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August 13, 2014

Charlie Weis

CHARLIE WEIS:  No update on Ehambe.  We're right where we were last time I talked to you.
Mosby, all his stuff for his jazz class had been turned in before I talked to you the last time.  The professor had eight assignments she had to grade.  He's doing well in the class.  Now the professor has two assignments left to grade.  He can't get his AA degree until after the professor grades the two assignments.  When they do, then we get the official information from the school, then he'll be here.  So that's the answer on those two questions.
Jimmay had a minor procedure done.  He came to me, his knee was locking up some, so he went and got‑‑ we went and cleaned it up so he didn't have his knee locked up.  It went really well.  He'll miss about another week and a half.
The only significant injury was yesterday in kickoff coverage, Olobia injured his knee.  He's going to get an MRI today.  I'm guessing it's not going to be great and that he'll be out indefinitely.
I don't know how long a time period it'll be, but it wasn't‑‑ he wasn't getting cut on a drill.  We were standing up, and he got banged from one guy and banged into another guy, and he's getting an MRI this afternoon.  But just count on him being out indefinitely or longer.
So there's the four issues.  I took away your first four questions, okay, because they'd probably be up there.  They'd be candidates to be in the top 10.
It is football season, and I'll answer your questions, and I'd like to get back to work, so fire away.

Q.  You mentioned that this was as good about your roster as you've felt in the three years you've been here.  Has that carried over into practice and particularly once you got pads on?
CHARLIE WEIS:  Well, let's start with the defense, okay.  I mean, the defense is flying around out there.  I'd say obviously the least experienced position you've got is the defensive line, but they are just flying around out there.  They're going to cause us and everyone else a lot of problems.  I love our team's speed right now.  They give up some plays.
But I've been pleased with where we are there, and I think that we can safely‑‑ we're like everyone else when it comes to injuries now.  We're a couple injuries away from having some serious problems, but right now we have some depth with players that we're not going to be afraid to play, and I think it bodes well for your chances on defense.
On offense, I think that the position that we've been‑‑ not toying with because we're trying to get settled down, but I think we're getting closer to settling down on the offensive line.  We're mixing and matching a little bit with positions.  We'll do that through this Saturday.  After this Saturday we won't do that anymore, you know, because next week we start a transitional part of our training camp, and once we've gone through trial and error this week of can the center play guard, can the guard play tackle, can the tackle flip over, this is the time of year you find those things out.
But I think other than us trying to make sure we know exactly we've got with the offensive line, I kind of like our receivers some, I kind of like our running backs some.
Obviously Jimmay is our most experienced guy at tight end.  It would be nice to have him right now.  But just as long as we have him for the season, that's really the most important thing.  Buy Mann and Duvic have been kicking the ball very consistently, but we haven't been in the stadium yet, and we haven't had them around yet, so we'll see what it looks like when that happens, and Pardula is Pardula.

Q.  When you have a newcomer, I'll give you one on each side of the ball, Watson at linebacker and Avery at running back, what do you look for from those two guys to see whether they'll be ready this year to be factors?
CHARLIE WEIS:  I'd be surprised if those two guys didn't play this year.  I'd be surprised if they didn't play in the first game, with those two guys.  I mean, both of them are natural.  Both of them are instinctive.  I mean, obviously they lack in experience, but Corey has been probably our most exciting guy‑‑ I wouldn't say our best guy, but our most exciting guy on offense, and the defense would probably give you the same guy.
And Kyron, who's learning behind‑‑ sitting there behind Ben and a couple other guys, I think Kyron will be pushing‑‑ Kyron is a sideline‑to‑sideline player, and he's got leadership that's a little bit suppressed because he's a freshman, but he's one of those guys that you can see down the line him being potentially in that role.

Q.  Is that what you saw in him when you recruited him?
CHARLIE WEIS:  Yeah, basically.  But see, in high school, it's a little different because the best players are always the leaders.  You're the leader because you're the best player.  Sometimes the best players in college aren't necessarily the leaders.  The leaders are the leaders.  It's a little different.  Like if I asked you who you think the best player in the secondary is, you might give me a different guy than who the leader of the secondary is.  They're not necessarily one and the same.

