UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 8, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
CHARLIE WEIS: Let's get going. Welcome back. I think the happiest person that training camp has started is my wife. In this coaching profession, it's kind of like cold turkey. You go from a season where you're working over 100 hours and then recruiting you cut it down to about 80 hours, and then all of a sudden the month of July, they see you all the time, and I think by the end of July, they're counting down the minutes before you go back to camp. I'm happy to be back.
Obviously there will be a lot of questions about personnel today. If the guys are on the roster, they're on the team. If the guys aren't on the roster, they're not on the team. So I will talk about the guys that are on the roster, I will not talk about the guys that are not on the roster. Simple enough? Let's fire away because I'm sure you've got a lot of questions.
Q. What's the plan for what you guys will do with the offense during camp? I'm sure you got a lot of install done in the spring. Do you have to start back at the beginning for all the newcomers?
CHARLIE WEIS: Well, one thing, the new NCAA rule that was invoked this year where you could spend two hours a week with your players football?wise was invaluable because the only guys that are really behind are the guys that are just walking in the door right now, guys that just walked in the door in the last couple of days. You know, everyone is here. The only two guys that are not physically here at this moment right now are Mosby and Ehambe. Mosby has finished all his school. He's got one class that they have to finish grading a few assignments, and when they finish those assignments he'll have his AA degree and he'll be here, and with Ehambe they're waiting for this deal with the NCAA and Prime Prep and it's really not Ehambe's fault, it's just what it is.
Other than that, everyone is here. I hate to disappoint all your stories out there about all the guys that aren't here, but they're all here. Everybody.
Oh, by the way, Schyler, I know that that was another issue. Schyler got scoped a couple of weeks ago. It was just a cleanup of his leg. It was a two? to three?week recovery. He might be able to go tomorrow; he might be a couple of days. He's not gone for the year. He's a day?to?day. It was nothing major but it was something we felt we should clean up so we don't have that issue during the season.
Q. Was the two hours you were talking about during the summer, was it mostly just mental film work??
CHARLIE WEIS: Well, that's all you were allowed to do. You still have eight hours, so six hours was still strength and conditioning, but now you had to block it?? we did it two different ways. In June we did it one way, in July we did it a different way, so in June we went two days a week for an hour, hour settings, and then July we went one day a week for a two?hour setting, and the reason why we did that is because I tied in coaches' vacations. But coaches' vacations kind of got cut short some this year because the only way you could be installing and playing catch?up with people mentally was to have position coaches here going over the information.
But I thought it was a great rule. I think it helped, especially the new guys, play catch?up, because with everyone else, going back to the initial question about where we are with the offense, when you're putting in an offense new in the springtime, you're just putting a foundation in anyway. You're not really spending much time game planning. You're not trying to figure out how you're going to beat your own defense. You're just putting it in.
I think that now as we get into training camp, we'll go about the first week and a half where it's offense against defense all the time, and then after about a week and a half, we'll start putting in some carded periods where you're going against a different offense or a different defense, so both sides of the ball get an opportunity to work on things that we don't currently do in practice.
Q. How much do you think that helped Montell, that two?hour??
CHARLIE WEIS: Well, I think that the whole thing with Montell was he won the job in the spring, but by us naming him at the end of the spring, it put him in a position where the summertime, it was time for him to step up and start being a leader. Even though he won't take over for Harwell, who's like one of the perceived true leaders of the offense, he put himself in a leadership role where now he's much better suited to go handle and manage and run the team because now the players don't just look at him as a player, he's the quarterback.
Q. That was one of the things that you were having doubt about, Harwell and the veterans on offense taking some of that leadership burden so it doesn't all fall on a sophomore quarterback. Is that something you talked with him about?
CHARLIE WEIS: That was one of the main conversations we had, and we had that in the springtime, right after the spring game, saying look, this is the way we're going. It was evident to everyone on the team who had won the quarterback job. I mean, there were?? if you didn't know who won it, then you weren't at practice.
So with that being said, they needed to know that that put a bigger burden on Jimmay Mundine and Ngalu and Bourbon and Cox, in addition to Harwell and Tony and some of those guys. There were other guys, Pat Lewandowski did a nice job of becoming a bigger vocal leader. You know, we have a lot of older guys now that have played, so it's a little different. It's not?? leadership is not something you want to be faking, but it took some of the burden away from Montell and let him grow through the summertime.
