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Monday Rewind: Northern Illinois

Toben Opurum, (35) Anthony McDonald (51) and Ben Heeney (31) bring down Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch (6) in the first half of KU's game against the Northern Illinois on Saturday at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, Ill.

Toben Opurum, (35) Anthony McDonald (51) and Ben Heeney (31) bring down Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch (6) in the first half of KU's game against the Northern Illinois on Saturday at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, Ill. by Mike Yoder

Well, this certainly was unexpected.

Even the most pessimistic fans of Kansas University football thought the squad would win a few games this season.

I’m talking about the guys who expect bad things to happen more often than good, the guys who don’t really believe that anyone — not Mangino, not Weis, heck, not John Brown — could get the KU football program on the right track for very long. You know the type. And, yeah, even they thought the upgrade at quarterback, the new coach, and the new attitude would mean a new and improved look for the Jayhawks this season.

And it still could. But with a few of their best chances at victory now behind them, it’s going to take some serious work by the Jayhawks from here on out to turn this season into anything other than a bummer.

That certainly was the most popular way for fans to describe KU’s meltdown at Northern Illinois last weekend, which dropped the Jayhawks to 1-3 and, worse, marked the second fourth-quarter collapse of the young season.

So now what? Simple. It’s time to see what Charlie Weis is made of.

We know his reputation. We know about the Super Bowl rings and the wise-guy New Jersey attitude. We know about his work with Tom Brady, Brady Quinn, Jimmy Clausen and Matt Cassel. We know he’s an honest man with great work ethic who calls it like he sees it, expects hard work at all times and doesn’t like excuses.

It all makes for a pretty salty resume and one that seems befitting of a coach who would be capable of leading Kansas back to respectability, and perhaps beyond.

But now we need to see if Weis can grind.

It certainly looks like tough sledding the rest of the way, with nothing but talented Big 12 squads dotting KU’s schedule from here on out. And with so many members of this year’s team being so used to losing, one has to wonder what, if anything, it’s going to take to get them to snap out of the funk and find a way to win again.

The easy answer is leadership. It would be nice if some of that came from the guys on the field. I’m guessing it can and will. But it’s mandatory that it comes from Weis and, if my experiences with him thus far have taught me anything, I believe he's ready to dig in.

Never one to back down from a challenge, Weis surely will think harder and work longer in the coming weeks to try to figure this thing out. He’s already famous for arriving at the office before 5 a.m. and is known to burn the midnight oil so long that he keeps a mattress and blankets in his office.

Expect him to begin to do more.

History says Weis is both able and willing to do the dirty work. As has been well-documented, Weis is no stranger to turnarounds. He’s been a part of a few of them, and, each time, things started slowly and finished strong.

There’s one in particular that Weis likes to talk about — New England 1993.

Patriots coach Bill Parcells and Weis, his offensive assistant, inherited a team that had finished the 1992 season 2-14. Things were bleak and, at the time, not many fans expected that anybody — not Parcells, not Weis, heck, not Paul Revere — could get things turned around very quickly. For a while, it looked as if they were right.

New England started off the ’93 season 1-11, with the only victory coming on a deflected pass that Weis said the Patriots had no business coming up with. But they won four straight to end the season and, to hear Weis tell it, those four wins were as important as any for the franchise that quickly became used to winning.

“Although we wound up 5-11, we went into that locker room after beating the Dolphins on the last game of the year and you would think we won the Super Bowl,” Weis said.

The next year, New England made the playoffs. Not long after that they went on to the Super Bowl and became the closest thing to a modern-day dynasty that the NFL has seen.

While this year’s KU squad appears to be a long way from reaching that point, it’s worth putting a little faith in Weis on this one. After all, he’s the one who’s seen it.

“There’s a lot of parallels that I see so far (between the 2012 Jayhawks and 1993 Patriots),” he said. “But it’s still too early to tell.”

