Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis wasn’t feeling too sour Tuesday at his weekly press conference, despite the Jayhawks’ disappointing finish to their season opener against Southeast Missouri State.
The third-year coach, like his players no doubt, instead seemed excited about the opportunity KU (1-0) has to play at Duke (2-0), in Durham, North Carolina, this Saturday afternoon.
Here are some of the highlights from Weis’s Q&A with the media:
• Duke senior wide receiver Jamison Crowder might be as good a wideout as KU faces this season. And senior right guard Laken Tomlinson “looks like a man on tape.”
• Duke athletic director Kevin White hired Weis at Notre Dame. “He taught me a lot about college football and he taught me patience,” Weis said.
• The Blue Devils’ defense is similar to what KU sees in the Big 12 — 4-3 base and bend, but don’t break mentality.
• Duke safety and kickoff returner DeVon Edwards is a “pain in the butt,” as a return weapon. Same goes for Crowder on punt returns.
• Weis and the KU coaches will be in corner Dexter McDonald’s ear all week about the challenge ahead in defending Duke’s receivers. Edwards is very good, but so is the guy that usually lines up opposite of him, senior Issac Blakeney. “You have to respect both of them,” Weis said.
• KU has spent time looking at this matchup with Duke and the Jayhawks have seen how both they and their opponent play. The Jayhawks have visual evidence they can win. But they can’t just show up for a quarter like they did vs. SEMO. KU’s players should go down there to N.C. with the anticipation of winning the game.
• There was an obvious difference against SEMO in the first and second halves for KU. The theme since has been finishing. Finish doesn’t have to only mean finish the game, it can be finishing plays, too. “Really close isn’t good enough,” Weis said. KU will have to play significantly better this weekend.
• There were no signs of jitters in the opener for sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart. He played with confidence and handled the operation well. There were times when he could’ve made bigger plays and he’ll have to take advantage of his athleticism going forward. .. Cozart can throw the ball downfield. Weis has seen it in practice. KU has to put him in position to do that in a game. … He threw 3 TDs and 0 interceptions in the opener. That is big.
• It looks like strength vs. strength this weekend for KU at Duke. You could talk about almost every position but the most obvious one is KU’s defensive backs against Duke’s wide receivers. “All those DBs are gonna get tested,” Weis said. Duke won’t shy away from Dexter McDonald just because he had 2 interceptions vs. SEMO.
• Weis and the staff showed KU players a bad-play tape and a good-play tape after the SEMO game. “You want to know why you didn’t win by 50?,” they were able to say while viewing the lowlights. Then coaches showed them the evidence of all the good things. … People don’t understand how big Sundays are psychologically for the players. … When they left the facility on Sunday Weis was content with how the players handled Week 1.
• On KU’s offensive line … Two running backs no one had ever heard of led Kansas to 200-plus yards, so that’s a positive. The O-line didn’t grade out quite as well with the passing plays.
• The defensive line was pretty disappointed they didn’t bring SEMO's QB to the ground more often. KU’s bucks were in position a bunch of times. KU will have to get pressure with four guys — that’s a point of emphasis. Kansas has to at least disrupt the passer. The D-line was sound in other facets. … Defense was pretty dominant until the fourth quarter.
• Junior backup quarterback Michael Cummings will be utilized more in the future. The intent was to use him more vs. SEMO but the game didn’t play out like that. KU didn’t get to look as much at its depth as the coaches had hoped.
• Getting out to a big lead was new to KU’s players. Good teams end up laying the wood to opponents when they jump out early. It was easy to teach off of that after the SEMO game because the evidence was on video.
• The fourth quarter didn’t do anything to the psyche of KU’s secondary. The coaches will have some fun with them the next few days, give them a hard time about how SEMO played in the fourth quarter.
• On coaching at a basketball school … Duke football coach David Cutcliffe has Coach K and Weis has Bill Self. “Does it get any better than that?” Weis hopes KU wins every game all season and he uses that program’s success as something to shoot for. Weis totally plays into the success of the basketball program as a way to build the football program. … Weis wants to make sure Kansas football is winning more than it is losing before he leaves.
• Cutcliffe wasn’t “lighting the world on fire” the first few years at Duke, but he recruited, stuck with the plan and in his sixth year they won 10 games.That’s what happens when you walk into a program that hasn’t won recently.
• Players don’t need to comment on their focus or lack thereof following games, nor do they need to comment on the crowd. Players need to comment on their play. Weis isn’t big on making excuses.
• The KU coaches don’t encourage Cozart to take off and run, but there will be more times coming soon when you will see him run instead of pass in those situations.
• Because Weis wasn’t involved in play-calling he got to see the whole game. He didn’t have to worry about straightening out specific offensive problems while other things were transpiring. That allowed him to get a better feel for everything that was going on.
• Junior college transfer Damani Mosby, a “buck,” isn’t necessarily a redshirt candidate.
• KU would like to go ahead and get that road win out of the way early in the year. That’s one less thing for the players to worry about. The season doesn’t end with a win or a loss, but beating Duke would be a big win for the Jayhawks.
— Hear the complete press conference: Weis: Jayhawks capable of winning at Duke
— Listen to the coordinators' perspective: Bowen and Reagan evaluate KU's season-opening performance