Q. How careful will you be with Tony for the next month or so going into the season?
CHARLIE WEIS: Well, I mean, I think the fact that he's not inside as a running back on a regular basis taking all those extra hits, I mean, we'll make sure that he doesn't get pounded on, and we'll be fairly conservative with Tony, because especially with the state of the union, if you really care about your players, you don't want to be hypocritical about guys who have had concussions in their past. So we'll be cautious there.
But he also has to get hit some so that he knows that I can get him and get up and go play the next play. You have to make sure that there's at least enough contact in there where he's game ready come September 6th.
Q. Justin McCay is at the top of the depth chart. Is that due to what he did in the spring?
CHARLIE WEIS: Justin McCay and Rod were very, very close. We just go by who performed the best. At the beginning of the spring, Rod was clearly ahead of Justin. By the end of the spring, it was very close, but Justin was playing better than Rod, so that's why we put him there.
I think that the two deep that we threw out there, obviously everyone has noticed Nigel King now being on the roster by now. He came available when he graduated last Friday from Maryland and asked for release, and Coach Edsall released him to everyone but the schools in the Big Ten, similar to like our philosophy, and his high school coach had a relationship with Coach Kiesau, so we got into this mix. We checked with the coaches over there and got into this mix, and now when we throw out a two deep at wide receiver, when you get Tony and Nigel and when you've got Nick and Tre' and you've got Justin and Coleman, before you even get to the other guys, you're putting six receivers out there that you feel can all play, can all win for you in the Big 12.
Q. What kind of impact will Nigel have?
CHARLIE WEIS: I don't know. I'll know more about him after I get to?? all I've done is watch him on tape, but this all happened fast. Like all of a sudden the kid is on the street. We had an opening. We had one guy leave, and we had an opening in what we felt was the perceived two deep, and when he came available?? when you can say to a guy walking in, that's where you're going to start, a guy like that, he's looking for somewhere where he thinks he has a chance of playing. He looks good on tape, but I'd prefer to just go by what we see now that we've got him here.
Q. Does he have anything that your receiving corps didn't have?
CHARLIE WEIS: Experience and production. I mean, the guy has produced. The guy has made plays, scored touchdowns. It'll be nice to have some receivers scoring some touchdowns, without being sarcastic.
Q. What's your plan behind Montell? Is that still a battle?
CHARLIE WEIS: I would say right now it's too close to call. I think that based off of experience, I think Michael would start off ahead of TJ. The thing is TJ and Michael are not the same player. They both have different strengths. So they'll battle it out. Look, we're not just going to sit there and say they're never competing for the first guy, but we would not have named Montell the quarterback if it was too close to call.
So now that competition is going to be who's the No.2, and right now when we first go out there it'll be Michael, but both Michael and TJ will battle it out, and you still have Darling in there in that mix, too, but I'd say right now, the close race is between Michael and TJ.
Q. That's different than obviously trying to find a starter or two guys battling for No.1. How important is it to settle that?
CHARLIE WEIS: We've got plenty of time to do that. You're in no rush to do that. They're both going to the game. This isn't like, well, are you taking them or not taking them. They're going to the game. It doesn't make a difference where you're going. Those three guys are all going, so you've got plenty of time. What we have to do is build chemistry with the first guy with the players playing. That's what we have to do.
I've put a really big emphasis on chemistry in all parts of our organization between the players, the coaches and everything, and I think that merry?go?rounds at quarterbacks don't exactly fire me up. I'd like to be able to settle in and start to get good at a few things and do them a lot.
Q. You mentioned that Montell won the starting job in the spring. What did you see from him in the spring game as far as improvements?
CHARLIE WEIS: The spring game was irrelevant. It was just another practice. The spring game means something to you, it doesn't really?? it's just one of 15 practices to me. That's all it is. The spring game just was one of the 15 practices. He was 60 percent in the game on a windy day, ran the ball, he can run the ball, make some plays with his feet, can bail us out of some situations. The kid has got a lot of athleticism, and he's become more accurate as a thrower.