Q.  Cassius might be the leader.
CHARLIE WEIS:  Cassius is probably the most natural leader, the most natural leader on our team.  He might not be the best player.  I can't see one thing about the kid that I don't like about him.  I mean, I'm a big fan.

Q.  How is the competition with Shepherd and Short in there?
CHARLIE WEIS:  Well, they've both been getting tons of reps.  We've been repping Kevin a little bit, both on the other side, too, so Kevin hasn't just been repping at right corner, he's been repping some at left corner, too.  Kevin has been repping with the ones as much as he's been repping with the twos.  I think we feel pretty good about those guys, and we know that we could move one of them into nickel.  We know we could do that, but right now, first things first, we want to make sure we get‑‑ we can protect the nickel.  You've got safeties behind nickel.  You can't protect the corners.  The corners are out there by themselves.  First thing we've got to do is make sure we have some corners that can cover all these receivers that we play in the Big 12.

Q.  You talked about Corey being exciting.  What makes him an exciting player?
CHARLIE WEIS:  He makes people miss.  That excites me.  I know we can run plays.  It's the people that make them miss.
Now remember, we're starting to hit and take him to the ground and stuff like that, and he's still making them miss.  It's one thing when you do it in shorts and you know you're not going to get hit.  It's totally different when you put full pads on and it's still happening.  Look, I'm not ready to put him in Canton, so let's not go overboard.  I'm saying based on perspective and perception of what I've seen, I've been very excited about Corey.

Q.  Is there a three‑way battle potentially at center?
CHARLIE WEIS:  That'll be after this weekend.  Like I said, after this weekend, we've been practicing guys at center, at guard, interior guys, going from one guard to the other guard.  I think after we get through this weekend, because this is the time you do it, because if you don't look at it now, you know, now that the pads are on and we're pounding each other, this is a time when we can truly evaluate them, because see, training camp speed is way faster than spring ball speed, and then the regular season speed is way faster than training camp speed.  So we're getting a truer evaluation, plus there's other guys in the mix that weren't here in the spring.
So I think, like I said, once we get through Saturday and Sunday, two things.  Saturday practice when the public will come and then the Sunday practice, the real practice, the one on Sunday when no one can come, so we have both of those, but after we get‑‑ by the time we get through Sunday, then we can sit down and say, okay, who's the right tackle.  Is Damon the right tackle?  Who's his backup?  We can sit there and go position by position because now we have to settle in because now it gives you three weeks, still, to build cohesiveness before you play a game.  That's a lot of time.  That's a good amount of time.

Q.  Along those same lines with training camp speed and all that, guys like Montell who obviously had a great spring or Greg Allen who had a great spring, do you see that transitioning?  Are they keeping up with the change in speed there?  Any issues there at all?
CHARLIE WEIS:  I just see Montell‑‑ the best thing for me with Montell is I just see him getting better every day, and from the quarterback position, if you started to have ebbs and flows, highs and lows, that's what you really get concerned about.  I mean, he's growing in confidence every day.
Like we talked about Kyron before, Montell has that "it" factor that a couple years from now, when he ends up leaving this place after he's been playing for a while, I think that we'd like to all‑‑ me but everyone else in here that has a genuine interest in KU football would like to say, God, that's the type of guy you want to be a leader of your program.
And who was the other person?

Q.  Greg Allen.
CHARLIE WEIS:  Well, see, it's a little different now because now are you going to play press, are you going to play off, are you playing cover four, are you playing cover one.  I mean, there's a lot of‑‑ are you blitzing.  I mean, there's a lot of things, a lot of different factors.
Greg is not there to be the leader.  He's there to play nickel.  Montell is there to‑‑ he's the guy with the ball in his hand every play.

