Originally published September 9, 2013 at 10:28a.m., updated September 10, 2013 at 12:14a.m.

Weis: Top KU football recruit Combs a backup, for now


Because of his colorful personality and impressive recruiting ranking, defensive lineman Marquel Combs stood out this offseason among the long list of newcomers to Kansas University’s football team.

As it turns out, Combs,’s top-ranked junior-college prospect in the country, is just like everybody else — a player fighting for his chance to play.

After he was left out of the defensive game plan during Saturday’s 31-14 victory against South Dakota, many wondered what caused the lack of playing time for the 6-foot-3, 300-pound tackle. KU coach Charlie Weis addressed it broadly in post-game comments and reiterated it Monday morning on the Big 12 coaches teleconference.

“There’s a number of these guys, the new juco guys, that although they’re not playing much right now, we see the potential of going from backups to front-line guys for them as the year goes on,” Weis said Monday, referencing Combs specifically.

Weis seemed confident that his prized recruit knows things can change quickly in the coming weeks.

“He knows the sky’s the limit for him,” Weis said. “And he’s gonna have to work his way up the ladder.”

As for the defense as a whole, Weis said he was fairly pleased with KU’s run defense against USD, but added that the Jayhawks must do a better job on quarterback runs off the edge as they face tougher, more wide-open Big 12 offenses.

USD quarterback Josh Vander Maten had success fleeing the pocket on multiple occasions Saturday, and Weis said containing the QB would be a point of emphasis for the rest of the season, starting with this week against Rice and quarterback Taylor McHargue.

Because Vander Maten threw the ball just 18 times, KU’s revamped secondary remains a bit of a question mark. Weis said he would look forward to seeing how the unit performs during a tougher Week 2 test at Rice.

“When you’re transitioning so many new guys in there, you expect there’s gonna be some rust and wrinkles when you get going,” Weis said. “So many guys were playing new on defense, and I was interested to see how that was gonna play out. They didn’t get challenged very much because South Dakota didn’t throw it very much, but I think we’ll get a different view this week.”


KU coach Charlie Weis said Monday on his weekly radio show that he was pleased with how his team emerged healthy from last week’s opener. That included senior running back Taylor Cox, who seemed to suffer a leg injury after a big gain late in the game.

“I’d say I’d list him right now as probable,” Weis said of Cox. “He was much better Sunday than he was Saturday, and he was much better (Monday) than he was (Sunday). Unless something unforeseen happens, I think by Saturday he should be set and ready to go.”

Cox gained 44 yard on six carries during Saturday’s victory.

Victory helps lessons

While snapping an 11-game losing streak and kicking the 2013 season off on a high note were highlights of the weekend, Weis said Monday that there was another advantage to the opening-week victory.

“The best part about winning a game is there’s so many things you can criticize after a win that’s easier to do than when you do it after a loss,” he said. “From the volume of penalties we had to drop balls to quarterback runs, there’s a number of things we can get better from that game.”

Week 3 kickoff set

KU’s Week 3 match-up slated for Sept. 21 at home against Louisiana Tech will kick off at 11 a.m. and be televised by Fox Sports 1, the Big 12 Conference announced Monday.

Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. game at Rice in Houston will be shown on CBS College Sports Network.


jayhawk5125 7 years, 1 month ago

Hope to see Combs give Stowers a breather when able. I'm not worried about Combs not playing last week, KU didn't need him necessarily.

This is a very big game for KU. The Hawks need to run, run and run some more, than pass over their heads when the defense is tired. Sims, Miller, Cox, Bourbon, Pierson. Those are five capable backs that can take it to the house.

I really hope KU can get the W!

KGphoto 7 years, 1 month ago

“... run, run and run some more, than pass over their heads when the defense is tired.”

That’s what we tried last year. Fail. We need to run as long as it’s working.

KGphoto 7 years, 1 month ago

I think you know me a little better than that. I get the basic concepts of a balanced offense, ralster. What I’m saying is, we would’ve won that Rice game had we stuck with the run. Trying to be two dimensional when we weren’t capable is what killed our momentum.

