Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Jayhawks turn up physicality, competition in preparation for Central Michigan

Duke receiver Max McCaffrey falls into the end zone for a touchdown with Kansas safety Isaiah Johnson on his back during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Duke receiver Max McCaffrey falls into the end zone for a touchdown with Kansas safety Isaiah Johnson on his back during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.


Tuesday afternoon, Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis said there was no need to worry about how physical KU’s practices would be this week because Weis and his coaching staff had plans to turn things up a notch.

Turns out, they did.

Wednesday, several members of the KU defense who still may have been nursing a little soreness from the day before, said Tuesday’s practice was the most physical they’ve had since preseason camp, and senior defensive lineman Keon Stowers even went as far as to call it “the best Tuesday practice we’ve had.”

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“Usually, when we do the pro-style period, it’s us against the twos or threes but it was ones vs. ones,” Stowers said. “It’s really getting us ready to go against quality, first-team guys, so I think that switch-up was really good.”

The idea behind the change-up was to both prepare for the tough, hard-nosed Central Michigan (2-1) team coming to town at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and also as a not-so-subtle reminder that the way the Jayhawks (1-1) played last weekend at Duke would not cut it.

Weis referred to the CMU squad as “old school,” and Wednesday, a couple of Jayhawks shared their thoughts on what that meant.

“Pretty much just downhill, power running,” senior Michael Reynolds said. “They don’t get in the gun much at all from what I’ve seen on film. We just gotta know that we have to be run-sound because that’s what’s gonna be coming.”

Added Stowers: “When I think of old school, the first thing that comes to my mind is the wishbone. But everything that they’re saying about this team is true. They’re gonna run the power, they’re gonna run the iso, they’re gonna run the draw, they have two tight ends, sometimes they have three tight ends on the field. We’re gonna have to put our big boy pants on.”

That’s just fine with senior linebacker Ben Heeney, who said Tuesday’s practice had “a lot of juice” because of all of the hitting and added that he was looking forward to Saturday’s match-up for one big reason.

“A physical offense is going to be fun to play,” he said. “I’m gonna let some aggression out, for sure. But I think as a defense we’ll be a lot more sound this week.”

Even quarterback Montell Cozart got into the spirit of the increased physicality at this week’s practices, although not as a participant but more as an observer. Cozart maintained the red, no-contact jerseys that quarterbacks typically wear during practices, but said it was obvious that the temperature had been turned up, with more hitting and wrapping up but not always tackles that took guys to the ground.

“You could definitely notice the tempo of practice was pushed up a little bit,” Cozart said. “When we did scouts, we had the first defense out there going against us. It was much more competitive.”

Senior receiver Nick Harwell saw the same thing. Instead of going against scout-team cornerbacks who typically don’t play, Harwell was lined up against KU’s top corners Dexter McDonald and JaCorey Shepherd.

“It’s more competitive,” Harwell said. “So it gives us a better feel for game day and it’s easier to transfer (that) to game day from practice.”

Cozart speaks

The KU quarterback opened his meeting with reporters on Wednesday by addressing something he never got the chance to address last weekend — his poor play against Duke.

“Last week, we were disappointed in our performance and I was disappointed in my performance, as well,” Cozart began. “Sunday, I came in and talked to coach Weis and coach Reagan and coach Powlus and we addressed the issues. We have no excuses for them, so we’re just trying to move past it, look forward to Central Michigan and get ready for this game.”

Defense ticked, too

Although the KU defense got somewhat of a pass for playing decent for a couple of quarters against Duke and considerably better than the KU offense throughout, the leaders of the unit hardly saw it as reason to celebrate.

Stowers said the defense met Sunday for a “heart-to-heart” discussion about their play and came away with one simple solution.

“It's on us,” Stowers said of the upperclassmen and defensive leaders. “It's on us to lead the other guys to a successful defense. If we're not doing it, they're not doing it. That's the biggest thing.”


Jonathan Briles 7 years, 9 months ago

I don't know why these kinds of practices have not been the normal thing. This team knew they had something to prove and that it was going to take a lot of hard work to get to the level they wanted. If they really wanted it then they should not have had a higher level to go to. When I read this I'm hearing it as they were going half a$$ all the way until they got their a$$ handed to them. I realize they can't always be as physical because they need to avoid injury, but this reads as an all out lack of effort before this point. I hope they actually do step up because this team is obviously underachieving right now.

