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Monday, September 30, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: Kansas wideout situation mystifying

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A remarkably unproductive group of wide receivers continues as a major factor in the Kansas University football team having a flat offense for the second year in a row.

Charlie Weis’ decision to move running backs Tony Pierson and Brandon Bourbon to hybrid receiver/running back positions has masked just how invisible the players on the roster listed as wide receivers have been three weeks into the season.

Pierson leads Kansas in receptions (15) and receiving yards (209), Bourbon ranks second with 10 catches and tight end Jimmay Mundine second in receiving yards (76).

Nine scholarship players on the roster are listed as wide receivers, including six recruited by Weis. Junior Mark Thomas and freshman Ishmael Hyman are red-shirting, which leaves seven. Three games into the season, care to take a stab at how many catches the leading receiver among the seven has? Senior Josh Ford and sophomore Tre’ Parmalee are tied with three. Juniors Rodriguez Coleman and Justin McCay and senior Christian Matthews have two catches apiece. Juniors Ricki Herod and Andrew Turzilli haven’t caught a pass this season.

It’s strange that a school that has done such a terrific job of recruiting and developing running backs in recent seasons can’t do the same with wide receivers. Even if they misevaluate in recruiting or simply get rejected, there should be signs of progress from the instruction they receive, but where are those signs?

The chemistry we heard so much about between Jake Heaps and McCay on the scout team a year ago was on display in the spring game, but is nowhere to be found now. McCay had eight receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown in the spring game. He threw a number of punishing blocks. He has 12 receiving yards three games into the season. Could it be McCay performs better when running routes he learns on the spot than he is at learning where he fits into an offensive system? Or did the holding penalty tagged on him in the season-opener against South Dakota make him too gun-shy to play the physical style that helps him get open and makes him a valuable extra blocker on the field?

The coaching staff hopes that Coleman’s speed can turn him into a valuable target for Heaps. Still, the receiver with the most untapped potential remains McCay. The spring game certainly didn’t look like a fluke. But the reality that Oklahoma had no problem clearing him to go to another Big 12 school indicates the Sooners’ coaching staff didn’t think he could help Kansas.

Help is on the way in the form of Miami of Ohio transfer Nick Harwell, who put up big numbers three seasons in a row before his off-the-field behavior resulted in a suspension from school. Harwell can’t help Heaps now, so the coaching staff is going to have to find a way to make McCay more effective.

Comments

JHWKDW 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Well if there is one thing im not fond of in terms of HCCW is that he needs to delegate power, and get a Offensive Coordinator. There will be one come the off season.

Well you know I read some articles saying that the NFL Chicago Bears are giving a very short leash to the new head coach there.In addition Cutler and them are rumored not to like him why I dunno. I know it in a way be a pipe dream, but if HCCW could get Marc Trestman if he gets fired from Chicago that be awesome for us.He'd be a great Offensive coach here.One of the Qb's he coached as a Qb's coach was Bernie Kosar.Ok he has more recent history grant you he was N.C. State O.C. that won bowl, in addition to Winning Gray Cup in CFL (that is the Super Bowl in Canada)

Just a possible suggestion that is all.

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Ashwin Rao 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I love the Big12 standings as of today. We are 6th, and ahead of Oklahoma State, K-state & TCU. I may need to print it out and blow it up into a poster size before it changes! (Refer: http://sports-ak.espn.go.com/college-football/standings)

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Sparko 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Part of the problem is that Heaps is a pocket passer with dubious elusiveness. He will do okay in the NFL, but you have to be creative in college where teams sell-out blitz every other play.

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Ralster Jayhawk 6 months, 2 weeks ago

This comment is more of a captain-obvious comment on the WR's as a group: They came to play WR, and obviously have played WR for some time (jr.high, high school)--> it's kind of perposterous to think WR's dont know how to "sell" their routes and come open?? Kinda like a crossover dribble in basketball, you really gotta "sell" the misdirection. This is basic, basic stuff. These current kids need to find some "pop" in their game, or Nick Harwell is going to sorely put them to shame next season. Wish the NCAA didnt f--- us with his strange ineligibility. Could have used him from Game 1...

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namohcan_99 6 months, 2 weeks ago

The article makes the point that our WR's suck and sadly they don't appear to be getting much better.

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JayHawkFanToo 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I said it before and I will say it again, get Kerry Meir to coach the wide receivers. He is not playing now and he is one of the best WR ever at KU. Maybe he does not have the athletic ability needed for the NFL but he sure knows how to play the position.

