Thursday, September 26, 2013

KU offensive line seeking more toughness during bye week

Kansas running back Darrian Miller is upended by Rice linebacker Nick Elder during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas.

Kansas running back Darrian Miller is upended by Rice linebacker Nick Elder during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas.


Judging by Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis' comments on Monday morning's Big 12 coaches teleconference, it's been anything but an off week for the KU offensive line.

On the heels of back-to-back sub-par performances by KU's most overhauled position, Weis said Monday that piecing together the front five on offense remained “a work in progress,” and it seems likely that, from this point on, the most physical players will inherit the most important roles.

“In the run game this past week (in a victory over Louisiana Tech), just like the week before against Rice, I thought that we didn't get the best of it,” Weis said. “If we're gonna be any good, we need to be able to run the ball efficiently. You gotta be able to control the line of scrimmage, and for two weeks in a row that hasn't been the case.”

So rather than using the early part of their second and final off week of the 2013 season to take it easy, Weis turned up the heat.

“We're doing something different each day (of the off week),” Weis said. “But the first thing we're gonna do is we're gonna beat the hell out of each other on Tuesday. We still need to become a tougher team and I think that the off week is a good week to do that.”

After proving it could run the ball against anybody during 2012 the Jayhawks have gotten off to a slower-than-expected start in that area in 2013. KU's run game still has produced an average of 4.5 yards per carry, but Weis was not pleased with his team's effort up front against either Rice or Louisiana Tech. Eight linemen got into the mix against LA Tech, with two — center Dylan Admire and right tackle Riley Spencer — making their first starts at Kansas and the others getting sprinkled in because of injuries, which Weis said earlier this week were not thought to be serious.

“They might be banged up a little bit physically,” he said. “But I think their egos are more banged up than their bodies are banged up.”

Tackles and junior-college transfers Mike Smithburg and Ngalu Fusimalohi both suffered minor injuries during the win against the Bulldogs and veteran reserve guard Randall Dent missed the game altogether.

Senior Aslam Sterling made his third straight start at left tackle and juniors Pat Lewandowski and Zach Fondal as well as sophomore Damon Martin all are vying for spots.

“I don't think inexperience is the issue,” Weis said. “We have about seven or eight guys that are all involved in the mix and we'll just see where it is going forward.”

KU has spent its off week focusing on different aspects of the season ahead. One day the Jayhawks took an early look at their Oct. 5 opponent, Texas Tech. On another they emphasized self-scouting and fundamentals.

Regardless, the Jayhawks have focused on a couple of key things while prepping for the Big 12 gauntlet that lies ahead — tightening up and capitalizing on the momentum of being 2-1.

“I'm really not a big fan of byes,” Weis said. “But I think now is a good time for us to say, 'OK, we got three games in, here's the things that we do decent, here's the things that we're not very good at and see if we can't try to fix some of these deficiencies that we have.'”


Ron Prichard 9 years ago

The offensive line play may be the most frustrating part of the season so far. The GIF shown by Jessie a couple of weeks ago deconstructing a play against Rice was almost embarassing to watch. There is no way an offensive line should get blown up like that. If this team is going to be any good, it has to have an attitude that, "you may be bigger, you may be faster, you may be stronger, but I'm going to be on your *** all day long, so get ready." This team needs to play like it's hair is on fire every single play. Tenacity and that good old fashioned "want to" can go a long way, especially along the offensive and defensive lines. If this team--and the offensive line, in particular--can find that determination to never give up on a play and go 100% all the time, then I think we'll see some improvement and maybe even some more wins. But if the line continues to perform like it did the last two games, we could be in for a long, long season.

jhox 9 years ago

They've been horrible, no denying that. However, we've also called slow developing hand offs to the backs, and it doesn't appear to me Sims is running and hitting the hole as hard as he has in past years. I'd like to see Miller get a few more reps. He's not as much of a straight ahead runner, and has a way of avoiding getting hit. With the line playing this poorly, he may be a better solution right now than Sims. Bourbon also deserves more touches. He's playing really hard and has earned it. He's one of the few offensive guys who has been impressive thus far.

shelleysue 9 years ago

I noticed that about Sims during the LA Tech game in the third quarter. Like he just didn't have 100% of his legs. I wasn't sure if he got beat up a bit during the game or what happened. But he definitely doesn't look as explosive. Hope he's ok.

