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UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 23, 2014
CHARLIE WEIS:Â On to Texas.Â Charlie Strong has taken over for Mack, and they're a little bit of a team in transition.Â They came up against two‑‑ they scheduled two tough opponents early in the year, two non‑conference opponents in both BYU and UCLA, and ended up losing two tough games there.
It all starts with their defense.Â They're stout on defense.Â There isn't really a glaring weakness.Â I could talk about the 11 guys and I could talk about several of the backups, too.Â They're 18th in turnovers, sixth in sacks, but they have just some dynamic players.
Jordan Hicks has been around there for a long time, been injured off and on a lot in his career, but he's healthy and making multiple tackles at Will linebacker.
I could talk about Diggs on the other side right there, but I just figured I'd just accent a couple people.
Malcolm Brown I think is one of the best players that I've seen, period.Â He's big, he's aggressive, he's nasty, he moves well, makes several tackles for loss.Â He's every bit of three and a quarter and probably runs 4.7.Â He'll be a high draft choice, and he's a very, very disruptive player.
Cedric Reed has been around for a while.Â Where Malcolm Brown is the dynamic inside player, that's what Cedric does on the outside at defensive end.Â I think they're very, very good on defense.Â They play both four‑down and three‑down.Â They're probably in four‑down defenses about 80 percent of the time and then in odd defense about 20 percent of the time, so you have to get ready for both of those.Â They mix it up.Â They pressure a lot.Â Probably half the time they pressure.
They like to play man coverage a lot, play post safety.Â You'll probably see that 90 percent of the time.Â They're physical, and they're fast.
On offense, their biggest issue is an offensive line going through transition.Â They've had multiple guys suspended or dismissed from the team or just transfer and no longer be there.Â It's a totally different line than we've seen from Texas the last couple years, and I think they're just trying to get settled in at that position.
I feel their pain.
Swoopes has taken over for Ash.Â First of all, Ash was a really good player, and I'm glad he made the decision to stop playing, not because we're playing them, because concussions are something that could affect your life even more down the road, so Swoopes is in.Â He's very, very big.Â They list him at 6'4", 243.Â On tape he looks bigger than that when I look at him.Â He just looks bigger than that.Â I'll wait until I see him in person, but he's a big man, has a very strong arm, and he's mobile.
The two running backs, it really doesn't make any difference‑‑ they can play Bergeron, too, but really Brown and Gray handle most of the carries.Â They're almost identical.Â They're about 5'11", 220, physical, bruising backs.
Wide receivers, I think it's a requirement at Texas for a Shipley to be at wide receiver.Â I don't know how many more kids are left in the family, but they're going to have to have kids so that there can be another Shipley there.Â But just like his brother, just good route runner, usually gets open, catches the ball along with Harris and Johnson are the other two.
They had a big tight end, Swaim, 6'4", 250, who's probably one of the better blocking tight ends I've seen, and I've just recently read earlier today that Greg Daniels might be back and playing.Â He hasn't played yet this year, coming off a scope, which would give him another big bruising tight end.
So I think that we can expect some physical play out of their tight end position.
They have two solid kickers.Â Russ, their punter, averages just under 44 yards a punt.Â He's also their holder, as well.Â Their kicker, Rose, he kicks off, he's got I'd say about two out of every three kickoffs is a touchback.Â Now, he is having‑‑ there's another one that sounds familiar.Â He has a strong leg, but he's 50 percent on his field goals this year.
I think they'll use Shipley back there in punt returns.Â They've put Quandre Diggs back there a little bit, but I haven't seen him return one yet, and then when you go to the kickoff returns, it's Jackson.
Obviously this is a big week for our program.Â 25 percent of our kids are from the state of Texas.Â It's homecoming.Â I'm sure there's nothing earth shattering that Texas is looking at as they sit there and study us.Â They're coming off a bye week, and we're going to have to play really, really well to have a chance.
