Thursday, October 3, 2013


Opinion: Talent limiting football offense


A cynic’s dark soul would insist it won’t make any difference how Charlie Weis tweaks the Kansas University football offense because the centers and offensive tackles will still get pushed up-field and the receivers still won’t get open, a double-barrelled prescription for failure.

But there is no point in viewing it so bleakly when 75 percent of the season remains to be played.

Weis said Tuesday that he enjoyed the imperfect victory against Louisiana Tech for 24 hours and then graded himself on a tough curve, as is his custom.

“Why did I call that? Why didn’t I call this?” he said of his Monday morning self-flogging ritual. “You’re second-guessing everything. You think you do that? Try being the guy who actually does it.”

Enjoy the victory first. Then tear it apart.

“Now you get back to reflect on it, go back and study it the next morning, you say, ‘Oh, God, we’re awful.’ And you sit there one thing after another,” he said. “We can do better at this. We obviously can’t do this. We’re not good enough to do that. Or that player’s not capable of doing that by himself.”


Weis sounded confident that the offense at the end of the season will be better than it has been one quarter into the schedule, and the source of that belief could be traced to knowing his personnel better. Maybe he realizes he must scrap part of his playbook, the part that talented Notre Dame and NFL receivers could execute, but asks too much of Kansas pass-catchers, especially in an offense already burdened by shaky blocking.

Ever since that day in West Virginia decades ago when I bet on a horse that ran like an ox, I’ve had a serious case of X-and-O phobia, so I checked with my friend Chalkboard Denny to see what mix of pass routes might work for the KU personnel.

“Bubble screens with Tony Pierson and Brandon Bourbon,” Denny said. “Running underneath routes into an area where a receiver has cleared the zone, post patterns, hooks or squats, and the occasional seam pattern when they have nine or 10 men within five yards of the line of scrimmage.”

Denny added that all the receivers should study film of the way former KU receiver Dezmon Briscoe, “who was not a blazer,” performed. Denny noted Briscoe “got open because his routes were so precise and crisp.”

A pause in the action for a glossary of terms:

Bubble screen: Wide-side receiver cuts toward the quarterback to receive a quick pass and runs behind a flank of blockers.

Hook pattern: Receiver runs downfield then turns around and runs toward the line of scrimmage to make the catch.

Post route: Receiver runs down the sideline and at medium depth makes a cut toward the middle of the field at a 45-degree angle.

Seam pattern: Receiver runs straight up field. Also called go or fly route.

Squat: Beats me.

Even I have noticed a shortage of bubble screens and underneath routes. It will be interesting to look for evidence of both Saturday morning against Texas Tech.


actorman 8 years, 10 months ago

Some good points, but why would you quote someone on using the term "squat" if you don't know what it is? Just leave that one out, or even better, do some research (you know, like, say, a journalist).

Jim Roth 8 years, 10 months ago

Humor. I thought it was funny, but sometimes Keegan's sense of humor is a bit different.

amatxjayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

This article is worse than chewing gum. A senseless activity that does not satisfy.

Andy Tweedy 8 years, 10 months ago

I didn't mind the article, but thank God somebody finally agrees with me about chewing gum!!! Complete waste of time...

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

It's a great way to keep your teeth and jaws in shape for eating.

hawk316 8 years, 10 months ago

And it can freshen your breath and help clean your teeth after eating a meal. It also provides a burst of sweetness in your mouth. Mmmm, chewing gum... I think I'll have a piece right now.

hotrodm 8 years, 10 months ago

My 3rd grade grandson could have written this article. What a waste of my time reading this bush league article.

HighQ 8 years, 10 months ago

Can't help but notice

The bad reviews are posted

Before coffee time.

eastcoasthawk 8 years, 10 months ago

Seems the natives are getting restless prior to the conference start. Good, bad or ugly I look forward to seeing it all play out. I especially am looking forward to seeing improvement as we go. If not, it could be ugly and I am tired of ugly. Rock Chalk!

Reuben_J_Cogburn 8 years, 10 months ago

Nothin like a front-page women's basketball article in October to get you pumped up for our football team to pull off an upset....on Homecoming.


machinegun 8 years, 10 months ago

Here we go again...talent is the problem according to Keegan. Don't put the finger on Weis and Grunhard? Are you kidding? I am sick of you blaming these losses on the kids who give everything for this team.

