday’s season opener with all but one guy on the roster at their disposal.

“The only guy who’s clearly not going is (Marcus) Jenkins-Moore,” Weis said of the injured linebacker from Pierce College. “In fact, that’s our injury list. There wouldn’t be anyone listed any lower than probable. So (we’re) pretty healthy as of right now.”


kellerman411 7 years, 4 months ago

6-1 220 and can run at the Nickel??!! Wahoo!!!! That is what I call a hybrid defender. Gee whiz that is the type of guy that Stoops used to trounce us with back when he really had it going at OU. This defense is gonna be good. I have my doubts on offense but the defense top to bottom will be AT LEAST adequate in the Big 12, if not, above average.

Saturday seriously can't get here soon enough.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 4 months ago

I want whatever this guy is drinking. It's Good to be excited...but you might want to lower your expectations for the defense a tad.'s almost the same defensive line that ranked around 120 in sacks...and pressuring QBs. If anything...I think the offense will be much improved.

kellerman411 7 years, 4 months ago

The defensive line looked worse than it was because the ball was out so quick. We couldn't cover anybody up. Not to mention, they were on the field all game long. Even if you are correct and our defensive line is terrible. The coverage alone will make them look much better. Plus the added filling ability with Samson.

Look, Campo is running a 3 man front. Guess what? That means he already knows we can't apply pressure... let the back end cover them up and Heeney will bat clean up.

You're right, I am excited. That's because I've been following some of these juco guys like Kevin Short for some time now. You guys are going to see what I mean here soon.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 4 months ago

We aren't running a 3 man front. The Buck is the 4th; a rush end. The difference that the coaches talked about earlier this year is that the 3 will be in the same position, and the buck will move around depending on O personnel. Campo is not just sitting back waiting for opposing QB's to throw passes anymore than when we recruited Martin for the rush end/Buck position.

Samson, according to CW, has some extra bulk, but that is the only difference from Love. That is still a good thing, because Jake was playing well last year, and is still getting better with maturity.

Definitely agree that the consistent talent and depth across the board will go a long ways to improve the performance.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 4 months ago

I hope you're right. But from my observations...if you can't apply pressure to quarterbacks in the Big won't matter how great your secondary is. Give oppong QBs 5-10 seconds in the pocket...they eventually find open targets. That alone has killed this program the last 4 seasons.

Micky Baker 7 years, 4 months ago

Umm, No, this isn't even close to the same personnel.

Brandon Correll 7 years, 4 months ago

Simmons was a LB/DB and KU is only going with two linebackers. I think this is the main reason they moved Sendish back to safety. Simmons will most likely be a hybrid type of player out there. Not really a DB and not really a LB.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 4 months ago

DT and DE was not upgraded...which is gonna hurt.

Rivethead 7 years, 4 months ago

We've never seen a 100% healthy Keon Stowers play football. So I have no idea how you can make that statement.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 4 months ago

except for "the ever-present impact of Holsopple" and depth. Both will go a long ways toward improving performance into the 4th quarter and later in the season.

KGphoto 7 years, 4 months ago

Have to disagree. Year 2 of the Holsopple will upgrade seniors Keba, Kevin and Tavai. Stowers is playing better than anyone we had last year. McKinney and Combs are depth we didn't have. The King of Swing and Reynolds are certainly improved at BUCK.

Just because we lost Martin, and Combs didn't blow us away out of the gate doesn't mean that we haven't upgraded.

I also think we'll see more blitzing. With big and speedy guys like Simmons and Faifili, and perhaps better support in man coverage, Campo has more tools to apply pressure.

NebraskaJayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

The Rice game is going to be tough. I watched them play A&M last weekend. They controlled the line of scrimmage and I'm afraid they are going to pound it up the middle on us. They are very good at running the football. With only a 3 man front, it could look bad unless our safeties are as physical as everyone is touting they are. If we beat Rice, I think we have a legitimate shot at winning 6 games. If we lose bad to them, we're looking at a 2 -3 win season.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 4 months ago

Thanx for the advanced scouting report.

