Saturday, October 5, 2013


Opinion: Fake punt a risk not worth taking

Kansas punter Trevor Pardula takes off on a fourth-down run on a fake punt against Texas Tech during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. Pardula was stopped on the play by Tech linebacker Micah Aw to give the Red Raiders the ball deep in Jayhawk territory.

Kansas punter Trevor Pardula takes off on a fourth-down run on a fake punt against Texas Tech during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. Pardula was stopped on the play by Tech linebacker Micah Aw to give the Red Raiders the ball deep in Jayhawk territory.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Charlie Weis talks after loss to Texas Tech

Kansas football coach Charlie Weis talks after his team's 54-16 loss to Texas Tech on Oct. 5, 2013.

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Box score


Equivalent to a blackout, the human electricity that lit Memorial Stadium on fire with emotion vanished in a blink Saturday afternoon. And once the momentum shifted, it never even hinted at shifting back.

An outcome so lopsided as Texas Tech 54, Kansas 16 can’t be traced to one play making the difference, but it certainly wasn’t difficult to pinpoint the moment the tide turned with tsunami-like fury.

KU put undefeated Texas Tech behind for the first time all season, 10-0, and after the Red Raiders tied the score in the second quarter, Kansas faced a fourth-and-13 from its 16. Time for a punt. Period. No debate. Nothing whatsoever to discuss.

Trevor Pardula, whose left foot is so much stronger than both feet working in tandem are fast, took the snap near the 5-yard line and sprinted to his left on a fake that had the same impact on the crowd as would killing the speakers at a rock concert. Dead silence. Then boos. No gain. So much enthusiasm lost. Pardula needed to run about 25 yards for a first down. Gale Sayers in his prime would have had a tough time covering the distance.

How in the world did this happen?

Kansas coach Charlie Weis explained that of all the looks Texas Tech uses when its punt return unit takes the field, one look could be exploited, apparently with ease. Weis was so confident of that he said, “It wouldn’t make a difference whether you needed 10 yards or you needed 40 yards. It wouldn’t make a difference. So therefore you don’t get scared off it.”

How many times did the Red Raiders align that way?

“It didn’t present itself,” Weis said. “And the young man (Pardula) felt it did present itself.”

It was up to the punter to read the field and make a decision.

“It’s not like we called it,” Weis said. “The same call was there for every single play until that happened.”

Pardula shot himself in his very strong foot by not using it and instead using his feet. But that doesn’t make him ultimately responsible for the play that stood out among so very many Keystone Cop moments during a stretch of 54 unanswered points by Texas Tech. The ultimate blame lies with the coach. Weis said as much and it was not a case of false humility. There is very little that comes out of his mouth that can be labeled at all false.

Pardula shot himself in the foot, but without Weis buying the gun, loading it and handing it to his punter, just in case he decides to use it, Pardula never could have wounded himself and the team’s chances of heading into the locker room feeling OK.

Unless the look that Weis referenced entailed 11 Red Raiders dropping back to receive the punt, any fake punt would seem a gamble not worth taking on fourth-and-13 at the 16 in a tie game in the second quarter.

“I’m not sitting here saying he did that completely on his own,” Weis said, putting his foot in the line of fire. “There’s a gray area there. I’ll ultimately take the responsibility when there’s a gray area because kids are kids and when they have to do too much thinking that can end up happening.”

Weis returns to the black chalkboard, white chalk in hand, trying to avoid gray areas and red faces.

It wasn’t close to the only play that made KU’s Day 1,063 without a Big 12 victory feel as if it lasted a few hundred centuries, but time never stood still quite the way it did as Pardula lumbered on the bridge to nowhere, the bridge the KU football program so often finds itself on, searching for the right engineers and labor force that can combine efforts to figure out how to construct an exit ramp. On this day, that knotty challenge felt so much like a work in regress.


Mike Pressgrove 8 years, 10 months ago

Why would let the punter make that decision?

Kris Nelson 8 years, 10 months ago

Dumb. Just like the decision to hire a has-been, never-was coach.

Alex Berger 8 years, 10 months ago

Yeah! Why didn't hire one of those raging successful coaches that was on the market!?

Oh wait...

ArgyleJayhawks 8 years, 10 months ago

There were plenty of good candidates that didn't carry the baggage Weis does. You know better than that.

jahawker2004 8 years, 10 months ago

Weis likes to brag that he'll "outscheme" opponents.

He outschemes his own team.

Absolutely PATHETIC.

Maracas 8 years, 10 months ago

Good luck on fundraising for stadium renovations.

