Blow-by-blow account of Thursday's KU football practice


The morning sky brightens over Memorial Stadium as the Jayhawks watch over special teams practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

The morning sky brightens over Memorial Stadium as the Jayhawks watch over special teams practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis pulled back the curtain on Thursday morning’s practice, allowing members of the media to observe an actual practice for a little more than an hour.

The session began promptly at 6 a.m. and when it wrapped just after 7:15, those in attendance walked away with a better understanding of what Weis’ coaching style is all about.

From the look of things, the first-year head coach who was hired in December did not hold anything back. From honest assessments of individual players’ efforts to an extremely organized practice schedule and eyes that did not miss a single thing in front of him or behind him, Weis ran his team through an hour-long session that started earlier than normal because of the Kansas Relays.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis laughs with his son Charlie Weis Jr. during a morning practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis laughs with his son Charlie Weis Jr. during a morning practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Here’s a quick blow-by-blow report of how Weis works during KU’s practices:

5:52 a.m.
As a group of half a dozen reporters and photographers hang out by the Memorial Stadium gate waiting for the all clear, Weis approaches on a golf cart. He goes over the logistics of the day’s schedule and takes time to point out the portions that might be most interesting and fun to watch. According to him, that’s the 2-spot drill, in which wide receivers and defensive backs go one-on-one on one end of the field while the linebackers and offensive linemen do a variation on the old “Oklahoma drill” in which the lineman is asked to block the backer long enough for his running back to score. After the quick tips, Weis talks about how he had a sleepless night and kept looking at the clock every hour. He specifically points out that he was wide awake at 2:55 a.m. anticipating the early practice.

6:00 a.m.
Weis: “Go ‘head, Scott.”

The first horn sounds and KU strength coach Scott Holsopple starts screaming. His bark, at this point in time, is tame but plenty loud as he leads the Jayhawks through 12 minutes or warm-up running and stretches.

6:06 a.m.
One member of the media arrives at the southwest gate a little late. Explicit instructions were handed out weeks ago and on them it stated that anyone arriving after 6:00 would not be let in. As one KU media relations staff member decided to allow entry to the tardy party, Weis, from around midfield, throws his arms into the air and then looks down at his watch. The man sees everything.

6:12 a.m.
Three minutes of team warm-ups. It’s a shorter, faster version of the stretching and involves more stuff like sprinting over bags and around cones. As the action unfolds around him, Weis stands right in the thick of it, screaming, “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go,” and “Gooood morning. Wooooooo.”

6:16 a.m.
From the middle of the field, Weis keeps his head on a swivel and takes in all of the position drills. At one point, while watching the linebackers work on dropping into pass coverage, Weis gets on linebackers coach DeMontie Cross for the way he’s throwing the errant passes.

“Is this the bad ball drill,” Weis asks, not expecting an answer. “That’s what it looks like to me.”

Cross’ passes improve.

6:22 a.m.
Another horn marks the beginning of another drill, this one takes a little more time to set up and, although he’s not the one throwing the cones down onto the field, Weis is orchestrating the whole thing.

“The ball’s on the 25 so set the cones up there (points to the 20).”

When a little confusion sets in, a manager attempts to move the cones.

“No, the cones are right. Come on.”

Two minutes later, the drill begins. “We ready to roll,” asks Weis, a hint of displeasure over the wasted minutes leaking through.

6:25 a.m.
During the Oklahoma drill, Weis stands between the two groups and turns his body to watch each side go. Good comedy comes from this, as Weis has plenty of commentary for plenty of players, most of it brutally honest.

“That’s easy to do when you weigh 150 pounds more than him,” Weis tells senior offensive lineman Duane Zlatnik after a pancake block on linebacker Huldon Tharp.

“Come on, Marquis. Run with some power,” he tells wide-receiver-turned running back Marquis Jackson after Jackson’s first turn carrying the ball.

Later, to one of his staff members, he bluntly states, “Do me a favor with the match-ups so we don’t have to have him in there. It’s a waste of breath.”

Finally, after a less-than-impressive effort by an offensive lineman, Weis yells, “You’re probably the best towel-waver in the place. I’ve heard you’re really good at that.”

