You can take the sarcastic football coach out of Jersey, but you can’t take the Jersey sarcasm out of the football coach.
It bubbled to the surface again Tuesday afternoon when Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis turned his attention to the performance of his wide receivers in Saturday’s Coyote-ugly 31-14 victory against South Dakota. The receivers’ hands were as shaky as Barney Fife’s as the deputy fumbled to load his lone shiny bullet into his revolver.
How, the football coach who started his career in the high school ranks of New Jersey before stops at various colleges and NFL teams was asked, do you deal with receivers’ drops?
“Depends on who they are,” Weis said. “I say different things to different players. Usually, it’s the Kmart special.”
“I say, ‘They’re selling hands. Why don’t you go buy yourself a pair.’ Depends on who they are,” he repeated. “Sometimes that hurts their feelings too much.”
At times last year Weis seemed to go out of his way to protect the quarterback he twice recruited and celebrated, Dayne Crist. He could have been mistaken for doing the same Tuesday with Jake Heaps, but that wasn’t the case. Heaps doesn’t need protection from anybody but his blockers. He was far better in his KU debut than his ordinary statistics (10 for 20, 110 yards, one touchdown).
Dayne Crist never looked as good as Heaps looked Saturday. Heaps zipped accurate throws into tight spots.
“There were four or five dropped balls out of 20 passes,” Weis said. “And three throw-aways. Two or three balls that were clearly incompletions out of 20 throws. If we get that percentage again this week, I’ll take that. We obviously have to do a better job of catching the ball and throw-aways are part of what you do. Those are a good thing. They’re not a bad thing. They go down as an incompletion. For me, they go down as a smart play.”
Weis excused one of Jimmay Mundine’s drops because it was thrown to the wrong shoulder. The one drop, more than any, that stuck in the coach’s craw came on the second play.
“Justin (McCay) had the one up the sideline, first (pass) play,” Weis said. “He’s the only one standing. Everyone else is falling down, the ball hits him in the chest. You want to talk about the quarterback throws, how about a 50-yard completion on the first throw of the game? That would have been a good way to start. And the second throw was the one he threads the needle right over the middle linebacker, hits Jimmay right in the hands. We need to make those plays. They know it. I don’t need to tell them. Before they come to the sidelines, they know it.”
And the next day when the coach hands them fliers with instructions on how to shop online at Kmart, they are reminded of it.