Originally published September 17, 2013 at 01:21p.m., updated September 18, 2013 at 12:18a.m.

KU defensive lineman Marquel Combs likely to red-shirt

RB Taylor Cox also might take potential red shirt with nagging leg issues

KU defensive tackle Marquel Combs runs through a pass-rush drill during preseason practice.

KU defensive tackle Marquel Combs runs through a pass-rush drill during preseason practice.


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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Charlie Weis

Kansas coach Charlie Weis talks to reporters on Sept. 17, 2013, four days before his team's game against Louisiana Tech.

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The mystery has been solved. The future is clear. Barring something unforeseen happening during the next handful of weeks, junior-college transfer Marquel Combs will red-shirt the 2013 season.

That outcome is far from what most expected from the defensive tackle from Pierce College in California who was ranked by as the top juco prospect in the Class of 2013. But Kansas coach Charlie Weis always has been big on the five-word philosophy he learned from his mentors: Go by what you see.

So far this season, Weis has seen Combs as a player who needed time to absorb KU’s system and make the adjustment to Division I football. In addition, there are players at his position who have played better than Combs week in and week out. That’s why Combs missed the season opener against South Dakota and did not even travel to Rice last week. And that’s why he’ll spend the rest of the season honing his skills as a member of KU’s scout team.

“Everyone gets sent to the same place,” Weis said during his meeting with the media Tuesday. “There’s no prima donnas here. They all have to go to purgatory, so that’s where they’re sent.”

Weis said Combs was open to the idea of red-shirting because it would give him more time in the program and a better chance of becoming an impact player. In addition, the move helps Weis better manage the large number of juco transfers he brought in this season, ensuring they don’t all walk out the door at the same time.

“He’s on board,” Weis said. “We don’t do these things without involving the player. Between (Ty) McKinney, Tedarian Johnson, Combs and (Andrew) Bolton, we were kind of hoping we’d play two of ‘em and save two of ‘em. Everyone was more enamored with the names and we’re more enamored with what’s best for the program. McKinney and Tedarian being here a semester earlier has them way ahead, whereas we think Combs and Bolton have huge upsides.”

So far Combs’ absence on the field has not been all that noticeable. Through two games, the Jayhawks have recorded six sacks, just four fewer than they had all of last season. Some of the credit for that goes to the guys playing in Combs’ spot, and Weis said McKinney, a second-stringer behind senior Keba Agostinho, and starting nose tackle and captain Keon Stowers had been among the best players on KU’s defensive line so far this season.

“We’re gonna do our best for those guys to not see the field this year,” said Weis of Combs and Bolton. “Those are guys waiting in the wings that bode well for the future of our program.”

Cox to follow Combs?

In other red-shirt news Tuesday, Weis said senior running back Taylor Cox, who played in the season opener but left the game late with an injury, had been added to the list of potential red-shirts.

Cox missed last week’s loss at Rice, partly because of the nagging hamstring injury, which Weis said had been recurring, and partly because of a death in the family. Because KU has solid depth at running back with James Sims, Darrian Miller, Tony Pierson and Brandon Bourbon, the Jayhawks have the luxury of waiting to see if Cox can fully heal.

“If it doesn’t get better, we’re gonna look to medical red-shirt Taylor,” Weis said. “If it gets better to the point we can play him, we’ll go ahead and do it. But right now we’ll document it medically and that’s the direction we’re heading right now.”

Offensive changes

KU’s updated depth chart features a number of significant changes on offense, with four new starters in place and a couple of interesting moves happening behind them.

Most of the movement seems to come in response to KU’s struggle with dropped passes, as junior Rodriguez Coleman jumped ahead of junior Justin McCay at X receiver and Trent Smiley replaced Jimmay Mundine at tight end. Weis said both McCay and Mundine would remain key parts of the offense, but it was time to see what the other guys could do.

“We’re two games in,” Weis said. “I’m not cutting anybody. What I’m doing is I’m putting people first that I think give us the best chance. The second guys play, too.”