Alex Graves 8 years, 10 months ago

That play didn't take the wind out is the sails. It's when he rolled Cummings and that Jayhawk formation. It's aggravating when Heaps and the offense are rolling and Weis changes everything! I'm a fan in the stands and can absolutely predict when we are going to pass and when we are going to run. So that says the people who are paid to do it can see if from a lot farther away. I believe we went 8 straight possessions after that formation switch with 3 and outs. Play calling cannot be predictable and it cannot be formations that we only run in and then formations we only pass in. Throw in the penalties on top of the near impossible situations we put our defense in all game and it's no wonder it was a long 3 quarters to be a Jayhawk fan!

actorman 8 years, 10 months ago

You said it perfectly, alex. After the first quarter, the so-called offensive genius was so predictable, it was pathetic. His calls in the first quarter were great because they were not expected, but once TT started making adjustments, it was as if Weis had not never considered that possibility, and he had no answer for it. Instead he called one predictable play after another.

texashawk10 8 years, 10 months ago

Bingo. The KU offense shut down after Cummings came in and ran his package. Jake Heaps was playing great executing a bunch of quick passes and then Cummings comes in and Heaps loses all rhythm and momentum. This is also when the Tech offense started to come alive because the KU offense couldn't get a first down to give the defense a breather.

kay_you 8 years, 10 months ago

I disagree Alex. You can blame the play calling all you want but we lost because we couldn’t execute. And just because you think you can predict whether it’s a pass or run is of little relevance. You think the opposing DC or our DC can’t do the same. Even if you close your eyes you have a 50-50 chance of being right. Now tell me whose going to carry the ball, what type of play, where he’s going to run or the multitude of variations involved then you’re saying something. It’s easy to be creative when you have the personnel to do so. We don’t. We should be sticking to the fundamentals. Some guy in Manhattan has been doing just that for some time now and has been pretty successful.

Ashwin Rao 8 years, 10 months ago

You mentioned "execute", but forgot some key words kay_you... "aaaaah from that standpoint" "per se", "experience"ed staff... etc. :) Just kidding! I agree with your observations.

kay_you 8 years, 10 months ago

The kicking team has been the most improved part of this team but that play was pretty bad. Not that it mattered but Wyman who kicked a 52 yarder last week missed an extra point.

packywacky88 8 years, 10 months ago

Might be the single dumbest play in football history. If not, it's easily in the top 5.

CHEEZIT 8 years, 10 months ago

How can it be called one of the dumbest play in football history? We're not very good and TT hasn't played anybody yet. The game meant very little in the grand scheme!!! If it had worked then what???

90sHawk 8 years, 10 months ago

Answer to your first question: Easily, we had a punter who thought he could run 20+ yards for a first down deep in our territory. TTU may not have a world beater schedule, but they've played SMU on the road and TCU at home so far. More than I can say for our weak arse schedule that we couldn't come out of 3-0

codyinman 8 years, 10 months ago

It's not inconceivable, do you think this punter runs a 40 in under 5 seconds? I doubt it, just need those blocks to come through.

CHEEZIT 8 years, 10 months ago

Look at the final score and the way we played before in this season. May not of even been the dumbest play in the game1

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 10 months ago

Watch the play again. The punter was right and if the personal protecters do their job and hold a block for 2 seconds he gets the first down.

Oh, and the world is laughing at us as the play is a headline on yahoo.

741hawk 8 years, 10 months ago

So, you are saying that the players are capable enough, but they don't execute the plays. Hmmm. Whose fault would that be?

ArgyleJayhawks 8 years, 10 months ago

Going with that gun analogy was worse than any fake punt decision.

Adam McEwen 8 years, 10 months ago

looking at that replay, the up backs make their blocks and he's got a first down easily. Execution. That's the problem with this team. Fans need to be patient and wait for execution, quit looking for a crucifixion, it won't solve anything.

kay_you 8 years, 10 months ago

You're probably right but I don't think the up backs knew he was going to run. IMO this is on the coaches.

Andy Godwin 8 years, 10 months ago

It is clear, now too many games into Weis' tenure, that it is always someone else's fault. I sat through the entire game and can pinpoint several plays that completely turned the tide, and the stupid fake point was one of them. He is a terrible game manager, period. I feel sorry for the players that put their bodies on the line for this lame coach, who is alway blameless. Charlie, take full responsibility for your team.

RibMan 8 years, 10 months ago

After watching Weis' offenses for many years now, he is nothing more than an ordinary coordinator. He isn't forward thinking. He isn't brilliant in breaking down defenses. He is not even one of the better play callers in the Big 12.

Weis was a hiring mistake.

I do think the defense has shown potential but Weis' offense keeps them on the field and with poor field position.

It's only going to get worse as long as Weis is the O coordinator. And if he isn't that, then what good is he?

Ashwin Rao 8 years, 10 months ago

I partially agree with you. I still feel that he is a good HC, as he looks at the big picture (academic, off-the field discipline, generating interest in the "product" etc). He is definitely NOT a good college OC. He needs one bad right now. I hope there is a good offensive minded High School coach within easy reach to fill that gap soon!

codyinman 8 years, 10 months ago

Blame blame blame. Fire the HC! In his second year we aren't playing for a national title even though we are an after-thought football team in a big conference. I'm such an expert at the game of football and play calling even I could call better plays than HC. Same story, different coach. How many of you people on here judging the HC and team were actually in the stands at this game supporting this team? I agree the play calling is a bit iffy and our players could execute better, but the cynical comments from all of these "HC" around Lawrence is tire-some. Why are none of you applying for the job since it's so easy?

