Completed chat with Matt Tait, KU football beat writer

February 2, 2012

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Matt Tait

Have a question about KU football? Signing day? The new KU assistant coaches? Then KU football beat writer Matt Tait is your guy. Matt will be answering reader questions starting at 4 p.m. Thursday.


Hey all. This is Jesse Newell, online editor, and I'm here with KU football beat writer Matt Tait. Matt, any comments before we begin?

Matt Tait:

What day is it?

Matt Tait:

Seriously, though, it's been a wild week with TONS of great access and information coming from the KU football facility. Can't wait to share some of it, so let's get started!


I know the names of the future "5th year transfers' can't be named at the moment, but who that fits in that category would be the most likely to land at KU?

Matt Tait:

If you're talking who as in names, that I don't know... If you're talking who as in what, I think it's pretty easy to conclude a couple of positions that Weis is probably talking about. I also think it's safe to say the majority of these guys — if not all of them — are coming from Notre Dame.

I think there's a great chance you'll see another defensive lineman, a tight end (Ragone?), and maybe even a linebacker...

We won't know until May and there's always a chance that things could fall through, but he keeps hinting pretty hard not only about the fact that he's going to bring in more fifth-year guys but also about the positions he's still trying to improve.


Coach Weis said he didn't have enough fingers to plug all the holes that remain. What areas in particular do you think he is talking about?

Matt Tait:

Well, I think the D-Line remains a work in progress, the tight end position remains up in the air and maybe even help at wide receiver, especially if Justin McCay is not eligible right away... As he's said over and over, though, they could use help everywhere.


I'm really excited about Coach Holsopple as our new S&C coach and hope he makes a big difference on the field next year. With that being said, have you heard anything specific about his training philosophy?

Matt Tait:

Had the chance to talk with him at length today and he said some amazing stuff about what he believes in and how he works.... I'll be working on a story in the near future but the things that stuck out were this:

• He emphasizes training from the shoulders up, which means strengthening the neck and also the mind. Pretty interesting stuff.

• I asked him if he had seen some wide-eyed looks in the weight room and he said, "Hundreds." But he said he wasn't as worried about the looks as much as what came after the looks. All in all, he said the guys have responded great to his way of training. He added this disclaimer to that: "But it's only been 2.5 weeks. And it's not going to get any easier."

• One other thing that stood out was how in line he seems to be with Weis about the importance of personal relationships. A lot of times strength coaches just want to kick butt and take names. He's down for kicking butt but he also enjoys getting to know these kids he's working with.

Seems like a great fit...


Which Asst. Coach has impressed you the most thus far and why?

Matt Tait:

Let me first say this... I truly enjoyed getting to meet each and every one of them today and think they're a great bunch of guys.

So far, though, it's defensive coordinator Dave Campo, hands down. Great energy, an endless list of stories about some of the coolest names in football and a real down-to-earth personality and a genuine belief that he's a part of something special here.

Again, though, I really liked them all and think they're an impressive group. I'm looking forward to getting to know them all better and, of course, hearing many more stories.


Has anyone heard what kind of base defense the team will play this year....

Matt Tait:

Asked Campo that question today and he doesn't know yet. He did say he has a solid background in both the 3-4 and the 4-3 and he will spend the next few weeks trying to get to know his players so he can evaluate which style is better.

Truth be told, he said he'd like to play a little of both, but also emphasized beyond a doubt that he'd prefer to do few things well as opposed to trying to do too many things and doing them poorly.

Here's a good quote from today:

“The one thing you have to have to play in this conference is skilled players on both sides of the ball. I think it actually gives the defense a little bit of an advantage. We don’t need big, burly guys, we need people that can move around in space on defense.” - Campo


What is KUs record next year? And don't pull that WVa nonsense. Just give us a percentage wheel, number of wins, so many percent.

Matt Tait:

Man... the percentage wheel strikes again!!!
OK, I'll try it... kind of.

2-5 wins - 66%
6-7 wins - 28%
8 or more - 6%
1 or less - 0%


Do you think that Charlie Weiss plans to keep a FB on the depth chart or can we expect more of a pass 1st offense with 3 WR sets (I would guess he's working towards the spread with the # of QB and WR recruits)? I know he used a FB pretty often at Notre Dame (I remember because the kid had an awesome name, Asaph Schwapp).

Matt Tait:

I haven't heard too much talk about a fullback and I don't know the answer to this for sure, but the research I have done and the conclusions I've made lead me to believe the fullback won't play much of a role...

