Posts tagged with Ku Football
In an all orange auditorium tucked between Boone Pickens Stadium and Gallagher-Iba Arena a couple of weeks ago in Stillwater, Okla., Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis uttered a few words that hinted at the fact that he might be leaning toward changing his offense.
“I think we know where we'd like to go,” Weis said in reference to his offense, just moments after his team lost 42-6 to Oklahoma State and did so with true freshman quarterback Montell Cozart playing the entire second half.
Exactly one week later, Weis and the Jayhawks went there and the result was the program's first Big 12 victory since November 2010, a 31-19 whipping of West Virginia at happy-once-again Memorial Stadium.
The direction Weis has taken this offense — is less than two years in charge, remember — is about much more than just changing quarterbacks. It's about changing an old-school, ultra-successful, wildly accomplished ball coach's thought methodology altogether and making him squirm a little in the process.
When Weis arrived at Kansas, he brought with him years worth of success in the pro-style offense that features and makes stars out of drop-back passers like Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps and has put countless players in the NFL and worked wonders for many who already were there when Weis worked with them.
Because of that success and his confidence in his own ability, Weis spent the better part of two seasons believing that it could work at Kansas. But the Jayhawks do not have the offensive line nor the skill position players to make such a system work and, in the Big 12 Conference, where virtually every other team is throwing hay-makers week in and week out, Weis' inability to put points on the board put the Jayhawks in a hole.
Instead of being stubborn to the bitter end, Weis elected to change. If we've learned anything about the guy during his first two years in town it's that he's not afraid to check under every rock to see if he might find something, anything, that could help his team or heal his offense — all in the name of winning.
After tweaking the depth chart, moving players in and out of the lineup and replacing precious hours of sleep with more film breakdown, Weis reached the classic conclusion that states, “If you can't beat 'em, join 'em,” and then went on to have a heck of a good time last Saturday, one that several Jayhawks and Jayhawk fans won't soon forget.
Cozart was a big part of it; and his ability and maturity beyond his years seem to have KU well positioned to take this idea and run with it (no pun intended) into the future.
But, to me, the biggest tip of the cap here goes to Weis. Yes, the players made the plays — the O-Linemen blocked their tails off, Cozart was nearly flawless and James Sims once again looked like one of the best backs in the Big 12. But executing the game plan the coaches come up with is what these guys do, and, for most of them, it's easy — even if it's a total overhaul in a short time — because they're so hungry for something good to happen.
Swallowing your pride, discarding 30-plus years of offensive wisdom with a proven track record and joining the masses in the wild and crazy spread movement is not as easy. But Weis did it. And the Jayhawks won.
More important than that, it looks like he's willing to do it for a long time.
It was just one win and the Jayhawks still are 1-27 in their last 28 Big 12 Conference games, but there was just something about it that gave people the feeling that Saturday's 31-19 victory over West Virginia might have been the turning point for the KU football program.
Several things, actually.
The obvious items include the beginning of the ultra-promising Montell Cozart era, the fact that the Kansas offense finally threw up some legitimate points again and the continued impressive play of the KU defense.
But there are a few less obvious signs out there, too. And one of them slapped me across the face when I found it on my laptop Sunday evening.
According to the guys in Las Vegas, KU's next opponent, Iowa State, opens as a 6-point favorite over the Jayhawks, who will travel to Ames, Iowa, for a 7 p.m. kickoff next Saturday.
No big deal, right? Wrong. That Iowa State team that's favored over Kansas is 1-9 overall and 0-7 in Big 12 play.
Now I'm not saying that the Cyclones being favored is wrong. Believe me, I learned a long time ago that Vegas is a lot better at these kinds of things than I am. But I can't help but think about what a break this is for Charlie Weis and the Jayhawks. I mean, seriously. Could you have asked for anything more for the Jayhawks coming off of last week's emotional win?
Here they are feeling good about themselves, breathing easier and smiling brighter because that horrific 27-game conference losing streak is over, and, BOOM!, just like that, the odds makers give them an easy reason to put that huge chip back on their shoulders and move forward with the no-respect mentality.