Ashwin Rao 7 years, 9 months ago

Knowing Weis, I will chalk all this talk to PR work until he proves otherwise. Results matter more than talk. Results mean we are doing the right things, not talk.

Joe Ross 7 years, 9 months ago

Jonathan...first and last sentences are very true.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 9 months ago

I think the Why parallels what Coach Mitchell said about teams playing more RB's these days than the one workhorse back of years past. There is only so much pounding the body can take before it wears out, whether that be in a season or career. From the looks of things at Duke, I'd agree that it didn't look like they had been hitting nearly enough, but I think that might be why.

Micky Baker 7 years, 9 months ago

KU better play with a chip on their shoulder after Duke, and not just this upcoming game but for the rest of the season. Like I said, if there are guy out there not playing with intensity, sit them for a series or two like is done with basketball when they are out there just going through the motions. This is their reputations more than it is the fans.

"Stuckey" them. Remember how Stuckey never gave up on a play and left everything on the field? Everyone that sees the field on Saturday better "Stuckey up!".

Chris Condren 7 years, 9 months ago

It is all just Weis blather. Hot air and noise. We are suffering another year of college football irrelevance. We are simply an opportunity for big stats by our opponents. It is bad this year and will be worse next year. Typical Kansas football.

Mark Lindrud 7 years, 9 months ago

As someone who has coached one day a week of being physical is expected because you have to hit. The rule we went with was we had to have a hitting day, and the rest were getting ready for the opponent so to hear they got physical, again, for the first time since before the season really means nothing. This should be a regular thing. If, they win this Saturday this Tuesday practice should be a regular thing. If they lose, well, my guess is the new coach can decide.

Jason Montgomery 7 years, 9 months ago

Charlie better have his bags packed after this loss

John Fitzgerald 7 years, 9 months ago

This is very discouraging and shows me that Weis isn't sure on how to be a head coach for college football. I get that you want to keep guys healthy during the season but you also want to keep them in shape and ready for games. Obviously the first two games showed the lack of energy and conditioning. We should bring Ed Warriner in as head coach if Charlie does in fact get let go. Offer him a big contract and lure him away from Ohio State. Granted, we're already broke from paying out contracts of two other coaches, but if we want to win I think a familiar face that has had success will be a great start.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 9 months ago

Fitz - Glad you and many others are finally seeing the light.

This program is not moving in a very good direction with Weis, which was evident early last season.

With that said, I think we will win this week against Central Michigan. Don't think CMU is a very good team. Could be a close one, but I see us pulling it off.

John Fitzgerald 7 years, 9 months ago

I wouldnt' call it "light" .. There's no "light" until we have a winning season. Only thing I see now are questions and concerns. Lets hope progress is made however it needs to be made.

Andy Tweedy 7 years, 9 months ago

I'm not impressed by the 2+ years of Weiss, but one thing I will refuse to do is hope the 'Hawks lose so we get a new coach. I'm not saying any of you are doing that, but it's just not in my DNA. I can't speak for all these kids, but I'm quite sure most of them are giving it their all, even if it doesn't always appear that way. And I'm even fairly sure the coaches are doing the same, it just doesn't seem to be working out! Man, I'm sick of losing!!!

David A. Smith 7 years, 9 months ago

So far, my favorite marketing poll question is "How often do you wear foundation"? lol.

John Myers 7 years, 9 months ago

My favorite was one that asked something like "Do you own/maintain a small business website" and the answers were Yes, No and I don't know. Trying to figure out how you wouldn't know the answer to that. lol

David Kemp 7 years, 9 months ago

Once again it is not whether we win but how we play the game. If we don't look like world beaters win or not I say let Weis go.

Brad Farha 7 years, 9 months ago

I hope everyone who is posting here will be at the game. I can't wait.

Billy Derringer 7 years, 9 months ago

John your son Larry is killing me in fantasy football, could you give him a pep talk an tell him i need a touch down sometime this year...thanks...

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