Q.Â The last two years, you had them on the ropes here, you mentioned that yesterday, and then last year, right there until the third quarter drive to make it a one‑score game.Â What's been the difference that's kept you guys from actually getting over the top instead of just being competitive?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Well, I think that our defense believes that if a team is just going to try to line up and try to get into a slugfest, I think they're willing to play that game.Â It starts with our defense.Â I think offensively we probably did enough two years ago, even though we didn't do a lot, we probably did enough to give us a chance to win.Â Last year we just didn't do anything, and really didn't help the defense out at all.
We are not going to go wild or anything like that.Â We're going to figure to try to play into a slugfest and win the game in the fourth quarter.
Q.Â You mentioned the transition their team is in right now.Â When you look at them on film, do they look like a different team?Â Is there a lot of difference between what they've done in the past?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Well, I think with all these guys that have been suspended or dismissed, it's hurt their depth.Â They're very talented, but when you look at the offensive line and you take their two starting tackles and they're gone, it's a big difference when they're not out there.Â I don't know when those suspensions are over for a couple of those guys, but I'm glad it's not this week.
The center who was one of their best players got injured and is gone for the year, so we don't even talk about him, Espinosa.Â He's gone.Â And then two of the receivers, one is suspended, and I'm not sure‑‑ they're the two fastest receivers, they're not playing.Â So when you look at that, even though they've got tons of talented people, when you take that many people away, now your whole depth of your whole team definitely gets affected.
Q.Â You've been through this here, where you come in and you want to set a culture; is that difficult in the short time where in the long‑term you know it's the right thing to do but in the short‑term it's going to hurt you a little bit?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â I think it's the right move.Â The difference is it's always tough to follow a legend.Â When you go to Texas, following Mack Brown, what do you do, going to come in and say, here's all the things Mack Brown was doing wrong?Â I mean, it's kind of tough to do that.
I think that Charlie is doing it his way, and I think he feels comfortable doing it his way, and I believe that he believes that that's the only way to get it done the way he wants to get it done.
I was in a different situation.Â I came into a team that had won one game.Â He's coming into a team that goes to a bowl and wins eight every year at least, so it's a little different situation.
Q.Â You're friends with Mack Brown, and he has insight into these players.Â Would you feel comfortable calling him and trying to get him to share that insight, or are his loyalties‑‑
CHARLIE WEIS:Â I had a couple of humorous texts with Mack this week on that subject, but I think that it's important‑‑ I just think it's important to not put somebody‑‑ like I wouldn't make that call.Â Everyone would think I should, but I would not make that call.Â Now, I gladly would take his call, okay, but I wouldn't make that call because I think that you're putting somebody on the spot, and you're asking him to do something that‑‑ an uncomfortable situation.
But if he wants to call me, he has my cell phone.Â I'll gladly take that one.Â He'll call me after the game.Â Either way he'll call me after the game.Â He's a media guy now; he gets to sit in the studio.
Q.Â Any update on your offensive linemen?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â No, I know that Damon is doing some kind of‑‑ a couple of tests at 1:00 today, so I don't know what that's going to be.Â And then Smithburg is seeing the doctor tomorrow.Â We could have neither, we could have one, and we could have both.Â I mean, so I'm not stating the obvious, I really don't know the answers.Â I'm really not sure.
I would hope to have at least one of them back because I think that if I had one of them back, I would probably play them at right guard and keep Larry at right tackle.Â If I had both of them back, they would both start at right guard and right tackle.
Q.Â The changes that are on here, is that a reflection of those injuries or is it something more?Â Obviously Brad now on the depth chart.
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Remember I told you last week about guys being sick?Â Well, Joe has been one of those guys who's been sick.Â He hasn't practiced in a couple of weeks.Â So when a guy has been sick, you have to get somebody else ready to go.
Now, to be honest with you, the first center I would go to in the game is probably Brian Peters because he also‑‑ he can play all five positions.Â He's the one guy we have that's the jack‑of‑all‑trades, one guy.Â But we are getting Bragg ready to go because if we need to make a move or if we get somebody banged up, he's got to be ready to play.
Q.Â You got Montell some confidence last week.Â What's the next step you'd like to see for him?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Well, he's going to go against a lot better defense this week than he went against last week.Â It's a different set of encyclopedias this week because last week the whole game was two high.Â With the exception of a handful of just sellout blitzes, everything were two high safeties.Â This week the whole game is one high, so it's either going to be cover one or cover three on every snap, so now it's a different‑‑ you're looking at different areas of the field now than you were looking at last week.