Trust me. These guys don't really care who's favored or what the point spreads are. But I guarantee that being a touchdown underdog against a one-win team will be used as a major motivational tool this week, as the Jayhawks (3-7, 1-6) look to make it two victories in a row for the first time since opening the 2011 season with back-to-back wins and just the second time since 2009.
And I guarantee no one will like that more than Weis. OK, maybe junior linebacker Ben Heeney will come close, but I still think Weis will have more fun with it. Don't expect to hear about it, though.
We get great access to the Kansas University football team following its games on Saturday, but we don't get to go into the locker room. Our interviews take place in the auditorium and lounge at the Anderson Family Football Complex.
Thanks to the folks at KU Athletics, though, we were able to get a peek at the locker room celebration following yesterday's 31-19 victory over West Virginia.
Here's a look:
The Kansas University football team snapped a 27-game losing streak with a 31-19 victory over West Virginia on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Here are a few sights and sounds from the field following the victory, including the fall of the goal posts toward the end of the celebration.
As much as I'd like to think of it as a display of my genius when it comes to picking college football games, it's more likely that it was karma that cost Tom Keegan this week.
A 9-1 week by me and a sub-par 6-4 showing by Keegan evened us up in the overall standings, with three weeks to go.
The karma comes from him posting a photo of me sleeping on our drive to Stillwater, Okla., last weekend. I was only out 30 minutes max and we had gotten only 4 or 5 hours of sleep the night before since we were covering the men's hoops opener late into the night. But, still, as I nodded off for the power nap I needed, Nick Krug and Keegan pulled their shenanigans and posted a picture of me, lights out, on both Twitter and Facebook.
Nothing wrong with the photo, of course. And, to be honest, it was pretty funny. But karma came through for me and now it's anybody's ball game as we head down the stretch.
Here's a look at this week's picks, where one of us was bold enough to pick the Jayhawks.
Tait: 9-1 in Week 9; 68-22 overall
Keegan: 6-4 in Week 9; 68-22 overall
WEEK 10 GAMES
Kansas vs. West Virginia
Iowa State at Oklahoma
Oklahoma State at Texas
TCU at Kansas State
Texas Tech at Baylor
Stanford at USC
Georgia at Auburn
Florida at South Carolina
Michigan State at Nebraska
Miami (FL) at Duke
Question: Who wins this Sunday — the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs or the 8-1 Denver Broncos?
Kansas 24, West Virginia 21
Oklahoma 30, Iowa State 13
Oklahoma State 31, Texas 27
Kansas State 35, TCU 17
Baylor 42, Texas Tech 24
Stanford 27, USC 20
Georgia 27, Auburn 23
South Carolina 23, Florida 21
Nebraska 26, Michigan State 24
Duke 27, Miami (FL) 20
Answer: Let's put it this way, if Peyton Manning's injured ankle was not in play, I'd pick the Broncos to blow the Chiefs out 38-13. But since it is, I'm going to go Broncos 35, Chiefs 19.
