Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Opinion: Receivers dropping? Go hand shopping


You can take the sarcastic football coach out of Jersey, but you can’t take the Jersey sarcasm out of the football coach.

It bubbled to the surface again Tuesday afternoon when Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis turned his attention to the performance of his wide receivers in Saturday’s Coyote-ugly 31-14 victory against South Dakota. The receivers’ hands were as shaky as Barney Fife’s as the deputy fumbled to load his lone shiny bullet into his revolver.

How, the football coach who started his career in the high school ranks of New Jersey before stops at various colleges and NFL teams was asked, do you deal with receivers’ drops?

“Depends on who they are,” Weis said. “I say different things to different players. Usually, it’s the Kmart special.”

Excuse me?

“I say, ‘They’re selling hands. Why don’t you go buy yourself a pair.’ Depends on who they are,” he repeated. “Sometimes that hurts their feelings too much.”

At times last year Weis seemed to go out of his way to protect the quarterback he twice recruited and celebrated, Dayne Crist. He could have been mistaken for doing the same Tuesday with Jake Heaps, but that wasn’t the case. Heaps doesn’t need protection from anybody but his blockers. He was far better in his KU debut than his ordinary statistics (10 for 20, 110 yards, one touchdown).

Dayne Crist never looked as good as Heaps looked Saturday. Heaps zipped accurate throws into tight spots.

“There were four or five dropped balls out of 20 passes,” Weis said. “And three throw-aways. Two or three balls that were clearly incompletions out of 20 throws. If we get that percentage again this week, I’ll take that. We obviously have to do a better job of catching the ball and throw-aways are part of what you do. Those are a good thing. They’re not a bad thing. They go down as an incompletion. For me, they go down as a smart play.”

Weis excused one of Jimmay Mundine’s drops because it was thrown to the wrong shoulder. The one drop, more than any, that stuck in the coach’s craw came on the second play.

“Justin (McCay) had the one up the sideline, first (pass) play,” Weis said. “He’s the only one standing. Everyone else is falling down, the ball hits him in the chest. You want to talk about the quarterback throws, how about a 50-yard completion on the first throw of the game? That would have been a good way to start. And the second throw was the one he threads the needle right over the middle linebacker, hits Jimmay right in the hands. We need to make those plays. They know it. I don’t need to tell them. Before they come to the sidelines, they know it.”

And the next day when the coach hands them fliers with instructions on how to shop online at Kmart, they are reminded of it.


Doug Cramer 9 years, 2 months ago

Can't remember what game it was last year...but Trent Smiley made a SWEET / extremely athletic catch near the goal line.

BringBackMark 9 years, 2 months ago

There are coaching drills to help receivers (d-backs, linebackers, etc.) improve their ability to catch the football. That might be more effective than telling them to run down to K-Mart. Especially since we don't have on any more......

Kevin Studer 9 years, 2 months ago

I'm fairly confident that the team runs pass-catching drills.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 2 months ago

Wow with 4 Superbowl rings and a couple of bcs appearances, I wonder if hccw knew about those types of drills. I'm glad you brought it up. I'm sure he'll Google them and insert them into his training, if only you had let him know sooner.

Michael Leiker 9 years, 2 months ago

I think BBM brings up a good point, it seems like dropping passes is and has been a team wide recurring issue with this group. Coach needs to stop joking about it and systematically address it, which he may be, but if he has been has not been working to anyone's satisfaction to this point. Saying that he has rings doesn't really change the reality that so far he has failed in this area with basically every ball catching player he's coached at KU.

pbouldenv 9 years, 2 months ago

Exactly, whatever they are doing currently doesn't seem to be having positive results. It is doubtful anyone makes it to D1 without the ability to catch the ball...therefore it seems like the current drills/practice might be part of the problem.

Lance Cheney 9 years, 2 months ago

I'm not sure I would trust a pair of hands bought from K-Mart. Now Target, maybe. Best Buy? (I can't think of any top-of-the-line hand stores.)

