Cliff’s Notes: Charlie Weis press conference, 10/8/13

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

The updated depth chart (lots of changes on the offensive line) and full press conference audio have been posted.

Weis says the last thing he wants to do is throw players or coaches under bus. As the head coach, he has to sit down and look at what the team can do to make things better. You have two options: Schematically, you can do less things more, or you can move people around to try to see if you can fix problems with personnel. KU went through the whole spring with Pat Lewandowski at left tackle and Aslam Sterling at right tackle, and they’ve been moved back there. Moving Lewandowski to center didn’t turn out well, despite that’s what KU’s goal was. Now that Lewandowski has moved out to left tackle — Weis feels he is the team’s best left tackle — that shifts Sterling back to right tackle. The guys playing the best on KU’s offensive line this year have been the guards Mike Smithburg and Ngalu Fusimalohi. They’ve been far from perfect, but they’ve been the two most constant guys KU has had. As the coaches were moving guys around, they felt Gavin Howard gave KU the best opportunity at center to do something new.

Weis says it’s not going to be too much of a change for Lewandowski and Sterling at their new positions, as they played at their respective positions in spring ball. The real question will be if Howard can hold up at center. Weis says the center position has held KU hostage so far this season. The center position is an area where KU has to get better.

Receiver Andrew Turzilli was a little bit of a disappointment in the spring, because he’s one of KU’s two fastest receivers with some size and athleticism. He just wasn’t playing well and wasn’t showing up. Coaches didn’t notice he was out there in practice. When guys move down the depth chart, they either pack it in or try to fight back. Turzilli is one of the guys who is taking steps to make his way back into the mix.

So far, Weis says KU’s play in the run game has been a big disappointment. Weis doesn’t want to single out the offensive line, because a lot of elements go into it. The run game should be the foundation of what KU is.

KU running back James Sims wasn’t only picked a captain because he’s one of the team’s best players. He’s bought in that KU has to do what it needs to do to be successful, like when KU went five wide to start the Texas Tech game. Weis said KU is still 2-2. It hasn’t been a pretty 2-2, but the team still is 2-2. KU has eight more games. Sims still has plenty of opportunities to be more involved in the offense this season.

Weis says he’s never had to make this many depth-chart changes in his career. There are only so many alternatives. KU is running out of alternatives. KU has to start settling down into what it’s going to be offensively. KU is going up against a really good defense this week in TCU. The team on deck (Oklahoma) is more of the same. It’s going to get worse on offense if KU doesn’t improve.

When the quarterback is a run threat, it forces the defense to do things differently. The problem is that in those formations with Michael Cummings in, you become one-dimensional. The bind you get in is teams load up the front to stop the run.

The hardest part about center is snapping the ball and then getting hit in the mouth after you snap it. KU has intelligent guys at center. Intelligence is not the issue. The issue is getting hit immediately after the snap. Some of KU’s snaps looked like Weis was snapping, and he joked he was never any good at doing that in his playing days. Weis thinks the centers sometimes worry too much about the blocking assignment instead of the most important part, which is snapping.

Weis’ biggest problem with the defense against Texas Tech was third-down conversions. When a team runs 100 plays, though, part of the responsibility is on the offense, because that many plays makes a defense tired.

After a loss, you always start with a positive with your players in the next week’s film session. The players already have gotten beaten down. They’re already disappointed. Weis said he hasn’t read any media articles since Saturday. In film study, he stopped the tape after the first quarter and asked his team who should win the game based on that tape. Then he showed the rest of the game and asked if that was the same team. Weis said he’ll stand up in front of media and take the blame for his team’s play, but he holds his players accountable behind closed doors too. For example, having 12 penalties is a lack of discipline and comes back on the coach. He’ll take blame for that. But he also went to his offensive linemen and asked how five line-of-scrimmage penalties can happen at home with no crowd noise when they know the snap count. The message to his players and the media are not the same.

Not having Tony Pierson hurts KU, because he’s gotten better each week and is starting to play well. Brandon Bourbon is playing well too. He’ll have an added role now. More of the burden will fall on Bourbon than has happened before. Pierson will be back at some point. The MRI came back negative. Pierson has a headache and a sore neck, so he’s walking around like an old man, but other than that, there’s nothing wrong with him, which is a good thing.

One of the most important things with concussions is how you deal with them once you have them. The team has cognitive tests for concussions, then the team looks at the player. The team will err on the side of caution. Weis says better safe than sorry.

TCU plays its safety so close to the line of scrimmage that you have opportunities to go over the top. Everyone tries to go over the top. It comes down to execution. When you call for the home runs, you have to hit them. TCU gives you some opportunities, but you have to be patient.

KU had a bunch of mental errors on the offensive line in the last game. There should be fewer of those this game. The problem for KU this game is that TCU’s defensive line is really good.

Weis thinks KU’s defense has been playing pretty physical and at a pretty high level. In this game against TCU, if you’re not physical on both sides of the ball, though, you’re going to have a tough time.

Linebacker Samson Faifili looks like he’s a ways from playing. Every time he gets going, he re-aggravates his injury. He’s much like running back Taylor Cox and might be treated that way. He has a possibility for a medical redshirt even though he’s played three games, so KU might pursue that. If he can’t go the rest of this year, that’s a possibility.