West Virginia 21, Kansas 20
Oklahoma 38, Iowa State 7
Oklahoma State 31, Texas 28
Kansas State 28, TCU 17
Baylor 44, Texas Tech 24
Stanford 24, USC 21
Auburn 35, Georgia 31
South Carolina 24, Florida 20
Michigan State 21, Nebraska 20
Miami 35, Duke 31
Answer: The Broncos' KU football connection will put them over the top against the Chiefs. I'm not 100 percent sure about this, but I think Broncos QB/OC Petyon Manning is the NFL's first player-coach since Tom Landry served as defensive back and defensive coordinator for the New York Giants nearly 60 years ago when Vince Lombardi was the defensive coordinator. Landry wore a helmet when he first started coaching, but switched to a fedora. The hat choice always looked more natural and fit better on Landry than on Lombardi. Fedora factories — or should we call them haberdasheries? — would have done well to sneak President John F. Kennedy a big wad of cash under the table to wear a fedora. The prez did not like wearing hats and when he was seen not wearing them, many others realized it was OK to stop wearing fedoras and they went out of stye. Now they're not customary, but are worn by some hipsters, perhaps because Johnny Depp has been known to wear them. Anyway, I digress. Back to JFK. I never believed any of the conspiracy theories and especially after watching a documentary with the late Peter Jennings serving as host, believed Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman. But after watching JFK: The Smoking Gun on ReelzChannel, I'm not so sure. It's based on Bonar Menninger's book, "Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK," which highlights the research of a Howard Donahue, who theorized that a secret service agent in the car behind JFK's, after hearing Oswald's shot, picked up a rifle, turned toward the depository and accidentally clipped off a shot that killed our most charismatic president. The documentary is definitely worth a watch. Let me know what you think. What was the question again?
There's been a lot of message board chatter lately about KU football coach Charlie Weis' contract — how much money he makes, how much he's worth and how much KU would owe him if the two sides chose to part ways before reaching the end of his contract, which runs through 2016.
Before I go any further, let me say that moving forward without Weis, in my opinion, is a bad idea for the program. Beyond that, I can't see it happening. He hasn't even made it through two seasons yet and, although the offense has left something to be desired, progress has been made in many areas — defense, special teams, off the field, etc. Moving forward without Weis starts the process all over again and keeps Kansas from building any kind of upward momentum. Give the guy a chance to tweak things this coming offseason, whether that means installing a new system, hiring an offensive coordinator, bringing in some new faces or all of the above, and see if Year 3 (the year many inside the program have been pointing to all along anyway) can be the year when things start to turn around.
OK. Now back the salary talk.
Weis came to Kansas with a $2.5 million price tag for three reasons: 1. His NFL pedigree and strong reputation. 2. Some savvy negotiating. 3. The debacle that was Lew Perkins' hire of Turner Gill.
Think about it. If Perkins had merely doubled Gill's Buffalo salary ($450,000), KU could have gotten away with paying Gill right around $1 million per year. He still would've come, because the opportunity to coach in the Big 12 is not offered up every day, and more than doubling his salary to the six-figure range surely would've sounded plenty sweet.
Had that happened, not only would KU have saved a boat load of money — Gill would've earned $2 million instead of $4.2 and been bought out for $3 million more instead of hauling in a final sum of $6 million to go away — but the bar also would have been substantially lower for the next coach, be it Weis or whomever.
At that point, the negotiation could have started with a much smaller number, say with KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger offering Weis in the $1.3-$1.5 million a year range and perhaps the two sides would've settled at or just under $2 million a year instead of $2.5 million.
For a program desperately wanting to move forward with plans to upgrade and renovate its football stadium, any kind of savings would be gold, especially when such a domino effect would've (or at least could've) saved Kansas close to $7.5 million during that time.
(This might be a good spot to set the record straight and remind you that neither Gill nor Mark Mangino are still being paid by Kansas)
This is not intended to be a knock on Zenger or Weis or Gill or even Perkins. Each man did what he thought he had to do and, beyond that, what's done is done.
One of the more interesting things about the whole situation, though, is that even those who believe Weis makes too much dough for what he's done at Kansas so far (personally, I think the man deserves the full five years to prove his worth) might be surprised to learn that he still ranks just seventh in the Big 12. Given his incredible season and recent contract extension dished out to Baylor coach Art Briles, along with the strong first-year showing from Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury, Weis may soon fall to ninth.
Call me crazy, but I don't think paying your head football coach the ninth highest salary in a 10-team league is unreasonable.
Remember, we now live in the age of football-driven conference realignment and, if anything, I would think that athletic directors everywhere would darn sure want their football coaches to be paid in the top half of their leagues.
Just last week, USA Today released its collection of the salary numbers for college football coaches across the country, and it revealed that Weis' $2.5 million annual haul ranks 31st nationally.