For example, those bubbles that you threw last week, well, usually they have a guy up on those bubbles, so this week those easy throws, there won't be as many of them as there were last week.Â I think we have some good answers to that, but we'll have to see how it plays out.
Q.Â Quarterbacks with a good pocket presence seem to step in every direction to avoid a rush.Â The guy last week almost got him, he stepped aside, but it seems like Montell always steps back.Â Is that accurate do you think?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â I think that teaching pocket presence is‑‑ first of all, teaching pocket presence is very teachable.Â I mean, it's something that can be taught, whereas there's a lot of things with a quarterback that they have to come natural.Â I mean, you can teach them how to step up, slide backwards, slide forwards, shuffle.Â You can actually teach that.Â I think that over time he'll become much better at that, just like when you bail out, always going to the same side, that's another thing that just‑‑ that's a natural reaction that people have.Â But I think teaching people how to move in the pocket, not from the pocket, is something that can be improved over time.
Q.Â Is it a matter of the instinct of hearing‑‑
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Oh, no, I think what he's doing is trying to let his legs take over because when you take your first step back, what you're trying to do is you're trying to get to the perimeter where you could make something out of the play.Â I don't think that the pressure really has too much to do with why you step back.Â I think he's trying to get to the edge.Â That's why he does that.
Q.Â He doesn't look very natural running the option, pitching and stuff like that‑‑
CHARLIE WEIS:Â We're going to work on that, too.Â I mean, we ran it twice last week, ran the option twice last week, and the quarterback‑back relationship wasn't good on either play, and both plays had a chance if everything was run the right way.Â We'll be spending a little bit more time on that.
Q.Â Did he do much of that in high school or almost none?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â No.
Q.Â So it's all new?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Yeah, but there's a lot of things that are new.Â He's perfectly capable of doing that.
Q.Â You didn't start Tedarian Johnson to have a lot of snaps last week.Â Are you happy ‑‑
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Actually Tedarian Johnson rated out one of the best of anyone on the team last week.Â He was physical.Â He was one of the guys I called out on Sunday, and I thought it was by far the best game that he's played since he's been here.
Q.Â Are you satisfied with the extra practice snaps between your quarterback and your center?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Well, I don't know, the lights have been on, so they've been hanging out after practice for quite some time, and it's not just them, because when they stand there, the coaches who are responsible for those players have to kind of stand there, as well, because I want to know how to turns out.Â Let's just say there were less issues than the week before, and it still wasn't perfect, but there were less issues, like the infamous penalty on 10 guys.Â A first.
Q.Â You told a story about Jake Love on one of those plays at the end of the game where he kind of peeled off a blitz.
CHARLIE WEIS:Â It was the second of those two big plays.
Q.Â Is he an unpredicted football player?Â I think people think of him as a hard‑nosed, tough kid, but is he more than that?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Well, you have to be to make that play.Â Now, the first play he was just being a football player.Â He had a tackle out there who he knows he can out‑athlete, and he had another guy in the vicinity, so he kind of split through, tucked his body and made the play.Â But this one he was blitzing and he was coming clean, and he said, something is not right here.Â I mean, he goes‑‑ for me to be this close and then for me to be this close and then just let me go, so he just pulled off.Â There's a lot of defensive linemen as a matter of fact that are really a pain in the butt on screens because he'll have everything set up, but the defensive lineman will just stop rushing, and then all of a sudden they're peeling off and making a play on the screen, and you'll say, why is that, and that's because the phrase we always say, if you smell a rat, it's a rat, okay.Â Well, that's what Jake did in that situation right there.Â I'm glad he did because they were two big plays in the game.
Q.Â I think last week you mentioned that the practices would be a little bit more physical.Â Did you get the results that you wanted, and do you keep that plan going this week, or is there kind of a breaking point where you've got to pull off on that?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â If you're asking if we're going to pull off, not a chance.Â Okay, I'm a very superstitious person.Â I think the physical practice helped us last week, and they know that‑‑ it's only got to go up from there.Â It's never going backwards.Â It's only going forward.Â You toe that fine line when your roster isn't real deep of getting some guys banged up when you do that.Â Now, fortunately/unfortunately the guys that get listed like the linemen, I mean, they're not injured, they're sick.Â It's different.
