Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Big-play Pierson has chance to lead KU in rushing


The average football fan hears the name Charlie Weis and immediately thinks about quarterbacks and pass-happy gameplans.

In reality, Weis banks more on the run than the typical Big 12 offense, which counts on keeping the defense in retreat with quick snaps and quicker plays.

Weis’ offense keeps the defense feeling as if it’s behind by frequently changing personnel groups and uses the run to set up the play-action pass.

Even with the loss of promising sophomore Darrian Miller — he was booted from the team for not meeting high discipline standards — Weis appears to have enough depth at the position to make the running game go, especially once James Sims returns from a season-opening, three-game suspension.

And the name of KU’s leading rusher will be?

“That is an interesting question,” running backs coach Reggie Mitchell said Tuesday at Camp Charlie, Day 6. “I don’t know who is going to be the leading rusher because you don’t know what personnel groupings he’s going to use from game to game. I think he’s going to spread it around.”

Guessing the back who will lead in yards per carry can be forecasted with greater accuracy.

“That’d probably be Tony, just because he has a better chance for big plays,” Mitchell said of sophomore Tony Pierson, offensive MVP of the spring game.

Weis reiterated Pierson, who stands 5-feet-10-1/2 inches and has been dunking a basketball since seventh grade, will not be an every-down back because of his slight frame, which carries, at most, 170 pounds. Like the illegal Pinewood Derby cars weighted in the front with lead fishing sinkers hidden by fake wood and paint — or so I’m told that’s how to beat the system — Pierson’s built for speed.

A less-structured Stephen Strasburg approach makes sense for Pierson.

The native of East St. Louis studies films of NFL running backs Chris Johnson (5-11, 191) of the Tennessee Titans and Jamaal Charles (5-11, 199) of the Chiefs. When Pierson plays Madden, he’s either giving the carries to Johnson or Charles.

As with most football fans his age, for Pierson the NFL is where fantasy meets reality. Weis was a big deal in the NFL, and then at Notre Dame until things headed south. Pierson’s words about playing for such a big name portend well for KU’s recruiting.

“Seems like a dream coming true,” Pierson said. “I always watched Notre Dame. Just looking at coach Weis, knowing that he’s our head coach and offensive coordinator, it’s like a dream coming true, and I’m playing under a Super Bowl-champion coach.”

A stab at odds for this season’s leading rusher: Pierson 3/2; James Sims 3/1; Brandon Bourbon 10/1; Taylor Cox 30/1; Marquis Jackson 50/1.


Chris Bruning 9 years, 9 months ago

Pierson is the #1 reason i am pumped for this football season. Crist will be fun to watch but if pierson gets a hole nobody is catching him......

Bangkok_Jayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

What does James Sims have to do to get some love? Sims IS an every down back and has been our best running back for the past two seasons coming close 800-900 yards and 10 touchdowns with little help from the passing game to take the pressure off. He can black, play well in goal line, and consistently get you decent chunks of yards. The best part is that he does not turn the ball over which is huge for us being as we will always have a low margin for error in the Big 12.

Pierson will be good but don't forget about Sims!

tical523 9 years, 9 months ago

Weis said in an interview that Sims is our best all around back and had high praise for him and looking forward to him playing. I was very glad to hear this because I agree with you about Sims, he is very good.

Gary Amble 9 years, 9 months ago

You actually want the weight on the back of a pinewood derby car. The higher you lift the weight the more potential energy it has. If the weight is one inch higher on the back of the car it can travel that extra inch down the track. Sorry for the physics lesson, I just don't want your son's blue car to get smoked by some kids purple one.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

I just laughed in a meeting I shouldn't have laughed at thanks to that... Great comment!

John Mueller 9 years, 9 months ago

Maybe it's cuz I'm up way too early, but that's just funny!

I hated physics, but I'm listening...

I definitely don't want to lose to a purple car.

Btw, originally from Western Kansas so my entire extended family are all ag people and K-Staters. When we talk football, they just listen to me, pause, and keep talking about their team.

They literally cannot conceive of losing to KU in football ever again. It is a perpetual W in their minds.

Sure hope Coach Weiss changes that, but I cannot emphasize enough how irrelevant KU is to them in football.

jhox 9 years, 9 months ago

I remember a few years back when Jason Whitlock made some statement about how KU was years away from beating K State. I believe we beat them two of the next 3 years.

Besides, Snyder isn't going to coach forever. At some point he will have to step down.

At least now we have a professional staff capable of making adjustments in games. That's a step in the right direction. I predict we'll beat the Mildcats in football within the next 3 years.

danmoore 9 years, 9 months ago

Since K-State is by default our chief rival I can’t help but speculate on when he will retire and when he does, who will be his successor. He has an impressive coaching tree and there are a number of attractive coaches who might want to take over the program. I don’t know what will happen when he retires but I don’t believe it will revert to the pre-Snyder era when he does.

jhox 9 years, 9 months ago

Keegan, I'll take those 30 to 1 odds you're offering on Cox. Where do I place my bet? He may not lead the team in rushing, but 30 to 1 is an absolute steal on that kid.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Keegan... I like the odds and think you are spot on. Just curious though... What would your odds be if Sims were playing the first 3 games? I would put Sims at 3/2 and Pierson at 3/1.

KGphoto 9 years, 9 months ago

They ran him between the tackles in the spring game. That big TD run was right up the gut. I think Weis even said he's good between the tackles. Gill never used him there but I think Weis will certainly figure out ways to block for him up the middle. Otherwise you get what we had last year. When Pierson was in the game you covered the corners and shut him down.

Mo Mosallaei 9 years, 9 months ago

I really want to see Pierson returning kickoffs with his explosive speed. Bashears should still be the punt returner though.

kellerman411 9 years, 9 months ago

It is nice to have that home run threat in the backfield. If he does get space, defensive players will all take a much more conservative angle because they know hes fast. Even if they do catch him, he will get farther.

troutsee 9 years, 9 months ago

Pierson is a game breaker. He needs to play a lot.

hinrgee 9 years, 9 months ago

Once Taylor cox show you the version of what a slept on rb is you will see the diff. my money is on Cox..

Randy Bombardier 9 years, 9 months ago

I am really stoked to see what our O will do this year. Better schemes, prep, conditioning, and great skill players. Really hoping to see serious upgrade on special teams, too. Hope Bowen can get this unit to be a force.

Bourban, Pierson, Sims, are all threats with Cox being an unknown. Each brings something different. I see Sims as the wildcat formation guy, perhaps Cox too. Would like to see Pierson and DJ on returns and Bourban as an up back on kickoffs just in case. If he would get the ball being an upman he would rumble for quite a ways. Pierson would be a huge threat on punt returns every time.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.