It sometimes seems as if the moment a college football coach signs a contract to head a program he then moves to the next chair and has injected into his DNA a gene that makes him poor-mouth the talent he inherits.
That’s what made Kansas University coach Charlie Weis’ words echo Tuesday throughout George Mrkonic Auditorium when discussing the material with which Dayne Crist will work in his first and only season as KU’s quarterback.
“We’ve got some players around him who are pretty good,” Weis said. “It isn’t like he’s coming into an empty cupboard. Everyone likes to talk about, ‘Well, there aren’t enough players.’ Well, we maybe don’t have a ton of them. But we have some, and the ones we have, they’re pretty good. So he’s going to have an opportunity to make some plays.”
The right side of the line remains an area of concern for Weis’ first of many Kansas offenses, but if Weis and offensive line coach Tim Grunhard can find a way to shift things around to mask the inexperience of that side of the line and Crist has time to make his throws, Kansas could find itself in a number of shootouts, even if the defense can’t stop the high-scoring Big 12 offenses it will face nearly every week.
The most exciting playmakers on the offense:
1) Tony Pierson: James Sims, suspended for the first three games, brings the most versatility and durability, but it’s Pierson who will supply the most memorable plays among the KU running backs. He said he never has been caught from behind on a football field and doesn’t plan to start now. Pierson’s narrow build prevents him from having the durability to play every down and excel in pass-blocking, but there is an advantage to it as well. He doesn’t need big holes through which to slither, and with feet so quick, the tacklers will have a tough time anticipating his moves.
2) Daymond Patterson: Injured for the season in last year’s opener, Patterson is something of a forgotten man, but Crist no doubt already has figured out that good things happen when Patterson has the ball in his hands. He’s fast, has great balance and deceptive strength. Coming off an injury and playing for yet another coach — that makes three since coming to Kansas — Patterson got off to a great start in impressing Weis, the team’s head coach/offensive coordinator/academic liaison by earning a 4.0 grade-point average last spring. His 487 receiving yards led the team in 2010.
“For me I just like the ball in my hands and like to do something with it,” Patterson said. “I’m always messing around with my quarterbacks telling them, ‘In the paper you’re going to see a 70-yard touchdown, but the throw might not have been across the line. I can help you do that.’”
Patterson, the team’s best yards-after-catch receiver, said all the pass-catchers have developed “great chemistry” with Crist since his arrival in January and said the former Notre Dame QB throws a “very catchable ball.”
3) Kale Pick: When a receiver hauls an inaccurate throw out of the sky and holds onto it to keep the punt team on the sidelines and the chains moving, that’s a big play that inspires the entire team. Pick has that capability and he has a good shot of leading the team in receptions.
4) Andrew Turzilli: A third-year sophomore from Butler, N.J., Turzilli caught three passes and a touchdown against Georgia Tech last season, but never worked his way onto the depth chart. He showed in training camp that he has the potential to turn Crist’s strong arm into six points.
5) D.J. Beshears: He’s not as shifty as Patterson after catching the ball, but he has a knack for getting behind the defense and, for a guy his size, does an exceptional job of reaching out to grab long tosses.