Q. Do you think the biggest thing is accuracy for him?
CHARLIE WEIS: I think the biggest thing is not being nervous, because accuracy is never an issue when you watch him throw in practice. It's what he's going to do when the pressure is on. The quarterback is totally different when people can actually hit you. It's one thing when you know you're not going to get hit. A lot of times you're way more accurate when you know that even if a guy tries to free rush on you you're not going to get hit. It's a totally different deal when they know they can smack you in the mouth. He was better in almost every facet in the springtime.
Q. I know in the spring JaCorey Shepherd moved and Kevin Short was starting but now Short is back behind Shepherd.
CHARLIE WEIS: Sort of similar to the conversation before when we were talking about Justin and Coleman. We just went by the basis of the 15 practices because that's what we do. We go back and watch them all over again and go through everything and see who actually played better. That's another too close to call. I mean, I could have put "ors" down there in those situations right there. It could be JaCorey or Short there. But one guy has played for us and one guy hasn't played for us, so I just don't think it's fair for the guy who's played for a year to sit there and list him as a backup when the other guy didn't play. I just don't think it's fair.
Q. How is this year going to be different for you?
CHARLIE WEIS: You know, I've spent a lot of time with that. I'm really looking forward to being a head coach. I've spent so much time just?? spending so much time on the offense and trying to find out how you can create something. The efficiency is not even the point, just that you're spending 20 hours a day trying to figure out how to get it better, how to get it better. What I'm going to do is I'm going to spend some time sitting in the offensive room, I'll spend some time sitting in the defensive room, but really I'm going to spend much more time on special teams. That's where I'm going to spend my time because I want to let the coaches coach. So I'm not going to change the way we handled special teams as far as different guys having different facets, but I'm going to be in every special teams meeting, and I'm going to create the level of importance on special teams from today on. Every player will know that there's one special teams meeting in the entire year I will not be here for, and that'll be the night of Corinth Square because the special teams meeting is going to be why I'm there. Other than that I'll be in every special teams meeting because special teams are one of the best ways to have your finger on the pulse of the entire team because you're using both offensive and defensive guys. This way I let the offensive coaches coach the offense, the defensive coaches coach the defense. I can just be there as a sounding board for both Clint and for John, but more importantly on game days, besides critical decisions, my biggest thing is going to be much more involved in the special teams, and I'll do that during the week, as well.
Q. I just have a philosophical question. When you look at the offense at the college level, what do you think is more important, the scheme or the quarterback?
CHARLIE WEIS: Oh, I'd pick the quarterback 100 out of 100 times, no matter which scheme you have. If you have a top?line quarterback?? but that being said, okay, I think that you have to look at all your personnel, not just your skill people. You have to look at your offensive line and your tight ends and your running backs and your wide receivers before you get to your quarterback and really the last couple years, okay, the quarterback position has not been productive. But part of the reason it hasn't been productive is because all those other positions haven't been productive. So really what bails you out in those situations? What bails you out is a guy who has some athleticism. That's what bails you out. It bails everyone else out, too, and I think with Montell we certainly have that guy who can bail us out of some problems.
Q. You recruited him obviously when you were running your offense. Do you think he's more suited to run John's kind of spread system?
CHARLIE WEIS: We'll see. Spread is just an alignment. It's not a mentality, it's an alignment. I mean, John likes to run the hell out of the ball, okay. What we've done now is we've added an extra runner. So with Montell, he fits John's scheme way better than Montell would fit mine because in my scheme, okay, the quarterback is not a runner. The quarterback hands off to the running backs and gets the hell out of the way. That's what he ends up doing. In this scheme he's another guy you have to defend.
Q. You talked a lot about letting John take care of the offense. You also mentioned that it was kind of a meshing of what you did before and what he does??
CHARLIE WEIS: I didn't even go to the meetings.
Q. Does that include terminology? Is that all different?
CHARLIE WEIS: Well, they've mixed the two of them, but not with my?? I had nothing to do with it. I'm not saying it's them versus me, I'm just saying, look, if I go in there?? if I hire him and then I'm in there all the time, then I'm defeating the whole purpose. Then everyone says, well, Weis can't help himself. Okay, that's why I hired the guy. I hired the guy to go ahead and do that.
Now, there were things?? rather than change terminology on things that we already had here, things that were in his system that were in our system, there was no reason to change them.
