Kansas football can only improve in ’13
For Kansas, the only way is up.
“We’re 1-11 and picked by everybody to finish last in the league, and that’s justifiable,” KU coach Charlie Weis said during Big 12 Media Days in Dallas.”If I were you, I’d pick us in the same spot. We’ve given you no evidence or no reason to be picked anywhere other than that.
“I told our players and told our coaching staff that, until they start winning some games in the conference, that’s just the way it’s going to be.
“Obviously, inside closed walls or inside our walls and closed doors, our expectations are much higher than everyone else, but the proof’s in the pudding. Until we start beating some teams in the Big 12, which is quite a challenge with the ability and talent throughout the league, we’re going to be put in the same spot every year.”
Last season, Weis inherited a KU team that was short on talent and experience. It’s a classic rebuilding challenge for Weis.
“The problem with me is I’m a very straightforward person, and these players either really like you or they can’t stand you,” Weis said. “It’s one or the other.
I take a very honest approach and a very practical approach, but I’ll just say as if it’s your kid.
“Let’s say it’s your kid. Let’s say he’s a junior in high school, and I’m recruiting him, and we’re talking, and you’re sitting in my office. I say, look, I’ve got a great school here, great education, great academic support, I’ve got a great strength coach. My trainer is topnotch. All the facilities are on par with everyone else. The only thing that needs to be done is they need to do some work on the stadium, which are in the plans.
So all the background things I’ve got in place. Now, what are you looking for in college? If one of the things you’re looking for is all those things, then I already have a good head start.
“Then everyone wants to play. There’s no one that wants to not play. I said, have you looked at that pile of crap out there? Have you taken a look at that? So if you don’t think you can play here, where do you think you can play? It’s a pretty simple approach. And that’s not a sales pitch. That’s practical. You’ve seen it, right? Unfortunately, so have I.
“So now you’re sitting there saying, look, you want to have an opportunity? Everybody wants to tell me about depth charts. When a kid asks me, ‘Well, what’s your depth chart, how many guys are you going to take,’ I answer the question: Let me give you some advice, never ask that question again because that means that you don’t think you’re good enough.
So really, by being honest with them and just saying here’s what it is, hopefully, before it’s all said and done, before I end up leaving the place, that’s not going to be the same thing I’m saying, but that’s what I’m saying right now.”
Kansas almost upset Texas last season.
“When you give up a touchdown pass with 11 seconds to go, when you give up a fourth and nine completion from our own territory, when on first down you have a ball thrown right to the corner and you don’t intercept it – okay,” Weis said of KU’s late miscues. “Here’s the one thing I took. I was happy for Mack (Brown of Texas). I was miserable for me. I took nothing positive from it.”
There are some reasons to hope for improvement in 2013.
Quarterback Jake Heaps and wideout Justin McCay could bring a spark to the Jayhawk offense.
“Justin transferred from Oklahoma back home to Kansas City, where he’s from, and Jake came from when I had recruited him out of Skyline High School out in Seattle, Washington, where he was the top ranked player in the country,” Weis said. “He really wanted to come to that school I was at, but he thought I might get fired, and he forgot to tell me that he was going to be right. He had better foresight than I did.
With that being said, I was very fortunate last year for them, while they were going through a transfer year where they were ineligible, where they could establish a rapport, where they could be on that practice field every day throwing and catching, and … it’s been well-documented that anyone who watched us play last year, that although we had a pretty solid running game, we couldn’t pass the ball, and we couldn’t score points, and I think that that’s what I’m counting on this year for us to be a more balanced team on offense.
“I think Jake and Justin are two of the people that can help provide that for us.”
In 2003, Weis was working with the New England Patriots when they drafted Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury, now the first-year coach of the Red Raiders.
” I was involved with Kliff, and he’s always been one of my favorite people,” Weis said. “One thing that I was intrigued about back when he was playing at Texas Tech is that they never called a run. The entire year they didn’t call a run. Every play was a pass that you could check to a run. I had never heard of that before.
“Kliff was a pleasure to be around. He obviously had some guys ahead of him that are Hall of Fame-type people that he was behind, but I can tell you that he was a pleasure to be around and he was a sponge, and him having early success in his coaching career has come as no great surprise to me.”