Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kansas wary of Duke receivers


When Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis watched the film from Saturday’s season-opening victory against Southeast Missouri State, something struck him that he had to share via text message.

Senior cornerback JaCorey Shepherd was on the receiving end, and the third-year KU coach’s message to his starting right corner was simple: Be ready for a lot of balls to come your way.

Oh, the timing.

One week after watching running mate Dexter McDonald dominate with two interceptions and two pass break-ups against SEMO, Shepherd and the Jayhawks are preparing to face a Duke squad that features two ultra-talented wideouts in seniors Jamison Crowder (5-foot-9, 175 pounds) and Issac Blakeney (6-6, 225) and a passing game crafted by head coach David Cutcliffe, who helped turn Peyton Manning into a college and NFL star.

“He’s gonna get a bunch of action from me, that I can promise you,” Weis said of Shepherd, who could draw a few more throws if teams decide to challenge McDonald less and less.

It remains to be seen which of Duke’s top two options Shepherd will line up against, but if recent history is any indication, Shepherd will see a lot of Blakeney.

“Crowder’s usually gonna be on our right, and Blakeney’s gonna be on our left,” Weis said. “You can design everything you do based on that premise. When they put Crowder somewhere other than our right, there’s something going on. He’s not there just for window dressing.”

That arrangement would put McDonald on Crowder, and that would be just fine with the Jayhawks, who have watched McDonald excel during the past two seasons, with the game against SEMO, for which he earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors, representing a career night for the Kansas City, Missouri, native.

The McDonald-Crowder matchup, should it happen, will be one of the most important battles in this weekend’s critical game.

“Crowder might be as good a receiver as we’ll play all year,” Weis said. “Built like (KU senior) Tony (Pierson). Reminds me of Steve Smith, who played for the Carolina Panthers for a bunch of years. Polished routes. Gets open deep. Tough. I really like him as a player.”

While the prospect of facing two top-tier talents from the ACC might seem a little scary given the six-catch, two-touchdown, 173-yard outing put together by SEMO’s Paul McRoberts last week, Weis said the KU secondary’s psyche was not negatively affected by last week’s fourth quarter in which SEMO threw for 184 yards and three touchdowns on just five completions.

“No, no,” Weis said. “As a matter of fact, we’ll have a lot of fun with them here in the next couple days. You know, if nothing else, you take a position that you have a lot of confidence in (and get) a chance to get on them pretty good, which I’ve been doing for the last few days.”

Regardless of matchups, the Blue Devils provide the Jayhawks with an opportunity to prove last week’s sluggish fourth quarter was nothing to be alarmed about.

“When the game comes around, I think that all those DBs are gonna get tested,” Weis said. “I don’t think they’re gonna shy away from Dexter, either. They have a lot of confidence in their passing game.”

Added defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, asked if this week’s test was good timing: “I guess it is. I’d prefer they not have anybody, but they are very talented at wideout. ... They’re (KU defensive backs) motivated, and they know who we’re getting ready to play against.”


Asked about his players citing a lack of focus on the sidelines late in Saturday’s game or their displeasure with the size of the crowd, Weis made it clear how he felt about such sentiments.

“The players should just shut up,” Weis said. “That’s what the players should do. They should be happy they won the game. They don’t need to comment on focus. They don’t need to comment on the crowd. They should comment on their play. That’s what they should comment on, because I’m never big on people making excuses.”

Lewandowski free

After playing with a cast covering his right hand in last week’s victory, left tackle Pat Lewandowski is expected to have the cast trimmed down in time for this week’s matchup with Duke.

Just how much will that help the senior offensive lineman’s ability to block? A lot, according to Reagan.

“Go ahead and write without your fingers,” Reagan said. “It is like any one of us, you find a way to make it work. But not to have your fingers at all on your hand gives you a club, which is what he had. It makes it a lot more difficult to be successful at just about anything you are doing.”