But I think that starting with Central Michigan, especially after the Duke game, getting ready for Central Michigan, now getting ready for Texas, if we don't bang Tuesday and Wednesday, then we won't be ready to play on Saturday.
Q.Â Do you see similarities between KU's quarterback situation and Texas's?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â No, our starter is the starter.Â Their backup is the starter.Â I mean, that's a big difference.Â I firmly believe we're committed to this guy from the end of spring, and he's been that way the whole time, where their guy has been the backup to a very polished player who now is no longer playing.
Q.Â Tre' Parmalee makes his debut on the depth chart‑‑
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Tre' Parmalee had probably the best training camp of anyone on our team.Â He banged up his elbow in the same scrimmage that Bourbon got his ACL, and he's been out for these three games.Â To be honest with you, Tre' was pressing‑‑ was playing so well, we were trying to figure out how to get him in the first three.Â But he's back and ready to go, so we'll try to get him into the mix this week.
I mean, if you're talking‑‑ if those freshmen are anywhere close to Tre', they're not even in the same breath at this point.
Q.Â Do you believe when someone takes over at a program like Texas, do you believe it's better to get them early like you guys are now as opposed to playing them later down the road?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Well, here's the unknown, okay.Â Let's look at it objectively.Â They're 1‑2, they had a bye week last weekend, so the only two games they had on tape to watch were CMU and Duke.Â There weren't any restless nights for their team when they watched those two games.Â They're sitting there and saying, and this is who we're playing next?Â I would think that after watching those two games and then having a week‑‑ a couple days off or something like that, feel pretty good about rolling into Lawrence for the start of their conference season.Â That being said, too, if all of a sudden it's halftime, this game is close, you know, which I expect it's going to be, I think that whole perspective changes.
Q.Â Would you rather have more time to see their film?Â I'm sure you've watched plenty of Louisville and all that.
CHARLIE WEIS:Â I would rather have played them three weeks ago, as early as possible.Â But with all the stuff that's going on, that's going to work one of two ways.Â There's no in between here.Â Either there's going to be more guys go‑‑ I remember my first year at that other place I was at, I let some people go, and one guy came in to me and he says, I don't like where I am on the depth chart.Â He said, you need me.Â I said, I don't need you.Â I said, go ahead and leave.Â You can go anywhere you want.Â Go ahead.Â And I said, you're not that good.Â And then of course I'm obnoxious for saying that, just by telling a kid the truth.Â By the way, he never played a down anywhere the rest of his career.Â He did leave, went to another school, never played a down.
Q.Â What position?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â I'm not going there, but he never played a down.Â He transferred, he never played a down for the next two years of college.Â Never played a down.
Q.Â You talked about the defense having the potential to be salty.Â Is this kind of what you expected through three weeks?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Well, you know, the big plays in the Duke game, and then the fourth quarter in the CMU game, there's been a lot of good defensive play, but there also has been‑‑ we can't give up big plays, and then we can't get into a situation like we did in the fourth quarter at CMU and let them‑‑ all of a sudden somebody get into a rally.
You look at last week, if you play like we did last week, it's not perfect, but you end up giving 10 points up for the game.Â If we're playing a game in that vicinity, in the 20s, you know, I think that we'll always have a chance.Â I think where we'll have a problem is if we get one of these games where you're playing in the 40s.Â The 30s and 40s are a little different for us right there, and I don't think that our defense wants to see that anyway.
Q.Â Was that performance from your front seven and especially the D‑line exactly well timed considering what you're going to face this week?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â I think that the game played out‑‑ I don't do the schedule, but the game played out well from that game to this game we're playing right now.Â I mean, because this team has got a lot of good physical players.Â I mean, the running backs are physical to start off with, so you've got to expect them to come in and just figure that they're going to pound us, and then on the other side of the ball, the defense, I mean, they don't have a glaring weakness at any position.Â You might say, well, BYU scored a bunch of points on them.Â I could come back and say it was 6‑0 at halftime.Â I mean, I have a lot of respect for them and a lot of concern.
