With the exception of a week off for spring break in late March, the past five weeks have included a lot of prodding and probing for Kansas University’s football program.
As the end of KU coach Charlie Weis’ third spring with the Jayhawks draws near, the KU coach recently reflected on all that his players and coaching staff accomplished during the past month, much of which figures to be on display during Saturday’s annual spring game, which is slated for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Memorial Stadium.
In many ways, this year’s spring practices were broken into two chunks — offense and defense. Earlier this week, Weis outlined exactly what each group was able to get done during the first 13 practices of the spring.
First, the defense.
“Because it was the second year in a system that had already evolved, it gave the players an opportunity to turn it loose pretty good,” Weis said. “And that they have.”
Weis credited the defense’s large number of returning starters for its ability to treat the spring as a continuation of 2013 instead of a new start.
On offense, the Jayhawks hit the reset button, with new offensive-line coach/offensive coordinator John Reagan, first-year wide-receivers coach Eric Kiesau and a completely new offense added to the mix.
“Obviously, the whole key was getting the system taught,” Weis said. “They haven’t spent time game-planning. They haven’t spent time scheming against our defense. It’s been more about installation and getting used to the procedure of running a no-huddle offense.”
While those big-picture segments of the spring were priorities, Weis said functioning as the head coach and nothing more gave him an opportunity to dive into all aspects of the operation.
To illustrate this, he shared a recent conversation he had with Kiesau, who came to KU after two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Washington.
“We were talking about the first three wide receivers, and I asked him a simple question,” Weis began. “I wanted to know if our three starting wide receivers would’ve been in the two-deep at Washington.
“And he said he thought the three guys that were playing in the first group (Rodriguez Coleman, Nick Harwell and Tony Pierson) would’ve all been in the two-deep at Washington. And they were pretty prolific on offense. I think we’re making some serious headway at that position.”
Like his receivers, Weis himself used the spring to make progress in his new role.
“I don’t know if it’s fun,” he said. “It’s interesting for me because I’ve had so much more time to see things. I’ve been able to make points to both the guys on offense and the guys on defense. You see so much more. It’s been good because it gives you an opportunity to challenge them mentally to make sure they’re at the top of their game.”