The first four weeks of the once promising 2012 season were largely disappointing for KU fans. But, as the Jayhawks head into their bye week, it's important to remember what so many, including myself, said so often throughout the offseason — this year's team should not be judged on its win-loss record. This team should be judged by the eye test.

The Jayhawks do look better in a lot of ways. So that's promising. And it makes sense, too. Getting them to compete all-out from start to finish was Weis’ top priority.

Now it’s time for the Jayhawks to figure out the next step.

Comments

SEsco10 2 years, 2 months ago

Weis says the gap between Crist & Cummings is wide, do you see this as well? Not giving up on Crist yet but he needs to start showing he's worth the starting job and not stunting the growth of the KU program.

Phil Leister 2 years, 2 months ago

Matt, what's your honest take on Crist? Should Weis continue to play him, could KU benefit at all from playing Cummings? It's not as if we're waiting for a young freshman to come into his own...Crist is old, relatively. It's hard to see improvement from here on out.

Matt Tait 2 years, 2 months ago

Here's my take: For what it's worth.... I still think Crist is the right guy for the starting QB job for KU and here's why.

If the gap is as wide as Weis says it is — and we have no reason to believe otherwise — then putting Crist out there at least gives him full use of the offensive playbook. If he went with Cummings or Baty, he not only would be going with an unproven, inexperienced guy, but he'd also be doing so while having to chop his available play catalog in half.

I'm planning to do a blog about this in the next couple of days, so keep an eye out for it... It will give a deeper explanation.

Bud Stagg 2 years, 2 months ago

Crist was brought in to give Charlie a recruiting chance. Hot shot quarterback, makes big plays and makes KU look fun to play for. That theory is down the drain. Crist is not nearly as good as thought. So let a youngster come in and play and gain experience. Can't be much worse, we lose with the lame duck QB or with the new guy. At least the new guy can gain experience, what good does it do to have Crist play? That would be thinking of the future of the program.

Eric Dawson 2 years, 2 months ago

I would love for Dayne Crist to succeed on the field, but after two years under Weis at Notre Dame and now almost 9 months more with him at Kansas -- oh, and after two previous, season ending knee injuries -- I simply do not see it happening.

Matt, you are right that neither Cummings not Baty are proven or experienced at D1. But Baty most certainly is accustomed to winning after high school, leading his JUCO team to the national title last year. So maybe he still doesn't have all the playbook down. What good is the full playbook if the current starter can't successfully execute half of it? Give the kid a chance to show what he can do. Same for Cummings.

Kevin Crook 2 years, 2 months ago

Not so sure we need the play book open. We could do with more short passes, shorter routes, and sticking with the running game for four quarters. It seems like our receivers are all running pro-style deep routes and Crist is forced to hang onto the football too long. Either that or he's being impatient and not taking the short stuff by choice. Reesing made a lot of money dumping it off to receivers on short routes and watching them break tackles down the field.

milehighhawk 2 years, 2 months ago

Not sure I agree "we have no reason to believe otherwise."

Crist did Weis a solid by committing here, and there's a decent chance Weis has loyalty to the kid -- in addition to (mis)judging him as an amazing talent coming out of high school. I think there's a case for arguing for parallels between that relationship & that of Pioli and Cassel...

Matt Tait 2 years, 2 months ago

I won't argue with that, but I think it's a bigger reach than simply believing a coach who has proven to be brutally honest.

All theories are in play right now, though... As you'll see in the next blog.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm wondering how any QB can be worse than 30 - 50%.

Any QB?

KGphoto 2 years, 2 months ago

1993? Belichick was in Cleveland and Weis was a TE coach in New England.

Phil Leister 2 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, not sure what Tait meant up there. Maybe he accidentally typed Belichick instead of Parcells? And accidentally typed 'offensive coordinator' instead of 'tight ends coach'? Come on Matt, you're usually spot on with this stuff!

KGphoto 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm sure that all it was actually. No biggie. I get the point.