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 2 months ago

I REALLY want to make a comment about employment opportunities for hand salesmen, or hand models, but I know it will get deleted. sigh

Dirtyphog 9 years, 2 months ago

There's more to modeling than just being ridiculously good looking

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 2 months ago

...and I plan on finding out what that is.

KURiggins 9 years, 2 months ago

Maybe Conner E should start at WR. He caught all the punts and with no fear. On a more serious note, I chalk it up to first game nerves nothing more. If it continues, then its time to worry. For now, don't read too much into it

Bryce Landon 9 years, 2 months ago

“I say, ‘They’re selling hands. Why don’t you go buy yourself a pair.’ Depends on who they are,” he repeated. “Sometimes that hurts their feelings too much.”

Aw, those poor players getting their feelings hurt by that mean old Coach Charlie Weis. sniff sniff Fire him and bring in players' coach who'll be nice to them.

pbouldenv 9 years, 2 months ago

What a joke, now wonder the team has a lot of drops! Ohh no, I better catch the ball, because I surely don't want someone saying "go buy hands" (sarcasm). Comments like these makes me start to wonder about team discipline. I really hope they start using a tennis ball machine in practice to work on catching. It does a great job making the receivers watch the ball all the way into their hands. The team got a lot better at catching the ball several years back once Mangino started using one. On a positive note, I thought Heaps looked great throwing the ball on Saturday. He made some great throws.

pbouldenv 9 years, 2 months ago

Just wanted to add, Mundine and Pierson have been very impressive catching the ball. Mundine had a bit of an off night last Saturday, but he was very solid last year.

Joe Custer 9 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps the Coach should worry more about his own hands in dropping all the possible recruits that were earlier up for grabs?

David A. Smith 9 years, 2 months ago

I know, right? After the Gill years, and all that losing... the best he can do is a five star quarterback and the ESPN top juco player in the country? Sheesh, coach!

KURiggins 9 years, 2 months ago

Heaps did look great. As far as our WR/TEs go, like I said first game nerves. They improved as the game went on. You cannot simulate true game mojo in a practice. You can scout, watch film try to get ready for the opposition but until your out there getting hit,live action just no.simulating that. Any good coach will tell you that. And I think all Coach Weis meant by hurting feelings is you do not build confidence in your players/ WRs this past week by overdoimg it with the teasing. And like it or not, you need them confident

741hawk 9 years, 2 months ago

"I recruit players who can shoot. I can teach 'em how to run my offense and how to play defense, but I can't teach 'em how to shoot," Coach Mark Turgeon. You've seen guys who can jump to the top of the backboard but can't put it in the basket from five feet away.

Same with receivers. Weis has to recruit hands. He can teach 'em how to run routes, but he can't teach 'em how to catch.

KGphoto 9 years, 2 months ago

Not true. You think Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, and Notre Dame recruited Justin McCay because he couldn’t catch?

These guys can catch. They just need to relax a little.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 2 months ago

Very good point. It's just like any other sport. Relax, quit thinking so much and play the game.

Andy Tweedy 9 years, 2 months ago

Okay, last year's problems were two-fold. Sure, our guys dropped some balls, but they also weren't open enough for it to have been that big of a problem. If the guys are getting open, thing will improve, even if we do drop some balls. That being said, CATCH THE BALL!!!

jayhawk5125 9 years, 2 months ago

It'll happen, the improvement will come. Have some faith.

bigtex 9 years, 2 months ago

McCay looks like Tarzan but plays like Jane. The South Dakota DBs ruled him all game long (Stoops is right). Trey looked decent at times, but is not a Big 12 receiver (5'10" 170lbs.) Ford had one ball thrown to him, looked good catching the ball and running after the catch, also blocked good . No attempted throws to Matthews, would like to see a play set up to him to see at least what he can do. Pierson has great wheels,decent hands, but his route running is average or below. Mundine will do better just a bad night. Weis needs to look to his bench to see if the Truzalli , Herrod or the Garden Juco kid can play. Receivers catch balls, play guys that can run good routes and catch the ball !!!!