Most of the rest of what Weis says cannot be printed.

6:30 a.m.
Weis stops the Oklahoma drill to instruct. This takes all of 30 seconds but is critical in his eyes and it’s clear that he would’ve spent 3 minutes or 30 minutes if it were necessary. It wasn’t.

6:31 a.m.
Back into the drill.

6:33 a.m.
Another horn sounds and Weis shifts to special teams drills. The Jayhawks spend the rest of the practice working on special teams. This includes kickoff and punt return, kickoff and punt coverage and field goals.

The field goal kickers had a rough day, missing quite a few. Weis is not pleased. After one miss, the KU coach barks, “You’ve got one job to do. Put it through the uprights. Don’t gimme close.”

6:40 a.m.
Although practice is now in the hands of his assistant coaches — special teams coordinator Clint Bowen is running the drills but nearly every other assistant coach is very hands-on during the process — Weis still controls the show. As he walks slowly toward the action from the far sideline, his booming voice fills the empty stadium that now is partially lit by stadium lights and partially lit by the rising sun.

Dayne Crist, front right, and the quarterbacks work on handoff drills with running backs during a morning practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Dayne Crist, front right, and the quarterbacks work on handoff drills with running backs during a morning practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

6:45 a.m.
Punt return. Senior Daymond Patterson lets a punt get past him and hears about it. “I know it’s a knuckle ball, Daymond, but you still gotta get back,” Weis says.

6:45 a.m.
“Good coverage, McCay,” Weis shouts toward sophomore wide receiver Justin McCay, who stops in his tracks and is unsure of whether he should run over to his coach or run off to the other sideline to fall in line. Weis repeats himself, McCay nods and then sprints to the other sideline.

6:47 a.m.
“Let’s Gooooooo,” Weis bellows, clearly agitated by the fact that the next group is not ready in a timely manner.

7:09 a.m.
It’s time for the final drill, a field goal kick with no line and no rush. Kicker Ron Doherty, long snapper Justin Carnes and holder Blake Jablonski are called to the 34-yard line at the north end of the stadium. As Jablonski sets in his spot, Weis stands three feet away. Talk about pressure. It’s a 44-yard field goal with nothing on the line, but it means everything. As Doherty goes into his routine, Weis calls timeout to ice him. Doherty’s teammates laugh hysterically.

7:13 a.m.
A few minutes later, Doherty’s back out there. No timeout this time. Just a kick. And a miss. The KU players were ready to rush their kicker in celebration but the miss sends them back to the sideline. Doherty makes the next one and a mini-celebration ensues. Not good enough, Weis says.

“When you win a football game, there’s supposed to be a celebration that looks like a celebration,” he screams. “And that was a pile of crap. I believe in practicing everything, including winning. That’s what this is all about. This isn’t about you guys jacking around over here, this is about third game of the season, you’re sitting here 2-0, you’re playing TCU, you haven’t won a conference game in eight years and you hit a field goal to win the game. Act that way.”

7:15 a.m.
With Weis’ words fresh in their minds, the team watches Doherty’s next kick with a little extra interest. Doherty makes the kick and a full celebration follows. Doherty is dog piled near the spot where he kicked the ball, water bottles are emptied onto his head and the Jayhawks form a tight circle and jump up and down celebrating the mythical victory.

Next practice: Tuesday.

Kicker Ron Doherty gets a bath from Tyler Patmon (33) and others following a made field goal to end practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kicker Ron Doherty gets a bath from Tyler Patmon (33) and others following a made field goal to end practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug


BleedingCrimsonAndBlue 6 years ago

Love this. More please. Practice everything including winning.

Displayhawk 6 years ago

HCCW does more in 2 hours than Turner Gill did in 2 years!

John Myers 6 years ago

That was freakin' awesome.. Great article, Matt!

Matt, if you see this, and can step out of the narrative for a bit, what all did you take away from getting to see this practice?

Matt Tait 6 years ago

Good question... I'll try to have more of that in another blog a little later or tomorrow. In short, though, not a ton. Since so much of Thursday's session was spent on special teams, it's hard to conclude much about a lot of the individuals and position battles that you're most interested in.

