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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Must-win: Weis says CMU game ‘critical’

Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis answers questions from media members during a press conference  on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014 in Mrkonic Auditorium. Weis addressed preparations for the Jayhawks' upcoming home game against Central Michigan and also the play of quarterback Montell Cozart, which he hopes to be improved by this weekend.

Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis answers questions from media members during a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014 in Mrkonic Auditorium. Weis addressed preparations for the Jayhawks' upcoming home game against Central Michigan and also the play of quarterback Montell Cozart, which he hopes to be improved by this weekend.

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Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis answers questions from media members during a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014 in Mrkonic Auditorium. Weis addressed preparations for the Jayhawks' upcoming home game against Central Michigan and also the play of quarterback Montell Cozart, which he hopes to be improved by this weekend.

With an overall record of 5-21 in his two-plus seasons as Kansas University football coach, Charlie Weis knows that every game from here on out is big for the future of the program.

He said as much last week, and then the Jayhawks went down to Duke and were drubbed, 41-3. He was back at it again Tuesday, when asked about the magnitude of Saturday’s home game with Central Michigan, this time with less optimism and a heavier dose of reality.

“I think everyone knows that this is a critical game,” Weis said of Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. kickoff against the Chippewas (2-1). “Because now you go into the Big 12 stretch that we’re about ready to go into, and this kind of sets the table. (It) either sets the table well, or it sets the table where you’re really, really fighting an uphill battle.”

Just about everything surrounding Kansas football has been a vertical challenge during the past five seasons. You know about the Big 12 losing streak that finally was snapped late last season. You know about the road losing streak, which grew to 28 straight with last week’s loss at Duke. And you know about the coaching turnover, the revolving door at quarterback and the players who have come and gone, some with incredible hype followed by colossal flops and others because of legal issues, personal problems or the coach’s discretion.

All of those issues and so much more have brought us to this point, where the downtrodden program is fighting for something to go right and struggling to explain why such a fate is so difficult.

More weeks than not, Weis and his players have had to move from one game to the next with the idea that what just happened doesn’t matter and what’s ahead should dominate their focus. That was the case again this week, and, during his regular Tuesday meeting with the media, Weis said the team had moved on.

“That game’s gone for the players,” Weis said of the hangover of the loss to Duke. “It might not be gone on the street, but I couldn’t tell you the street because from the second we got back, it’s been all, ‘Identify what the problems are.’”

He continued: “You can’t turn away from a game like that and ignore the things that didn’t go well. I addressed the coaches on things I don’t like there. I addressed the players on things I don’t like there. But you can’t ignore the things that didn’t go well.”

In an attempt to avoid repeating it, Weis carved out time earlier this week for his team to watch Central Michigan’s entire 48-17 victory over Purdue from Sept. 6, a game that, as Weis pointed out, would have been even worse had the Boilermakers not added a late garbage touchdown.

“It was a domination by Central Michigan on offense, defense and special teams,” Weis said. “Not for one second did I want our team to leave here not respecting who they’re going against.”

The purpose behind the full-length feature was two-fold. On one hand, it was intended to ensure that the Jayhawks respect their next opponent. On the other, it was yet another way to emphasize that it’s time to move past last week’s debacle at Duke.

“They know that they better be ready to bring it, and you don’t have time for sulking,” Weis said. “... You’ve got to put that (Duke) game in the rearview mirror, and you’ve got to be focusing on Central Michigan because if you don’t, you’ll get whupped again.”

QB progression change?

It’s no secret that last Saturday was one of quarterback Montell Cozart’s worst outings. So it makes sense that both Weis and offensive coordinator John Reagan have spent extra time trying to drum up ways to pull their quarterback out of his funk. While many of those have emphasized the mental approach, one on-the-field change might have the biggest impact.

“When you roll out of the pocket, normally people read things top-down,” Weis said of a quarterback surveying a defense. “Maybe this week, instead of reading them top-down, maybe they’re going to read them bottom-up, so if somebody is there right now, go ahead and give it to him.”

In addition to working on everything involving Cozart, from head to toe, the coaching staff plans to work a little on the man Cozart spends the most time with, junior center Keyon Haughton.

“Put it like this,” Weis said. “I’m glad there are lights out there because when the practice is over, the quarterback and center are going to hang out together for quite some time. I don’t know what time tutoring starts, but hopefully they’ll be in in time for tutoring.”

