Sunday, November 17, 2013


Opinion: Weis’ schemes give KU edge


Karma’s a bewitching thing sometimes, even if the spell it casts must be delayed a year.

You might recall that a year ago West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen in thinly veiled fashion resurrected the Charlie Weis quote that will be used against Kansas University’s football coach for as long as he remains in the public eye.

Early in Weis’ tenure at a “previous institution,” which is what the coach likes to call his alma mater these days, Sports Illustrated reported that Weis told his players, “Every game, you will have a decided schematic advantage.”

In the days leading up to his home Mountaineers game against 1-10 Kansas on the first day of Dec. 12, 2012, Holgorsen stung Weis with a sharply sarcastic tongue.

“They’re going to coach them up,” Holgorsen said. “We’re going to be at a major schematic disadvantage going against their coaches. They’ve got coaches with a tremendous pedigree that have coached everybody in the world and coached for decades and decades and decades.

“It’ll be challenging. You never know what you’re going to get. They kind of have a flavor of the week in the fact that schematically, you’re dealing with a group of coaches that understand football as good or better than anybody in the country. What we’ve got to do is we’ve got to figure out what their plan is going to be.”

Geno Smith completed 23 of 24 passes for 407 yards and three touchdowns in a 59-10 slaughter. Holgorsen knew his team had such a decided talent advantage that mocking the opposing coach wasn’t going to prevent the inevitable blowout.

Well, Smith plays for the New York Jets now, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey for the St. Louis Rams.

Nobody had a decided talent advantage Saturday in Memorial Stadium, where Kansas defeated West Viriginia, 31-19.

Karma’s bewitching hand ensured that the mocked coach won the game and won it with a decided schematic advantage. No sarcasm, just the truth.

Center Gavin Howard explained how he learns each week about the game plan. He said the coaches draw it up Monday, and he meets that night to go over it with offensive-line coach Tim Grunhard. The coaches show it to the rest of the team Tuesday.

Asked for the key to KU eclipsing 300 yards rushing for the first time this season, Howard said, “A lot of it was scheme. We felt good about the scheme. We copycatted teams that had been successful against West Virginia.”

Especially Baylor, Howard said.

The plan called for the wide receivers to line up close to the sidelines, spreading out the defense and opening up the middle for runs. In short, KU copied Baylor’s offense. Howard said the team was shown every Bears offensive play against West Virginia and cherry-picked from other teams that had success against the Mountaineers.

The run-first spread offense favored by Baylor and copied by KU created one-on-one match-ups, and with mobile Montell Cozart at quarterback the entire game, opportunities abounded for him and the running backs.

Making such significant changes in a week’s time had its risks.

“Obviously, you always trust your coaches, but in the back of your mind you’re thinking, ‘Should we be spreading them out? Should we be changing stuff up?’ But they came out exactly like our coaches said they would, and we ran the ball exactly like we knew we would if they came out like that,” Howard said. “I would give the coaches a lot of credit for the scheme and then us going out and executing it. I think it played to Montell’s strengths as well as the O-line’s.”

Sounds like a schematic advantage.

It took Weis awhile to get there, but he appears comfortable with the reality that having a running threat at quarterback and spreading out the offense works best in college football. He and his coaches will add and subtract wrinkles from there, but, to steal a line from Holgorsen, the “flavor of the week” approach could and should be history.

It had to feel good for Weis to tie Holgorsen’s tongue a year later.

Andrew Wiggins can’t wait a year to make Travis Ford, the Dana Holgorsen of Big 12 basketball, pay for his sarcastic remarks because Wiggins will be playing for pay then.

Here’s guessing he’ll take care of it once, twice or thrice in his first and only season at KU.


Billy Smith 8 years, 10 months ago

Wait, wait, wait, you mean to tell me that trying to run a pro style offense in college with less than average talent hasn't been working? Crazy we had success spreading the field a little bit. Why exactly did we wait 10 games to try it again? Honestly I think a lot of it has to do with Charlie's ego. The guy has super bowls yada yada. But really, this isn't the NFL.. Good to see he swallowed his pride a little bit and turned some of the game planning/play calling to his staff. I was hesitant about wanting to go to the game, but I'm glad I did. It was really fun to watch. Let's win out and end the season on a high note!

I bet that WV coach is feeling pretty dumb for running his mouth about now. Yes sir, it does look like you were at a schematic disadvantage.

Ron Prichard 8 years, 10 months ago

Nice article, Keegan, but the last two paragraphs should have been left off entirely. I read them and was left thinking, "huh?"

Kyle Coffey 8 years, 10 months ago

I noticed that the gameplan was focused on spreading out after a screen play that was completed to a WR about a yard inside the boundary. What a great move so far. Could really help against Iowa St, as they have a decent front 7 so spreading them out would help eliminate their strength on defense.

Erich Hartmann 8 years, 10 months ago

Agree with the article. Thank you to Weis for finding something our team can execute, a good sign.

Agree with the analogous connection to KU/Wiggins shutting up Travis Ford's big mouth with a W. Only issue is that Bill Self is the one with a "decided schematic advantage", and he will use it to clobber OklaState. By conference play, KU basketball should be "ready" for Travis Ford's 1-2-3-4 punch (Nash, Smart, Forte, Brown), and then show 'em cowboys what -5-6-7-8-9 look & feel like, as we are 9-deep. Fun, fun.

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