Jake is the second 5-star QB to come to Kansas to play for Super Bowl Charlie. The first one was turned into a rambling wreck before he got thrown under the bus and Jake is on his way to the bench. Weis is the one who is responsible not those two kids.

I realize that Keegan and his friends have to go easy on the administration and coaching staff in order to keep their jobs. But don't blame the kids who work their butts off every day in practice. It's not a matter of talent. It is poor coaching that has gotten us to this point.

Weis was a risky hire because he had done so poorly at Notre Dame and Florida. It appears that he has never made the transition from the pros to college. He and his coaching staff will have very few opportunities to win games during the Big 12 season. I suggest that they approach each and every one as their last at KU starting with Texas Tech. I am praying for rain on Saturday.

Bring it on Weis apologists. Maybe you can call the school and see if there are any openings for cheerleaders. Oh, please shave your legs first. Looking forward to seeing you on the track on Saturday.

KGphoto 8 years, 10 months ago

You realize they play football games in the rain.

machinegun 8 years, 10 months ago

If it is raining, our opponent Texas Tech will not be able to pass the ball and run up the score on us.

Robert Brock 8 years, 10 months ago

End of days. Keegan finally admits that he doesn't know SQUAT.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 10 months ago

Was that a setup? Amazing it went this long before being noticed.

namohcan_99 8 years, 10 months ago

A third straight article about our lack of talent at the WR position? This just in... Our receivers are bad.

gchawk 8 years, 10 months ago

I believe Jeff Goldblum, who was depicting a writer for a weekly gossip magazine, said it best in The Big Chill: "What I do is just good, investigative reporting. I have 1 rule, don't write any article which would take longer to read than an average crap would take", I believe you hit the mark with this one, Keegan.

Doug Cramer 8 years, 10 months ago

Why the hate and criticism toward Tom ? Stop being so ugly. Whether you like the article or not...would you like being criticized like that ?

To be honest...I think this is one of the more realistic pieces written this year.

Machinegun - We can have all the 5 star talent in the skill positions...but it gets wasted because our offensive line talent level is more like division 2. We're trying to play a Big 12 schedule with a division 2 offensive line.

Our defensive line isn't much better...which you will all see come Saturday.

Tom is right...we lack talent in the trenches...and until we get talent in the trenches...this program will continue to struggle.

gchawk 8 years, 10 months ago

Stating the obvious doesn't take much skill, I think that's what most of the critisism towards Keegan is all about. We're all keenly aware of the situation, but what do you think the young men who are playing their hearts out are feeling for being "criticized" for their lack of talent when they read an article like this?

Doug Cramer 8 years, 10 months ago

gchawk - thats a good point you make regarding the players reading the articles. Where do you draw the line ? The media has a job to do. I'd rather the article be realistic about the opposed to all the kool-aid articles we become accustomed to in the pre-season.

Is it really that obvious ? Because there were a ton of posters in here that were predicting a bowl season...

Chris Bailey 8 years, 10 months ago

Agreed. I said many times that we needed to hold back enthusiasm. We were a 1 win team and improvement wasn't going to be that much. I too drank the kool-aid but after 3 years of false promises I knew not to be too hyped up. So here we sit with all these people just SHOCKED that we aren't very good. Well I'm not that shocked. We are better in some aspects and worse in others. O-line is much worse.

Bob Bailey 8 years, 10 months ago

The Jayhawks lost to LT by 20 points, 34-14. Fortunately their coach and players relied on skills they didn’t have or hadn’t developed. The ‘blown ‘ 6 points is easy to understand – no kicker. But the 14 points on no touchdowns is different. It has to be ‘the luck of the game’. Their QB fumbled the ball going into the end zone! Coach Weis was right on top of it; thank you Coach Weis! We got the ball on the 20 yard line. The other incident was the fumble recovery on the 2 yard line. Coach Weis took advantage of that as well. Thank you coach Weis. And Coach Weis has brought us some big, talented guys with football skills and training! Thanks again, Coach Weis, really good progress!

But the plethora of talent doesn’t make up for the shortage of training in tackling, coverage, and Defensive scheme!