There were a few things that stood out -- nothing earth-shattering -- and I'll throw that into another blog tonight or tomorrow.

Still trying to pick through all of my notes and everything I saw. Good stuff, though. Really enjoyed getting this different look.

gchawk 6 years ago

Now this is what I call detailed! Thanks Matt.

nuleafjhawk 6 years ago

LOVE that first picture!

" Dawn of a New Era "

Jayhawk1116 6 years ago

Let me guess: tomorrow we will get a message from the NCAA stating that they will have a decision on the Justin McCay situation by middle of next week.

Then next Friday they will have an announcement stating that the Justin McCay situation will be resolved by the middle of the next week.

Then, the Next Friday...

KGphoto 6 years ago

Then they'll declare him partially eligible and he won't get to play until November.

Mark Lindrud 6 years ago

Breaking news! They are going to have a decision really really really really soon....

Thomas Matlock 6 years ago

You have to take practice seriously. And then seriously, you have a chance to win. SERIOUSLY!!!!

hawksfanatic 6 years ago

Best line, Matt: "Most of the rest of what Weis says cannot be printed." The Turner Gill days are gone - thank God.

bradh 6 years ago

Seems like you are pretty excited to get rid of Gill just so there is swearing on the field. Kind of sad when apparently your biggest complaint from the past few years is a lack of swearing on the field. Personally, I'm glad to see the discipline and tough motivation.

John Randall 5 years, 12 months ago

While a model of repressed speech and Dr. Spock positive reinforcement serves a useful purpose in many endeavors, a football practice field is usually not one of those places. Did you notice the crude (therefore effective) hyperbole was directed at the play and not at the individual player or his personality?

Probably not many instances of players hearing their play characterized more accurately or more graphically. Communication (the meat-and-potatoes of coaching) is just more effective when all the participants understand a common language.

labbadabba 6 years ago

Okay, but that's not at all what he said. Sheesh.

Darin Bradley 6 years ago

Good article. Thanks for the updates! I hope HCCW will let you see a practice where some offense is being run. Would like to hear an update on how Crist is throwing it w/ live pressure and if we are getting any push from the d-line. Again good article Matt. Thanks.

Matt Tait 6 years ago

We can certainly hope. :-) This was a good start, though. Glad you enjoyed the coverage. More to come later or tomorrow.

Mark Lindrud 6 years ago

Intensity, discipline, focus and the ability to have fun with the players when the moment is right. So far so good.

David Lara 6 years ago

Wow. I love the battle between Toben and Tanner (I believe)! Tanner has him the first time, but the 2nd time Toben completely stands him up to make the stop, and later not only tackles the RB but takes the ball away. He is looking mighty good. Not just a pass rusher it seems.

Bville Hawk 6 years ago

Video of CW reading em the riot act for not celebrating intensely enough after the "winning field goal." About the 1:30 minute mark (from

ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years ago

Best video I've ever seen in my life...well, next to mangino dropping f-bombs on that one dude.

Bville Hawk 6 years ago

Wasn't there supposed to be an announcement regarding Justin McCay's eligibility today?

ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years ago

Yes, bit it didn't come. However there was good news, Justin saved a lot of money by switching his insurance...

Bville Hawk 6 years ago

Do you know, was it Geico or Progressive?

Mark Lindrud 6 years ago

Is switching your insurance to Geico a good idea? Does the NCAA take forever to make a decision....?

Cmill1221 6 years ago

WHAT IS THIS!!!! ---Finally, after a less-than-impressive effort by an offensive lineman, Weis yells, “You’re probably the best towel-waver in the place. I’ve heard you’re really good at that.”

That is abuse!!! HCCW should be FIRED for talking to a player like that. That could hurt feelings!!

Obviously not serious.

Bville Hawk 6 years ago

If not fired then some bleeding heart db will at least be demanding that he get some sensitivity training...

Bville Hawk 6 years ago

All right! Blackhawks score to pull within 1 with 8 min to play.

Kirk 6 years ago

What a great piece. Fantastic!