The whole thing is relative and each university faces its own unique set of circumstances that determine how — and even why — coaches are paid what they're paid.
Perkins paid Gill what he wanted the job to be worth instead of paying Gill what he deserved, and that one move forever changed the KU football salary structure.
Regardless of how things wind up with Weis, whether he wins and goes on to make more money or loses and is eventually replaced, KU is going to have to spend money to get better and spend even more to stay there.
That's a given. And, in many ways, it makes the actual figures irrelevant. The only real question is how long will it all take?
BIG 12 COACHING SALARIES:
1.Mack Brown, Texas --- $5.45 million per year (2nd nationally)
2.Bob Stoops, Oklahoma --- $4.77 million per year (5th)
3.Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State --- $3.45 million per year (11th)
4.Gary Patterson, TCU --- $3.12 million per year (16th)
5.Bill Snyder, Kansas State --- $2.80 million per year (19th)
6.Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia --- $2.63 million per year (24th)
7.Charlie Weis, Kansas --- $2.50 million per year (31st)
8.Art Briles, Baylor --- $2.43 million per year (34th)***
9.Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech --- $1.86 million per year (53rd)
10.Paul Rhoads, Iowa State --- $1.71 million per year (59th)
*** Briles' extension, which was announced Wednesday and will run through 2023, will vault him into third place on this list, at right around $4 million per season.
When it became clear during the offseason that junior-college transfer Chris Martin would not be around this fall to intimidate offenses, wreak havoc off the edge of the defensive line and give the Kansas University football team its first true pass rushing threat with double-digit sack potential, the focus shifted to fellow juco transfer Andrew Bolton.
No one really talked about Michael Reynolds.
And maybe that was a good thing. See, for years, we've talked about Reynolds as a natural pass rusher and called him one of the Jayhawks with the most potential, but during his first three seasons in Lawrence — the Wichita native red-shirted in 2010 — he didn't show much more than potential.
That isn't the case any more. With Martin gone and Bolton red-shirting while overcoming an injury, Reynolds has stepped into an important role for the Kansas defense and currently finds himself leading the team in sacks with 5.5.
The number is not one that will set the college football world on fire, but it's significant around here. And it's significant for a couple of reasons. For one, Kansas, as a team, managed just 12 sacks all of 2012. For two, it validates all of that talk about Reynolds being the kind of guy who could make a difference for a defense.
The pass-rush specialist did just that during KU's 42-6 loss at Oklahoma State last Saturday. His effort did not do much to keep KU in the game, but it did allow a pretty solid season to keep rolling. And it's indicative of what this whole defense is about right now — great effort, legitimate improvement, not much to show for it.
Reynolds' sack of OSU quarterback Clint Chelf in the third quarter gave him a sack in four of KU's past five games. During the rest of the game, Reynolds added another tackle, recorded a career-high two pass break-ups and consistently got close enough to Chelf to make him get rid of the ball just a tick earlier than he probably would have liked. That was reflected in his 19-of-37 passing numbers, which included several balls thrown prematurely that either missed the mark or were dropped by wide receivers not quite ready for them.
Like Ben Heeney finishing third in the Big 12 in tackles in 2012, Reynolds' strong season likely will be overlooked, perhaps even forgotten, because of all of the losing. And there's no doubt that Reynolds and the rest of the guys in that KU locker room would trade any and all of their individual statistics for a couple more tallies in the win column.
Until those start to come, though, efforts like the most recent one from the emerging Reynolds are all the Jayhawks have to celebrate.
Three games left to change that.
For the sixth consecutive week, the Kansas football team is facing an opponent that prefers up-tempo football as its offensive attack of choice.
Oklahoma State, which enters the game ranked 14th in the country with a 7-1 record (4-1 in Big 12 play), has averaged 77 plays per game and run most of them at rapid-fire pace.
By now, the fast flow is nothing new for the KU defense or for de facto defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, who has a ton of experience facing these types of attack, both from his days in the Big 12 and elsewhere.
