Thursday, April 12, 2012

Smooth sailing: Coaches’ familiarity eases transition

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis watches over practice from across the field on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis watches over practice from across the field on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.


When Kansas University wide receivers coach Rob Ianello first began coaching with Charlie Weis in 2005 at Notre Dame, he spent the early days tacking a “cheat sheet” to each day’s practice schedule to help him keep up with the demands of Weis’ offense.

No such study aide has been needed this spring, as Ianello, Weis and the rest of KU’s new coaching staff have brought the first-year KU head coach’s pro-style offense to Lawrence. Typically when a new coaching staff takes over, the assistant coaches spend the first several months — sometimes longer — familiarizing themselves with new offensive and defensive philosophies. Teaching it to the players almost becomes secondary and is an ongoing process. But that has not been the case at KU, at least not with the offense. Along with Ianello, quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus and tight ends coach Jeff Blasko all came to Kansas with a strong understanding of Weis’ system, and that has given the Jayhawks a head start this spring.

“A lot of our installation is complete,” Ianello said following Tuesday’s practice. “So now we keep going over some things. Maybe it’s a different formation or maybe it’s a different way of calling something, but the conceptual part of our offense is in.”

Ianello and Powlus worked with Weis at Notre Dame from 2005-09. They took the framework of Weis’ offense to Akron, where Ianello ran a similar attack as the head coach and employed Powlus to help his players learn it. Blasko was not at either stop but worked with Weis most recently, spending the 2011 season as Weis’ right-hand man at Florida.

“That’s been a tremendous benefit to us on offense,” Ianello said of the staff’s familiarity.

KU’s advantage has not been limited to coaches. After a couple of seasons of struggling to identify a replacement for record-setting quarterback Todd Reesing, the Jayhawks finally appear to have a guy in place who can challenge what Reesing did on the field: fifth-year senior transfer Dayne Crist. Last winter, Crist chose to play out his final season of eligibility for the man who originally recruited him to Notre Dame. He said Tuesday that Weis’ offense stuck with him even after Weis left.

“As crazy as it sounds, it really did,” Crist said. “When coach left Notre Dame, I was at a good place in terms of my understanding of the offense. What I was lacking, really, was just the experience on the field with that offense. As soon as I knew I was coming here, I got back into the playbook and looked over some materials that I had saved, and it really came back pretty fast.”

Crist’s comfort within the offense, as well as his ability to help his new teammates comprehend it, has allowed the Jayhawks to sprint through the first half of spring practices.

“The coaches’ pace is definitely a big factor in us learning it so quickly,” senior receiver Kale Pick said. “It’s actually a must. You better learn it at this pace or you’re going to be left behind, and then you’re going to lose reps.”

Just because KU’s offensive coaches are more unified and, therefore, better equipped to teach, does not mean that learning the new offense has been easy.

“It’s definitely more difficult because of the terminology,” Pick said. “I mean, some of our play calls are two sentences long, and you gotta listen to that in the huddle. That’s a little more tough than four or five words. But once we get that down and transition that to action on the field, that’s going to be a big success for us toward the end of the spring.”

Crist said he had no doubt the Jayhawks would head into the summer with a solid understanding of the offense.

“The most exciting thing is seeing the work ethic that guys have in terms of learning the playbook,” he said. “Sure, they can go out there and work hard on the field every day, but them texting me constantly with questions and saying, ‘Hey, what about this, this and this,’ and just their desire to get better mentally is great to see. I’m enjoying seeing the progress guys are making, and we’re getting to a point now where guys are comfortable enough with their assignments and scheme and things like that where they can go out there and just play and be athletes.”


notigers4me 10 years, 4 months ago

I hope that all this familiarity with the new system actually translates to something positive on the field.

Ted Toulouse 10 years, 4 months ago

As long as we have players with the mental capacity to handle such a complex system. From the sound of things academically, this might be a stretch for the returnees...

Dirk Medema 10 years, 4 months ago

A stretch for the departed and their 50 flags, but not as much so for those that have stuck around.

kansas25 10 years, 4 months ago

I'm sure LJW meant the University of Kansas and NOT Kansas University. Stop trying to change the school's name. What's next, the Hawkjays!