Other depth chart changes of note include: Riley Spencer moving ahead of Zach Fondal at right tackle; the center position becoming an open competition between Pat Lewandowski and Dylan Admire; and Tedarian Johnson taking Combs’ place behind Stowers at nose tackle.

Asked how the affected players had responded to the changes, Weis answered with brutal honesty.

“I don’t really care how they feel,” he said. “I’m not looking to be buddy-buddy with the players. My job is to fix the problems.”

More work for Bourbon

Junior running back Brandon Bourbon has been highly effective in limited touches so far this season and Weis said Tuesday that the Potosi, Mo., native deserved to be rewarded for his consistency.

Bourbon has averaged 8.2 yards-per-touch in two games and six tries — second, among Jayhawks with five or more touches, only to speed back Tony Pierson, who is averaging 14.8 yards per touch in 12 attempts.

“Bourbon will have an expanded role this week,” Weis said. “I haven’t been sleeping very well since Saturday night and Bourbon and Tony and a couple (other) guys will have expanded roles.”


Red Demon 8 years, 4 months ago

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, unless he just has been that bad. I like to think that Stowers has just been better.

BringBackMark 8 years, 4 months ago

“I don’t really care how they feel,” he said. “I’m not looking to be buddy-buddy with the players. My job is to fix the problems.”

How does he always say the right thing? What he really meant was I don't mean to be buddy-buddy with all of my players, just the ones I like. This entire juco debacle has proved two things: 1) many of these kids are at the juco level for reasons other than wanting to get better and get their grades up and 2) Being a highly touted juco player does not necessarily translate into being a Division 1, Big 12 caliber player.

I must say I've never seen a coach go out and recruit juco players to build for the future. Confusing.

hawk316 8 years, 4 months ago

"Juco debacle," BringBack? I'm not sure that would be an accurate description of what we're seeing. Many of the juco players who have been brought in have been contributing this year, and the coaching staff has high regard for some that are potential redshirts. If you think of this in baseball terms, I think Coach Weis is hitting for a very high average thus far in terms of the juco recruiting.

jayhawk5125 8 years, 4 months ago

I thought Combs had only two to play two. Redshirting him would not be bad.

Matt Tait 8 years, 4 months ago

No way they'd do this if he only had two to play two... And, I agree completely that red-shirting him is a good thing. Weis talked a lot about Combs being behind the others and this gives him time to both catch up and live up to his hype.

Time will tell.

Sae Thirtysix 8 years, 4 months ago

Matt - So is this situation:

A). Combs can play, just needs to increase effort for playing time B). Ranking players from JC is a huge guessing game - hype can take over C). The position is a strength spot of talent

D). all above - not an option

texashawk10 8 years, 4 months ago

It's E) None of the above. This is a case where Combs wasn't here for spring ball which means he missed an offseason of development and of going through the spring practices so he (and the other summer arrivals) is behind the curve in regards to development compared to those who arrived at KU in January and went through offseason conditioning and spring ball.

NikeCortez 8 years, 4 months ago

Hes 3 to play 2. Not that it matters...if he was 5 to play 5 he would still spend all his time tweeting nonsense while the three deep dominate him in practice. Total BUST.

Kip_McSmithers 8 years, 4 months ago

Well at least it's an in house decision and not the NCAAs.

JayDocMD 8 years, 4 months ago

With this new info I'll repost my earlier post with an update.

We all knew heading into this season that this team would have very little margin. It was going to take more things going right than going wrong to turn the corner in the win-loss column. There's a lot of new players at new positions; some apparent upgrades (DB's, DL, kicking game) and some apparently not (OL,WR, QB??) And still very little depth. We needed some things to fall our way with the new guys...