Jonathan Allison 9 years ago

the sad thing is that our O Line was actually bigger and should have been stronger than the DLine of Rice.

gorilla10 9 years ago

Let's go O-line!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Big game against Tech next week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let's WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rock Chalk

gorilla10 9 years ago

Let's go FANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WAKE UP, get to the game and show your support!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No half assin it during Big12 play!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rock Chalk

gorilla10 9 years ago

Let's go DEFENSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ok, you get the point.......

Looking forward to a fun, competitive conference season! If we want to get this program headed in the right direction the players and staff need more support than any school in the country. Rock Chalk

Dirk Medema 9 years ago

Thanks. Looking good and coming along nicely.

Tippyhawk 9 years ago

Can anyone direct me as to how to bypass or eliminate the Google survey. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Andy Smith 9 years ago

Don't read the question. Just click the 1st answer. Lie.

BringBackMark 9 years ago

Will Zenger put up with this Clown past this year? He's proven at other schools that he can't win at the college level. His super bowl rings were simply being at the right place at the right time. Those teams continued to win without him. For all of the Kansas City crowd that thinks he's so wonderful, where's Matt Cassel (sp) now? Let's get a real coach and start turning this program around.

gorilla10 9 years ago

Oh brother! Yeah, let's get a real coach to leave a better school and try to turn ours around! Your dumb! Weis knows the game and has brought talent along with him. Lose the screen name and move on buddy....quit crying

bad_dog 9 years ago

It's kind of like saying "my bad"; you know. a personal possessive...

kay_you 9 years ago

Firing another coach is the last thing we need to do. That's why the talent level has diminished. Each time we fire a coach is makes it even harder to get back.

kay_you 9 years ago

I like Mark too. Wish he was still the head coach but the chances of him returning are only slightly better than me winning the lottery. In the immortal words of Taylor Swift, we are never ever ever ever getting back together.

Rivethead 9 years ago

Which other bowl win? Ft Worth Bowl or Insight? He won both - big.

NebraskaJayhawk 9 years ago

If he was great? don't win a BCS bowl at the University of Kansas and then fire that coach unless he killed someone or molested someone. Do you reprimand him for something indecent if that's what it's deemed? Absolutely. I understand that people are tired of hearing Mark Mangino references. But until another coach comes along that they can win in a big way like the fat man did, then get used to it and enjoy the memories we had when he was coach. He was, in fact, a great coach. Despite the lackluster Big XII record. Best coach Kansas has had for a very long time. Mason would be the second best in my lifetime.

Jim Stauffer 9 years ago

You make a good point about Cassel. He was fine as long as Charlie was there. Oh, I'm sorry, that wasn't your point at all now was it. Hey, dummy, Mark ain't coming back. He messed in his nest and quick working and ran off all his good assistants because he was a jerk to everyone around him. Get used to a slow rebuild with CW. He, at least, is a consistently decent person.

Jeremy Hays 9 years ago

I'm not calling you names. I'm not going to judge on your choice of what signifies a successful coach or doesn't. I just want to know why you want Charlie gone?

Responses (very polite and hopefully thought out): "He's proven at other schools that he can't win at the college level. " I think the two BCS games that he went to would say that he was succesful, The only other school besides KU he was at was Florida for a year, now look at their offense. "His super bowl rings were simply being at the right place at the right time." Isn't that the point, how many good coaches struggle when they are in the wrong situation (ie Bill Belicheck (sp?) and his woes at Cleveland).

"For all of the Kansas City crowd that thinks he's so wonderful, where's Matt Cassel (sp) now"

That is sort of the point? If Cassel is not playing now and that weis is not with him (because when he (Charlie) was with him; he had his only All-pro year. Since the Charlie departure, Cassel's ability and overall performance dropped GREATLY

Mark Lindrud 9 years ago

At least they're addressing the issues and not covering them up. This staff is being proactive and I'd say that's progress.

Doug Cramer 9 years ago

Coach - You want to fix some deficiencies that our team has...go recruit the freaking crap out of some big...talented...athletic...and DEPENDABLE...big nasties in the trenches. We lack talent in the trenches...plain and simple.

Dirk Medema 9 years ago

We're getting players basically everywhere else, and were one of the last options on several quality OL recruits last year. In time.