Matt Tait 2 years, 2 months ago

Yep. Pure accident... Had Belichick on my mind after his antics last night at the end of that Patriots-Ravens game. It's fixed now. Thanks for pointing it out.

Phil Leister 2 years, 2 months ago

The coming few games will tell us a LOT about Weis and his rumored ego. Bottom line on Crist is that he isn't very good. Now, maybe all our quarterbacks are garbage and Crist is just the least smelly, but I can't buy that. Will Weis swallow that pride and bench his recruit in order to give a young guy, probably our backup for the next few years, a chance?

Crist is ranked 118 our of 123 starting D1 quarterbacks. Chances are slim that Cummings or Baty would be worse than that. Come on Chuck, shake things up a bit.

Mike Nicco 2 years, 2 months ago

True, they won their last 4 games but Parcells was the the Head Coach, Ray Perkins Offensive Coordinator and Weiss was the tight ends coach in 1993.

Matt Tait 2 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, I got to typing too fast there. It's fixed now. But the point still remains that Weis was a part of that turned around and he experienced it first-hand...

jhawk613 2 years, 2 months ago

while we're correcting people, it's Weis not Weiss

Jeff Suther 2 years, 2 months ago

It is impossible that the backups for crist are worse. They cant have worse accracy because criist has the worst this program has ever seen. Just being able to run already makes them better.

Chris Bailey 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree Matt. What is your opinion of Crist? He seems descent at times but looks lost at others. He looks the part of QB but I'm not sure that he wasn't benched for good reason at ND. So many of his throws are so far off. He holds the ball way too long. Why can't he scramble and get a few positve yards. I mean I'm no genius but when the pocket breaks down you can't just stand there and get clobbered! Move up, move back, move sideways, hell shock me and try to get yards on your feet. From what I have seen he is the single difference between us being 1-3 and 3-1. I had him on the latter before the season as being the reason we got some wins. I would never have thought he'd be the cause. Why can't Weis try something different? If it ain't working why stick with Crist? Hell letting him watch the game from the bench may give him a better perspective. He's a very likeable and good looking kid who is also intelligent but that doesn't mean he has to start. If he ain't cutting it move on and let someone else try their luck. What do we have to lose? He's gone after this season and won't be here for this re-build. I just don't get it. I watched the D improve and give us a chance in all 3 losses. What is your take??????????

AsadZ 2 years, 2 months ago

Well said, Crist can't make plays with his feet, that's for sure.

Shaun Hardie 2 years, 2 months ago

We've seen Cummings before he's doesn't stick out as a better option than Crist. We haven't seen Baty which I think is a sleeper in this. He can sling it and knows how to put up numbers and wins from his one year in juco. I like Crist but if we're going to change qbs I put my vote for Baty simply because we haven't seen him make a throw and not seeing takes faith.

Foster Coburn 2 years, 2 months ago

If Baty gets the call, that kills his chance of redshirting. For that reason alone, I'd prefer to at least see Cummings get a chance first. Heck, Christian Matthews came to KU as a QB. I'd love to see a few pass plays drawn up for the Jayhawk formation even if only 1 out of 10 Jayhawk plays features a pass. Gotta mix it up a bit.

Shawn Darius 2 years, 2 months ago

Bottom line: the air is out, the kool-aid has turned sour...after all the anticipation and hype we have an inept QB and a coach that will rather play it safe with Crist (and continue to lose) rather than roll the dice with Cummings or Baty. After the disaster last week, I am DONE watching/attending FB games this season. No more wasted Saturdays. Maybe next year.

rockchalker52 2 years, 2 months ago

Aw c'mon, D80. They've shown improvement & you'll get to see some good Big 12 teams. Don't be a sourpuss. Besides, you'll be kickin' yourself if they do manage to catch lightning in a bottle & upset somebody.

BayPark 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm in San Diego and would do just about anything to see a game. In fact, despite the disappointing start, I plan on flying in--for just three days mind you--for the Nov. 17th game against ISU. It may be a lot uglier by then, but if you're a graduate or KU fan, you stick it out.

