Completed chat with KU football beat writer Matt Tait

November 2, 2012

Matt Tait

Last week, the Jayhawks came oh so close to snapping their 16-game Big 12 losing steak but dropped a 21-17 heartbreaker to Texas. As KU heads south to Waco, Texas to take another shot, KU football beat writer Matt Tait ran through a quick live chat previewing this weekend's match-up with Baylor. Here's the full transcript.

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.


Good morning, folks. We're up against a travel schedule today so let's jump right into our abbreviated Friday chat. We'll try to get to as many questions as we can.


Thanks for the time. I was disappointed to read a few weeks ago the difference in the numbers of players from the state of Kansas that were on the Kansas State roster compared to Kansas (54-24 I believe). As KU fans we'd like to see those numbers turned around as much as possible. You need to keep your in-state talent in state, in the state of Kansas has 2 major universities recruiting the state. With Coach Weis trying to rebuild the football program, do you think Coach Weis is recruiting kids and inviting kids from Kansas walk-on to the football team as a major priority, or do you think he's looking at the team and saying something "Well this 3 star kid from Texas (or where ever) is better than the 3 star kid from Kansas so let's go after him."

Matt Tait

I'm not sure about their feelings about offering walk-on spots to Kansas kids (I'm sure they're at least open to it) but I can tell you that Weis is out there looking for the best players he can land, regardless of where they're from.

If a kid from Idaho fills a need and has the talent they're looking for, they won't pass on him just to fill a spot with a kid from Texas.

It's all about finding the best talent he can find and, unlike most before him, Weis will go to all four corners of the country to get it.


I have seen that alot of the recruits coming in are JUCO guys. Any news on high school recruits, especially from around the state of Kansas?

Matt Tait

KU already has landed three Kansas kids in the Class of 2013 -- QBs Jordan Darling and Montell Cozart and TE Ben Johnson -- and has offered plenty more. I would expect at least one or two more Kansans to sign with the Jayhawks in February.

Weis and company have made Kansas a priority.


Great that you are taking time to do this on a travel day. Appreciate your extra effort. Is it possible that the Jayhawks turned the corner last week and with this vastly improved defense and run the ball first offense that we could see a win or two before the season ends?

Matt Tait

Of course. I'd feel a lot better about their chances if three of their final four games were at home instead of on the road, but you never know.

KU's best chances at wins certainly appear to be this week at Baylor and home vs. Iowa State in a couple weeks.

I can't say I'd be shocked if they won both, but, at this point, it's probably best to hope for one and to stay competitive in the other three. That path would send KU into its first full offseason with Weis in charge with some momentum.


Matt, why does KU, especially the defense, play so much better at home than on the road? It seems like the location of the game impacts their performance a lot more than other Big 12 teams, which is why I think being competitive for 4 quarters or obviously winning at Baylor on Saturday would be a big step in the right direction.

Matt Tait

I think KU struggles on the road because, like winning in general, they just haven't figured out how to win on the road yet.

It's all about confidence and positive experiences and it's been a long, long time since KU went on the road and won with any kind of consistency. It starts with one, but in order to truly turn the corner they're going to need to pick up a couple of road wins per season. Only then will the issue have a chance of going away.


Will moving to New England help be a positive for Aqib Talib and help him stay out of trouble.

Matt Tait

Let's put it this way: It certainly gives him the best shot.

Playing for a guy like Bill Belichick, who is a no-nonsense coach and believes in a certain way of doing things, can only help Talib as long as he's interested in towing the line.

I remember talking to Mike Rivera before last year's Super Bowl about the "New England way" and how everybody acts accordingly just because that's what's expected up there. That can only be a good thing for Talib, but, at the same time, could be a recipe for trouble, because if he doesn't behave himself there he might not get as long a leash.

We'll see. In terms of playing for the Patriots athletically, though, I would think the chance to play for a legit contender would certainly get him a little more focused and fired up.


Will Turner Baty take snaps this season?

Matt Tait

I'm gonna guess no. It's Michael Cummings' show right now and I can't imagine much changing that.

If something were to happen to Cummings injury-wise, I think they'd go back to Crist, (a) because there are so few games remaining and (b) because it's not worth burning Baty's red-shirt for such a short time.

If I had to put a number on the chances of Baty taking some snaps, I'd say there's a 15 percent chance he could and a 85 percent chance he won't.


What do you think the odds of KU looking like they have in their other two road games in conference or do you think KU keeps it close like they have in their home games this year?

Matt Tait

Baylor's offense is incredibly explosive so if KU's defense doesn't show up, it certainly could get out of a hand early.

But, under Weis and Campo there's no reason to think these guys won't show up. After that, you have to remember that Baylor's D — unlike K-State's and Oklahoma's — is one of the worst in the Big 12 and that the Jayhawks should have a chance to move the ball and put up points.

