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Cliff’s Notes: Charlie Weis press conference, 3/4/13
Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Weis' comments at his press conference today.
• Weis encouraged KU linebacker Huldon Tharp — who will forego his final season of eligibility — to come back to school this year, telling him he could sit out spring practices and re-evaluate his football status then. Tharp said physically doesn't think he's capable of playing any more. He wants to get healthy, graduate in the summer, then go out into the work force.
• Weis says there are a couple transfers that aren't here yet. The latest they will be here is late June. There are no questions whether those guys are coming, though.
• KU tight end Trent Smiley had a shoulder worked on in December. He'll be non-contact in spring. Offensive lineman Riley Spencer and linebacker Prinz Kande are coming off knee injuries. Spencer will be able to go in the first spring practice. It might take Kande a couple days, but he should be ready soon.
• Linebacker Schyler Miles had a knee procedure in the offseason. He wasn't at full speed last year. His knee was tweaked. He got it fixed instead of going through rehab. It will take him until early April until he's completely healthy. He will probably be held out of the spring game.
• KU will not have an assigned special teams coach any more. It will be under Scott Vestal's jurisdiction, but every coach will have a special teams assignment this year other than quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus. Weis was disappointed with special teams last year, and he's going to hold every coach accountable for that unit this year.
• Right now, KU's base offense going into the spring is to have two running backs on the field. After analyzing his team, Weis felt one of his best players shouldn't be standing on the sideline. Tony Pierson's versatility helps with that as well. Colin Spencer has versatility, too. Weis spent time studying West Virginia's Tavon Austin, and he thinks Pierson could have the same type of role for KU this year.
• Defensively, KU has a "BUCK" position, which is a guy that can flip from the left to the right side. The other defensive lineman don't switch but instead play end or tackle based on where the "BUCK" position plays. Weis studied KU's personnel, and he didn't feel like his team had enough pass-rushing ability or flexibility with its pass-rushing positions.
• Weis is going to try to oversee the team more instead of just overseeing the offense. To do that, Weis is going to give more responsibilities to his staff.
• Last year in the spring, Weis was trying to figure out what KU had on its roster. In some cases, it was putting square pegs into round holes. Now, you start adapting what you do to who you have. For example, KU has a lot of defensive linemen compared to a couple years ago, when it didn't have many. Now, KU can come up with systems that fit the personnel while also having personnel that fits its system.
• Linebacker Courtney Arnick was the best player on the defensive show-team. Nose tackle Tyler Holmes and Arnick were the best two players on the defensive show-team. Arnick was "a pain in the butt on every single play" with show team, Weis said. This is Arnick's opportunity to take the job and run with it, as he's listed on the first team at strongside linebacker.
• Weis thinks the battle between Pat Lewandowski and Riley Spencer at right tackle will be a good competition. Lewandowski is listed at the top of the depth chart for now.
• Putting juco guys at first team instead of returners says two things: 1. There are high expectations for the juco guys, and 2. The returning guys need to be ready to get into gear and perform.
• Greg Allen has safety size, which is why he switched from corner to safety. He's going to be pushing for playing time. KU's staff is high on him.
• Quarterbacks Jake Heaps and Michael Cummings are going to get all the reps in the spring. Weis thinks Heaps is ready to go.
• Weis said he talked to a lot of his younger players on the sideline during KU's final-game loss to West Virginia last year. He pulled some younger players to the side to ask them, "Do you want to be a part of this crap next year?" to try to motivate them to work hard so they could avoid blowout losses in the future. Those players knew Weis was going recruiting right after that, and they knew they were going to have to go to work right after that as well.
• Weis says all of his receivers are incomplete at this point. All of them are good at something, but they're also not good at something else.
• When KU got Aslam Sterling in August, he was near 400 pounds. He's now at 312. There are so many guys like that whose bodies are different. KU's staff is encouraged, but you don't win championships just in the weight room. You have to take that to the field and show progress.
• The main reason Weis started spring ball early is because he felt you get behind in recruiting if spring ball extends to late April. You have a six-week period to recruit, and if you have your spring game in late April, that period is limited to four weeks.
• Darius Willis will still play some role as a pass-rusher, but his body fits more to the middle-linebacker positions, which is where he's moved on the depth chart.
• One kid at walk-on tryouts made 14 of 15 field goals, including three of three from 50-plus yards. He's not on the roster yet. Weis says KU won't go through what it went through last year in the kicking game. There will be plenty of competition for those spots. Weis says he was happy with "none of the above" with his kicking game last year.
• Weis has been very pleased with tight end Jimmay Mundine. He's been pleased with nearly every facet. He changed his body. He's in great shape. He has leadership in him. Weis has high hopes for Mundine.
• Running back James Sims is in a lot better shape than he was at this time last year. He hangs around some of the hardest workers on the team. Taylor Cox is like that, and Brandon Bourbon is like that, too. You have to work hard to keep up with those guys.