Okay, so I don't know what percentage of that was. You could ask John. He'll be in here. You can ask him that when he comes in here. All I know is it's his terminology and some of the terminology is carryover because of the things that he was doing that we were already doing that we figured why change the name of what it is.
Q. Are you literate with all the terminology then when you're sitting in a meeting?
CHARLIE WEIS: Yeah, I'm literate with the defense, too. I'm just not going to tell him what to call.
Q. You mentioned the pieces of the offense that all have to fit together. The offensive line, what's your assessment of that unit as far as making everything else work?
CHARLIE WEIS: We are going to be very big. We're going to be very big. Now, I don't know right now how this is all going to play out, but I know when I looked in the hallway yesterday and saw Mazyck and Devon Williams, both pushing about 370, there was no room to walk down the hallway next to those two guys. A lot of the people we go against every week, the one thing, they'd have a lot of big people out there and we wouldn't. Okay, well, we've got a lot more big people now than we've had. We can throw Junior in there, he might be a freshman, but there's another guy that 350 would be being generous. He hasn't seen 350 in quite some time; let me just say that.
Q. In terms of production, do you go back and look at numbers and then think we've got to get to a certain point in terms of yardage, points, things like that?
CHARLIE WEIS: Normally I do that?? we spend a lot of time on self?scout, but with the change of what you're doing offensively, let's start with that first of all, really you're just worrying about getting the foundation in and growing.
Now, defensively because it's not the first year of a system, we're way further along as far as self?scout on that end because now we can?? even just a simple how do we get pressure on the quarterback with rushing only four guys. Are we just counting on one guy to do that? These are the type of conversations that go on when the system is pretty much a carryover system that's being tweaked, whereas offensively where it's a new system, you're not worrying as much about the self?scout because you weren't doing that. This is all new stuff.
So what you want to do is put it in and figure out what gives you the best chance before you get into getting ready to play your opponents. Okay, when you're getting ready to play your opponents, if you're playing against a team that plays all man, then you've got to have a bunch of man beaters in there. These are the things that you do in training camp anyway to go out and put yourself in position to go ahead and do that, within John's system.
Q. How do you plan on replacing James Sims?
CHARLIE WEIS: I'm pretty happy with our running back situation now. I mean, Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox have been waiting for their opportunity. This Mann guy that's here, he didn't come here to sit behind them.
Q. Will that be by committee?
CHARLIE WEIS: It'll be?? let's see who the best guy is. I mean, I couldn't answer right now, but all I can say is before you even get to Corey Avery or putting Tony in the backfield a little bit, I mean, those three guys, I mean, there's a lot of people that would be very happy having those three guys as their?? in competition for their No.1 running back. A lot of people.
Q. Speaking of Avery, I know he's only been here a little bit and obviously he's got a ways to go, but do you see him more as a running back or could he potentially play??
CHARLIE WEIS: He's a natural running back is what he is. He might evolve to a Tony, but right now he's a natural running back. So that's where he'll be. He brings something to the table that the other three guys don't because he's got giddy?up. It's not going to shock me if he performs well, but he's walking in fourth on the depth chart, and that's not even including if we put Tony over there, too. You're walking in fourth/fifth on the depth chart, you've got a ways to go before you can get yourself into that mix.
Q. (Inaudible) more of that on both sides. I know that's something you've been working towards.
CHARLIE WEIS: Let's start defensively. The one thing in this league that didn't take long to figure out that if you don't have athleticism in this league, you don't have much of a chance. If you don't have athleticism on defense, because they're going to spread you out and they're going to go fast and you're going to have to be able to play in space, and that includes the defensive linemen. You used to be able to play defensive linemen, just put big slugs in there, you can't do that anymore because you'll get gassed. People will just expose you right there. It used to be you could play with a middle linebacker that was a 250?pound bruiser. We have that Heeney guy who can run sideline to sideline, and in this league that's really what you need.
We feel this is the best obviously we have felt about?? when we hand out a roster and you look at that roster, you can see, most of you know the names, this is the best we've felt by a wide margin about the talent we have here.
Now, that being said, I mean, we've done very little to back it up, from me right on down. So we'll see where it goes.