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Paul Christiansen 6 months, 2 weeks ago

It's really hard not to like Charlie Weis. Our Defense seems to be improved and special teams and the kicking game are up huge.

But, I don't see our Offensive line pushing anyone around and that's not good.

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jay_cheese 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I don't think we have the $$$$ to do anything to Weis. He's literally golden sitting here the next 3 yrs until his contract is done. Oh well, at least the press conferences will be "good".

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AzHawk97 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Maybe we could use Ed Warinner. Whatever happened to that guy? He's probably languishing at some small insignificant school with a struggling offense. Someone at the KU athletics office should have kept his number around. How was he passed over twice for KU's head coach?

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FCCoHawk 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Well said. I certainly see positives with the program, but the receiver position is not good. I would agree about the OC also. We need one, plain and simple. One question is does Zenger have the toughness to go and bring these things up with Weis? Also, how much pull does Zenger have? I think how we play in the upcoming week will really be telling for the rest of the year. Hopefully see some improvement coming off a W. Go 'Hawks!

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texashawk10 6 months, 2 weeks ago

If I was Zenger doing my end of year evaluations on the football team, I see two big issues going forward. The first is Rob Ianello. I haven't seen any of the WR's make noticeable progress since he's been here. The WR's still don't know how to get off a jam, they don't know how to run good routes, the issue of drops was there last year too and hasn't gone away, and lastly they don't know how to improvise when the QB gets flushed from the pocket.

Second issue is Charlie Weis himself. I don't think he needs to be fired at this point because there are a lot of good things happening right now that are laying the foundation for success. That said, Charlie needs to give up play calling duties for the offense to have a real chance to take a step forward. Whether that means hiring an OC to take those responsibilities or just handing the play calling responsibilities to Reggie Mitchell, it doesn't matter much. Charlie Weis is a brilliant game planner and had KU in games last year they had no business being in, but pride and ego got in the way and he would do stuff, like a trick play in the worst moment possible, that would kill KU's momentum late.

Unless those things happen, at this point I don't see KU taking that next step and they will just continue to be stuck in neutral. These are easily fixable issues, but will Weis be able to get over his pride and ego and make these changes?

Two other coaches that could be on the hot seat, but I think the jury is still out on are Powlus and Grunhard. I don't think we'll be able to make a fair assessment of the job Powlus is doing here until after Heaps is gone and Powlus is the biggest influence on whoever the QB ends up being after Heaps. I would also say the jury is still out on Grunny until some of the young linemen brought in the past couple of classes develop and we see how they perform.

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Displayhawk 6 months, 2 weeks ago

What's up with Colin Spencer??? Is he red-shirting? Heard a lot about him before the season started and now nothing. He's got speed ...... Can he catch???

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rolo2383 6 months, 2 weeks ago

There was some discussion over on Phog about Ianello. They said he's a great recruiter but a terrible position coach and that the players he coaches never improve. It looks like that might be accurate.

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jay_cheese 6 months, 2 weeks ago

It wasn't long ago that we had a very dangerous offense. Anybody remember who was responsible for that? You can have 50 stars behind your name, you still need to be coached to be effective and you never publically throw your entire roster under the bus to make some reporter smile. Classless and shameful behavior (and I'm not talking about Turner or Mark).

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AZJHWK 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I have noticed that the receivers run their routes and if it doesn't get them open they basically stop. If Heaps is forced to roll out they should be running parallel or coming back, they don't' seem to know what to do when the play breaks down, which is often the case.

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champdave 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I always thought that a big part of Weis' problem at Notre Dame was that he had a staff full of assistants who recruited well but weren't necessarily very good at developing players. Thankfully he didn't bring most of those people to KU, but I can't help but notice that the two he did retain (Powlus and Ianello) happen to coach the two positions that have struggled the most (QB and WR).

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BPSkelly 6 months, 2 weeks ago

A lot of coaches 'coach' the players to play the way they want them to play. Which is great for the 'coach'. But as HC of a college team, your also ostensibly the GM as well. And this where the wheat and the chaff gets separated.

For all of Charlies 'genius' if we dont have a line that can block for long enough to get the wide outs down the field -- and hopefully get separation (a big if as we've seen) -- there's little point in call plays that do so. At least with any regularity. Funny how this doesnt work as well unless Tom Brady is your QB.

