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Charlie Weis press conference, Nov. 19, 2013
Here are the Cliff's Notes from the weekly Charlie Weis press conference at Kansas University, as the Jayhawks (3-7 overall, Big 12 1-6) prepare to travel to Iowa State (1-9, 0-7) on Saturday.
• Weis has a ton of respect for ISU coach Paul Rhoads. He anticipates the fifth-year coach will have the Cyclones poised to win for the first time since Sept. 26, against Tulsa. They've been close in games for quite some time — lost 31-30 to Texas, 42-35 at Texas Tech, 21-17 to TCU. You can see the Cyclones play with the same toughness as their coach. It would do wonders for KU if it could go on the road and win.
• The Jayhawks are coming off win for first time since Sept. 21. But it's really easy to bring them back to earth on Sundays. Weis sarcasm will be at an all-time high this week at practice: You win one game and all the sudden that's how it's going to be? This week, Weis is looking for any signs. Even when there's not a sign he'll try to create one. It's up to the coaches, captains and leadership committee to take care of that. For example, even though Ben Goodman's not a senior, he's been playing all year long and taking that kind of role, too.
• Weis admitted the gray KU jerseys the team wore in beating West Virginia were hard to read. The numbers might have been tough to decipher, but it won't be the last time Kansas wears them. He stays out of those decisions. If you ask him what the team is wearing two weeks from now he has no idea.
• When KU loses, Weis doesn't play music at practices. And if he does, it's to get them mad. Last Tuesday he played the same song over and over again: "Country Roads," by John Denver, a popular title in West Virginia among the Mountaineers fan base.
• Weather will be a problem for both KU and ISU this Saturday. During the week leading up to Saturday's game it'll be significantly warmer. Can't simulate how cold it's going to be; estimates are the low 20s for the 7 p.m. kickoff. It could dip down in the low teens with the wind chill. But ISU is going through the same thing. Weis will address it once at end of practice today and not bring it up again. Wind affects the game plan much more than cold, so he doesn't expect much to change on that front.
• As far as playing a night game, which hasn't happened often, players love it, coaches absolutely hate it.
• On Montell Cozart, now officially the team's starting quarterback: He's been pretty quick to learn how to avoid hits when possible. There are sometimes, on short-yardage situations, where it's unavoidable, but Cozart is learning quickly … With Cozart, the more the field is spread, the more opportunities come for the KU offense. Weis sees why Baylor plays how it plays. When you have guys lined up wide, there is so much more field to cover … Weis still gets on Cozart while everybody else is ooh-ing and ahh-ing, and talking about the good things he has done. Weis is more interested in the points KU left on the field, like Cozart's overthrow on what should have been a touchdown.
• The dynamic between Cozart and former starter Jake Heaps: Weis thinks QBs are careful not to overstep their bounds. Cozart had never tried to be the leader when Heaps was the starter. Now Cozart can feel more in command, because he started and won against West Virginia. Heaps has handled Cozart's emergence well, which Weis said has been a blessing. Heaps pushes Cozart, even though this transition means he has lost his starting job.
• Upon examination, KU junior receiver Tony Pierson might be shut down for the season. If KU wanted to play him, it could, but Weis indicated he doesn't think it would be right to do so. Check back later today for much more on this from Matt Tait.
• More on concussions: Because of some of the tragedies related to football players and head injuries, such as former players killing themselves, Weis thinks the game is headed to a point where there will be a mandate to remove players from the game longer and err on the side of caution even more. KU trainers and doctors do a good job of making sure they don't put players at risk, he said, before adding it's up to the head coach to take steps to make sure they practice what they preach. Weis thinks it will get worse before it gets better and then there will be a national protocol — which probably won't be in place until after he has retired from the game.
• After beating WVU, Weis told all the fifth-year guys — "on the John Belushi plan" of being in college so long — this is why they kept showing up and working so hard. It was good, as a coach, to look and see the joy on the Jayhawks' faces. One player described it as a kid on Christmas morning and that's what it looked like.
• On return specialist Connor Embree: Has good hands, makes good decisions and can make the first guy miss. Those three things are the most important part of returning punts. Weis says Embree is more shifty than speedy. Good at contorting his body and making defenders fail on their tackle attempts.
• Right guard Damon Martin has turned the corner. He is one of the strongest guys KU has, but he wasn't consistent before. Sometimes he looked really good, sometimes he looked really bad. Weis looks each week at who is playing the best and right now Martin is outperforming Mike Smithburg at RG.
• Center Gavin Howard's growth: He's a 4.0 student and that's tough to do, even when you don't have the time requirements of football.
• Weis loves video replay, because it covers up a lot of sins. If a replay clearly shows a spot was incorrect, he is all for it being overturned.