Q.  Have you been pleasantly surprised with what you've seen from Nigel King?
CHARLIE WEIS:  I wouldn't say pleasantly surprised.  I've been very pleased.  He's another big, physical guy, but he catches the ball, and he's not falling behind.  These are the type of off‑the‑field things that you'd never see, but he takes notes, diligent notes, and asks a whole bunch of questions, and a lot of times players don't like asking questions because they think that it makes them look dumb, and he'll ask any question.  Hold on a second, Coach Kiesau, explain this to me again.  That's a sign of a polished guy who gets it.  I've been pleased with him.
He's playing himself up the depth chart, not down the depth chart in other words.

Q.  We talked to Montell earlier this week.  He just turned 19 years old.  Do you think that maybe plays a part in kind of his jitters or nerves last year?  You don't see a lot of 18 year olds playing quarterback in the Big 12.
CHARLIE WEIS:  Yeah, I probably made a mistake.  I probably should have gone to the brown pants for the last couple of games.  It probably would have helped a little bit.
But because we played him, we're in a different position now than if we hadn't have played him, because to be honest with you now, we'd be saying the same yeah‑buts we've been going through the last couple years if we hadn't played him.  I'm so glad we did.  He acknowledges the fact that he was nervous and he threw some balls away or he'd run out of bounds.  You won't see him running out of bounds now unless it's a wise decision.  He's been throwing balls away.  He's been making a lot of good decisions for a relatively inexperienced guy.  I'd like to think that things are definitely moving in the right direction with the ball in his hands.

Q.  Is your kick return situation something that you have three weeks to still play out, or do you have to give that‑‑
CHARLIE WEIS:  Well, we have some guys that we think are front‑line returners on both kick returns and punt returns, okay, and I would like to use the best guys as returners.  I mean, I don't believe you just put anyone back there as returners.  First of all, let's look at kickoff return.  How many opportunities do you really get?  Maybe half, maybe?  So when you do get an opportunity for a kickoff return, you'd like to have a chance.
Okay, punt return, it's a totally different mentality than a kickoff returner, because when you catch a kickoff return, you've already driven back, your body weight is already leaning forward, as you catch it you're already going, and they're still 20 yards away from you, okay, whereas a punt returner if you're catching the ball there's usually a party in your face as you end up catching it.
Punt return with the evolution of the spread punt has almost gone away.  There's very few opportunities you really get to punt return anymore because everyone spreads.  It's all one‑on‑one battles all the way across the field, and all it takes is one guy to lose a one‑on‑one battle, and you're fair catching.

Q.  Do you know how many options on the depth chart for guys like Short‑‑
CHARLIE WEIS:  Well, right now barring a string of injuries, knock on wood, those guys are the guys that are going to do it.

Q.  Are you able to do it because of the depth, more and more comfortable doing that anyway?
CHARLIE WEIS:  Hopefully when September 6th comes around, our depth chart will be one with relatively minimal injuries where we're allowed to put some of those guys out there.  But everyone else that I've ever been around both in college and pros isn't afraid to use front‑line guys as returners because you have a chance to score every time you touch it.  I mean, there's a lot to having that chance to score.  Nothing changes the game around faster besides a blocked punt.  Nothing changes the game around faster than a kickoff return for a touchdown or punt return for a touchdown.

Q.  What have you seen from De'Andre Mann?  What can he do to move up the depth chart?
CHARLIE WEIS:  De'Andre is challenging for No.1, as well.  I mean, Brandon and Taylor have their work cut out for them with these two guys now.  There's quite the competition.  De'Andre is a natural runner, and he also has a second gear that's good to see on the field because sometimes‑‑ you watch a junior college tape, you'll see him running away from people, and you don't know if he's running away from them because he's just better than them, or does he have that true second gear, and he does have one.  And sometimes with a guy who's 5'9", 205, whatever he is, you see that short, stocky guy, you say, he's not going to be able to run like that, but he can.

