Tuesday, September 24, 2013

KU football still tinkering with trial and error of faster tempo on both offense and defense

Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps throws to the sideline against Rice late in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas.

Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps throws to the sideline against Rice late in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas.


Through three games, the Kansas University offense has flashed its share of the up-tempo offense that has become as common in the Big 12 as games played in Texas.

The idea for KU to incorporate a faster pace into its offensive flow came during the offseason, when head coach Charlie Weis, linebackers coach Clint Bowen and associate head coach in charge of defense Dave Campo first put their heads together to try to figure out a way for KU’s defense to keep up with the rest of the Big 12.

What they decided on was to have two offensive units ready to roll at all times during certain portions of practice. One would run the play that was called against KU’s defense and the other would wait on the sideline, ready to rush to the line of scrimmage as soon as the previous play had ended. What resulted was a fire drill of sorts, that sent the two offenses running around like mad men and the defense battling to keep up.

“Twelve seconds or less,” Weis said, when asked how quickly the KU offenses were snapping the ball during the drill. “I’d say that’s faster than most all of the teams (in the Big 12). Twelve seconds was the latest. There were times we snapped it in eight, snapped it in 10. We almost couldn’t snap it in time for the guys to get off (the field) so the conditioning was really for the offensive players running off the field after every play. When we first started doing it was kind of comical to watch to be honest with you.”

As time went on, the KU defense became more comfortable facing the faster tempo. That does not mean KU’s defensive players always found a way to stop the plays that were run against them, but they did get to the point where they felt more at ease facing such chaos.

“It’s similar to a baseball batter,” linebacker Jake Love said. “All season he’s seeing 80 mph fastballs and then he sees a 90 or 100 mph fastball and he’s like, ‘Oh, crap.’ Us being able to see (offenses) at a faster pace in practice helps everything slow down when we get into the games.”

None of KU’s first three opponents ran the kind of up-tempo style the 2-1 Jayhawks will see when they face the likes of Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech during the next nine weeks, but there were times, particularly against Rice and Louisiana Tech, when KU’s defense was tested. In the loss at Rice, the Owls ran 78 plays. Last week, Louisiana Tech ran 87 plays.

So far, the Jayhawks’ offense has averaged 71 plays a game, but has employed the no-huddle look from time to time. In the opener, a 31-14 victory against South Dakota, KU had a stretch in which it snapped the ball at an average of 14-15 seconds. That’s easily as fast as any of the Big 12 offenses and, according to Weis, a result of the offense preparing the defense for faster speeds in practice.

“We’ve been working on this quite some time,” Weis said earlier this season. “And that was part of my thought methodology back in November and December, when I was thinking about trying to get our defense better. If we’re going to practice it, let’s do it ourselves. I’m an offensive guy. You think I want them doing all that work and not getting anything out of it for the offense?”

For a team that features an almost entirely new offensive line, a new quarterback and a new batch of wide receivers, three games is hardly enough time to make a definitive call on whether the offense is effective or not. But one thing is certain: KU must score more points on a more consistent basis if it hopes to compete in the conference this season. The Jayhawks are averaging just 19.3 points per game, the second lowest mark in the Big 12. Only 2-2 West Virginia averages fewer, at 18 points per outing, and six of the league’s 10 teams have averaged 32 points per game or more. Weis knows that and you can bet he will be emphasizing it this week as the Jayhawks go through their second and final bye of the season.

“We were much more productive in the pass game (against Louisiana Tech),” Weis said Monday morning. “But now we have to be able to tie the run game and the pass game together. We’re still not scoring enough points to win, and that’s where we have to make our drastic improvement.”


John Fitzgerald 7 years ago

You obviously don't have the intelligence to understand why an offensive coordinator is important. An offensive coordinator is still controlled by the coach and they will still use the same playbook. The biggest difference is the people in the booth won't have to tell Weis what is going on from their perspective so he can decide on a play. They would by pass that step and make the play call themselves. Now you may question their ability to do that effectively. You have a right to question that because Weis has been a very successful offensive coordinator. But most great coaches have done and been the same. The difference is those coaches are great leaders in that they empower their staff to make trusted decisions on what will help the team succeed. All Weis is doing by not having an offensive coordinator is showing he can't trust anyone else to make the calls and also showing his inability to be a successful leader. If you want to know something about being a successful boss or leader I will tell you that delegation is a huge part of that. If you cannot delegate tasks you will fail. It's not all about the work you do, it's about the people you lead and the work they do. If you can't understand that then I beg you to leave your opinions elsewhere.

Al Martin 7 years ago

Oh, for Pete's sake. Like you've demonstrated the infallible judgment that qualifies you to be the arbiter of posts.