Well guess what. Pretty much ALL those personnel situations have gone against us:

  • Chris Martin = not-so-smooth criminal

  • Nick Harwell = Miami of OH screwjob

  • Pearce Slater = "Family Emergency" / "what have I done leaving CA for KS"

  • Marcus Jenkins-Moore = season-ending injury

  • Marquel Combs = Red-shirt surprise

  • Kevin Short = NCAA screwjob

Did I forget anybody? Sure, we all understand the risk of JUCO's and transfers. But who would have guessed that ALL of these guys would not be playing. These are all guys who we thought would have been/should be starting. These 6 players could've represented over a quarter of a starting football team.

We were never going to be world-beaters this year. But these pre-season hits appear to be more than enough to help sink us and say "next year." The big question for me: with so few underclassmen recruits for development, will we be doing this all over again next year?

  • Side note: The biggest loss of all looks like Nick Harwell. He is just what Heaps and our stagnant offense needs.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 4 months ago

"The big question for me: with so few underclassmen recruits for development, will we be doing this all over again next year?"

It's always possible that we could be in an equally precarious situation again next year, but it's much less likely, because all of the Juco redshirts will still have two years of eligibility after this season. And while recruiting Juco is risky business, now we already have these guys on campus and in practice and in the strength program. (a bird in the hand?)

We have other guys who are sitting out this year, too... Andrew Bolton (I think), new QB transfer TJ Millweard.

Essentially the boost that we were expecting this season, should be even greater next season because these guys will have practiced and worked out and waited for a year.

Brandon Pope 8 years, 4 months ago

I agree that these hits were huge, but the bright side is this: most of these guys are on the defensive side of the ball and our defense has held its own thus far with room to grow. Sure I would love to have MJM and Short out there bringing the wood, but if we can save those guys and Combs for next year I am fine with that.

The only place this team is really hurting is the passing game, so obviously any position that could have bolstered that part of the game for us would have been huge. I think Harwell is the biggest loss of the year, followed by Slater. These guys could have had huge impact on the passing game.

Ryan Woods 8 years, 4 months ago

I love how you just seem to forget the transfers from last year who are now our starters. Not to mention we have around 17 or 18 transfers this year and you can only name 6 who haven't really panned out as we would like. We have plenty of transfers this year, who are already making a contribution. We're only two games in so chill out.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 4 months ago

" And still very little depth"?

Really? On D in particular we are 2-deep at just about every position, and so deep at RB that Coach is creating new positions. Yes, the rest of the O is a bit more sparse, but our depth has improved tremendously this year.

texashawk10 8 years, 4 months ago

KU may have a 2 deep on the DLine, but against the hurry up spread offenses, you realistically need to be 3 deep to adequate depth on the DLine. Ross was gashing the defense at the end because of fatigue along the DLine.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 4 months ago

I actually like the idea of redshirting for both of these guys.

I know that Cox wants to play because he's afraid that his age will hurt his NFL stock, but he would be a heck of an asset to have on the team next season after Sims has graduated.

Combs is more likely to accept a redshirt season because it allows for him to play two more seasons with his buddy MJM. I'm sure that it's a little bit disappointing for him, but an extra year in the strength program would be very good for him.

Meanwhile, it's looking more and more like next year could be our year. Unfortunately, it means that this year keeps looking more and more like last year.

Brandon Pope 8 years, 4 months ago

I am fine with this. The defensive line (and the defense in general) has been the shining star of this very young season. If we can hold a guy like that out and still compete in the league then why not. Building for the future.

Al Martin 8 years, 4 months ago

Respectfully disagree that the d-line has been great. They applied no pressure on the Rice QB. Our linebackers and defensive backs are terrific, and are carrying the line at this point.

To your larger point, yes. The offense has a ways to go, and this year isn't likely to be that great because of it. So stacking up some talent for next year makes a lot of sense.

Ethan Berger 8 years, 4 months ago

Don't know what game you were watching. They were all over the Rice qb, he just scrambled away.

Al Martin 8 years, 4 months ago

Don't know what game you were watching. The QB had tons of time to throw. When he scrambled away, it was after several seconds in the pocket. Our sacks were coverage sacks or 'backer blitzes.