Q. With the addition of King, does that affect how much you might use Tony at running back?
CHARLIE WEIS: Well, what Tony does is gives you an opportunity to get into different formations that the team has to decide whether or not they're counting him in their count. Are they counting him as a wide receiver or as a running back? For example, we could have Tony in the game and be in two?back sets, or we could have five wide receivers out there with him being one of the five wide receivers and being empty, but then we could be in any three?by?one or two?by?two formation with him being a back in the backfield. So it forces teams to have to figure out how are they going to designate him. Are they going to designate him as a full time wide receiver or are they going to designate him as sometimes he's a running back, sometimes he's a wide receiver, and that will give John?? it'll be very apparent how they handle that, and then John can adjust accordingly.
Q. Talk a little bit about TJ Semke.
CHARLIE WEIS: TJ Semke probably?? very few people know about TJ Semke here, okay. By the way, in the summertime he's one of those bail bondsmen that goes after those people. If I were going into a fight somewhere, if I were taking five players from this team to go with me, he'd be in that five for sure, okay. But all he's done is worked so hard that he's made everyone else better. Wait until you ask?? when you talk to Bolton here days down the line who made him improve the most in the summertime, the answer is going to be Semke because all he did was push, push, push. He has the respect of both the coaches and the players. Don't be surprised to see him on the field.
Q. Locally speaking what did you like so much about Joe Dineen playing over at free safety?
CHARLIE WEIS: Well, Joe Dineen has to decide whether he wants to be a DB or a linebacker because he could very well eat himself into a linebacker. A couple of good home?cooked meals and he's going to be a linebacker. But the one thing when I went and watched him play, I liked him on both sides of the ball, by the way. I liked him at quarterback, as well. And he would be an emergency quarterback if I ever got to that point, just so you know.
But with that being said, I mean, he was just a leader of their defense. I mean, he made plays all over the field. He's one of those heir apparents that, you know, just like Cassius right now, Cassius might not be the best player we have in the secondary, but he's clearly the leader of the secondary. He's the guy who's on top of everything, and you can see Joe Dineen evolving into that role, and I think in the secondary?? every good secondary has that guy, the glue, and I think that Joe Dineen has potential to be that glue.
And to throw one thing on top of it, I love the fact that he's local. I love the fact that he's home?grown and that he gets to play in his hometown and his family is ten minutes away or five minutes away. I think that's great for him and great for us.
Q. You've talked quite a bit about the need for athleticism in this league, but also looking at your depth chart, I see only two starters listed who are less than a junior. It's probably a long time since you've been able to say that around here. Talk about the effect of maturity.
CHARLIE WEIS: Well, I mean, we knew that there would be risk?reward. After we got in the program, we knew there would be risk?reward when we went with a high volume of junior college players the next year, way higher than you'd really want to be taking, okay, but because we did that, even with the guys that aren't here anymore, the foundation of our team has all played. For example, if you look at the secondary, with the exception of JaCorey Shepherd who was a receiver when I got here, he was a receiver at the time, okay, Dexter, okay, came back from junior college, Cassius came from junior college, Isaiah came from junior college, Kevin Short came from junior college. Now all of a sudden throw JaCorey in there with those guys right there, before you even get to Greg Allen and those guys, now all of a sudden you've got yourself some guys that are athletes that can play. That's why our team has expectations to be a lot better than most other people think.
Q. At this point in time do you see the progress from when you first got here to right now in fall camp?
CHARLIE WEIS: I certainly see it on defense, and I see evidence of it on special teams, and I think that offensively, I think what we're doing on offense gives us a better chance to win, and if I didn't think it gave us a better chance to win, we wouldn't have made the changes that we did. Bringing John in has been a big plus. I think bringing Kiesau in was also a big plus. I think those two guys have helped invaluably with us changing things that we're going to do on offense.
Q. A big element is what John does with the running game because of the misconception about the spread and people are saying it's a passing offense??
CHARLIE WEIS: He wants to run first, which that's one of the things I like the most when you have an athletic quarterback. See, the problem we had is the only time that we really ran the ball with the quarterback was when we ran it with Michael a couple years ago, but our passing game was so inefficient. You became so one?dimensional, you really weren't putting yourself in the best chance of winning, you were putting yourself in the best chance of controlling the ball. That's what you were doing.