Sorry, bub, you're just another pompous blowhard like the rest of us.

BringBackMark 7 years ago

ralster is either a relative of Weis or just a misguided soul. He/She see's something that just isn't there. If Weis doesn't give up the offense he'll be gone, at the latest, next year. Give up the pro crap and get in the real world.

KGphoto 7 years, 1 month ago

Has Campo ever given any detail as to why he kept giving LaTech a 7 yard cushion, even though they kept exploiting it for 7-10 yard gains off quick sideline passes? I was pulling my hair out watching that play. I bet it accounted for half their yards on the day.

It’s about the only pass Higgins could complete. Why not take it away?

On the offensive side I can see Weis beginning to realize he’ll never run a true pro-style offense at KU. One of the reasons we have such parity in college football is because the little/slow guys figured out a way to keep up with the big/fast guys offensively. IMHO, the more Charlie goes with the flow (swallows his pride) the more competitive we’ll be. At least until we can get our roster more established.

Bee Bee 7 years ago

Amen KGphoto, It s hard to believe that well paid coaches can't see the opponent running the same play over and over for success. MOVE UP on the receivers.

KGphoto 7 years ago

Hey, I’m still a big Weis fan. The fact is, his offense requires skill and precision. College kids aren’t often precise. Not by any measure. It comes with being young. Secondly, you have to admit he’s not running much that resembles a pro offense to this point. Like you said, he’s turning every stone. That means he realizes he can’t run what he ran in the NFL. He’s sticking to his roots but he’s adapting as needed.

I trust he’ll keep tuning it up. He’s open to change, all the while being a strict disciplinarian. That’s a good combo.

At this point my best guess is we’ll end up with something that is unique to KU. Unique to Charlie Weis, and honestly, unique to college football. An offense that is tailored to fit. It will work, but like you said (reps needed)


BringBackMark 7 years ago

So bringing in a senior transfer last year and all of these (soon to be gone, if not most of them already) juco transfers this year is going to help build this big CW offense? What a JOKE! That will happen as soon as his center of gravity moves above his ankles! Let's get in the college game and give up the "trying to put my old quarterbacks in the pros" mentality.

KU 7 years, 1 month ago

Matt, what I really want to know is when are we going to roll out some really cool uniforms? If we just wore some kickin' unis, we would score more points and win more decisively. The Smiley, Cuddly Jayhawk helmet emblem needs to go, too. The 1941 War Hawk is the ONLY Jayhawk emblem that should be allowed on a football helmet......ever.

jhox 7 years, 1 month ago

The '41 War Hawk needs to be the primary Jayhawk, period. Football, basketball, track...doesn't matter. We need a bird with attitude. I'm amazed how many times I've commented to people that it's my favorite version, and how many times people have said, "Me too." I didn't realize how many people are aware of it.

Save the smiley Jayhawk for little kids' birthday parties or the band uniforms. Our athletes need to be wearing the scowling hawk.

They did put it on one of the helmets for this season, but I'm not sure when they're breaking that one out. The KSU game would be nice.

KU 7 years, 1 month ago

I get the same response every time I wear my t-shirt with the '41 War Hawk on it. People go out of their way to tell me how much they like it and ask me where I got it. KU fans instinctively LOVE the attitude the War Hawk portrays. I say we even replace the giant midcourt Jayhawk with the War Hawk.

About the only mascot I am aware of that is LESS intimidating than the modern Jayhawk is the UMKC Kangaroo.

bennettcl 7 years ago

I don't think anyone is intimidated by a mascot. I think the current mascot logo is perfect. It's more marketable than the '41 Jayhawk. And why wouldn't the Jayhawk be smiling? He's used to dominating on the hardwoods. Let's be honest outside of a few years, we have always been less than stellar on the gridiron. I don't think a mascot would help that..

actorman 7 years ago

You make a good point about the '41 Hawk, but let's not get ridiculous about UMKC being the only less intimidating mascot. There are MANY mascots that are not intimidating out there, whether it be the Oregon Ducks, the Tulane Green Wave, the Maryland Terrapins, etc., etc. KU's is just one of many.

Bee Bee 7 years ago

I d settle for a BUZZARD on the helmet if KU wins games! Uniforms are low on my list of priorities for this team I guess. Just saying.

Bee Bee 7 years ago

Wins seem to be slightly more important than uniforms. The traditional football powers rarely change uniforms and do fairly well. Bama, Notre Dame, SC, Michigan Ohio State, etc. Wins please.

texashawk10 7 years ago

I agree the Warhawk is the best logo, but I would love to see an updated version of it that looks more modern.