Ethan Berger 8 years, 4 months ago

from my spot, we had a lot of initial pressure. pressure was fine

texashawk10 8 years, 4 months ago

Most of the pressure came from the Buck position which is primarily a pass rushing position. The pass rush wasn't elite, but it was adequate and it wore McHargue out to the point that Rice had to bring in their back up QB because McHargue was worn out.

Ethan Berger 8 years, 4 months ago

And scored 16 Pts all game. Yds mean nothing without points

Ethan Berger 8 years, 4 months ago

which is true, but we also have to remember that they had the ball for 7 more minutes. That is a big difference in football if you aren't scoring on huge plays, which we were not.

Ryan Woods 8 years, 4 months ago

Rice put up 31 points on 300 yards rushing on Texas A&M.

LAJayhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Legitimate point, but also needs the caveat that A&M has a pretty awful defense for a top 25 team.

KGphoto 8 years, 4 months ago

So our defense is better than TAM? I like it. Progress!

Dirk Medema 8 years, 4 months ago

and A&M had half the D suspended or something like that.

KGphoto 8 years, 4 months ago

6 players, but really wouldn’t you take TAM’s second and third string talent? An offense that runs for 300 yards against a team that nearly beat Alabama the following week is nothing shy of potent. I personally think Rice is greatly underrated because they are a small school.

Brandon Mahon 8 years, 4 months ago

Coleman is starting over McCay?? So McCay has not been the savior we thought he would be.... And Parmelee who is under 6 foot is starting... HMMM idk if i like the move you would think that McCay and Coleman would be the starting two and our best chances at receiver. Check out the updated depth chart

Dirk Medema 8 years, 4 months ago

CW was talking about getting more looks for Coleman as he grasped the O in order to use his speed to stretch the field.

And Parmalee's height (lack thereof) should hold him back?

There are lots of other shake-ups in the new depth chart

Smiley ahead of Mundine

Spencer ahead of Fondal

Damon Martin backing up both RG & C (no Admire)

It is cool that there also seems to be a bit more depth to keep competition going for the 2-deep as well as starts.

Doug Cramer 8 years, 4 months ago

So next year's D-line.

Stowers - Combs - Bolton - Reynolds/Goodman at Buck ???

McKinney and Tedarian Johnson to add depth.

hmmmm....this may not be too bad. Need to get some young stud freshmen in here to start developing though.

Doug Cramer 8 years, 4 months ago

I do have to ask this question though. Does anyone still have the Kool-Aid IV hooked up ??? LMAO ... My 3-9 prediction may end up being too optimistic. Time to move on to basketball...and look forward to the 2014 football Jayhawks :)

Bee Bee 8 years, 4 months ago

Three wins was where I was. Those saying bowl eligible were a LITTLE ahead of themselves. I d like to be proven wrong. The RICE game tells me I wont be. If KU can't handle RICE, what does the Big 12 hold in store for them? Not good.

Doug Cramer 8 years, 4 months ago

Maybe we can somehow get Heaps a medical redshirt too...that way we have him for a couple more years lol

namohcan_99 8 years, 4 months ago

After seeing his play the last two games, are you sure you want that extra year?

Robert Brock 8 years, 4 months ago

He looked good. His mistake was throwing easy-to-catch passes. Our receivers can't handle that.

BringBackMark 8 years, 4 months ago

The lateral over the receivers head looked really good. Actually that was just another bonehead play called by Weis. However, Heaps is slower than molasses in January and we keep having him run back to the ball carrier instead of pitching or going to the shotgun. Cummings would be a vast improvement for our offense but he won't see the light of day again until its too late.

jayhawkinATL 8 years, 4 months ago

How does the #1 rated JUCO player NOT crack the lineup of one of the crappier FBS teams??? Just doesn't add up.

jayhawkinATL 8 years, 4 months ago's not like we have stellar D-line play.