Did you watch the game Saturday? 50% passing for 110 yards, and 280 yards rushing. This IS last year unless some receivers start catching some passes. If you want to be balanced and competitive you better be able to throw on any down you want and complete a pass. Reesing, Meier, Briscoe and company could do this. Coupled with an effective run game they were balanced.

I think what you meant was we cannot remain a 50%, 110 yard passing team, otherwise we WILL be one dimensional. Just throwing it so we can try to show we are two dimensional is no less vanilla than running every down. Not if you suck at throwing it. I don’t care if it’s the receiver’s fault or the QB’s fault, or the OL’s fault. Until we learn to pass, we should be a run heavy team.

mikehawk 7 years, 1 month ago

I still can't understand the reason you wouldn't at least get him in the game. My only explanation is the need to reach his mind through his butt. Motivation?

Jim Jackson 7 years, 1 month ago

We need to start play action; did not do it at all against SD.

Maybe Weis is saving it for future opponents as I am sure he has plenty up his sleeve.

John Myers 7 years, 1 month ago

And we need to stop running the Jayhawk formation. I think we ran that what, four times, for maybe 0 yards?

gorilla10 7 years, 1 month ago

YES!!!!!! Jayhawk forwation with Mathews doesn't work at all. I don't think we've ever thrown out of it. It's too easy to stop....waste of down

Dale Stringer 7 years, 1 month ago

They need to renamed it the "I'm Christian Matthews and I taking the ball myself" play.

bcoJayhawk 7 years, 1 month ago

Matt, thanks for the update. How are we health-weis? (see what I did there?!?) Is everybody good to go for the Rice game? I guess the one I'm most interested in is Pat Lewandowski.

pbouldenv 7 years, 1 month ago

I can't wait to see Combs take the field. He is going to be a good one.

Chris Bailey 7 years, 1 month ago

The announcers on TV Saturday said he started and he and Goodman were in on the tackle. But they referenced him as #90 which is Kevin Young. I checked and Combs is #92. I even went back and watched the game and sure enough it was Young that pressured up the middle to help force the sack seeing both his name and number. Not sure where the announcers got the numbers mixed up. Anyway I thought that was noteworthy. So I don't know if Combs even played. I didn't notice after that him being in the game. Did anyone actually see him in the game? I saw McKinney but no Combs. Maybe I missed it.

Lance Cheney 7 years, 1 month ago

Jesse wrote in his article yesterday that Combs didn't play a single snap. Kind of interesting for him not to play one snap, since he is tied for second on the depth chart.

Chris Bailey 7 years, 1 month ago

Are they thinking red shirt then? Seems logical if he's not going to play.

Lance Cheney 7 years, 1 month ago

I think technically he's still eligible for a red-shirt, but the way Weis talks, he still has plans to use him this season. I guess we'll see what happens as the year goes on.

cozzhawk 7 years, 1 month ago

The slot receiver wasn't incorporated much into the offense. Hopefully it will be and it was just something coach didn't want to show yet.

clevelandjayhawker 7 years, 1 month ago

I kinda wonder if there was a one game ban, something he did or said that kept him from playing but wasnt worth letting the whole world know about. If he has a big game saturday then I will be questioning this "ladder" statement even more.

gorilla10 7 years, 1 month ago

STUDENTS!!! Good work for the first time in 4 years. You showed up, cheered and stayed for the second half. It sure is nice to see a full student section and it will make a difference come Big12 games. Good work.....KEEP IT UP

kay_you 7 years, 1 month ago

About 8k shy of a sell out but give a game ball to the students for making noise and staying to the end. Maybe they can hold a raffle at the end of the game and give away free b-ball tickets. That might fill up the stands and keep them there for all 4 quarters.