KGphoto 7 years, 4 months ago

TAM suspended six (6) defensive STARTERS before that game. I don't think they'll run it down our throat. I think it's all about containing and pressuring McHargue.

texashawk10 7 years, 4 months ago

Rice is still a veteran team that returned 19 starters this year. They may not be the most talented team, but they execute their system very well because of their experience.

clevelandjayhawker 7 years, 4 months ago

How can one watch this game online? Seems directv doesnt understand that this week's game is a big time event

Micky Baker 7 years, 4 months ago

It is going to be on ESPN3, but you can go to and watch it. You go to the forum. Click on NCAA, then on NCAA Football Week Two Streaming. It is also listed there as ESPN3 and a probable weblink near game time. It does depend on where you live for ESPN3, but not for the additional weblink.

coolhand357 7 years, 4 months ago

Thanks jayhawkintx1973. Strange... it wasn't listed on ESPN3 yesterday. Today it is listed, however my providers in Nebraska don't carry it. I have WildBlue Satellite Internet and also Windstream DSL Internet. I also have Dish Network, but it's a no-go. I will try near game time. Hopefully there will be a weblink. Thanks again.

TxJyHwk 7 years, 4 months ago

Yes it does. You may have to search using "Kansas", but it is there

Bryce Landon 7 years, 4 months ago

So which uniforms are we going to don for this week's game?

Jim Jackson 7 years, 4 months ago

Anyone else still concerned about the Dline? I am excited about the return of Stowers but Agostino has not been productive in his 3 years.

I am still hopeful Bolton heals up quicker and that we can get him on the field.

Rock Chalk, we are going bowling!

Micky Baker 7 years, 4 months ago

Bolton will not see the field this year. He's redshirted, but he is the only man on the roster that will miss Saturday.

texashawk10 7 years, 4 months ago

It's not guaranteed that Bolton redshirts, it's the goal fir him to redshirt however, but injuries or ineffective play could force Weis and Campo to abandon their intention of redshirting him.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 4 months ago

Matt T. - got a couple questions regarding some guys that seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

  • Bolton on the he hurt ? Or is he not as good as advertised ?

  • D. Willis...seemed like he was in the mix late into the camp.

  • P. this guys was a 4 star recruit out of Texas 5 years shirted and everything. Do you see any of these guys getting some playing time ?

Dirk Medema 7 years, 4 months ago

Bolton is a RS (search previous articles). Kande had been injured at times, but mostly he and others were just squeezed out by other players.

KGphoto 7 years, 4 months ago

Bolton is rehabbing like dagger mentioned, but I would count the other two as glowing recommendations for the current two deep at BUCK and LB.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 4 months ago

Dagger - Thought it was MJM that was red shirting due to injuries...but maybe I missed info on Bolton red shirting.

KGphoto 7 years, 4 months ago

It’s a little confusing since Weis said that MJM was the only guy on the “injury report”. Clearly Bolton’s health is a question mark.

Seems like he didn’t re-hab quickly enough to crack the two-deep on the DL, so Weis would just as soon have him totally healthy and 100% for two full years, instead of forcing him in there for mop up minutes this year.

I think if Weis had an emergency opening along the DL, he’d play.

texashawk10 7 years, 4 months ago

Weis has every intention of redshirting Bolton at this point, but is not going to officially redshirt him because DLine is a position where a lot of injuries and fatigue to change plans.

Matt Tait 7 years, 4 months ago

• The plan is to red-shirt Bolton. He's not quite healthy after last year's knee injury and they want to use the year to get him healthy and sculpted and let him play his final two seasons in 2014 and 2015.

• I think Willis will be on the field some — seems like he could play a key role on special teams — but Reynolds and Goodman sound to be playing lights out at Buck so it'll be tough to crack that spot.

• Kande may factor in as a decent depth option, but the injury definitely took away some of his speed and athleticism.

jhox 7 years, 4 months ago

Now this is what I like hearing:

At the Jayhawks prepare to kick off the 2013 season Saturday night with a clean slate, Weis said he believed the presence of junior quarterback Jake Heaps and a variety of weapons around him would make things different this time around.

“I’m looking forward to being able to be more balanced,” he said. “I’m looking forward to, when you come in on Monday, not saying, ‘OK, what are the 80 ways we’re gonna run the ball this week.’ When you’re open to more things that you can do, it makes it a little bit easier.”

kellerman411 7 years, 4 months ago

Is this game gonna be shown on Time Warner in Kansas City? I just searched for it in their listings for Saturday and didn't find it.