Red Demon 8 years, 4 months ago

Maybe he was overrated, or maybe he was beat out by someone that had been on the team longer?

jayhawkinATL 8 years, 4 months ago

Way overrated, apparently. ESPN better re-check the credentials of its scouts.

Ethan Berger 8 years, 4 months ago

Not a joke, just hard to evaluate. In basketball, schemes are minimal. Can he jump? Shoot? Pass? Dribble? Easy stuff to evaluate compared to football. How does a player adopt schemes? He can look like an all star in a vanilla scheme. Suddenly how complex can change things. Take RG3. High school 3. Star player. Why did recruiting agencies screw? Played in a triple option offense. On the other side you have Matt Barkley who threw a lot in high school. So much more unknowns then in basketball.

79ictjhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Big12 football is a big step up from JUCO football. Give him time to adjust. He'll give the program two solid years this way.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 4 months ago

I concur. With Combs, Bolton, Cox and Moore redshirting we can be improved next year. This can also mean we can recruit more from high schools instead of bulking up on JUCO players. I'm sure we will add a few JUCO players, but at least this class can be more focused on the future rather than the here and now.

Rivethead 8 years, 4 months ago

You must have a short memory. Jocque Crawford was the #1 rated JUCO RB. And Jocque was far from good at KU.

texashawk10 8 years, 4 months ago

Because offseason conditioning and spring practice make a huge difference in the development of players. Combs was not at KU for those and the new DLinemen who are playing were here in January.

Andy Tweedy 8 years, 4 months ago

Seems like an area we can take the hit, so if he's on board with it, not sure why I wouldn't be. I loved my time on the Hill, an extra year would have ruled!!!

Tony Bandle 8 years, 4 months ago

2013 win totals:

One would be a disaster.

Two would be mediocre.

Three would be just OK.

Four would be about right.

Five would be very encouraging.

Six schedule a parade down Massachussetts.

Seven, drug test every player, coach, manager, cheerleader and the entire band!!

kellerman411 8 years, 4 months ago

Eight: Turn ourselves in to the NCAA and pray for forgiveness.

mikehawk 8 years, 4 months ago

I would call two wins a major disappointment because this team, and players like Combs and Slater have been over-hyped by this website, its followers, and to some extent, the head coach. This raises expectations among the faithful which quickly turns to outrageous criticism, ie., fire the coach, fire the AD, fire Keegs, get rid of the damn track, rehire Mangino, when does basketball start... talk. Let's be honest with ourselves. This is a massive rebuilding of a D-1 football program which is at the depths at a basketball school. Who knows if Uncle Charlie can turn it around, but right now, he is the only game in town. To bring in this many JUCO players is an act of desperation and it might just not work. Speaking of desperation, this program desperately needs to win this Saturday to double the number of wins from last year. Any win after that may be gravy this year.

mikehawk 8 years, 4 months ago

By the way, I've blogged four wins and we do the Mass parade thing.

Bee Bee 8 years, 4 months ago

After Rice I may suggest a parade if KU wins this Sat!

leonard 8 years, 4 months ago

A big thanks, to the LJW staff for getting the Combs situation sorted out.

Pbbut 8 years, 4 months ago

All I can say is that if everyone is on board and puts in the work, there are going to be some wars starting in the spring for PT. It's got to help with game performance, and the guys not red-shirting will have a year's worth of Big 12 battles behind them.
After last Saturday, I guess I'm a little more realistic about where we are. I think we'll still have a chance to win some games this year, but after the coming weekend, we'll likely be the dog in each game unless someone goes completely off the rails.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 4 months ago

none of us truly saw this as a bowl year anyway. the more redshirts, the better. Combs is on board to improve himself and help the team. wouldn't be surprised a year from now he explodes.

HighQ 8 years, 4 months ago

The D line coming--Along, good news for Campo--Combs proves true next year.

