Cliff’s Notes: Charlie Weis press conference, 4/9/13
Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas football coach Charlie Weis' comments at his press conference today.
• Weis will be watching Saturday's spring game from the coach's box. He has split up the coaching staff, and he won't be calling any plays. He joked that if you look for him on the sideline, you won't see his smiling face.
• Weis says if you look at the spring game rosters, the blue team should be passing a lot, while the white team will be running a lot. Blue team quarterback Jake Heaps is more of a dropback passer, while White team quarterback Mike Cummings is more of a play-action passer. Weis expects there to be drastic improvements on both sides of the ball from last season.
• The strengths that Cummings had last year he still has. He makes far fewer mental mistakes now. Weis says he has a better understanding of terminology and has a better command of the huddle now.
• Weis thinks his running backs are even better this year, and they were already good last year. If you can run the ball efficiently, passing shouldn't be as tough as KU made it look last year. Weis also thinks his team has put its playmakers in position to make plays.
• Weis joked there's been a lot more fights in spring practices, and that's a good thing. There's a gray area, Weis says: Where's the line between having discipline and losing the players? Weis has talked to his players about playing with a chip on their shoulders. Defensive lineman Chris Martin is the trash-talker of all trash-talkers. That's been missing here somewhat, Weis says. You need some of those guys. Any good defense has some trash-talkers on it. Same thing offensively. The offensive guys are more worried about learning plays right now, but once they get that down, Weis sees a couple of potential candidates for trash talk there. Offensive guys do trash talk as well. Weis says he's proud of New England quarterback Tom Brady and how he's learned how to trash talk. At first, he was a mild-mannered California boy. Weis joked that Brady blames Weis for his development into a "gutter mouth." Weis says you know you've got something good when you've got a trash-talking quarterback.
• Weis says linebacker Ben Heeney, as of late, has been on a clear rise and is playing above everyone else at his position right now. Early in camp, he wasn't playing as well, but that's changed.
• Weis reminds everyone that seven juco guys are still coming in on defense, and he's expecting most of them will be on the first and second team.
• KU receiver Justin McCay reminds Weis of Keyshawn Johnson when Weis first got to the New York Jets. His routes are a little short. He's not the fastest, but he's strong and catches everything. Johnson was the first pick in the entire draft his year coming out of school. The two also are wearing the same number. Christian Matthews has been one of the most pleasant surprises. He's been better than the other receivers. The receiver on the rise is Tre' Parmalee. The coaches challenged him to become more physical, and he's been significantly improved over the last week.
• In the secondary, Cassius Sendish makes the least amount of mistakes. JaCorey Shepherd is making strides, and Dexter McDonald can cover anybody. KU also has juco guys coming in at that position. The secondary might be as drastically improved as any position this seaosn.
• Tony Pierson will be "very, very, very involved" in the passing game during the spring game. KU has big plans for Pierson. KU didn't do all the research on West Virginia's Tavon Austin for nothing. This is a copycat league. Pierson is still the most dynamic running back KU has. The only problem is, he might be KU's most dynamic receiver as well. He's a pain in the butt for defenses, because they won't know whether to call him a running back or a wide receiver. Pierson is faster than Kansas City Chiefs receiver Dexter McCluster (whom Weis coached in KC) by a significant margin. McCluster is tougher, though. Pierson is in the 4.3 40-meter range, while McCluster is in the 4.5 range. That's a significant difference. Weis joked that he'd certainly take McCluster if someone wanted to offer him to KU for this year's team.
• Pierson is a very fast, skilled kid, and he has great football intelligence. Once you tell him something, he's got it.
• Weis says the best two players on KU's lines have been Keon Stowers and Chris Martin. Stowers has been "ruining practice" by getting in the backfield, and KU hasn't been able to block Martin with just one player.
• Stats in the spring game mean nothing to Weis. But how the players carry themselves means a lot to Weis. He'll look for players on the sideline who might not be in the game to see how they're carrying themselves. One of the things Weis liked during Saturday's scrimmage was the enthusiasm on the defensive sideline. That doesn't mean the defense was winning the scrimmage, but Weis could feel the enthusiasm. Those things are important to Weis.
• Trevor Pardula has lifted Weis' spirits in the kicking game. Weis smiled and said he wouldn't go any further than that.
• In the spring game, quarterbacks will only be protected from hits in the pocket. If they roll out or run the option, they can get hit by defensive players.
• Buck position player Michael Reynolds had 2 1/2 sacks in Saturday's scrimmage. His problem — and he knows this — is consistency.