Christopher Hauser 7 years, 4 months ago

The first game of the basketball season last year did not show up on the television guide for cox communications in Wichita but it was on. Here is a link to all affiliates. It will be on in KC just not sure what channel but this link should help.

Christopher Hauser 7 years, 4 months ago

Sorry, forgot to post the link, my bad:

This is the basketball link for affiliate networks but since a deal was made recently with KU and providers it is the same for football. There are two games that will be shown on Jayhawk network. The rest are either national or regional if they get picked up.

Bryce Landon 7 years, 4 months ago

This link is outdated. The fact that it lists a "Turner Gill" show is a clue.

Christopher Hauser 7 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for your two cents captain obvious. It is still one of the stations mentioned for KC, just like in wichita, instead of ksn it will be on cox 22. Was merely giving a list of stations to look for the game as it will most likely be on one of them.

Sam Brockert 7 years, 4 months ago

Time warner does not have it in its listings, but I just checked the Metro Sports website and they have it on their schedule here :

go to the top left and pick the 7th on the calendar.

jazzhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

OK, so I am a little embarrassed for asking this, so don't judge. Could someone provide a "key" for what the positions are on the depth chart? Mostly the defense but also wasn't sure what the X and Z were; assumed they were the receivers. Excited about this year and putting together my own cheat sheet. Thanks in advance!

kellerman411 7 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, X and Y are receivers. Normally one represents a player who typically plays on the wide side of the field and tends to run different kinds of routes but really not a whole lot of difference in a fans perspective.

Some of the defensive abbreviations: LC left corner, LE left defensive end, NB Nickel Back, N nose tackle, Buck (Hybrid defensive lineman/linebacker), SS strong safety, WLB Weak side linebacker (side without tight end or short side of the field), MLB middle linebacker (strong side), FS free safety

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 4 months ago


does middle linebacker = Mike linebacker? weakside linebacker = Will linebacker?

Christopher Hauser 7 years, 4 months ago

The X receiver is typically the widest receiver from the tight end. In most formations the X receiver is tethered to the line of scrimmage ( in most formations does not have the ability to go in motion). The x receiver is usually your fastest receiver that can get down the line quick and also strong enough to shuck the chuck from the DB at the LOS. The Z receiver or flanker is usually a couple of yards of the line of scrimmage. IF the Z is lined up on the line of scrimmage then it would make the tight end ineligible. Being off the LOS allows the tight end to be eligible and also for the Z to go in motion. Don't confuse the Z with the slot, usually your z receiver has a lot of the same physical characteristics as the slot but they are not the same receiver position. Y or SL is the slot receiver. The Slot typically lines up between the X and Z. Hope this helps.

jazzhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Thanks! As you can tell, not a great football mind but will get there!

eastcoasthawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Great to hear that our seemingly best DB is playing safety. I really hope that our veteran guys are getting it and improving. We really need that kind of improvement during the off season plus in season. It would speak volumes for the coaching staff and to possible recruits. I'm also looking forward to seeing us improve our 3rd and long rate with a solid passing game. Looking forward to the adventure of the upcoming season. There will be plenty of ups and downs. We could see the improvement from 2011 to 2012. Hope to see more in 2013 and pull off some close wins. Second game in will be a true test of how far we have come. It will be more like a conference game against a solid opponent than a non-con. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Dirk Medema 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm looking forward to some INT's from the BD's this year.

shelleysue 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm hoping that EVERY fans stay in Memorial Stadium until the clock reads 0:00 (at the end of he 4th quarter - not the half). Regardless of the score. I'm also hoping for the most lopsided score in school history. I would really love to see coaches, players, and fans alike, make a huge statement this Saturday and silence the critics that I have grown so tired of hearing. Super excited. Rock Chalk!!!

Micky Baker 7 years, 4 months ago

I believe the biggest margin was when KU beat UAB something like 73-6 or 73-0 during the 90s.

Christopher Hauser 7 years, 4 months ago

I would put money on the first pass play of the season being a receiver screen to Peirson to get him in space right away. Also an easy first throw for Heaps. I am a little worried about McCay's so called lack of breakaway speed at the X position. Hopefully his game speed is faster than his clock speed. Not worried about McCay's strength though.

