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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Weis: KU must take next step

Kansas safety Isaiah Johnson comes away with his second interception of the game on a bobbled pass to a Texas receiver during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin, Texas.

Kansas safety Isaiah Johnson comes away with his second interception of the game on a bobbled pass to a Texas receiver during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin, Texas.

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If you’re worried whether confidence is a concern for a Kansas University football program that has won just nine games in the past four seasons, fear not.

KU coach Charlie Weis, about to begin his third season as the leader of the Jayhawks, displayed plenty of confidence in his roster during Tuesday’s meeting with the media.

“I think that Kansas football, at this stage, is not about being just respected,” Weis said. “I mean, we all want to win, starting in this building. Our players will be very disappointed if they don’t win a significant number of games more than we had last year.”

Depth Chart Update

• Here's a look at the most up-to-date KU football depth chart which was released Tuesday.

• For instant depth chart reactions from Tom Keegan and Matt Tait, check out this episode of the Spodcasters.

After going 1-11 during Weis’ first season in Lawrence, KU improved to 3-9 last year and finally snapped a conference losing skid that spanned parts of four seasons. Steps in the right direction were taken, but continued struggles on offense last season prevented Weis’ Jayhawks from being competitive week in and week out.

With a defense that returns 10 players with starting experience on its two-deep depth chart and a new offense led by first-year offensive coordinator John Reagan, Weis said it was clear what needed to happen in 2014 for KU to avoid disappointment.

“I think our defense is going to be pretty salty, to tell you the truth,” Weis said. “I think if our offense can score enough points, we’ll have a chance to win a whole bunch of games.”

Safeties solid

Weis on Tuesday called sophomore Tevin Shaw one of the most improved players on the team and put his money where his mouth was by moving Shaw from safety to nickelback, where he landed in the top spot on the depth chart.

With Shaw coming on, senior starters Cassius Sendish and Isaiah Johnson being two of the better players on the team and junior-college transfer Fish Smithson turning heads, as well, the safety spot appears to be one of KU’s strongest heading into the season.

“We had to find a way to get both those guys on the field more,” Weis said of Shaw and Smithson. “Because they’ve done enough from the first day of camp to warrant getting on the field.”

Dineen ready to go

It’s only been a couple of weeks since freshman Joe Dineen switched from safety to running back to help add depth to KU’s suddenly thin backfield. But evidently, Dineen, who is listed behind co-starters Corey Avery and De’Andre Mann, is ready to help fill in for injured seniors Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox.

“I think Joe Dineen is clearly the next guy in,” Weis said Tuesday. “And he’s ready to play the game. He knows what to do, and, since we’ve moved him from defense to offense, he’s just continued to get better.”

Freshman flavor

Although Dineen was not officially listed on the updated depth chart, seven other freshmen were. Avery and place kicker John Duvic were listed with the first team, while offensive guard Junior Visinia, cornerback Matthew Boateng, linebacker Kyron Watson and wide receiver Derrick Neal were listed as second-stringers. Wide receiver Bobby Hartzog Jr. was the only other true freshman listed on the depth chart, penciled in as a third-string option on kickoff and punt returns.

“I think they’ll all play,” Weis said of the role of the freshmen in Saturday’s opener. “If they’re on the depth chart, you should expect to see them in the game.”

Kicker battle decided

Speaking of Duvic, Weis said the freshman from Glen Ellyn, Illinois, beat out sophomore Matthew Wyman with his consistency.

“They were pretty close for a while,” Weis said. “But at the end of the day, (Duvic) had a week last week where he went five for five, and we haven’t had that from either one of them. Wyman’s leg is a little stronger, but Duvic’s more accurate. In this case, I’ll side with accuracy.”

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