On a side note: The Boss is in KC that night. An upset over the Cyclones in the afternoon, Jungleland that night. Not a bad day.

John Myers 2 years, 2 months ago

Don't let the door hit your *&& on the way out

d_prowess 2 years, 2 months ago

I don't know if we really need Weis to spend even more time in the office. You can only plan and scheme so much before it is up to the talent, or lack of, that you have.
This is still a team of mostly poor performing players and our QB was mostly hype created by us fans. We all seemed to forget that he lost the starting job at ND after he was back from his injury. So while that still may make him better than what we had, it doesn't mean that he is great.

Steve Reigle 2 years, 2 months ago

Except for the typos I think this article is spot on. I'd hoped for better results at this point but, still, there is clearly some progress. We need more, but we're moving forward, however slowly. Due to all the hype it's really easy to expect more than is realistic. We have to remember Mangino's first year trying to turn this thing around ended up 2-10. And Mason's first was 1-10. This season I can live with a bad record if we see continuing progress. But not forever.

Phil Leister 2 years, 2 months ago

Someone else said it above, and it bears repeating. Knowing the playbook doesn't mean crap if you can't execute the playbook.

Kevin Crook 2 years, 2 months ago

I think what Matt is saying that Charlie means is that Crist knows how to read defenses better and check to a better play at the line of scrimmage than the two kids behind him. The problem is that Crist has made some nice reads and has made some bad throws. He also holds onto the ball too long.

Chuck Woodling 2 years, 2 months ago

Glen Mason went 1-10 after replacing Valesente. Mark Mangino went 2-10 after replacing Terry Allen. Those are better historical precedents than anything you can dig up from Weis's past.

Danny Hernandez 2 years, 2 months ago

I'd rather take my chances with Crist if it can lead to a possible victory rather than a sure loss with our backups just so they can get game time experience and the arm chair quarterbacks that are plenty on these boards can have their way.

Until any of you are the coaches, either leave or stay and be tolerant of the work everyone on the football field is putting even if you don't like the results. Man, at least we're not like Arkansas or misery and losing when they're supposed to be good this year. We weren't and won't until we get more talent

mikehawk 2 years, 2 months ago

One way or another, we'll get to see the backups eventually. With the schedule coming up, the back ups will get reps in finishing blowouts, or as a result of too many hits on our current #1. As noted above, the Kool Aid has turned to radiator fluid and the only thing left to drink is the reality that it takes years to build a winner in football which requries a whole bunch of great players, not just one here or there. We are seeing the result of three football coaches in four years at a basketball school. We need The Old Ball Coach's moxy, bull-headed, cocky, brash retort attitude crap right now more than ever. The fans need it and the players need it because the coaches are trying to build a culture in the locker room and on the field. It is a long, hard slog and the question is how many KU fans jump ship how fast. I'd say if the blogs are any indication, there is a lot of water splashing all around the boat right now. Let's use this time to build our own fan traditions of being fans who understand the game. I am always amazed at the super high basketball IQ of KU basketball fans, and just as amazed at the low IQ of the same people when it comes to the football program. Living in Oklahoma, the OU faithful are totally bummed this week losing to "the likes of KSU." But I tell you one thing, there will be a sell out at their next home game and a ton of Crimson and Cream at their next road game, wherever it may be.

Phoggin_Loud 2 years, 2 months ago

Maybe after KU finds a QB, they can focus on finding a place kicker. Both are pretty bad right now. OK, now that the negative is out of the way, I had a dream KU beat Texas in the shocker of the year. (I don't recall either the QB or the PK'er, but hey, a win's a win) Get your tickets now.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 2 months ago

We don't have a kicker. We do have an injured punter who is doing his best to fill in, and walkons who also are doing their best. It's not like being added to the team suddenly made them D1 material.

Doug Cramer 2 years, 2 months ago

I can not believe there are KU fans...including Tait...that still think Crist is our guy.

