Originally published September 9, 2013 at 10:28a.m., updated September 10, 2013 at 12:14a.m.
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, ESPN.com’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.”
RB Cox OK
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.