I think its nice that we have backs that can catch the ball in the open field, and I think its great that part seems to be working. But if nothing else is working its hard to envision much else productive happening.

Last year, it took about half a year for Charlie to realize that great Dayne stunk. But once he did, we essentially ran a service academy offense because really thats all we could do. So we know coach can change it up. I think we'll see more variables thrown out there.

The question is to have the players for that.

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Doug Roberts 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Hey Charlie, Pro-style wins pro games, college-style wins college games.

I still think Josh Ford is the best receiver so far. We need to quit the "Tony Pierson in space" experiment for now because all defenses are planning for it, and target more actual wide receivers.

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texashawk10 6 months, 2 weeks ago

At this point just put stick 'um on their gloves.

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Rivethead 6 months, 2 weeks ago

If only we had a WR on our roster with a proven record of having at least one 100 yard receiving game in his college career. That kind of experience would be useful.

Wait. We do?

WTF aren't we playing Turzilli?

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JayDocMD 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm actually going to have to give Keegan some praise for this editorial. It's not perfectly written and I've been one of his harshest critics, but I respect that someone at the LJW has finally started to ask some questions of this team and coaching staff.

I'm still on team Weis - I think he can turn this around. That said, I've not seen one challenging question asked of Weis recently by the LJW staff. I appreciate Tait's hard work, and for the most part, his positivity. But when the team underperforms, we don't need a KU PR man - its the job of journalists to ask the tough/uncomfortable questions (hopefully in a respectful, non-confrontational way.)

Now back to work for me (I get shorter breaks with Obamacare.)

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leonard 6 months, 2 weeks ago

From the Orlando Sentinel - 2011:

"How can a Charlie Weis offense be this pitifully pedestrian? How can the Gators have only one first down in the second half and minus-19 yards rushing?...

Weis has four Super Bowl rings, but his offense this season isn’t even good enough to deserve a spot in the Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl...

Still, if the Gators don’t have the talent to run their offense isn’t it up to Weis to adapt to the talent he does have? Weis is supposed to be a genius. And if you’re a genius, isn’t it your job to take inferior talent and make it better than it really is?..."

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2011-10-30/sports/os-bianchi-florida-georgia-1030-20111029_1_steve-addazio-muschamp-florida-gators

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freudhawk 6 months, 2 weeks ago

While there are multiple reasons for the WR lack of production, I'm probably most concerned about what seems like poor position coaching. For example, seeing how the WR (don't) react in situations where plays break down and such is really quite disturbing. I know Ianello is a great recruiter but I really wish we still had Beaty around to coach up the WRs.

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JayDocMD 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Are people's icons not showing up part of the government shutdown?

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jhox 6 months, 2 weeks ago

It all starts with the O line. Wide receiver routes take a little more time to develop, and Heaps isn't given that time.

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leonard 6 months, 2 weeks ago

"Anyone considered that maybe this offensive scheme just doesn't cut it at the college level?"

Yep, I have...and I think it's the major factor in not getting anyone open.

We had the same problem last year and it's continuing into this season. The receivers have been getting the bulk of the blame but the real culprit may very well be Charlie's offensive schemes.

I'm pleased with the improvement and talent upgrades exhibited this year. It's time for Charlie to show similar improvement. Right now Charlie's offensive genius halo is a little askew.

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akgjenkintown 6 months, 2 weeks ago

"The spring game certainly didn’t look like a fluke." He was playing against KU's defense! If you watched the first three games of the season you would noticed that the KU's wide receivers are rarely getting separation. Clearly they are not as fast as advertised. Charlie, watch a Denver Bronco's game and see how Welker and Decker are used. Maybe some quick crossing routes could help get the wide receivers open and involved.

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BringBackMark 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Time to get ralster all fired up again, so here goes. We're heading into the meaty part of Weis's second season. We're on our second 5 star transfer quarterback. We're loaded at running back and just brought in a bunch of juco players that were to provide immediate help. Anyone considered that maybe this offensive scheme just doesn't cut it at the college level? I think the receivers are too busy thinking to instinctively play the game. If that's not it then we just need a better receivers coach, period.

Everyone says the most improvement a team will see is between game one and two. In our case it had better be between game 3 and 4 or we're in for another long season.

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John Fitzgerald 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Who does these opinion pieces? Such horrible writing ...

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Doug Cramer 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Any word on Pearce Slater...is he coming back ?

:) just kidding

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