Weis may use multiple backs, but more in the sense of a featured tailback and another to pass protect or run routes.


With the addition of Turner Baty to the list of QBs for KU, do you see Turner taking a redshirt this year and being able to play year 4 of the Weis Era or does he not take a redshirt and compete with Dayne for 2012?

Matt Tait:

When I talked to Baty, he mentioned that the red-shirt was a possibility. So it's definitely something he's open to.

The bottom line is this: If Dayne Crist stays healthy the entire way and there's no need to put the back-up in, then they absolutely will red-shirt Baty and keep his three years available.

But if he's needed, they'll use him without hesitating.


What recruit has the best chance of making an impact next season?

Matt Tait:

I like the question and the list is long... If you're asking for the guys with the best shot, though, I think it boils down to five guys:

Justin McCay, WR - if he's eligible
Jordan Tavai, DT
Ty McKinney, DT
Josh Ford, WR
Taylor Cox, RB

A lot of these other guys will have a get every chance in the world to prove they belong on the field, though, and many of them will probably capitalize on that chance...


Currently, KU's 2012 recruiting class ranks at the bottom of the Big 12. Presumably, this is because the transfers aren't included in the rankings. Correct? Are there any rankings that grade the entire class including transfers? Thanks Matt!

Matt Tait:

I haven't been able to find any rankings that include the transfers and part of the reason for that is because, as Weis mentioned yesterday, a couple of those guys will count toward the 2011 Class...

Another reason KU's class is ranked low is because, right now, it's smaller than all the others. Numbers = rankings when it comes to this stuff, which was a big part of the reason Gill's class last year ranked in the 30s nationally.

It stinks, I know, but rankings don't mean much. Gotta show up and play. That's how we find out what classes rank where...


What was the biggest recruiting surprise?

Matt Tait:

For me, it was the fact that Weis & Co. pulled LB Schyler Miles out of Florida and talking him into picking Kansas over the Gators. I'm telling you, this kid is legit and could start right away -- for the record, I DEFINITELY should've included him in my Top 5 above)...

Beyond that, I also think landing DT Jordan Tavai was big for this program. For starters, he can play and may become a starter right away. Second of all, there were some good programs going after him (Texas Tech, Washington State and Cal to name a few) and they didn't stop trying to pry him away from Kansas until the morning of signing day.

In years past, KU might have lost a guy like that.


Time for a few more ...


Do you expect the Jayhawks to be more improved on defense or offense next year? (given Campo's ability and Weis's ability)

Matt Tait:

Wow... That's a tough question. I like it.

I'll go with Defense. I'm a believer in Campo — and really that entire defensive staff — and I think the defense, which was much worse than the offense in 2011 and therefore has more room to improve, will come up a little more.

That said, I think both units will improve dramatically, simply because of things like offseason conditioning, accountability and the fact that they'll be lined up right and put in better positions to succeed.


What about Michael Cummings, QB from Texas, he look electric, looks like a potential play-maker. Well charlie keep there and give him a chance to compete

Matt Tait:

I heard his name mentioned more than once today and I think the coaching staff likes what they've got there.

There's obviously a lot in front of Cummings, but don't be surprised if he ends up being the guy who runs the Wildcat formation during the next couple of years.


With some of the quotes from Weis, has he alienated any of the players that are still there from previous years? I know Bill Callahan said a lot of the same things when he got to Nebraska and if he didn't recruit them he didn't think they could play.

Matt Tait:

It's a valid question, but I think the reason he's doing it is to get the point across that what they've done around here the last two years simply is not acceptable.

That might be rough to hear and it might hurt some feelings, but I also believe Weis emphasizes the area of personal relationships so much that he's not saying anything in the media that he hasn't already said to these kids' faces. Doesn't mean you have to love the guy, but I think you have to respect that. And I think the players do.


And finally, the question on everyone's minds ...


Will we beat missouri? thanks.

Matt Tait:

Wow... Saturday? During football season? Ever again?
I'd love to answer that, but I just don't have enough information... Bummer.

KU 77, MU 70


Thanks, Matt, for stopping by, and thanks to everyone for submitting questions.

Matt Tait:

Absolutely... We'll be back again next week for another round of "30 for Thursday" and hopefully by then I'll have gone through all of my hours of tape from today's interviews with the assistant coaches. Thanks to everyone who stopped by. Enjoy this weather!


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