“If they got in a huddle, that may be confusing,” Bowen joked. “That's the reality of where we're at in the Big 12.”
While the Cowboys like to go fast like the rest of the Big 12's offenses, they are more balanced than most and are a threat to run as often as they throw.
“It does kind of fit the mold of what we've seen, which, week in and week out in the conference is about the same,” Bowen said. “They've all kind of put their little twists on it, and they all use tempo to their advantage.”
For the Jayhawks, tempo has not necessarily been an issue this season. In the 54-16 loss to Texas Tech in October, it was the volume of plays (100), not necessarily the pace that put KU's defense in a bind. And, a couple of weeks ago against Baylor, the Jayhawks simply ran into a buzz saw and, believe it or not, actually held the Bears to around or below their offensive averages.
Asked to explain the pressure that up-tempo offenses put on defenses, Bowen went into detail about the alignment, the snap and the mismatches that come with the quick pace. But one of the biggest issues Bowen said defenses face is the fake counts. Think Peyton Manning invades college football.
“If they're going to sprint to the ball, at that point in time when the QB's up there selling it, you have to be aligned and ready to play in what you're gonna play.” Bowen said. “When they're going fast and they give the fake count, their eyes in the sky get to see exactly what you were going to do on that snap. Now, of course we have our counters to when they catch us there and we change the call and do some things and we've had a lot of success playing the cat and mouse game with 'em.”
Occasionally, though, the ruse works and the offenses are able to audible and catch KU (as well as others) in a bad spot. That happened a time or two in the recent loss to Texas.
“Last week (at UT), it was virtually every snap,” Bowen said. “They were leaning heavily on it.”
All in all, though, Bowen and the KU coaching staff have been pleased with the Jayhawks' progress in handling the tempo, something which the KU defense struggled with mightily during the past three seasons.
“Tempo hasn't been an issue in our games,” Bowen said. “I believe in the system that we've put into place to handle tempo and I think our kids have a very good understanding of it.”
Great. Keegan picked up another game on me in the standings and now I've gotta endure this 4-plus hour drive to Stillwater, Okla., with him talking about it the entire way.
Maybe I can get Nick Krug to man the radio and tune him out from time to time.
Tom's lead grows to three games — a huge margin based on how tight we've kept it so far — and, with three games different this week, we either will tighten up or see a bigger gap develop.
Although we've picked a few different, we're once again in agreement on the Kansas outcome, as we both have the Jayhawks losing but also covering the spread during today's 3 p.m. kickoff against Oklahoma State.
Here's a look at the rest of our picks:
Tait: 6-4 in Week 8; 59-21 overall
Keegan: 7-3 in Week 8; 62-18 overall
WEEK 9 GAMES
Kansas at Oklahoma State
TCU at Iowa State
Kansas State at Texas Tech
Texas at West Virginia
LSU at Alabama
Arkansas at Mississippi
BYU at Wisconsin
Penn State at Minnesota
Nebraska at Michigan
UCLA at Arizona
Question: Because we were robbed and did not get to pick the Baylor-Oklahoma game this week on Thursday night, it's time to go with a related question: What's the best college football offense you can remember?
Oklahoma State 42, Kansas 17
TCU 27, Iowa State 17
Texas Tech 38, Kansas State 28
Texas 31, West Virginia 19
Alabama 30, LSU 20
Mississippi 33, Arkansas 24
Wisconsin 28, BYU 27
Minnesota 30, Penn State 24
Nebraska 35, Michigan 29
UCLA 33, Arizona 23
Answer: Two words. Charlie Ward. OK, those words probably should be Florida State, but, still, Ward was the guy that made the Seminoles go. The 1993 Heisman Trohpy winner was fantastic in leading FSU's high-powered attack, the kind that would run over you and run by you all at the same time. Ward's Heisman victory was the second biggest in history — not bad for a future NBA point guard — and, although his team did not put up college football's most points or yards or any of those things, they are the first offense about which I remember thinking, 'Man, it must be flat-out scary to play against them.' I should note here that, if this year's Baylor team were in the running, I'd easily pick them for this answer. What a machine.
