Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas football coach Charlie Weis' comments at his press conference today.
• KU’s coaches were happy with the play of nickels Victor Simmons and Coutrney Arnick in camp. KU’s staff decided to strengthen a weakness by moving Cassius Sendish to free safety. Simmons and Arnick are playing good enough where it allowed the team the flexibility to move Sendish back to safety.
• Weis said offensive lineman Pearce Slater is not on campus. The coach said he’s only going to talk about players that are here.
• The college football upsets got the Jayhawks’ attention. Weis says while FBS teams have more scholarships than FCS teams, typically no one is hurt early in the season, so that’s not as big of a factor as it might be late in the season.
• KU’s only injury list right now is linebacker Marcus Jenkins-Moore, who is out for the year with a knee injury. If Weis had to do an NFL injury report, no one would be listed below probable. It’s a pretty healthy team as of now.
• Weis has showed his players video tapes regarding targeting. The staff has instructed players on the field as well. The bottom line is that Weis believes there is good and bad with the rule. The intent is good. Safety of the players should always be at the forefront. The bad part of the rule is that it’s very subjective.
• Weis says he’s looking forward to the offense being more balanced. Last year, when KU had to run so often, it was challenging, but that’s what had to be done. Weis believes his team did come out of last year with a staple. At the end of the year, Weis believed that almost every team KU played would say it could run the ball and run it with toughness.
• Receivers Justin McCay and Josh Ford aren’t afraid to mix it up. They aren’t guys who don’t want to get hit. Both will play a bunch of special teams. Weis says McCay is anxious to get going. Watching him day in and day out, Weis says he has a lot of attributes that still look desirable. The passing game is going to have to be a group effort, though. Weis is still expecting big things from McCay. McCay will never run a 4.3 40-yard dash. When you’re bigger, you have to find different ways to get open.
• Linebacker Samson Faifili’s advantage over Jake Love was that he was about 30 pounds bigger and ran about the same. Weis says Faifili and linebacker Ben Heeney look good next to each other out there. KU now has depth at the position, too. Weis says he doesn’t hold his breath when the No. 2s are in there now. Schyler Miles and Love are pretty good, too. If you play only one deep in this league, you have no chance. KU’s coaches expected Faifili to challenge to be a starter at inside linebacker when he came to KU. Love isn’t going away, but Faifili is just a bigger, more physical presence right now. He also plays with a lot of passion.
• Weis says cornerback Kevin Short is probably as good of a talent as KU has on its whole team, but he’s catching up because he got in late. KU’s coaches were concerned about the safety position because of a lack of depth. Watching Simmons and Arnick develop has allowed the team more flexibility so that KU can roll corners and safeties into the game. Sendish has been practicing at safety the last two weeks. That wasn’t based off his play at nickel; it was based on KU’s concern at safety.
• Linebacker Schyler Miles has had a nice camp. This is the healthiest he’s been since he’s been at KU. The staff is high on him.
• Weis is confident with Trevor Pardula for punts and kickoffs. Pardula also made a 57-yarder in practice last week by about five yards. He won’t make all of his kicks, but he’ll give you a chance at those long kicks because of his big leg. One of the biggest surprises for KU’s coaches has been starting field-goal kicker Matthew Wyman. He moved up from originally being fourth on the depth chart this year. Wyman won the field-goal kicker competition, and it wasn’t really close. He has no problem making it from 50 yards.
• The advantage for KU having a first-week bye was that the team got to go through last week like it was a game week. Now, the players know what the routine is. The negative for the team is that once school starts, you want to play a game. Weis said Saturday was awful for him, as he only was able to watch football instead of coaching a game. It was one of the least favorite days he’s had in the last six months.
• Right tackle Zach Fondal is the best pass blocker KU has. He doesn’t have as much girth as left tackle Aslam Sterling has, but you have to be able to do something really well. KU’s coaches believe they have two good pass blockers at both tackle positions. Fondal is at about 290 pounds, and he’s getting better as a run-blocker every day. He’s very athletic. Weis imagines a year from now he’ll be a left tackle. The coaches were counting on Fondal coming in and competing to play. The coaches thought he might even play at left tackle this year, but Aslam Sterling has done a nice job. If something happens to Sterling, Fondal will move over to left tackle.
• Weis isn’t worrying about the Rice game yet or potentially showing too much of the playbook in the first game. KU struggled in its opener last year. KU isn’t at a point in its development where it can save a bunch of things for the next week. Adding some new things to the offense each week, though, is part of the natural progression.
• Nose tackle Marquel Combs is more comfortable inside, and Kevin Young was playing better at left end/tackle. You have to go with what you see. Young, other than Keon Stowers, might have the second-best camp of anyone. The best guy plays.
• Weis went to running back Taylor Cox when KU signed Darrian Miller and told him it was his call on a red shirt. Weis told Cox he’d play this year, but he wasn’t beating Sims out as a starter. Cox told Weis he’d like a chance to play on Sundays, and he’s an older guy. Usually, running backs have a short shelf life. Cox’s concern was that he’d be too old to have a shot to play professionally if he sat out with a red shirt. He’s had a great camp. Weis says he’s worrying about this year now. The team will worry about next year next year. Cox has beaten out Miller for the No. 2 spot. Cox is playing really well.
• Weis says every time his team goes into a game, it better be counting on winning. If KU loses, it loses. Weis says part of the problem when you get in an organization that is used to losing, losing becomes OK. Losing’s accepted. If you play close to winning, it’s OK. Weis says that’s a pile of garbage. That’s a loser’s mentality. It shouldn’t matter who you’re playing; the first thing you’d better do is change the team’s mentality to where it believes it can win every game, and that’s partly his responsibility. Weis says he wants to beat South Dakota, then Rice, then Louisiana Tech, then Texas Tech. That’s what he wants to do, and the team better be thinking the same way.
Is it going to happen like that? Weis can’t say. He has no idea, but that’s what he wants to do. He’s counting that the players are thinking the same way. Weis would like to think his team has made strides, but it doesn’t mean anything until you’ve done something. Realistically, KU is picked at the bottom of the pack, and until you win games, that’s where you’re going to stay. When you start winning, those close games become wins instead of losses. The light switch comes on, and the team isn’t waiting for something bad to happen, but instead is making something good happen when it comes to crunch time.