Physical Tuesday

Both in response to last week’s dud at Duke and in preparation for a rough and tough Central Michigan squad, Weis said Tuesday’s practice would be full of heavy hitting.

“You won’t have to worry about whether or not today will be a physical practice,” he said. “And you’ll have Reagan and (defensive coordinator Clint) Bowen right in the middle of it. As a matter of fact, normally (Reagan) just gives the play to the signal caller, and it goes from there. Today, he has (quarterbacks coach) Ron (Powlus) giving the plays to signal callers, and he’s going to be right in the middle of everything, all over ’em.”

Both Bowen and Reagan said they were looking forward to firing things up.

“I think any time you have a loss that was disappointing in that fashion,” Bowen said, “the one thing we as players and coaches look forward to is getting back on the practice field and doing what we like to do.”

Added Reagan: “For three days now, all we have been able to do is think about (Duke) and address the issues verbally, but now we get to go out there and do something about it.”

Depth coming through

All offseason, Weis and his coaching staff touted the improved depth on the roster as something that could make 2014 different than recent seasons. Through two games, Bowen said KU’s added depth has made a major impact on the Kansas defense.

“We have been fortunate, and we’ve been able to rotate,” Bowen said. “Last game we played all 22, and even in the thick of things we have been playing 20 to 21 kids who have all gone out and gotten their job done. We are really confident in the backup players that we have.”

Comments

Doug Cramer 7 years, 11 months ago

I think we'll beat Central Michigan.

Heeny, Love, and Simmons will have a hay day playing smash mouth football against the run.

They did beat Purdue, but Purdue is in bad bad shape. They went 1-11 last season and got smoked by Indiana.

It could be a close game...but we should pull this one off.

One fly in the ointment regards our D-line vs CMU's big O-line late in the game.

If our defense stays on the field too long, our front 7 could get worn down due to the lack of depth on our line. I look for CMU to focus on time of possession and field positioning, in an attempt to wear down the defensive front.

The offense will need to help out with this...and I think they sufficiently will.

Rhett Place 7 years, 11 months ago

We (KU) are going to lose by three touchdowns, at least. I don't see how Purdue can be in worse shape than KU. There is no way we can win another game this year. There will be crater where a football season should have been, again.

BTW, I am a football season ticket holder (7 years). :-(

Micky Baker 7 years, 11 months ago

Critical is a bit of an understatement.

“When you roll out of the pocket, normally people read things top-down,” Weis said of a quarterback surveying a defense. “Maybe this week, instead of reading them top-down, maybe they’re going to read them bottom-up, so if somebody is there right now, go ahead and give it to him.”

To address that, when Cozart rolls out and there isn't anything but green in front of him, tuck the ball and run with it. If the defense is in man coverage, he'll be able to run for a while and then everyone hustles to get a block. They don't need to be dirty, just block a guy. Another thing is, if there a receiver that is wide open short, why didn't Cozart already give him the ball before he scrambled? Don't lock on one guy. Go through the progressions. There also has to be some chemistry between the QB and the receivers. If a guy running a short route is covered well and the QB has to scramble, break deep behind the defense. The deep route runners can break towards the QB, but they have to make that decision as soon as they see the QB scrambling and make a good sharp cut. Then Cozart as soon as someone breaks open, throw the ball. Develop that chemistry and communicate with each other. If a play breaks down, improvise.

Charlie, have everyone on this team go watch the 2008 KU vs. Missouri game in Arrowhead. The receivers never gave up on a play, EVER. KU burned Missouri a whole lot in that game including the game winner to Meier, who isn't nearly as fast as the receivers we have now. He got behind the defense on that play. Dexton Fields got open behind everyone because there were no safeties left in the middle. One of thy receivers, whose name I can't remember, also broke wide open inside the 10 and he wasn't even one of the "speedsters". Get that chemistry in order.

With all that said, if you have nothing but green in front of you when you're rolling out, tuck the ball and run north and south and then make a couple of guys miss. If you're about to get clocked, slide. If they hit you, they get a personal foul and you get into their heads. It is really frustrating to the defense when the QB slides down just before being hit.