Ken Schmidt 9 years, 2 months ago

Good point. Size makes all the difference in a ball catcher. I am sure many folks believe Tavon Austin was not a B12 receiver either. If anything, recivers like Amendola or Welker are great examples for unproductive position players in a system Weis ran for many years. A system Weis is slowly building here. sarcasm

Your point that key guys making plays and not just catches is true. I too believe we will see more of Turzilli but trust HCCW to do what he was hired to do. There is no way you can make the assumption regarding McCay after one game. Get back to me after five. I remember a young receiver named Briscoe who was in his coaches' doghouse not long ago. He now plays on Sundays and went on to be one of the more prolific receivers at KU in recent years.

Andy Tweedy 9 years, 2 months ago

When you say "Stoops is right" what are you basing that on? Did he say something about McCay? I find it difficult to believe he said much of anything about him after he left.

mikehawk 9 years, 2 months ago

All major programs have pass catching drills, some strait forward and some a bit gimmicky. But they all try to teach the receiver to look the ball into their hands, how to put the ball away, and how to not let the ball get into their body. Still, while these drills really improve a player's ability to catch a pass, there is still something called "soft hands" that can't really be coached.

KURiggins 9 years, 2 months ago

Well said. Who caught the TD again? Who? Maybe talk smack on a guy who didn't but he did. McCay is going to be a beast, so is Hepas. My concern. can we protect Heaps and give him good pockets to throw from. ...McCay to SD after catching the TD...."Get Some"

kureader 9 years, 2 months ago

My grandmother could have caught the pass thrown to McCay. There wasn't anyone within 5 yards of him, he was practically standing still, and the ball hit him in the chest. The question with McCay is why he didn't come back to the ball on the first throw of the game. It was catchable. Never mind the fact that he didn't catch it. We're 2 minutes into the first game of the season. The question is, where was the effort to go get the pass? For that matter, this is the question with a few other passes on Saturday thrown to 2 or 3 different players. During our first game, there wasn't any fire in the belly of our receivers. If that's noticed and remedied, we could win some games. McCay, in particular, is on my "show me" list. He won't be a beast (as you've called him) until he shows some effort. So far, in practices and in his first game as a Jayhawk, he hasn't shown it. I've got my fingers crossed that things will improve against Rice.

KGphoto 9 years, 2 months ago

But could your grandmother have gotten to the right place at the right time? Route running is about as important as anything for a WR. If the WR and QB see the empty spot on the field at the same time, and the WR gets there IN time, it’s like playing catch in the backyard.

KURiggins 9 years, 2 months ago

Spoken like someone who doesn't football. Good for you. What number is your grandma? I 'll watch for her

Sparko 9 years, 2 months ago

Sadly, a lot of folks here missed the drops when they assessed Heaps performance. The dude has a Jaynes' like arm. Missing Bruce Adams right now though.

kureader 9 years, 2 months ago

Agreed. Heaps has the best arm since Jaynes. Though, I believe it's Heaps' 4th year of college football. For me, the jury's still out on Heaps. He shouldn't be good, he should be one of the Big 12's best passers. (Additionally, Jaynes had 4 of the top 10 Big 8 receivers ... perhaps that's a credit to Jaynes). Except for maybe Pierson, I'm not seeing that yet with this year's team.

KURiggins 9 years, 2 months ago

100% agree Sparko. I chalk the drops up to first game nerves. Nothing else. Happens at every level. Drops, fumbles, ints from players who normally don't make those mistakes. Eli Manning, RG III, etc...happens at every level. Your also right that it does not diminish from Heaps straight up skills. Just no way to simulate real game action.

KURiggins 9 years, 2 months ago

Dude, watch some football, take some notes..everyone is rusty in the first game. Heaps is already good, can we protect him? Not sure. BTW if I am not mistaken it appears SD was in a Tampa 2 defense when Justin M caught the TD pass. He split the coverage. Football lesson 1. Running the right route and adjusting if need be is important too. There were defenders there. He ran the right route. Heaps delivered a clean pass ..TD. Period. Fyi. Heaps will impress if we protect

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