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Weis, Jayhawks have plenty of issues to address this week

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In the nearly three days that have passed since Kansas University’s football team suffered its first embarrassment of the season, in a 41-3 loss at Duke, coach Charlie Weis and his staff have had plenty of time to identify the numerous breakdowns that led to the drubbing.

Tuesday afternoon at his weekly press conference, Weis addressed the array of issues and provided some insight on how KU (1-1) can go about putting a better product on the field Saturday against Central Michigan (2-1) at Memorial Stadium.

CMU has an “old school football” approach on offense, with multiple running backs and tight ends who will try to pound you.

It is likely Central Michigan again (like Saturday at Syracuse) will be without running back Thomoas Rawls, who has been suspended.

Psyche aside, KU is healthy and ready to go for its final non-conference game of the season. The Jayhawks have a few sick players, but nothing big.

• On sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart’s accuracy: There are two or three things they will work on. Weis doesn’t want to say what those solutions are… Cozart had a full plate during Sunday meeting with Weis, offensive coordinator John Reagan and QB coach Ron Powlus. “I think it was a bad day at the office,” Weis said of the 38-point loss at Duke. By the time he left Sunday, Cozart was feeling a lot better. He got to look at the issues and some simple answers.

• The first half of Sunday, the coaches “hammered” the players regarding the Duke performance. The second half of those talks was about moving on. Weis met with the captains — Ben Heeney, Cassius Sendish and Nick Harwell — and they all talked about what was on their minds.

Kansas defenders Jake Love (57) and Victor Simmons can't stop a throw from Duke quarterback Anthony Boone during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Kansas defenders Jake Love (57) and Victor Simmons can't stop a throw from Duke quarterback Anthony Boone during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. by Nick Krug

Senior buck Victor Simmons and senior WR Justin McCay had “really good” games. So did jr. DT T.J. Semke. And of course senior MLB Heeney. Coaches recognized the guys who did play well. … You can’t ignore the things that didn’t go well, though.

Central Michigan had a bad day at the office against Syracuse (40-3 loss), as well. But they looked great against Purdue (38-17 win). So the Jayhawks have seen CMU video from that good day.

On KU’s offensive line: The guards are the “Steady Eddie” on the team. Senior LT Pat Lewandowski will get a smaller cast on today, which should help him. Coaches have worked Larry Mayzck at both left and right tackle. They need him ready to play on either side.

Weis expects Cozart to play very well this week. There is no short leash, so to speak. All Weis knows is whoever gives KU the best chance to win is going to be in there at QB, and right now Cozart is that guy.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart looks to throw against Duke during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart looks to throw against Duke during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. by Nick Krug

KU would obviously like to give Cozart more time on passing plays. When that doesn’t happen, the other skill players become less significant, too. Grading receivers and tight ends, Weis would give them an incomplete vs. Duke. They didn’t have many opportunities. Those breakdowns are on everyone.

KU’s efficiency in the passing game has been poor, and that is magnified on third down. KU needs a more effective passing game on every down.

Sophomore kicker Matthew Wyman welcomed the chance to try and kick a 56-yard field goal. He told Weis he would just have to take a little more time with it than normal and fire it low. The long attempt got blocked to end the first half.

Weis has changed a lot of things on special teams. One of those adjustments is moving Harwell to the top of the punt-returners list.

Duke had four “big runs.” Two of them, KU had a guy for every gap. Guys were in position to make a play and the Jayhawks didn’t touch him. On one play, a player was unblocked and just froze and didn’t get to the ball carrier. On another one, things were clogged in the middle and the run got bounced outside. None of those situations are acceptable. The one that got bounced out is the most excusable of the huge Duke run plays.

When senior “buck” Michael Reynolds was rushing the passer he looked good. When he wasn’t, he didn’t look good. … There are not many guys Weis is going to say played well at Duke.

Simmons played “all out” the entire game and didn’t make any mistakes while making a few plays. He is a guy who was in the right spots.

Weis thought the running backs ran tough and looked good, too. … But if you can’t throw and score points, you’re not going to win.

KU has only played two games. Weis isn’t ready to say the passing game this year is on the same low level as it has been the past few years.

A somber bench of Kansas receivers including Nick Harwell (8) lament the 41-3 loss to Duke with minutes remaining during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

A somber bench of Kansas receivers including Nick Harwell (8) lament the 41-3 loss to Duke with minutes remaining during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. by Nick Krug

Cozart shut down Harwell in the passing game. Duke didn’t shut down Harwell.

Tuesday will be a physical practice, and John Reagan and Clint Bowen will be right in the middle of it. Reagan will be “all over them” at practice. It will be the type of practice Weis really looks forward to. … Weis is glad there are lights on the field. Because the QB and junior center Keyon Haughton are going to work on some things once it ends.

Some Jayhawks handle negative plays in the wrong way. They harp on the past instead of playing the next play. That has been a big point of emphasis the last two days: Let it go.

Twice at Duke, senior WR Tony Pierson couldn’t have got any more open. Cozart rolled out and didn’t drop it off to Pierson, though. Those misses have to be addressed and fixed. Opportunities were there for both Pierson and Harwell.

Everybody knows this is a critical game vs. Central Michigan, because it is the last non-conference game. It sets the table, either way for what comes in the following weeks. The Big 12 is a tough league. The Jayhawks need to go out and play really well against a physical team.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis shows frustration during the Jayhawks' 41-3 loss to Duke on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis shows frustration during the Jayhawks' 41-3 loss to Duke on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. by Nick Krug

These past few days have been tough. The head coach can’t worry about how that impacts him personally. Weis said he has to focus on helping everybody around him recover. … The coaches had to beat them down and build them up all on the same day following the Duke loss.

On the opening snap at Duke, Cozart didn’t handle the ball because Haughton sent a “speed ball” his way. Those are the types of things that need to be fixed. Other times, timing was an issue. … Both Cozart and Haughton want to be good and fix the problems.

A lot of guys played their first road game. But there wasn’t anything to be intimidated about. Duke was a nice, solid team playing in front of a small crowd by major college football standards. Still, for a few freshman playing their first road game, it was a little bit much for them. RB Corey Avery didn’t have that issue.

Harwell is the leader of KU’s offense. He may have had big games against CMU in the past, but those are in the past.

— Listen to everything Weis had to say at the presser: Weis gets into KU's offensive woes

— Hear from KU coordinators Clint Bowen and John Reagan: Bowen and Reagan on fixing KU's flaws

Comments

Len Shaffer 7 years, 11 months ago

He says all the right things. Will it make any difference?

Danny Hernandez 7 years, 11 months ago

Coach Weiss is the man, love him and hope he gets things turned around because he's awesome.....

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 11 months ago

If Harwell had big games vs CMU in the past, then it means his Miami(OH) team pass-protected, and somehow on God's green earth, that Miami(OH) QB actually got Harwell the ball several times a game, right? And since none of us have heard of that Miami(OH) QB, then what's that QB got that KU's QBs dont seem have???

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