Mark Lindrud 9 years ago

I agree we need to really focus on both lines in recruiting. We need to find guys with mean streaks, especially on the offensive line. Talent has been coming in though so that's good.

Mark Lindrud 9 years ago

I'm in the belief we will keep improving as a team and the team at the end of the year will bed much different than we we saw in the beginning. I do agree we've had a big influx of players in the depth chart this spring that is still having growing pains. Grunhard knows lines and he will get them going.

Jonathan Allison 9 years ago

I still believe in the guys that we have on our roster. I think that we have good players who are still a little low on the learning curve.

TTech is riding high right now and I think that we can knock them off of their high horse.

It's going to take a strong showing from both the OL and DL. The defense will have their work cut out for them, but Tech is 103rd overall in rushing yards, and our defensive backfield has been an area of strength.

But Tech is gonna score points and we will have to score points too. We will need to be able to run and pass, so OLine play is crucial.

Let's go OLine! Get tough, get strong, get mean!

NebraskaJayhawk 9 years ago

I don't think there's many calling for his head. Maybe two or three. Don't make it sound like you're the lone ranger here when it comes to supporting Weis and company. However, I don't think that just because someone makes a Mark Mangino comment that it's time to get your panties in a bunch either. I don't think there's a single person here that would give up that Orange Bowl win and a top 5 season ending ranking. For the record, that doesn't happen without Mangino. I think it's time to stop the bashing of Mangino and Weis both. Fickle fans.

rockchalk_dpu 9 years ago

This will also be the first test against a throw-first team for our new look defensive scheme with 5 DBs. Can we get enough pressure to force the redshirt QB to be uncomfortable and make a quick bad decision, or will he have plenty of time to sit back and pick us apart all day? As good as our secondary could be, they can start to look pretty average if they have to defend for more than 6 seconds each snap. Its just too tough to maintain assignments when the QB has that long to survey his reads and find someone. I think the key to stopping them will need to be unleashing the linebackers and trying to speed TTech up to where they make mental mistakes. If we can do that, perhaps we can fluster the QB and get him further off his game.

I'll be there rooting hard for that first Big 12 win, hope the students and fans come out in force too.

JayDocMD 9 years ago

Toughness. Either you have it or you don't. Good luck "seeking it" over the bye week.

JayDocMD 9 years ago

The examples you give of toughness are noted. I would, in turn, ask your consideration for the following 3 points:

1) There is a difference between aggression and toughness.

I think there is certainly some overlap. But I would argue that aggresion and toughness can and do exist independantly as well.

2) Aggression (even if inconsistent) is easier to obtain than toughness.

I would argue that some players are just more naturally agressive than others. Not to get into Nature vs Nurture here, but when they arrive on campus, for some it's already "go time." For others, buttons have to be pushed and aggression is taught/manipulated. This is something that often comes in spurts and is frustratingly inconsistent for those watching/coaching. "Why can't they be that aggressive all the time."

3) Toughness can be taught, but it takes time (years - not a bye week.)

I would argue that some players are just born with that inner pit-bull toughness that just won't let them quit (Tyrel Reed comes to mind.) That said, I'll agree that toughness can be groomed and nurtured and developed, but it takes time. Withey was a laid-back surfer dude that Self molded over a matter of YEARS into a tougher player.

But in the end, I could have (and probably should have) given you the abridged version and just admit that you exhibit excellent deductive reasoning. I was, in fact, being sarcastic.

Michael Leiker 9 years ago

Agree completely and most of the ways of possibly eliciting some toughness out of guys (possibly making them do bear crawls on hot turf, poking someone in the chest, grabbing someone by the facemask, etc) seem to be out of the question.

Bursting 9 years ago

I thought week 1 was the bye week?

Micky Baker 9 years ago

The schedule has been up for awhile. Try reading it.

Bee Bee 9 years ago

A car load of nuns is tougher than KU's offensive line.

bad_dog 9 years ago

Yardstick in one hand, chalk-filled eraser in the other...

KURiggins 9 years ago

Thank God. Our OL stinks so far. Its why Heaps and our running game has been bad. Its not Heaps or our RBs, in fact we upgraded talent but we gotta block.

Randy Bombardier 9 years ago

If you wanna be loved on Saturdays as a coach you have to be willing to be an SOB every other day of the week. Yeah, Charlie Weis bring more of that Jersey attitude. Too much nice makes the boys think they can slack off.

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