Q.  What did you think about the uniforms yesterday?
CHARLIE WEIS:  I don't vote.  I think the most important thing, I think that our players love them.  I think that most of our fans will like them, but it really has nothing to do with whether we win or lose, and to be honest with you, in case you guys haven't noticed, I'm all business, and I really don't care.  I just want to do whatever we can.  If that little psychological thing gets the players motivated, it helps them in any way to win, let's wear them every game.  I don't care.  I really don't care.
You know, I believe in KU traditions and there's certain uniforms that go with our colors that you have to be respectful of the traditions of your school, but I think that, to be honest with you, I think the uniform looks really good.  I thought the helmet looked great.  But I don't‑‑ after the first game that Katy has talked me into, let the fans pick which uniform against my better wishes, which at Corinth Square they're going to have three mannequins up there with three different uniforms and the fans are going to get to pick the first uniform.
You're welcome, Katy.
Okay, but after that one, the captains will go to Charlie, who will then go to Himes, and that's what they'll wear.  I have absolutely no say.

Q.  All we need to see are the numbers.
CHARLIE WEIS:  My favorite ones are the gray ones because you can't see the numbers, and by the way, when we wore the gray ones, we played West Virginia.  How did you like that outcome?  So whether you're calling the wrong guy scoring a touchdown or not doesn't make a difference to me.  Whatever works.
You know, I would have worn the gray ones every game after that if I were making the call.  That would have stayed on.  It's like when you play baseball when you're nine and you're on a winning streak and you'd end up wearing the same stuff until you'd end up losing.

Q.  Is now the time of year where you can see guys like Fish or Ronnie Davis or whatever, guys like Keyon that got here in the spring, is now when that shows up?
CHARLIE WEIS:  Yeah, Fish is that close to being a starter, and Ronnie Davis, I didn't know whether or not he's really good enough to be a good backup or not, and as Campo talked to you about his feet, you get to see his feet now, and his feet show up a lot more than‑‑ I don't know if it's because of Holsopple because they do position specific drills in the summertime.  All I know is his feet are a lot quicker, which makes him a better corner.
I think that Fish is just waiting his opportunity to get playing time because I think that we could put him and Tevin both in there right now at safety, and I don't think we'd miss too much.

Q.  What have you seen from Tevin?
CHARLIE WEIS:  He's probably the most improved player we have because Tevin was that wrestler, that stiff guy, really athletic but really stiff, probably as physical a guy as we have pound for pound on the team.  He likes contact.  He plays the game vicious.  That's how he plays.  But the question is can you get outside of a phone booth.  Can you make a tackle outside of this area.  If you asked Vestal, which I'm sure you will the next time you talk to Vestal, Vestal would say to you that he's probably the most improved guy we have.

Q.  Listening to Tony the other day, he really seems to be back to being Tony.
CHARLIE WEIS:  Yeah, probably there's a couple things to that.  Obviously his head feels great.  That's the first place to start.  But I think that now‑‑ when you get moved out there to the wide receiver position, even though athletically he can run by people, he was a little bit of a chicken with his head cut off.  Now he's a receiver, running routes, showing technique, showing fundamentals, and I give a lot to credit to Tony, give a lot of credit to the coaches, Eric in particular, but they spent a lot of time, and he's no longer‑‑ we spot him in at running back a few times because it causes some personnel mismatches, but the reality is he's a receiver now, and it helps because as we know we haven't got much production from that position the last couple years.

Q.  You changed offensive coordinators but you still don't have an offensive coordinator up in the booth.
CHARLIE WEIS:  Well, that's his choice.  That's my choice, okay.  But remember now, with the way the game is played, we had this conversation last year about the defense, okay, and the conversation was the reason why the defensive coaches have to be on the field is because of the speed of the game.  Okay, well, when you're running the whole game no‑huddle and you're running it at different tempos, I mean, a lot of it‑‑ it isn't like you can't see it from the sideline.  I've coached from both the field and the sideline, but when you're running no‑huddle, there's a lot to being downstairs, but that's John's call.
John is also coaching the offensive line.  I don't know how he can humanly possibly be upstairs when he's the voice of the offensive line.  I mean, he could have somebody else do it, it's just not the same as him doing it.