Jim Jackson 7 years, 1 month ago

I concur gorilla, I was pleasantly surprised to see them still at the game. As for the WR's we need to get Coleman in the game as much as possible; he can really spread the field with his speed whch we have not had in a while. I hope him and Ford seem more time as opposed to Pamalee.

jazzhawk 7 years, 1 month ago

I only saw the second half and at the end of the game, Lewandowski came up hobbling. Was there any follow-up to that, or was it just a tweak that he walked off?

Micky Baker 7 years, 1 month ago

If the opposing team stacks the box with 8 or 9, then this would be a good opportunity to let Pierson or any of the backs leak out for a quick pass underneath and once one breaks the first tackle. I do think we should run the ball but we need to be running about 90 plays a game, not 70. Maybe some slants and some other routes that set up the long ball where the safety bites and the receiver can get a step or two on the defender and get some long TD plays.

The Jayhawk formation, if you're not ever going to throw out of that formation, don't use it at all. It's very ineffective and it doesn't appear that there were good decisions made by Matthews on it. It doesn't have to be a long throw, but something to slow the pursuit.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends, please catch the ball when it hits you in the hands. Also, if we're going to use Pierson and the defense is playing zone, let him find a weak spot and get the ball to him. If they have to go to man to man after being burned a few times by that, then you'll have more receivers with size going up against smaller DBs one on one. We will have the advantage.

I know it's early, but the Jayhawk formation just made me cringe every time it was used. Don't waste a down with it.

KURiggins 7 years, 1 month ago

Coach Campo is trying to make us two deep at each position. Its a good plan and a must in the Big 12. As far as the comment just run and run etc. ..We did that last year and went 1 and 11. We have a great QB now. Crist and Cummings, neither was a threat to opposing defenses. Comparing Heaps to either is an insult. Go back and look at the tape. It may have just been SD, but bad QBs i.e. Dayne C even with time stink. All Heaps did was make great throws(could have been 15 of 20 easy..easy) if our TE/WR could catch. He goes thru progressions like a pro. McCay was not his primary target on the TD pass. Heaps is just that good. With our great running game there is NO reason we should not be great at playaction. And we have to be. I like to run too, but we will be 1 and 11 again if we cannot pass. Crazy to think we can win just running. The secret is out. The Big 12 knows we can run. We have to show why we got Heaps. Our line MUST protect him and receivers must catch and our passing game should be much improved. I also think we should shortens games and limit touches for our opponents by running and short pa passes. Eat up clock and limit touches for the other team. But sorry, we do have to pass.

Ken Schmidt 7 years, 1 month ago

Matt, was it me or were there a very large number of successful run attempts that seemed to have capitalized from targeting Agostinho and taking him out of the play? That seam opened up fairly often and generally produced ~5 yards of running room. I do not remember reading anything specific about his fall camp. Is this an area of flux?

Brandon Avey 7 years, 1 month ago

It would definitely help the team out if Weis called shorter passing plays. It looked like every pass play was a long drawn out deep pass. All the WRs seemed to run deep routes. Just throw the short/intermediate stuff and the big pass plays will come. That's what works. We will get nowhere with these long developing pass plays.

Micky Baker 7 years, 1 month ago

I agree.

Take the short pass when it's wide open and there is no way they can get to Heaps to sack him. If it's a screen play that is called, simply drop back and then pop it to the back once the defense get's close and any one of our guys can make the first guy miss and then the defense on the other side is in trouble if we can do that. It's the same thing that was done to us all year last year. The little short passes most of the game, then bam, a team would run up 21 points on maybe 10 offensive plays when they start to cheat up on the short passes.

Triceec 7 years, 1 month ago

My reaction to the game was good, a lot of positive things are going down with ku football. As for offense cut them some slack, a lot of them boys just now playing D1 football. That receiver Coleman I think he will do big things this year, after all he does have the # 1 jersey... He has the speed, agility, the arms. Have u guys checked out his record, he was GCL all American, just to name a few, he went to state in track. Hopefully he will bring it.. Ku needs a awesome receiver..

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