How about some real input? We are 2-2 right now. That is a .500 record. We have a better W/L record than Iowa State and match the W/L records of Kansas State and TCU. Our Defense is a huge upgrade than what we've had in a while. The sky is not falling. Better execution on the O-Line, a few more pass-catch plays and we are in the game.

I agree with rawkchawk1978, patience. Crucifying every HC that comes in and doesn't take us to a bowl in the first 2 years won't solve anything.

Joseph Bullock 8 years, 10 months ago

True cody on people wanting to fire the HC so fast, but Weis does not have a good track record in college. Notre dame recruits itself, and he couldn't win there. I don't care about who did not hold their blocks on the fake punt, but you just don't do that-period. Turner Gill never really got a chance here. A HC needs at least 3 to 4 years, to recruit, and to get everything in place. I don't remember the kids quitting on Gill, the way they did on Weis, last year, but they haven't quit this year. Let's see how this plays out. Sometimes I wonder if it is a big mistake to get pro coaches for the college game! It doesn't help you recruit, if you don't win at the college level, even if you preach to the kids that you can help them get to the pros. Any thoughts on that?

lama 8 years, 10 months ago

More like, "Weis a risk not worth taking."

eastcoasthawk 8 years, 10 months ago

The part that bothers me about this was not that Pardula mistakenly saw something that wasn't there but when he realized he would barely make it to the line of scrimmage let alone the additional 13 yards is that he wasn't smart enough to punt it quickly down the field. Although he might have just believed in his coach...."Weis was so confident of that he said, “It wouldn’t make a difference whether you needed 10 yards or you needed 40 yards. It wouldn’t make a difference. So therefore you don’t get scared off it.”

But this play did not lose the game. We had already seen the offense going 3 and out consistently and their offense moving the ball consistently. We just helped TTU too many times while shooting ourselves in the foot.

fan4kufootball 8 years, 10 months ago

I dont mind the team or the coaches shaking things up a bit but geez the field position was horrible for this type of risk taking!

William James 8 years, 10 months ago

Weis is only a small part of the problem. He is doing the best he can with the limited football savvy that he has. The problem is the people that decided to hire this guy in the first place and guarantee him $10 million on the spot for signing some papers. We, as fans, need to seriously consider the horrible judgment that we are financially supporting when we spend money on this program. If we want the University to change their approach to the football program, we need to stop feeding it.

Robert Brown 8 years, 10 months ago

Bad head coaching hires kill a football program. We apparently have made two bad hires in a row which will relegate the program to decade of ineptitude. I know several people think they have seen improvement but compare this year's Tech game with last year's Tech game and tell where improvement has been made. Clearly the fan base has given up if only 25,000 people showed up to the game. That is not good..

A lot of people still like to blame Turner Gill and Lew Perkins but this is all on Weis going forward.

90sHawk 8 years, 10 months ago

Gotta think big picture my man. Anyone can point to a game here, a game there, to justify their opinion we are a sinking ship with Weis. It's akin to saying we should have kept Gill just because he beat a #15 ranked GTech a couple games into the season, but yet no rational person truly believes Gill had us heading anywhere but 6 feet under at the end of his 2nd season, and to top it off, we find out after he was fired it was actually WORSE, as players were failing miserably in the classroom also. Maybe Weis fails to, maybe he doesn't. Either way, we have no choice but to give him at least another couple of seasons to show us.

Robert Brown 8 years, 10 months ago

I never advocated firing Weis. I'm opining that he was a bad hire which will result is a decade of ineptitude. The bottom line is results on the field or fan interest. The attendance yesterday was the lowest for a home game since the last game of 2001. That is not good given the emphasis on revenue generation.

90sHawk 8 years, 10 months ago

It was implied.....I won't argue the point of whether he was a bad hire or not. I think the jury is still out on that one for the time being. Do I believe he is better than Gill? Without a doubt; 100%. Weis isn't an idiot, and he isn't a bad football coach. Bad coaches don't fool that many professionals in the NFL if he truly didn't have a clue what he was doing. But maybe his ego is getting in the way of progress with the whole play calling thing. He said he's learned some things from his stint at ND; maybe one of those things from his time there and at KU should be that hiring an OC is a must. We'll see what major changes are made at season's end and evaluate

pbouldenv 8 years, 10 months ago

Spot on, Tom!
Weis needs to adjust his risk vs reward meter! This team is better than it appears, but they get thrown in to holes that they can't dig themselves out of.

pbouldenv 8 years, 10 months ago

Can we throw away all the blue pants with the thick red stripe? I don't think KU has ever played well in those clown pants. They are sooo ugly.

Dale Sprague 8 years, 10 months ago

Ohio State v. Northwestern Saturday night. Almost same situation but OSU called the fake punt. The run result was the same, and the only difference was Northwestern got 3 not 7 points. Even the good teams can make the same mistake. Just saying.

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