That alone should help KU's chances to keep this one close. I picked Baylor, but I give KU a shot heading into the 4th quarter.


Do you think Jacorey Shepherd sees the field more against Baylor given their strong passing attack? I think we will need to rotate more defensive backs in this game and would like to see Patmon used more as a nickel back. I think Patmon would be more effective in this role.

Matt Tait

I agree. And I was just thinking that about Shepherd last night.

His speed will help KU match up with the Bears' receivers, and I think he's put himself in a position to get more PT.

We'll see, but I hope you're right.


Tait, great coverage all year!

I know it's been a tough year, but I see the progress being made and I know Chuck will turn this program around.

Wanted to ask you; do you think we will be pursuing anymore 5th year transfers?
All we have to do is go up and down rosters like 'Bama, USC, OU etc etc.
And what is the precentage of JUCOs you think will make up the current recruiting class?

Matt Tait

When he landed this year's crop, Weis said he'd continue to look into the idea of 5th-year guys because they come in ready to play and are very low-risk since they don't hurt the future.

So, if there are any out there to be had, you can bet he'll take a look.

As for the JUCO guys, I'm guessing it could be as high as 50 percent JUCO guys and 50 percent high school guys.

Weis has not be quiet about the idea that he thinks Bill Snyder's plan in Manhattan is a good one to follow and that has centered heavily on JUCO guys for years.


How do you think Toben Opurum is doing? He looked pretty hurt Saturday. Hard to believe he will really be 100% this weekend.

Matt Tait

We saw him Wednesday night and he looked better than I expected. I don't think there's any way he's 100 percent -- that just doesn't seem possible -- but I'd bet he's pretty close to 90 percent, which sure isn't bad.

He may be subbed for a little more than normal just to keep him fresh on key downs, but I'm betting he'll play and play well.


All things considered, do you think our chances of getting a win against Baylor are better or worse than they were against Texas?

Matt Tait

Worse, but only because it's on the road. If this one were at home, I'd probably have picked KU again. I just like the match-up of KU's running game against this D, as was the case last week.


Hey Matt, do you think we'll see a few more pass plays this game, since Cummings has a couple games under his belt & Patterson is back? And what's the weakest part of the Baylor defense we should be taking advantage of?

Matt Tait

I do, but I'd be surprised if the number got much higher than 15 pass attempts. Baylor's run D is weak -- ranked 9th in the Big 12, just ahead of Texas -- so, as long as the situation allows for it, KU likely will pound away again.

Of course, if things get out of hand early and the Jayhawks are behind by multiple scores, that could change things entirely.


Have you noticed any change in Michael Cummings' demeanor and/or performance in practice over the past 3 weeks? Wondering if he is feeling more comfortable with his role now.

Matt Tait

His demeanor hasn't changed much at all. He has remained incredibly calm and confident from the minute he stepped on the field vs. K-State to now.

Look for my story Saturday that examines this topic a little more. The guy is a cool customer.


Baylor is 0-4 and we are 0-5 in the Big XII, what are the two things that we need to do in order to win (and not become the bottom of the Big XII)?

Matt Tait

Get turnovers and score points.

Baylor has struggled mightily to hang onto the football during its four losses and if KU can force a couple turnovers its chances go up tremendously.

As for scoring points, it's crazy that even 28 sounds like a bunch right now. In this conference, this team can't win scoring 20 or less in any game, so it's time for these guys to finish off some drives and put up some points. 28 would be a good start, but 31, 35, something like that would give them a real shot this weekend.


Good morning Matt-
What do you think the chances are that we could lose James Sims after this season to the NFL draft? Does he seem like the type of person who wants to come back for a Senior season and fight for a bowl game for a coach that didn't recruit him out of high school?

Matt Tait

Very slim.

I think he not only seems like the person you described, but I also think he realizes that a second year under a guy like Weis would make him much more prepared for the NFL and improve his draft stock tremendously.


It appears that Cummings can throw the ball really well. Why can't they design simple pass plays to open things up for the run game? Quick slants, shuttle passes, wheel routes from the RBs, etc.

Matt Tait

A lot of it has to do with his size... I know it's tough to keep hearing that, but because he's a shorter QB and his release point is lower, those quick passes have a smaller chance of working. The best way to set him up to throw the ball is by moving him around, creating lanes and allowing him to use his athleticism to make things easier in the passing game.

We'll see, though. Getting Patterson back this week could help in this department and they could show some more WR screen type passes.


Time for one or two more...


Cummings hasn't really been asked to throw the ball and he hasn't really contributed to the run game, that is, we haven't seen him be a "running QB." Do you think he's actually made the offense better and if so, how so? In some ways it seems that the biggest change is simply that Weis gave up on the pass game altogether, so it doesn't matter who the QB is. Cummings doesn't tempt Weis to call plays that the team can't execute.

Matt Tait

Look for more from Michael in both the running game and the passing game in the next couple of weeks...