Dyrk Dugan 8 years, 4 months ago

at least now we know. like someone said above, i couldn't believe a four star top JUCO recruit, couldn't crack the two deep of this team....and so with him RSing, it makes perfect sense.

so now our football team's roster is set. we are going with who's been this year, no Short, no Combs, no Jenkins-Moore, no Slater, no Bolton, no Martin and no Harwell......we're going to have to live and die with who's already been doing battle already.

it's time for another streak to end. i was in the stands when we nipped UNI in the last 10 seconds, two years ago....our last win over an FBS team. this Saturday, it's time for another one.

Go Jayhawks!

Jim Jackson 8 years, 4 months ago

This is definitely a testament to the current group on the D line. Keba, Stowers and Tedarian Johnson all look pretty good as do Michael Reynolds and Ben Goodman.

Our defense is in good shape evidenced by the fact that we shut down Rice better than A&M did.

Adam McEwen 8 years, 4 months ago

Bottom line: Defense: good enough to win games Special Teams: good enough to win games Running game: good enough to win games O-Line: not great, but good enough to win games Quarterback: good enough to win games Receivers: get open and actually catch the damn ball and we win games

dumbarton 8 years, 4 months ago

Why aren't we running more delayed screen passes coming out of the backfield to Sims, Miller or Pierson?

Joe Ross 8 years, 4 months ago

Jesus! Forget the screen passes. Why aren't we going down the FIELD? That dink and dunk stuff grates on my nerves!

Andy Tweedy 8 years, 4 months ago

We went down the field to McCay and it got picked off. We went down the field to Mundine and Heaps made the mistake of putting it right in his hands. Last week, we went down the field to Coleman and it was over his head. They've tried to go down that field and it has gotten goose eggs. I think I even recall Coleman dropping one that was down the field against Rice.

NebraskaJayhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

I agree with you, Jross. The problem is who we are sending downfield. Why would you send McCay, a receiver with average speed, downfield when you have burners on your roster and receivers with length as well. The deep bomb to McCay made no sense whatsoever. Send McCay over the middle or use him as a decoy deep, but he is not the best option deep to throw to.

KGphoto 8 years, 4 months ago

He’s supposed to win the jump balls. Just because he’s not a burner doesn’t mean he can’t go deep. He just needs assert himself better. For crying out loud the CB is giving up 20 pounds to the guy.

Andy Godwin 8 years, 4 months ago

“I haven’t been sleeping very well since Saturday night and Bourbon and Tony and a couple (other) guys will have expanded roles.” Neither have I over the terrible play calling on Saturday. Despite all of the finger pointing and dropped passes, poor coaching decisions lost that game to Baylor. Weis creates problems by trying to be too creative at times instead of just pounding the heck out of a smaller opponent (even Baylor admitted that KU players were bigger and stronger). His game plan provided Baylor a chance and they took advantage. Clearly the experts don't think much of KU if only a 10 point favorite against Bulldogs this week (if the trends continue the safe bet is the Bulldogs with the points). Looks like it could be a close contest unless Weis goes with the strength of the team and then mix in the pass. Run Charlie Run.

NebraskaJayhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Baylor is down the road a ways. Just thought I'd point that out. Maybe you had a vision or something. I guess Rice and Baylor are both from the state of Texas. That's about all they have in common though.

Jim Jackson 8 years, 4 months ago

I know I have repeated this excessively- but did anyone else notice that we did not run any play action against Rice after our RBs were consistently being tackled for loss?

I hope that's the last time Charlie calls a game as bad as that because last year he did a good job of creating an offense with limited capabilities.

As far as the redshirting goes; Charlie and co. know what they are doing but I'm not sure what the worry is about? It's not like they won't be able to recruit other talented D linemen from the JUCO ranks.

NebraskaJayhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Play action should be a huge part of our gameplan and yes I noticed. Actually there were several comments before the game about the need for it.

KGphoto 8 years, 4 months ago

He’s not a KU fan, he’s a Mangino dingleberry.

Triceec 8 years, 4 months ago

Brock it starts with the offense of line. Any QB is good if they have a OL. Look at Brady, Peyton wonderful OL.

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