Christopher Hauser 7 years, 4 months ago

Don't get me wrong, if McCay has a good double move then he could potentially take it to the house. I am sure they have worked on that with him. Then there is the equation of the O-line holding up long enough for the double move. A lot of questions will be answered on Saturday. My 3 biggest things I am going to look at is physicality on the o-line and d-line, completion percentage, and receivers blocking downfield. If we dominate in those three areas on Saturday we are making good progress. I hope not to be talking about the kicking game until we play Rice as that would mean we are finishing drives with 6 and kicking the ball deep on kickoffs.

KGphoto 7 years, 4 months ago

The play calling should be interesting. Regardless of what has been said, and written, Weis probably doesn’t want to show Rice anything. Maybe that means a safe screen pass to Pierson, or maybe that means he wants to hide Pierson a little. If we can simply run over SD with Sims, Cox and Miller, why bother showcasing the game breaker at all? Maybe we’ll see him mix it up a little and keep the flashy plays on the DL.

Or maybe I’m totally wrong, and he wants to cleanse the dirt of 11 straight losses and tune up the offense with big plays against an inferior opponent. Hell, I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out.

I think McCay is a beast in the mold of Dwayne Bowe. If his route running is as crisp as Bowe’s, I think you could draw a pretty close comparison. Considering Bowe’s success, and our lack of, I’ll take a Bowe-like receiver all day. Not everybody can be 220 pound burners.

Randy Bombardier 7 years, 4 months ago

A couple of you guys have mentioned you're glad we have our strongest defender playing center field. I don't know. Maybe, if that gives him more freedom than anyone else to jump routes. That is what has been missing. Tight coverage, risk taking, some man coverage disguised as zone. If this is about him having more opportunity for a take-away, yeah. If it is about playing center field, yuck.

kellerman411 7 years, 4 months ago

I agree. He should be playing the #1 receiver every week. I would rather be really really good at both corners and shaky at safety than the other way around any day of the week.

Christopher Hauser 7 years, 4 months ago

I think Short will end up by conference play on the #1 if not before, just needs to get up to speed with the system.

Christopher Hauser 7 years, 4 months ago

If the DB's are not cutting it, they will move him back in a hurry.

Randy Bombardier 7 years, 4 months ago

Maybe I am naive but I think we are going to so dominate in our first game that we will think it is because of a certain ability to stop the run. Actually, I dont know that we will be that good at stopping the run. Its just that SDSU only won one game last year when they were successful at the run game. So, it looks to be rather obvious that if we want to win this game we better stop the run. So, of course they will try and run play action on us.

Jayhawker111 7 years, 4 months ago

Hard to believe that after a 1 - 11 season that KU fans think that South Dakota will be a cake walk.

North Dakota State just beat K-State. Anybody can beat anybody!

Just because you have not heard of these northern schools does not mean they cannot play the game.

South Dakota will show up under 2nd year coach Glenn and will give KU everything it wants.

Glenn has won national championships at two different levels

Those talking about a blowout --- are clueless.

Game will be a naill biter.

texashawk10 7 years, 4 months ago

Jayhawker111, are you aware of what NDSU and South Dakota did last season? NDSU went 14-1 last year and won their second straight FCS National Championship. South Dakota on the other hand, went 1-10 last year in their first season in the Missouri Valley. South Dakota has also just been a FCS program for a few years and is still adjusting to being an FCS program after moving up from D2.

Jayhawker111 7 years, 4 months ago

North Iowa just beat Iowa State, Eastern Washington just beat Oregon State.

If you think South Dakota will not give KU a tough game, you are in for a shock.

Laurence Cooley 7 years, 4 months ago

is there any word on what has happened to Nasir Moore? someone pointed out on the message board that he is no longer listed on the roster

Kusportsshould Notrequirethis 7 years, 4 months ago

So...If I understand this new TV deal correctly; If one lives in Lawrence and has Directv, then one can't watch games televised on JayhawkTV?

ESPN3 blacks out the KC and state of Kansas, Metro Sports is on Time Warner...

Oh well.. guess I'll just head to the Hill with a radio and listen to Bob.

kufan5 7 years, 4 months ago

Okay..Am I the only one not singing the Cassius song? He's never played a down of D1 football and all of the sudden he's heaven sent. Kool-aid pouring way too fast and the kid has never played this position.

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