KGphoto 10 years, 4 months ago

We've covered this ad nauseam. It's not changing. Who cares? Let it go.

bad_dog 10 years, 4 months ago

Anal retentive, obsessive compulsive mentality.

Kevin Studer 10 years, 4 months ago

No offense, but unless you are trying to win an award for the 1,000,000th post of this, there is no point in the continual complaining about it.

10 years, 4 months ago

I was 100% behind you until I read manginAh00lz’s post above yours. Now I’m torn.

FSUJHAWK 10 years, 4 months ago

I don't mean to relegate the sentiments of those who don't "care" or think this is an important issue.

However, as a Jayhawk, I truly feel insulted when the "World of Journalism in Lawrence" refers to the University of Kansas as anything other than its mascot name or name indicated in its Charter. Claiming journalism rules and standards is hogwash. I've seen actual powerbrokers in the world of media (ie, outside of Lawrence), including those in the AP, refer to the "University of Kansas" in its rightful form. While on this same site, I've seen the "World of Journalism in Lawrence" refer to the big boy as the University of Texas, Texas or simply the Longhorns but never Texas University.

Matt, we all appreciate the hard work you've put in but the "higher ups" that you've referred to need to show some respect to the local university that pays their bills.

Thanks for reading Matt.


Matt Tait 10 years, 4 months ago

Here's a little more info on where this started. I think there are some valid points in here and this came from someone who has been with our company for decades...

"The style was established when I came here decades ago. Everyone refers to the school as KU and Kansas University conversationally. It was not until sometime in the ‘60s or ‘70s when an edict came out of University Relations to refer to the school as The (note cap) University of Kansas… So for most of its history, folks have called it Kansas University. Rock Chalk Jayhawk, University of Kansas? Won’t hunt! Also, it is the Kansas University Alumni Association and the Kansas University Endowment Association."

DevilHawk 10 years, 4 months ago

Note: This is a response to several of the related posts.

Texas is referred to as UT, which is an obvious shorthand for "University of Texas" after "University of Texas" has been introduced.

Similarly, UNC is an obvious shorthand for "University of North Carolina" after "University of North Carolina" has been introduced.

However, KU is not an obvious shorthand for "University of Kansas". Instead, the matching shorthand would be UK. Rather than using the "UK" shorthand - which could be confused for Kentucky and particularly in basketball articles - it makes more sense to refer to "Kansas University" which has the appropriate shorthand: KU.

While I agree that I would prefer to see "University of Kansas" rather than "Kansas University", if it is a decision between using "Kansas University"+"KU" or "University of Kansas"+"UK" then I would much prefer the former.

clevelandjayhawker 10 years, 4 months ago

how is the D coming along? and will be great to see an offense that doesnt do run,run, pass/run, punt- every 2 out of 3 drives again.

Ron Prichard 10 years, 4 months ago

Oh, come on...occasionally it was wildcat, wildcat, wildcat, punt! Defenses didn't know whether we would run or pass out of that crazy formation! Of, course, until the MU game when it was actually effective but we inexplicably quit running it, I don't think we ever threw out of the wildcat formation all year.

Sayers44 10 years, 4 months ago

Per Tait: The Jayhawks finally appear to have a guy in place who can challenge what Reesing did on the field: fifth-year senior transfer Dayne Crist.

Might I suggest we wait until we have actually seen Crist play before we annoint him as the savior.

Understanding an offense is only part of it. Can Crist actually perform on the field? Let's wait until after we see him in the spring game before we compare him to Reesing or anybody else.

Weis had Notre Dame buy in to his system and looked what happened. Also look at what happened at Akron when Ianello and Powlus used the same offensive system (disaster).

Brak 10 years, 4 months ago

Hey, he can at least see over the O-line, so he has that going for him over Reesing, and really any warm body would have to be an improvement over what we had the last couple of years. I agree we should temper our expectations but once you've hit rock bottom there is only up to go.

vd 10 years, 3 months ago

How can a 6'2" guy see over a 6'2" guy with a helmet on? Are his eyes on the top of his head, or below his forehead like most human beings?

