August 1, 2012
The players checked into Naismith Hall in the late afternoon hours, before heading off to attend team meetings and eat dinner. The Jayhawks will have an early morning conditioning test and then hit the practice fields for the first time Thursday afternoon in shorts as they get acclimated to the high temperatures that have hovered over Kansas throughout the summer. Per NCAA regulations, football teams are only allowed to practice in shorts and helmets during their first two practices. Teams are allowed to practice add shoulder pads for their third and fourth practices of fall camp.
KU will work out in full pads for the first time on Monday, Aug. 6, and the team scheduled to go through its first two-a-day practice on Tuesday Aug. 7. Coach Weis and the Jayhawks will hold an open practice for fans to attend on Saturday, Aug. 11. The gates to Memorial Stadium will open at 8:15 a.m., as ‘Fan Appreciation Day’ will include an open practice from 8:45 a.m.-10:45 a.m. The Jayhawks will sign autographs for 30 minutes following the conclusion of practice. KU football posters and other promotional items will be available at Memorial Stadium.
Other notable dates coming up for the Kansas football program include: Professor/Faculty Day (Aug. 16), Seventh Annual KU Kickoff at Corinth Square (Aug. 17) and KU Student Day (Aug. 18). More information on those events will be made available in the coming days.
Kansas will open the 2012 campaign on Saturday, Sept. 1, when it plays host to South Dakota State. KU will take on the Jackrabbits at 6 p.m., at Kivisto Field at Memorial Stadium.
The following is a transcript of head coach Charlie Weis’ press conference Wednesday:
Charlie Weis Press Conference
On starting the season and early changes to the depth chart:
“I need to see whether (freshman) Tevin Shaw can be the second safety or not. I have seen what the other guys can do; they were there for the entire spring. So those guys I have seen play. If I bury Tevin at third or fourth walking in the door, I am going to leave training camp having no idea if he can compete to play or not, so I better get him up there in a position to see if he can. Based on what I’m hearing, I am going to be very surprised if Tevin moves down in the depth chart.”
On starting the season:
“We met early this morning, because I had to go over to Topeka to speak with the high school coaches. I am sitting at the staff meeting this morning saying, ‘just one more function fellas, let me get through this one more thing.’ Lets face it, I am really happy with the number of things that have changed. Once we get through the conditioning test (tomorrow), then we come in and do our meetings and then get to practice number one. We have so much work to do, between now and Sept. 1. We know with a couple of these guys, we haven’t even seen them practice yet, so I am really looking forward to getting out there and getting going.”
On measuring success:
“You always have to start with wins and losses. Did you win all the games you were supposed to win? Did you win some of the games you weren’t supposed to win? You don’t put a number on what that is. I can tell you, if you look at it, you won two last year. The fans will say, ‘well if you win four, that’s great improvement.’ You have to beat somebody in the conference and then you had to win all your non-conference games to get to four. As a coach, you can’t be thinking like that. What coach in their right mind would be thinking, what if we can just win four games? If so, then you hired the wrong coach. I might have illusions of grandeur, but my expectations are way higher than yours are, I can promise you, because that is what they are supposed to be. That is what they are paying me for. With that being said, I was really disappointed when I finally went back and watched the games from last year. The number of games that they just got the crap kicked out of them. That just doesn’t cut it. I understand about talent discrepancy, one team has more talent than the other team, but to have games get away from you that quickly and by that wide of a margin, if I were one of those fans, I would have left at halftime and not come back myself. I would like the fans to be there at the end of the game. When the fans are there at the end; that usually means you are doing things the right way.”
On his goals for the defense compared to the offense:
“It is a little different than the defense, for the fact that I am trying to get a two-deep roster, that we can play. On offense, that is not necessarily the case. (Senior) Tanner [Hawkinson] is our left tackle. Unless he gets hurt, Tanner is going to be our left tackle. If we put someone else in, it will be to get them playing time, it won’t be because they beat Tanner out. On our defense, (it isn’t that cut and dry), granted there are some guys we like in our secondary. Our starting secondary should be ahead of our back-up secondary. They are way more experienced. They should be ahead of the second secondary, but we need to get a two-deep that we can play (on defense). This league is a fast-break league on offense. If you just play the starters on defense, you are going to get worn out, so you better get into the two-deep. Our No. 1 goal on defense is not (to find) who the starting 11 are, it’s (to find) the first 22. My emphasis to our defensive players is to get into the 22. That is not the same case for the positions on offense. Who is the back-up quarterback? I don’t know the answer. The first three receivers are all seniors that have done a really nice job, but who can you count on at four, five, six? Is [Mike] Ragone’s knee going to hold up? I’m not sure. What about those other tight ends? What is going to happen at running back? We know about Tony [Pierson] and James [Sims] isn’t playing the first three games. Is it Taylor Cox? Is it [Brandon] Bourbon? I haven’t seen him either. There is a lot of different questions on the offensive side of the ball, where as on defense we are trying to get to who the 22 are.”