Hammertoe 6 years ago

KU football is a joke. K-State scored 59 points on the j-hawks the last 2 years. In all sports, KSU vs KU last year13-1 K-State! KSU vs KU this year 6-2.
If not for one sport, Men's basketball, KU Athletics would be totally irrelevant...
K-State baseball is next to last in the Big 12 this year. Last place, k-who...?

Joe Satterwhite 6 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

brojoe 6 years ago

Wow real original hammertoe like we dont hear the same jack of all trades crap from mizzou fans day in and day out. So yeah ur mediocre in everything, Congrats. At least when people hear ku they know what it means, when people hear the letters ksu some of em don't even know what the hell it is. So whenever ur dial up registers this we'll here from ya then.

ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years ago

National championships played for: KU 1 KSU 1 (fishing, no joke, google it)

Coaches voluntarily leaving their school KU 0 KSU 1 (left so S Carolina basketball, no joke, google it)

gripp42 6 years ago

Hate to say it but didnt Roy leave voluntarily?

JHawk06 6 years ago

Yea for UNC, his alma mater Only after turning them down in the past…..totally different on every level.

John Randall 5 years, 12 months ago

But the most important level has to be something you (spectator) can brag about.

ejlumus 5 years, 12 months ago

Kruger (KSU grad) also left voluntarily ..... LOL

KSU memories are short not remember the 50s, 60s, 70s and early 90s and they have the gall to make fun of us. LOL

april28 6 years ago

Unfortunately, the truth hurts like heck and this sh** has got to stop. How the plague can beat us in any non-revenue sport is beside me. Podunk town, podunk campus, podunk university. I'm not heartless, but some heads need to roll and they need to roll soon. No excuses, no excuses, no friggin excuses.

nuleafjhawk 6 years ago

Come back the next time you play in the National Championship game.

Nobody in the civilized world cares about your Livestock Judging prowess.

texashawk10 6 years ago

Now let's not get too carried away here, livestock judging is still a very valuable skill to have. How else are going to know which animals are going to taste the best on a dinner plate?

nuleafjhawk 6 years ago

I know, I know.

I'm so ashamed. I just lost focus in the heat of the argument.

I take it back.

Them boys DO know their cows.

Brian Powell 6 years ago

that's good stuff, when you can document a practice but do it in such a way to make us feel like we were there -- experiencing the emotions with coach and the players!

add some of Nick's photos and you got a winning combo.

now if I can only muster up the will to capitalize my sentences...

Kevin Crook 6 years ago

Love it Matt! Glad you were on time. I look forward to your blogs and details about the offense and defense. Thank you!

Dirk Medema 6 years ago

Lot's of talk about CW being demanding and critical, but besides the good job to Justin, did he give out many compliments?

On the flip side, it looked like Campo in particular was practically a groupie jumping all over the guys for good plays. Maybe that is the ying-yang/good cop-bad cop of the staff?

Sam Brockert 6 years ago

Every good team has that. The hard nosed disciplinarian, who could be the head coach OR an assistant, and then the guy who is more loose than the other guy. In the case of KU basketball, Bill Self is an strange because he is both rolled into one...Probably why he is so successful no matter his assistants.

omng392 6 years ago

From attending the KC Chiefs camp in St. Joe, I remember a lot more profanity.... He seems to be getting around a lot better too. he was riding in a golf cart when he was with the Chiefs.

flyingfinn 6 years ago

I love it!!!! I guarantee no matter their record in the fall this team will be much more prepared and competitive than the last 2 years. And people think Mangino was too tough on kids, well welcome to football!!!

John Randall 5 years, 12 months ago

Mangino's problem was that he lost the distinction between crappy plays and crappy players – when he got personal, not professional, things went to hell in a hurry.

Steve Kelly 6 years ago

Any word on the McCay ruling? I thought it was supposed to be out yesterday...but it doesn't seem like that happened.

machinegun 6 years ago

I can really see us beating the crap out of Texas!

Bville Hawk 6 years ago

Where is our Friday football article???

ejlumus 5 years, 12 months ago

Stand by my 7-5 record prediction.

3-0 noncon

win TT, BU, ISU

upset over one .... ksu, UT, or TCU (remember the mary jane issues).

also okie state may have a big drop off ... will see if they can sustain

coaching is 70%, jimmies and joes the other 50% as yogi would say.

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