Q.  Who's the most veteran set of eyes upstairs?
CHARLIE WEIS:  Well, actually the most veteran set of eyes on offense would be Kiesau, but the guy who actually does a great job doing it is Blasko.  I've been with Blasko for a long time.  He's calm, okay, he sees everything, he gives you exactly what you want in the order you want it and the timing that you want it.  So I think that John will pick between one of those two guys.
We had this conversation just the other day, which guy would be better on the field versus which guy would be better upstairs.  Just because you're a veteran guy doesn't mean you'd be the best suited to be the guy, because with all the receivers we're playing, we might be better off with Kiesau being on the field and Jeff being the guy that's feeding John the information that John needs to know.
I know it won't be me.

Q.  Are you relieved about that, excited?
CHARLIE WEIS:  Just minding my own business.  That's what I'm doing.  I'm helping out the offense, helping out the defense and getting very involved in the special teams, which I have been this whole camp.

Q.  You said that was your plan and talked about looking forward to that.
CHARLIE WEIS:  That's what I'm doing.

Q.  We all know by now you've lost a lot of weight and are feeling and looking good.  Has that helped you out there?  Do you feel better when you're running around the field and trying to keep an eye on the whole crew?
CHARLIE WEIS:  Well, the answer to that is yes.  I do feel better.  But I did it because I made a commitment to both the team and my family.  That's what I said.  I told them that in February I would not‑‑ I would drop 100 pounds, and that's what I intend to do, and I'm nowhere near there yet, nowhere near there, but I will.

Q.  Is there anything helping, or just more exercise and fewer calories?
CHARLIE WEIS:  Well, there's a lot to it.  There's a lot to it, but there's a lot of diet involved and a lot of exercise involved, but there's a lot to it.  I was a mess.  I'm less of a mess now.

Q.  Obviously that's a fantastic example to set for your team‑‑
CHARLIE WEIS:  No, I don't allow them to talk about that because I don't need‑‑ I don't want pats on the back.  I told them what I was going to do.  I said, now, what are you going to do.  This is what I'm going to do.  I told them, this is what I'm going to do, now what are you going to do.  Several of them have done things that‑‑ I'm not going to elaborate what they are, but there's some guys that have made some serious changes, and every one of them for the better.  There's a lot of guys‑‑ I wasn't the only one who stepped up, it's just that when you evaluate what you think your biggest weakness is, that was what I felt my biggest weakness was, so I wasn't going to let it beat me anymore.

Q.  Has Bolton been about what you thought you had?
CHARLIE WEIS:  Yeah, he's a big, physical guy.  He's still learning a little bit, so sometimes when you're learning a little bit, you think a little bit more than you need to, but we've got another three and a half weeks before we play.  I think that by the time we roll around in September, I think he'll be ready to go.

Q.  You said earlier the D‑line was running around.  Is that the group, the unit that's stood out to you most, I don't know if surprised is the right word but been the most pleasant surprise as a whole?
CHARLIE WEIS:  Well, it's only because it's my biggest concern because it's the least experienced, that's all.  I mean, anyone that looks at our depth chart can see that our secondary is a veteran secondary.  Everyone can see that the linebackers are‑‑ the front line guys are good, and the guys behind them, they're good, too.  So I know the sky is falling around Kansas football; I got that.  I've heard.  Okay, but inside the building, there's nothing falling around here because we're getting ready to go, and the only way we're going to change anyone's mind is on the field.
Now, basically it turns into tight end day for you.  There's guys that are getting treatment and stuff, so not everyone that you asked for was available.  I didn't hold them from you, just not everyone was going to be available because there were some guys that were going to be spending some extra time getting treatment and stuff like that before.  Remember, we're in two‑a‑days, so we've got another one yet to go.  This is the first time they're going through this two‑a‑day stuff in some of their cases, okay?  Thank you.

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