On Pat Lewandowski switching from defensive tackle to offensive tackle:
“I think he is athletic enough to play left tackle. The best thing with [Pat] Lewandowski is when you look at him and how much bigger he is. When you see him tomorrow, he is 285 (pounds). Last time you saw him he might have been 270 soaking wet. Fifteen pounds is a lot of girth. He is athletic enough to play that position. One of the questions you have is who is playing behind Tanner. If you have to play somebody else, who is that going to be? I feel a lot better about that position now than I did when spring ball ended.”
On interior defensive linemen Keba Agostinho and John Williams:
“He is one of those guys where you look at his picture (now) and you say, ‘who is that?’ Once you have the girth (to play the interior defensive line), you can play in there. You can’t just put a guy who is 250 pounds in there. Another guy who I couldn’t believe was the same guy was John Williams. I haven’t seen John Williams play since the beginning of last year. He was just out there eating free meals and running around a little in the spring, but wait until you see him. He looks like a different person. His face is thinner and he gained weight. That is usually a good indication that it is the right type of weight.”
On senior tight end Mike Ragone:
“Mike is a legend in his own mind. He’ll be a great interview; you guys will love Mike. I think Mike is a hungry young man. He knows this is his last shot. He has had a very unfortunate career, because every time he has gotten in position to be in contention, he got injured. Knock on wood, that that’s not the case (this time). I think that Mike could be one of the people that help us as much as anyone on offense as long as he stays healthy. And right now, he’s as healthy as he has been in a long time. But he will be a good interview I promise you. I dread reading the follow-up on that one, by the way.”
On if he agrees with where people are predicting Kansas to finish this year:
“Well logistically, I can’t see why they wouldn’t rate us last. Based off of evidence of what they have, right now all we’ve done is hire a new coach, hire a new staff and change the way business is being done to mirror the personality of the head coach. We brought in 27 new players; 23 went out the door. There has been a big change over of personnel, but the jury is still out. You have to go out and prove it. That’s what’s going to have to happen; we are going to have to prove it. And I can just tell you this, the guys who were at Media Day I am sure felt the same thing, when we went into (Big 12) media day, we were not being treated like we weren’t one of the big boys. We were getting treated like everyone else. Our players definitely felt respected, they didn’t feel shunned and there were some comments by some of the other teams. I am standing behind the Texas players, for example. First of all, the players were complaining, because we were dressed up, and they weren’t. So they already had gotten clearly out-dressed. But then one of the Texas guys turns to the other guys and says, ‘That’s the quarterback?’ You know, (senior Dayne Crist) has trimmed down from 237 to 233 but he looks like a linebacker. But I mean that’s the quarterback? You look at some of the other big name quarterbacks and then you see him, and that’s what quarterbacks should look like. He hasn’t played a down yet either, but you could feel from the media that well, maybe we might have to review these guys over again. Maybe we have to take another peek. There is always going to be the cynics that say, you know, they still aren’t going to be any good. But, that’s why you play the game, right?”
On offensive tackle Aslam Sterling:
“I heard he’s finishing his summer school class, that’s what I’ve heard about him. I haven’t seen him, he’s been taking his classes. You have to remember that schools in New Jersey don’t get out until the end of June. So he wasn’t here for the first term of summer school, so he doesn’t get here until the second, but he’s already been here a month. When you see him, that will be a rhetorical question. He is what they are supposed to look like. We need more looking like him. I mean he might be a cheeseburger away from 400 (pounds) right now, I don’t know, but he’s a big muchacho now, that’s what you’re looking for.”
On the position of rush end/SAM linebacker:
“What happens is right now (senior) Toben (Opurum) is a rush end. So you have a strong- side end and a weak-side end. If you go into games where the teams try to mix and match you and get bigger on you, then Toben would slide out to a linebacker and we would put another defensive end of the field. So the rush end/SAM linebacker show you that those three guys – and Neil Paige isn’t on the (depth chart) but he fits into that same position – the rush ends that could also play SAM linebacker as well. Prinz (Kande) and Tunde (Bakare), because they are smaller now, they are just SAM linebackers.”
On if Toben Opurum and Michael Reynolds are similar players:
“Well (they are a similar) size and have a fast twitch, they are both 35 pounds bigger than the other guys, so I mean girth is one thing. They can both put their hand on the line and pass rush, that’s but they also can both stand up and line up in space when teams are trying to pound you. When you are small, that’s what teams can do, they just line up and bring out the big boys and just pound away at you. You need to have a plan in place in case they decide to do that.”
On if he feels like expectations are different at KU than at Notre Dame:
“I am more motivated then I have ever been to make this program successful. There might be more unknowns (here compared to my last job), but I have the same obligation to the administration, to the fan base, and to the university. I have the same obligation to work as hard as I possibly can to get us as good as we possibly can be as quick as we possibly can. That’s what I have to do. To me, it’s no different. I was asked that down at the Big 12 media days; everyone at the Big 12 meetings thought that I was off base. I’m not off base, that’s what I do. To me, the job is the same. I mean, OK, Notre Dame has a big, national fan base down there, but what does that mean? Fans are fans; alumni is alumni. It’s still the same to work as hard as we can collectively both as a coaching staff and players to try to get this right as fast as we can. That’s why I’m here. Now it’s time to go to work.”