Jonathan Allison 10 years, 4 months ago

Of course Crist's understanding of the offense will translate to on-the-turf success, this is Quarterback U!

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 4 months ago

Based on the comments above, shouldn't it be the University of Quarterback? I don't know, I've gotten confused.

nuleafjhawk 10 years, 4 months ago

This year, I'll be happy if we don't give up 50, 60, 70 points per game.

Ron Prichard 10 years, 4 months ago

The last two years, our defense was so woefully coached they had no idea what they were doing. Sitting in the stands and seeing some of the stuff going on that wasn't always on TV (confusion, blown assignments, half the defense playing man/half playing zone, not getting set before the ball was snapped), I think it is a virtual certainty that our defense is vastly improved. I hope that means we win more games, but I do think it will be rare for teams to score 50 on us, and I don't think we'll have to worry about 60 or 70.

I think Campo and the rest of the defensive coaches will at the very least be able to get the players in a defense where they are in position to make plays. Our talent may not be on par with many of the teams we play, but I believe it is much better than what we saw last year.

I have been completely amazed at what I have heard this offseason about the total lack of discipline and accountability under Gill. I knew there were issues on the field, but I thought for sure there was accountability off the field. Apparently that was not the case. I think that accountability off the field and discipline on the field which is clearly being seen this year will have huge dividends in an of itself. Add in players that are stronger and faster due to a consistent and intensive weight program and I think our defense should improve drastically just with the players we have coming back. If Weis adds in some additional talent, then I am somewhat optimistic we could surprise some people.

Maybe I'm drinking too much of apherse's cool aide but I think a 6-6 season is a distinct possibility. At least, that's what I am hoping for this year.

Ron Prichard 10 years, 4 months ago

I almost spit my drink out when I read this!! Hilarious!

Bville Hawk 10 years, 4 months ago

Does Ahperse hang with Demi Moore? Seems like I heard somewhere that Red Bull and vodka was her drink of choice...

baldwinjhawk 10 years, 4 months ago

Totally agree! The D played like they had just met....

VaJay 10 years, 4 months ago

I think you're right about the defense & the potential for a major turnaround. I don't think we've seen anywhere near their full potential. I'm cautiously optimistic!

Dirk Medema 10 years, 4 months ago

I think we could have been 5-7 last year just by adding Dayne (ISU & BU), dare I say maybe even bowl eligible. Add in the better conditioning, a few more players, and an organized staff - I don't think 6-6 is a stretch at all. It migh be real tough to get much beyond that, cause that next group was the previously mentioned 50+ crowd.

kupride4u 10 years, 4 months ago

Please find a new CW picture, the capris are not the look of a head football coach!

Alex Berger 10 years, 4 months ago

Haha! I definitely did a double take when I saw the picture.

Ron Prichard 10 years, 4 months ago

All joking aside, I think he looks better in the picture above than he has in ages. Looks like he has actually lost a little weight now that he can get around pain free.

dylans 10 years, 4 months ago

The talent at KU is on par with KSU, but I don't expect a cotton bowl this season. Maybe next season we will be bowling, but this season.500 would be fantastic.

easyfive 10 years, 4 months ago

I think the football team is going to be great this year. CW did not raise it up a level but, four or five notches!!! Maybe a "coach of the year" coming??? ...In my mind anyway. :oD

Ryan Shelton 10 years, 4 months ago

By the way he talks, Crist sounds quite a bit like an extra coach. It is great to have such a level-headed quarterback to mentor our young guys.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 4 months ago

Definitely! As much a benefit as his play on the field!

kellerman411 10 years, 3 months ago

Yes, but I believe the Big 12 will be stronger this year than they have in the recent past. Especially the powers, OSU, OU and Texas all brought in elite talent. KU has a shot at winning 5 games including non-con but we're all praying for 6. That would include KSU and stealing a couple others.

kellerman411 10 years, 3 months ago

I'll tell you what I'm excited to see, a very poor recruiting class for K-State. With our transfers, I believe even KU got a better class. We have a chance to beat them this year. I think it will take 32 points to have a shot at winning it though, which should be a nice change from the 62 points it took last year to have a shot at winning a game. That's positive, right?

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