Shaun Hardie 7 years, 11 months ago

I live in Indiana but root for Kansas. Believe me, Purdue and Kansas are very similar programs. I think Kansas will lose to CMU and here is why. Kansas players are showing no fight and no passion. The coach is throwing his players under the bus and the players haven't responded to that since Coach Weis has been at Kansas. The score will be CMU 36 while KU will muster 13 points. Don't look for Coach Weis to be fired until mid-season when KU is sitting at 1-6. That's reality as it is. I would love to have KU surprise me and respond big time on Saturday with a lopsided win but I just don't think this team likes their coach.

Bob Bailey 7 years, 11 months ago

Most of the players came to KU because of Weis and Campo. How could they not like Weis??

They seem to be working hard and usually trying to follow instructions..Poor coaching and bad instructions.

Recruiting isn't going to get better than this,

Shaun Hardie 7 years, 11 months ago

"Most of the players came to KU because of Weis and Campo. How could they not like Weis?" Exactly! The players have put their trust in Weis and he has let them down by not turning this program around and throwing players under the bus. Players don't like losing just like fans don't like losing.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 11 months ago

Players vs Weis (do they like him-vs-do they not like him...) is an attempt to go big-picture generalization too quick. Several of the players are only playing their 3rd game (vs CMU) in a jayhwk uniform (Harwell, King, Avery, Mann...). How can they be sour? Doesnt make sense (yet).

I think the analytical issue is Cozart and the Oline trying to work together to get the WRs the ball. If you ask Pierson and Harwell and King...these guys can catch...if they are thrown at, and in a catchable fashion!

So, I'm staying "play by play" analytical this week...and see what happens vs. CMU. If we dont win a game from here out, then we all can cast stones at Charlie in 3-4 weeks. He is speaking the truth about Cozart "shutting down Harwell, not Duke". And if a QB-coach like Weis' reputation cannot bring along Cozart (who has shown ability in flashes...), then the football gods just hate us...(thank you, Lew Perkins.)

Chayse Patrick 7 years, 11 months ago

By now all Kansas fans know how PATHETIC their football team is. All during spring drills and summer practices we heard how much improved KU will be!!! Well NOW we all know better. And idiot Weis all he does is name a QB early enough so one QB leaves and all the others quit competing with each other. I been a KU fan for 50 years and I've never seen a football team down here so sorry in my life!! Zenger put a big gold screw in the program when he brought in "His" man. OMG are you serious? He needs to show some balls and clean house down here. Either that or I have another quick solution......and that is drop football completely!!!! I'm serious all this sooooo fricking embarrassing to KU. And something HAS to be done in the next couple weeks. After the game this weekend then things get serious real quick when league starts and everyone knows all the Big 12 teams are far better than Duke. OUCH!!!!

Ben Kliewer 7 years, 11 months ago

Not to stir the pot... but this team is more sorry than the Gill teams? I'd say that's a hard sell. Gill's teams barely looked like they were playing the sport of American Football. Also, it's pretty impossible for a team in Kansas' position to actually drop the football program. Especially after the school has spent so much cash on it. We'd probably have to move to the Big East (the New Big East) because I'm sure the Big 12 wouldn't let a "basketball only" school hang around for long, no matter how marketable the Kansas Basketball brand is. All of the power conferences are Football-First. I could be wrong, but in my opinion, having observed college athletics and read up on the subject in-depth, it's very unlikely a school in KU's position would drop football in today's era, no matter how pathetic we get.

Chandler Accipiter 7 years, 11 months ago

This "critical" game versus Central Michigan is probably the biggest college football game in the state this week. There could be no other explanation for the national media coming down I-70 than to cover this epic college football event.

Mark Lindrud 7 years, 11 months ago

If the team does not show fire and life this week then we know all we need to know about the leadership. The head coach's job is on life support, the team played horrible last week, and we have only had one good quality quarter of football so far.

Sometimes, you can excuse a bad game if the rest of the season progresses and still shows positive signs with either wins (a la a bowl season) or a competitive team that is on the cusp of being a bowl team. Many areas looked horrible, and we can critique everything under the sun about us being a horrible team and having a bad head coach. The doubts can go away if this team competes this weekend, and we either lose a hard fought game or we win.

Is this game critical? Absolutely. I was hoping to be 2-1 going into the conference schedule and as badly as we have looked that is still a possibility. I am not predicting a win, as many are not, but we shall see if these young men can rise up with all of this adversity that is now being brought before them and shine.

Jacob Zutterman 7 years, 11 months ago

Why are we telling everyone our strategy? I'd prefer if we kept that to ourselves....