There is NO SUBSTITUTE for Elmer Schaake’s Rules of tackling: 1. Belt Buckle (follow the ctr of gravity) 2. Hesitate, Adjust Route (2 steps from carrier) 3. Wrap Him Up (get legs between knees and hips, lock each hand on wrist of other, squeeze like hell) Possible 4. If stiff-arm, give him the fore-arm shiv inside his elbow (either break the hold or break his arm ) Possible 5. Slam Helmet into carriers wrist/hand (to help paralyze it when your team mate fights for the ball)

The talent is great. But an example in this game: our db charged the pass receiver 2-3 yards behind the line of scrimmage. He flung his body at the receiver’s legs (disregarding Rules 2 & 3). The receiver side stepped him, made up the 2-3 yards, plus another 10 for a first down. Which would be better, to make them kick from their 30-40 yard line, or recover a fumble at the 2?

The odds are grossly different if you follow the Rules. If you fling your body at the carrier, you will miss the tackle 50-60% of the time! If you do it right, the odds go to 99% success. If you grasp him by the shoulders, about half the time he will drag you 2-6 more yards. At that point the opponents get 2nd down and 3-4 yards to go. Our Defensive Team MUST learn to tackle the best way!

gorilla10 8 years, 10 months ago

Jayhawks won on a 52 yarder! It's about time we have some luck go our way. KU believed they could win that if you ask me and did. No way they get that win last year. You can't say KU "lost" that game because of mistakes or this and that. This is football, full of momentum swings, emotion and making big plays. KU did what they had to do and got the win. Leave it at that....

Dale Stringer 8 years, 10 months ago

Blame the poor tackling skills these days on the NFL. Those teams don't practice tackling because it may hurt their own players. Most players now just try to hit the ball carrier hard enough to knock them over or are too busy trying to pull the ball out instead getting the guy on the ground. College use to be different since it doesn't have a cap on player numbers and coaches had plenty of backups for a hurt player. Now days college has to watch out for the media blitz it would get if it seems to be mistreating players, so there is less tackling practice than there use to be. If you watch, offensive linemen tend to have the best tackling technique (though not as much skill) because they are still going by how they were taught in little league and Jr. High.

I wish WRs and RBs could go threw some kind of guantlet run where they have tackling dumbies hurled into them. If they can learn to keep their balance and stay on their feet, most tackle these days can be broken.

lama 8 years, 10 months ago

Talent limited this column. What happened to all the "talent" Keegs has been talking up since last Spring?

mikehawk 8 years, 10 months ago

Football is a game of endless variables. Good coaching takes what it has and figures out how to make it work for the skills sets and talent you have to work with. We need to win one more game this year. One dang Big 12 game. Two more wins and we have something tangible to celebrate. But we KU fans are going to have to endure a string of losses coming up and avoid turning on the coaches and the players. Things are headed in the right direction on many levels. Blaming Uncle Charlie OR the players isn't going to cut it. Not now. All of that can be re-evaluated after the season by those payed to do so.

When the losses start coming, Uncle Charlie is going to be the primary target. Again, you have to understand firing him after two years will only make things worse. KU, when we talk football, is not Oklahoma. No one with a cup of Blue Kool Aid in their hand seems to believe me, but we are not going to attract some high profile coach in football. We are going to have to throw our lot in with Uncle Charlie at least for four years. Hopefully, during that time all goes well and we stop always talking about firing the coach and talk about how he built a respectable Big 12 team which can compete, year in, year out, and be something more than a Big 12 doormat.

Steve Hilker 8 years, 10 months ago

Squat route today is what used to be called a button hook. Now you know squat. Just need a receiver named Jack.

pizzashuttle 8 years, 10 months ago

It helps to have read Tom's opinion articles up to this point. This article continues on with his thought process. He's identified we have slow receivers and an O-line that can't provide a lot of time for Heaps to wait for long routes to develop. So what pass routes are effective given those limitations? This is the same question Weis is asking himself. The other question is what distance is Heaps accurate to? His passes up to 15 - 20 yards out look ok but beyond that he's less accurate. Heaps also doesn't have the luxury of skilled receivers to catch his less accurate passes. So what routes can get receivers with average speed open and go for 15 - 20 yards or less in the amount of time that our O-line can hold their blocks? Take it a step further Tom. Which routes will work best for which receivers and why - based on the skill sets of the various WR's?

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