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Cliff’s Notes: Charlie Weis press conference, 9/18/12

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Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas football coach Charlie Weis' comments at his press conference today.

Also, here's the updated depth chart (quite a few changes, including lots of shuffling on the defensive line and in special teams).

Audio has been posted.

KU offensive lineman Riley Spencer will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Once Gavin Howard settled into right tackle, the KU coaches decided it would be best for Spencer to get his knee fixed through surgery. Spencer should be ready to go for spring ball next year.

KU running back James Sims has seen the other two running backs play well. He knows he'll have to play well to get snaps. A lot of times when guys get suspended, they come back thinking, "They need me." Sims sat in the stands watching KU's three games wondering if the Jayhawks do need him. He's hungry to show what he can do, and that excites Weis.

Weis expects Sims to be ready to go this week. He doesn't expect to see any rust.

Weis said that out of his backs, the most polished receiver is Tony Pierson. That gives you an opportunity to do some things that he's better than the other backs at doing. Weis wasn't going to give away his game-plan for the NIU game, but Pierson's versatility gives KU options.

The fact that Randall Dent has moved ahead of guys that have played that offensive guard a long time says a lot about him. His progression has been impressive to Weis. The coach kept seeing Dent drive people off the ball when he was on defense. When KU defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt would talk about Dent and some of his limitations, Weis would say, "Don't worry, he's going to be an offensive guard eventually." KU will use a three-man rotation on the right side of the line and get Aslam Sterling more snaps along with the starters Dent and Howard.

The KU coaches have seen flashes in practice of what receiver Andrew Turzilli could do before Saturday's performance. You have to be willing to take an older player's job. He's started to challenge more as opposed to being settled in at the No. 2 spot. He's easier to find for a QB because he's a big target.

Weis says you have to go by performance when it comes to the depth chart. You can't go by seniority. You have to go by who you think gives you the best chance to win. Someone like D.J. Beshears, who was moved down the depth chart, will still get opportunities to show what he can do. Turzilli is just playing better. That's why he's playing.

• When Weis was told that it didn't look like he was happy with kickoff return last Saturday, he told the reporter that would be an understatement. Weis said if you have other guys you think can do better, you have to give them a chance. It's a coach's job to find answers. You can scheme as part of the answer, and you can also change personnel as the other part of the answer.

The players will hear several times this week about KU's 13-game road-game losing streak. That will be one of Weis' main messages. Weis said he will use his vintage New Jersey sarcasm when discussing it with the players.

Weis said long snapper Reilly Jeffers went above and beyond the call of duty. He had never snapped in a high school game before coming to KU. His snaps weren't perfect, but they got the job done. Justin Carnes isn't getting the job handed to him, though Weis thinks Carnes is probably better than Jeffers at long snapper. Carnes is going to have to show that in practice. Weis thinks KU will see the bigger improvement in its short snaps, where Carnes will take over for fill-in Trevor Marrongelli. It's tough to snap when you're taped up to be on the offensive line like Marrongelli was. Snappers want as little wrapping and tape on as possible.

KU defensive coordinator Dave Campo has been tooting JaCorey Shepherd's horn lately. Earlier, Shepherd was, at best, KU's third-best slot receiver. Campo believed that he could work his way into the two-deep at cornerback, though, and Shepherd has done that. Weis thinks Shepherd would be a fine slot receiver. Shepherd sees himself as having a greater opportunity to move up the ranks on defense, though. He can turn his hips and backpedal well. Not every offensive player can play that position.

Weis said he would be surprised if receiver Kale Pick doesn't play Saturday against NIU. He looked more normal in practice to Weis on Sunday. Safety Lubbock Smith is a little bit behind Pick. KU's coaches will talk through his status again later today.

• Weis said the best offensive linemen are ones that play with a defensive mentality. If you think about the best offensive linemen, they have a nasty mentality.

Weis believes KU quarterback Dayne Crist was more comfortable last week, and he believes he will continue to get more comfortable each week. Crist didn't get hit in practices during the spring or summer, so he's just now adjusting again to getting hit.

Weis said he will use film from last year's Northern Illinois game. He's also already read comments from NIU coach Dave Doeren saying that KU didn't win the game last year, but instead, NIU gave it away. The KU coaches will use that as motivation for the players.

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