No more meetings

During the past two seasons, Weis met with his quarterbacks on Sunday nights. That’s no longer the case, as Weis said Tuesday that he left that pow wow to Reagan and quarterback coach Ron Powlus and found something else to occupy his time.

“I went to 9 o’clock Mass. I had something bigger to attend to. I’m trying not to end up in hell,” he said with a chuckle. “And that is definitely bigger.”


Doug Cramer 8 years ago

OK - I havn't listened to his presser yet...but Weis says "The players should just shut up. They don’t need to comment on focus. They don’t need to comment on the crowd. They should comment on their play. That’s what they should comment on, because I’m never big on people making excuses."

So during Saturday's post game presser, Charlie made the EXCUSE, that his players were not used to playing with a lead, which is what led to the 6 point victory.

If he wants his players to shut up and not make excuses, then maybe he should lead by example.

P.S. Glad he was able to throw a few chuckles at the media before wrapping up the presser. Such a comedian.

kellerman411 8 years ago

At least he sounds like a head freaking coach now! Heck, he sounds like grumpy old Bill Snyder with that comment and I'll take that any day.

Jay Beakum 8 years ago

He tells his players to shut up and focus, and you still complain. Amazing.

Doug Cramer 8 years ago

It is amazing, that he can tell his players to shut up and focus, when really, someone needs to tell him to shut up and focus.

Clint Bowen doesn't need Coach Weis to publicly announce that he taught him clock management by delaying a time out.

Tait doesn't need Coach Weis to announce that he's asking too many of Tom's questions. Even though Matt and others got a few chuckles out of it.

Look, Weis is a joker, he loves being in the spot light in front of a bunch of cameras. He's great with people...seems like he has GREAT people skills. Thats a good quality to have, and it would be one hell of a time having a few beers with the guy.

All I'm saying is that he spends a lot of focus, enjoying the events leading up to the season, being in the public spot light.

Coach Snyder doesn't enjoy that...nor does Mangino...or Belicheck...or Parcells...or Bobby Knight...or Coach Wooden. They place all importance on one thing and one thing only, which is to improve their sports program of interest. Thats where the rubber meets the road...and thats their job.

All the other stuff is fluff...and doesn't get a football program anywhere.

Aaron Paisley 8 years ago

That style of coaching you talk is joy only way to be successful no matter how much you think so.

Jack Jones 8 years ago

Cramer ~ What's amazing is your need to attempt to impress with your blather about Coach Weis and Kansas football. "Clint Bowen doesn't need.........." ~ "Tait doesn't need Coach Weis.............". What we, and Kansas football doesn't need is your constant drumbeat of carping about Weis. Obviously, you're more enamored by the "sound" of your own "voice" than the rest of us are. Reminds me of the little boy whining on the playground ~ begging for attention. Yeah, give it a rest ~ nobody cares what you have to say. Your 'one-note' diatribe has worn slick.

Jay Beakum 8 years ago

Mangino doesn’t belong anywhere near that list of coaches, and you know it.

Bill Kackley 8 years ago

Your negativism towards Coach Weis is overbearing, why don't you give it a rest.

John Fitzgerald 8 years ago

I agree that there are better coaches out their than Weis. I also know that there are better coaches out there than Mangino. But I want to make something very clear, KU can't afford to get rid of Weis. There are no other choices at this point. True fans get that and show support regardless. Do they get passionate and concerned, maybe even frustrated? Of course, but it's okay to be concerned and passionate. It's also okay to be a little positive sometimes. The team is the team we have and the coaching staff is the coaching staff we have. That won't change for the year. And if it does, don't expect better results.

Brian Zachary 8 years ago

Every day so much negativity here in these comments and always from the usual suspects. I truly believe everyone has a right to their own opinion but the horse is beaten. Perhaps these opinions would be more palatable if a few positive insights were thrown in. Afterall, it can't possibly be as gloom and doom as some make it out to be. I'm realistic, things aren't perfect. But, perfection takes time. We'll get there. Enjoy the ride.

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