Bee Bee 7 years ago

Alabama has plain uniforms with a number on the helmet. Hardly fancy but they seem to do okay. Wins please.

KU 7 years ago

You obviously didn't get the tongue-in-cheek nature of my post.

actorman 7 years ago

Whoops, guess I missed that one too. Clearly you needed the sarcasm font.

Kevin Randell 7 years, 1 month ago

A couple of things. 1. Matt, how long have you waited, and how good does it feel to put "the 2-1 Jayhawks" in a 2. I know the receivers are still having trouble with catching the ball. I just remembered something Leach use to do at Texas Tech. He would have his Wide Receivers line up across, with a little distance, and catch tennis balls coming out of the shooter. It really seemed to help with the Wide Receivers hand-eye coordination and catching abilities. I am not sure if they have thought about using that idea, but hey if it worked for them, may be it might work for us?

Bville Hawk 7 years, 1 month ago

Mangino used the tennis ball drill at KU as I recall. Maybe he picked it up from Leach?

Kevin Randell 7 years, 1 month ago

I "hate" to give credit where credit is due, but both of them came from Bob Stoops staff so I think it might have come from either him, or Snyder. But either way, it seemed to work.

UPNYA 7 years ago

Maybe that's why OU gave him the boot. He couldn't catch a tennis ball.....

David A. Smith 7 years, 1 month ago

I don't think we can make that call until the line gels. We'll know more once the struggles on the line are eliminated. Controlling that variable will expose any other deficiencies.

BayPark 7 years, 1 month ago

Speeding up the offense is risky, because if it doesn't work, it's awfully tough on a gassed defense.

Robert Brock 7 years, 1 month ago

Our offense will work if the line blocks. Fast or slow. Just block.

David Leathers 7 years ago

That's what you got from that picture?

I could have swore we lost because Jake Heaps' pit hair was getting in the way of his throws.

Wanna know what's funny about that? Taylor Cox called Heaps out on twitter about his excessive armpit hair. Classic!

KGphoto 7 years ago

It really contrasts against his horrible farmer’s tan. When is THAT gonna go away?

Cameron Cederlind 7 years ago

"that sent the offense running around like mad men"

sounds like we've got this down really well, they executed this perfectly in-game.

ccarp 7 years ago

Let's not get going too fast on offense, we may want to grind some clock!

Dirtyphog 7 years ago

I think this bye week came at a perfect time, they were able to play a few games.. Get some experience and now they can try and change what they need to before big 12 play. Our defense has been the biggest surprise, Sendish and Heeney are clicking. Now we just need our offense to get on the same page and we can be competitive in the big 12

KGphoto 7 years ago

Hey, uh, don’t look now but we are NINTH according to ESPN’s Big 12 power rankings. Nosed out Iowa St.!!

Maybe Victor Simmons can give us a 5 minute celebration dance.

Bee Bee 7 years ago

Slow offense or fast offense doesn't matter if you don't block, catch etc. So how about fundamentals first. There's a thought.

texashawk10 7 years ago

Thank you Captain Obvious, any other nuggets of wisdom you'd like to share with the class?

Bee Bee 7 years ago

Have to keep it simple for morons like you. You re welcome.

Jim Jackson 7 years ago

I still firmly believe that we need to continue to recruit the JUCOs hard (3/4 of next class) for immediate impact, 20-21 year olds until our record is respectable enough for 4 star players to listen to us.


Brad Farha 7 years ago

I agree we need to continue to recruit out of JUCO, but I'm not sure about the % over time. I don't know if it's 50% or 75% of next year's class, but until we can put a better product on the field, we have to take those chances. A lot of these guys are great, and are already impacting the program in a positive way. As long as Coach continues to hold the kids accountable, which clearly seems to be the case, let's do it.

John Fitzgerald 7 years ago

I agree that it should still be an option. But I wouldn't want us to continuously lean heavy on it. JUCO ball is a lot different than D1 ball. Hard to tell a players true ability when they're playing against other JUCO players. I'm all for what's best for the team though and winning is truely all that matters.

Lance Cheney 7 years ago

"When we first started doing it was kind of comical to watch to be honest with you.”

Keystone Cops! Haha.

spenc1324 7 years ago

Juco will factor into our recruiting at least though the next few year the difference will be cam we coach them up to be ready for D1 football!!! Its happening on the defensive side of the ball for sure.... The question is when is the offensive side gonna come around???

Lance Cheney 7 years ago

I wonder what the stats are when we run the hurry-up, no-huddle offense vs. the traditional, slower offense. How many TDs, first downs, turnovers, 3-and-outs, etc. do we yield with each one?

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