Oklahoma State 35, Kansas 14
Iowa State 17, TCU 14
Texas Tech 31, Kansas State 24
Texas 38, West Virginia 21
Alabama 24, LSU 20
Mississippi 28, Arkansas 27
Wisconsin 28, BYU 17
Penn State 24, Minnesota 21
Michigan 28,Nebraska 20
UCLA 31, Arizona 30
Answer: My memory isn't what it used to be, but images are flashing into my head and maybe as they keep flashing, I'll remember the school, the players' names, the year. A short guy, not all that fast, but he's running all over the field and nobody can seem to catch him. Did he have 30 eyes that enabled him to see everything in every direction? It seemed that way. Or maybe he felt the earth moving and knew that meant defenders were on his way. Somehow, no matter how many bigger men surrounded him, he kept his eyes downfield, extending the play with is feet, waiting to see one of his receivers break open. What was his name? I see a No. 5 on his jersey. I see him throwing to No. 10, one play, to No. 80 the next. The uniforms were blue or white and there was a little red trim on them. There were two letters on the sides of the helmets. But I see the color orange as well. Not on their uniforms, but where? In a bowl, yes, in a crystal bowl held by a mustachioed smiling coach. I'm sorry. I just can't come up with the name of the school, the players, the coach, the year. But I see everything else so clearly.
Not sure why it jumped out to me, but the section on Page 6 of the weekly KU football game notes really caught my eye this week.
Maybe, like many of you, I was curious if the black-and-white numbers would offer any better proof of the progress that's been made with KU football. Either way, I kept staring.
At first, I did a quick scan for all of the good numbers, teens, 20s, single digits. Believe it or not, there were a decent number of those. Then, because I always strive to be fair and balanced, I figured I'd look at the more damning numbers, high 80s, high 90s, triple digits. Not surprisingly, there were a fair number of those, as well.
Anyway, since it caught my eye, I started Tweeting out a few of the highlights. You can find those in the Tweetcap below. I've also attached a photo of the actual notes in case you want to check out the rankings in their entirety.
It's broken down, from left to right, by category, NCAA ranking, Big 12 ranking and then the stat.
Enjoy. Here's the rest of the Tweetcap from the past couple of days:
Got sucked into national #KUfball rankings… A few more: 1st, the good: 16th in net punting; 30th in INTs, 16th in punt return, 56th in TFL
A couple more positives: 68th in red zone D, 42nd in punt return D, 44th in team pass efficiency D, 30th in turnover margin… #KUfball
Now a few bummers… 115th in 3rd-down conversions, 116th in completion %, 120th in 1st downs, 111th in pass O, 118th in total O #Kufball
Couple more: 106th in blocked kicks allowed, 98th in sacks allowed, 112th in red zone O, 114th in scoring O, 113th in TFL allowed #KUfball
More accolades roll in for former #KUfball RB Jon Cornish, who was named a CFL All-Star today. He's also in running for POY and Canadian POY
Long travel day forced us to miss last week, but the Friday Game Prep #KUfball chat is back. Noon tomorrow. Be there. http://ljw.bz/17QadEm
Broncos or not, #KUfball fans have to like this: Chris Harris now has his own official web site & it's pretty cool: http://ljw.bz/1baN1RV
Now for a few positive #KUfball stats: 2nd nationally in blocked punts, 4th in 4th-down D, 17th in fumbles recovered & 21st in TOs gained…
More bad news for #KUfball… Oklahoma State's defense, which ranks 5th overall in the Big 12, is 1st against the run & 8th against the pass.
Bad news for #KUfball… The Jayhawks' worst quarter has been Oklahoma State's best. OSU has outscored opponents 86-17 in the 3Q this season
In case you haven't seen it, former #KUfball safety Bradley McDougald was waived by Kansas City this week & has been picked up by Tampa Bay.