Are you freaking kidding me !

Also - I don't believe for one second that Baty and Cummings is that far behind Crist.

Put your mind in this situation - when we have the ball on our own 20 yard line...do you really have ANY confidence what so ever that Crist will be able to drive the ball 80 yards ? ? ? ESPECIALLY late in the 4th quarter...when the opposing defense has already figured out that we rely on our run game to move the ball.

Crist needs to go period. He's a senior...we're not going to a bowl game...it's time to start developing either Baty or Cummings to be able to compete with Heaps next year.

If Weis doesn't make a QB change soon...this KU alumn is officially on the fire Weis bandwagon.

John Myers 2 years, 2 months ago

Because surely you know a lot more about evaluating QB talent than Weis, right?

Nic Andrews 2 years, 2 months ago

If Weis continues down the Crist path no matter his poor performances, then yeah, I would say for the 2012 KU season, we are evaluating college QB talent better. Not sure if it's ego or what, but the evaluation is not that hard. Hard to believe Baty and Cummings are that bad. We've seen Baty can play at JUCO level. heck, we've seen Matthews can play (he can also throw if they let him, great dual-threat QB in high school). Was hoping Crist would be the guy, and since Weis is certain to keep him there, I must still hope that he will somehow perform. Not even asking for a great performance. Mediocre would do just fine. A mediocre QB beats Rice and NIU. Even TCU.

Bville Hawk 2 years, 2 months ago

If you're ready to fire the coach after just 4 or 5 games you are a fool.

Stan Unruh 2 years, 2 months ago

Crist knows Weis' system far better than Baty or Cummings. Crist is difficult to watch at times but he's the guy and that isn't going to change.

Doug Cramer 2 years, 2 months ago

Matt - if you go to any practices this week...can you let us know if Baty or Cummings is getting any unusual time on the practice field ?

Matt Tait 2 years, 2 months ago

We don't get to see any practice this week. Weis said Sunday night that he's having a full-speed scrimmage on Thursday for a lot of the guys who haven't played much. I'm guessing both Cummings and Baty will get extensive work during that game and I'll be sure to ask next week what Weis thought of their play. At the very least it'll be good for both of them to get some real reps.... just in case.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 2 months ago

That is great to have that understanding of the week of practice. Thanks.

hawken 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree with a lot of what has been said about Crist but my biggest problem with him is that he doesn't react well to pressure. When he's being pressured, he hurries his throw or throws while falling away from the oncoming hit. Not that it's easy to follow through like nothing is happening and take the hit, but that's what good QBs do. I think most QBs are less accurate under pressure but not to the extent Crist is.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 2 months ago

If he was under pressure all the time, or the receivers never got separation, then it would be reasonable, but Dayne is missing guys that are wide open on easy passes with no pressure - repeatedly.

milehighhawk 2 years, 2 months ago

Thanks, Matt!

It would be interesting to see what Weis's pattern has been in the past...Does he publicly support a guy until the moment he yanks him, or does he indicate people are on thin ice before making the change?

Kirk 2 years, 2 months ago

Yes, Weis was part of good things behind a head coach in the NFL.

But where's his college success story? I don't see it.

I don't see any Mason or Mangino grind in this guy. I don't hear it in his voice.

Hope I'm wrong. But there's NOTHING in his college resume to suggest otherwise.

Stephen Young 2 years, 2 months ago

This is starting to remind me of the 2006 season. We lost close game after game, losing leads in the 4th quarter. A heartbreaking season. Which, as it turned out, laid the groundwork for the 2007 season that led to an Orange Bowl victory. There are two differences now: 1) The Weis coaching staff is much better at coaching and recruiting; 2) The hole we are digging out of--thank you Mr. Perkins and Mr. Gill--is much, much bigger. Patience--never a KU Football virtue--is what we need. Coach Weis will get the job done!

Sparko 2 years, 2 months ago

Benching Crist is the true test of Weis. No point in leaving a guy without a future in the mix at this point.

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