Q.Â Do you do anything different for the homecoming or does anyone on your staff do anything different regarding that as far as motivation, preparation, any of that stuff?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â We've got some players coming in that will be on the sideline for the game, a couple players have byes that are coming in for games.Â We'll check and see how that all works out scheduling‑wise later this week.Â Both John and Clint will go to that pep rally type thing Friday night so we have the offense and the defense both represented.Â I figure they can take their kids and enjoy themselves for that thing Friday night.
Other than that, I think that until the game is over, I think it's all business.
Q.Â You've always talked about how it's a 6:00 start, it's a great day, come out and support us.Â This obviously isn't 6:00, but you've laid out to the fans, hey, this is a good thing to do.Â Do you feel the same way about homecoming?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Yeah, it definitely means something to me.Â I didn't go to school here, but I think that the football team should be definitely involved with the student body, and the student body should be definitely involved with the football team.Â I think that to be honest with you, I was pleased in the last game.Â Imminent weather, it was supposed to be terrible, and then you have a little extra delay at halftime, and I thought a lot of them were still there in the second half.
Now, would I have liked 15,000 more?Â You betcha, okay.Â I like the place filled every single game.Â But let's look at it; we're 2‑1, okay, it's not been pretty, but we're 2‑1, it's homecoming, Texas is rolling into town, Saturday afternoon, it's going to be 80 degrees and sunny, and it's 3:00.Â There's no excuse.Â You've got plenty of time Saturday night.Â By 6:30 they're free, okay, just come give us from 3:00 to 6:30, that's all.Â Three and a half hours.Â That's it.
Q.Â Ever any thought of the former players that are coming back talking to the team?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â They have.Â They have, yeah.
Q.Â Not on game day, though, or do they?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Once.Â He's 0‑1.Â He'll be here again this week.Â I might give him an opportunity to talk again and see if he can improve his record.
Q.Â Do you have any update on Schyler Miles?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â He's behind those other guys.
Q.Â Is he healthy?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Not fully healthy.
Q.Â How do you feel about your kicker position right now?Â Do you still feel good about it?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â Well, you could ask them the same question, I guess, same 50 percent.Â Do I think our kicker is capable of being a much higher percentage kicker than that?Â I think he is.Â If I thought that the young guy would give us a better chance to win, I'd put him in there.Â But based off of the evidence we have in practice, that's not the case.Â Right now we think that this guy gives us the best chance, and we're sticking with him.
Q.Â Have you thought about, all throughout college football teams are always kind of looking for kickers.Â It seems like maybe 10 or 15 really elite guys and then you dig down into the mid‑range guys who are hit or miss.Â Do you see that?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â See, when you go to all these kicking camps and they have ratings of all these players, you'll get guys that are highly rated that come in here, and then all of a sudden when there's 40, 50, 60,000 people in the stadium, it's not so easy to make those kicks anymore.Â I think there's only a handful of guys in the country that really pan out to be those front‑line kickers, and I think that‑‑ in our case right here, I think we're kicking the guy that gives us the best chance to win.Â He's had excuses on a couple of kicks.Â This past week the one he missed he had no excuse, and he knows that.Â That's no big secret.
Q.Â Rodriguez Coleman was diagnosed with a sprain.Â Is he still just battling on the depth chart?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â He's not on it right now, is he?Â Then don't expect to see him play.Â Nigel King is playing really good to tell you the truth.Â If we were playing four wide receivers, Nigel King would be starting.Â But I think that Nigel King gives us the best chance backing up both Tony and Justin.Â He gives us the best chance to win.
Q.Â He's been about what you thought he was, hasn't he, King?
CHARLIE WEIS:Â He's a tough guy now.Â He's a lot like McCay, probably a little bit more athletic than Justin, but a lot like Justin.Â Justin is just going so hard every single week and just gotten better every day, where it's tough to justify just taking him off the field, and last week it paid dividends for him and for us.
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