It's a work in progress and giving him a little more at a time is the best chance for this offense to succeed.

As for if he's made the offense better, I'll say this: His confidence, poise in the huddle and ability to make plays when what's called breaks down gives this entire offense a little more confidence and that can only help.


Dexter Linton has looked pretty darn good in his limited play. Do you think he will get more snaps against Baylor?

Matt Tait

I'm not sure, but I know they like Linton and have been impressed by what he did filling in for Lubbock Smith when he was out.

Linton has a nice future.


I don't think you've had a uniform question this year. Any word if there will be a game or any word with any alternate Kansas uniforms?

Matt Tait

You know, that's a good question. I haven't heard anything about it all year, but I'll definitely ask around.

If they're going to do it, I'd guess it would be for the final home game against Iowa State. I wouldn't bet on it though.

Gotta run, folks. Thanks for participating and have a great weekend!


Matt Tait 9 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, I know. Thanks, though. Just typing too fast trying to get through as many as I could this morning.

Jeffery Barrett 9 years, 11 months ago

What in the world are you talking about??? It's TOE, as in put your TOES on the line. WOW! You either need to take your meds or stay off them.

Jeffery Barrett 9 years, 10 months ago

"enlisted-level fodder"? Wow! Did you just insult a 23 year U.S. Navy and National Guard veteran?!

You, "sir" have just shown your level of respect for MY country and our servicemen.

Phil Leister 9 years, 11 months ago

It's "toe" ralster. Sorry. You're wrong.

Bville Hawk 9 years, 11 months ago

"It’s correctly toe the line, but it is indeed often seen as tow the line, an error that’s all too easy to make when in a hurry. In this case, the association of ideas between tow and line (in the sense of a rope) is often too powerful to overcome, and the lack of any clear mental image of where it comes from is a contributing factor.

It’s often said, among other stories, that it comes from ancient practice in the House of Commons, the lower house of the British parliament. A pair of lines is painted on the floor that separates the two front benches, replicating ones in earlier chambers (the Commons is strong on tradition). The rule used to be that during debates members could step no nearer the opposing benches than the line on their side of the floor. This dates from a period when members habitually wore swords and the rule was designed to deter them from getting into potentially fatal confrontations (the lines are traditionally two sword lengths apart). So much is historical fact. But it is also said that if debate was getting too heated, the Speaker would demand that members “toe the line”. Tourist guides and some books on word histories tell visitors that this is the source of the expression. It isn’t.

Toe the line is actually the survivor of a set of phrases that were common in the nineteenth century; others were toe the mark, toe the scratch, toe the crack, or toe the trig. In every case, the image was that of men lining up with the tips of their toes touching some line. They might be on parade, or preparing to undertake some task, or in readiness for a race or fight. The earliest recorded form is dated 1813, in a book by Hector Bull-Us (a pseudonym, you will not be surprised to hear, in this case of James Kirke Paulding) with the title The Diverting History of John Bull and Brother Jonathan. This already had the modern figurative sense of conforming to the usual standards or rules: “He began to think it was high time to toe the mark”. Many early examples are from the British Navy, which is where it may have originated.

Toe the crack is an American form of the 1820s in reference to a crack in the floorboards that delineates a straight line. Toe the scratch is from prize fighting, where scratch was the line drawn across the ring (often in the earth of an informal outdoor ring) to which the fighters were brought ready for the contest — it’s a close relative of to come up to scratch. In toe the trig, trig is an old term for a boundary or centre line in various sports."

David Leathers 9 years, 11 months ago

This is way off subject, but it excites me so much that I have to share:

My cousin's son (I guess that makes him my second cousin) plays OLB for Topeka High, which for those of you not in the area went 8-1 in the regular season this year. Not only is he the best defensive player on the team, but the same can probably be said for the whole city.

Anyhow, I was talking to my cousin the other day and just threw a joke that I was going to have to write Charlie Weis a letter so that he could check him out. After I said that, he proceeded to tell me that he had received a hand written letter from one of the coaches (probably DeMontie Cross) asking him to come up for the Iowa State game so they could chat afterwards.

It should be said that my cousin's son is not listed on rivals or any other publication as a top prospect for the state of Kansas... yet. I think this says a lot about the coaches trying to keep Kansas talent in the state.

If you're interested, here is a link to his SOPHMORE year highlights from ....

PS- He also plays fullback.

Bville Hawk 9 years, 11 months ago

Wow, a D1 prospect from Topeka??? I was just telling someone the other day I couldn't think of any KU jocks from Topeka in the last 40 years except Mark Turgeon and Rick Mudge (you're welcome, Rick!).

If there are others, please enlighten me.

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 11 months ago

I just hope our rejuvinated defense is ready for their passing attack. They spread it out and score fast, a lot like we did with Reesing.

Phil Leister 9 years, 11 months ago

umm was he talking about Gill when he said his coach was cut-throat and a real mean guy?

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