Len Shaffer 7 years, 11 months ago

Good question, Jacob. I was wondering the same thing.

Micky Baker 7 years, 11 months ago

The Iowa State game is in Lawrence this year.

Fred Davis 7 years, 11 months ago

Must win? Ha.

Charlie Weis is supposed to be an offensive Guru, but since 2012 - he's had a 5-21 record - here is where KU Football has ranked out of 124 Div.I football teams in Points Per Game & Total Offense.

2012 - PPG - 118 Total O - 93 2013 - PPG - 118 Total O - 117 2014 - PPG - 112 Total O - 89

If this guy wasn't making $2.5M per year, he'd be done at this point. He's a fatter, whiter version of Turner Gill except he's slicker because he makes you think he knows what he's talking about and he has SB rings and can say he coached Tom Brady. The reality is, Whether it's been The Lew or The Zeng, both failed miserably at hiring a coach for the most important sport in their Department. Yes, KU Hoops brings in the most money, but it's an anomaly in Division One athletics. Football is your cash cow, and right now, KU's infected with Mad Cow disease and has been since Mangino was unceremoniously shown the door.

Gill had no business being a head coach in a major conference and with the kind of work that's needed to make this program relevant, Weis doesn't have the energy nor the attitude to make it happen. This program needs a Kliff Kingsbury, a Pat Fitzgerald, someone with some passion to put KU back on the football map. And if it's a stepping stone job, who cares? Since when has that ever been a bad thing? I'd rather KU be a place where coaches get better then where coaches go to die.

This entire program needs an overhaul of Bill Snyder-like proportions. Stop with the re-treads or some guy who led a mid-major to a 7-6 record. Give me someone from a coaching tree that has produced results in THIS decade and has an ability to recruit AND coach AND discipline guys. Neither Gill nor Weis has done any of that save for a few recruiting coups here and there. Gill was supposed to be a masterful recruiter. Please. Depth continues to be an issue. Weis is supposed to know offense. There are 88 reasons RIGHT NOW that suggest this team can't get out of its own way. He's supposed to know QBs. I live in Houston and have seen better HS QB play than what I've seen out of KU in the last three seasons.

KU fans deserve better. As an Alum, I'm embarrassed. As long as the sky is blue and the Earth is round, KU will be good in basketball. Yet with football, KU ADs - and Zenger was even part of KState with Snyder around, so I'm still not sure what the hell he's thinking with Weis - couldn't hire a good head football coach if it was Bill Parcells at 40 and he begged for the job.

Something has to give and while I'd like to be optimistic about the rest of the season, the athletic department is more concerned with what silly-ass uniforms the team is going to wear this week. That's where we're at with KU football.

Consider this during the MUST-WIN game against Central Michigan Saturday - you know who's really responsible for the most successful run at KU football in the last 25 years?

Al Bohl.

Enjoy the Game. Rock Chalk.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 11 months ago

Al Bohl...Isnt he the guy that made Roy Williams mad, part of the reason Roy left? (my point is no AD is going to be impeccable).

Maybe the solution is to find $6mil/yr and hire a top10, proven college football coach?

Bryce Landon 7 years, 11 months ago

Football is your cash cow, and right now, KU's infected with Mad Cow disease and has been since Mangino was unceremoniously shown the door.

By far the best line I have seen on the message boards in a long time.

David Kemp 7 years, 11 months ago

This isnt just a must win but a must display of real football. I don't really care if they win but how they play the game. La Tech last year was a win but lifeless football by KU. We need to win with convincing football execution and if not we are no better off than a week ago.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 11 months ago

Or lure some guy out of the broadcast booth, like Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, or Dave Wannstedt?

Richard Duran 7 years, 11 months ago

That would be like hiring Charlie Tuna again!

Rodney Crain 7 years, 11 months ago

It will all come down to what uniform we are wearing and how. It is "critical" to how we play. I think if we just focus on accessorizing we will have a chance against CM. I can not stress enough the importance of dressing for success before the kick off when theoretically when we have a chance to win. After further video review although we looked great before the Duke game started, a few KU players did not color coordinate and it not only cost us the game, but turned it into a rout! We must accessorize correctly to have a chance. If you look good, you play good - (I think Steve Lombardi said that ,some guy I knew in grade school). Quick question - if we forfeit before kick-off is that counted like a tie???

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