I think now with John's mentality of wanting to run the ball first and having an athletic quarterback who can also throw it, now you've got a chance. You've got a legitimate chance.
And like I said, I had this long conversation with a couple of my buddies that are coaches elsewhere, and they said, why did you do this, and I said, because I think he gives us clearly the best chance of winning. I believe in what John's doing. I like the fact that it's a run?first mentality. There's other organizations, other schools that we play against that you know are going to throw it 70 times. Well, if we throw it 70 times, it means we're down by 50. I don't see us throwing it 70 times.
Q. In what ways is Cozart a better passer than Cummings, if he is?
CHARLIE WEIS: More accurate. It's really what it comes down to. Michael has got a cannon for an arm. I'm a big fan of Michael, and I think he's made drastic improvements. Michael is working to get better, and fundamentally he continues to work to get better on his accuracy. But we wouldn't be afraid to play Michael. We think we would win with Michael in there. But Montell has just shown to be better just in everything. That's why we named him the quarterback.
Q. Can you talk about your placekickers?
CHARLIE WEIS: I think it's really going to be interesting. When Matt made that field goal last year to win the game, that was both a blessing and a curse. Young guy, inexperienced, the whole school?? you can see Saturday night on the town for him was probably a good night, wouldn't you think? But after that his accuracy for the rest of the year was really bad.
Now, he has a pro leg, so he has every ability to be a front?line field goal kicker, okay. His whole summer was spent on being more dependable and being more accurate.
Now, with John Duvic coming in, he's going to have his work cut out because the one thing is he is accurate. Let's see what he does when there's 50,000 people in the stadium, though, too. Once again, it goes back to the quarterback?not?getting?hit conversation before. The field goal kicker when there's no one around, it's a lot easier to kick field goals than when there's a crowd there and the kick has added importance. But I think it's clearly between those two guys. We have other guys that could do it, but I think it's going to come down to those two.
Q. Can you talk about your three non?conference games?
CHARLIE WEIS: Sure. What do you want?
Q. Do you like the schedule? Do you like the way it lies out for you?
CHARLIE WEIS: I really don't worry about the schedule too much because the schedules are made like years and years in advance. I think that you've got to be respectful of everyone you're playing against. We've obviously done homework on every single team, and some teams you do different work than you do on other teams. Some teams have the same coordinators, some teams have new coordinators. You have one team that we're playing early in the year, their staff was in Toledo, so now you're watching Toledo tape.
It all depends, but I think that I love opening up with a game at home, and then we're going to go down to Durham to play Duke, and I think that that gives us a great opportunity because Duke is obviously a team that's on the uptick in the ACC, is on the rise, and I think that that gives us a great opportunity to put this road deal behind us. Everyone is going to tell us we have no chance. I don't think anyone in our locker room will think that way.
Come home against Central Michigan and then get ready for the Big 12 gauntlet, starting with Texas.
Q. A couple seasons now playing these Big 12 opponents, do you feel like you have a familiarity with what systems are run at the different programs and what you need to devote the most time to?
CHARLIE WEIS: Well, I mean, it depends on what school you're going against. For example, Texas, everything is new. It's our first game, everything is new. Different offense, different defense, okay. Same players, but everything is different.
So you do a personnel study on them and you actually study Louisville tape. But then they'll have played three or four games before you play them, so you're going to use the foundation of your scouting report that's going to be based on games that haven't been played yet.
Now, in other cases that's not the case. Sometimes you're playing against teams where the coordinators are the same and you can settle in on here's what they're good at, here's what they weren't good at, here's how they got exploited. How much time you spend on a time and analysis in the off?season is directly related to what are they going to do on offense and defense so that you can prepare accordingly.
Q. How is Beckmann spending his time?
CHARLIE WEIS: He played both guard and tackle in the spring. We knew that once Devon Williams got here we were going to put one of those two guys at guard and one of those two guys at tackle, okay, so Beckmann will know both guard and tackle. But we felt that he's clearly better than the other guys, enough to be in the two deep, and I want to get those two big guys, get them as many reps to see where we are with them early in the year, and I'm talking about both Devon and Larry. I want to get them out there, but once again, they walked in there, I'm not putting them first. That's not right, either. Let's see how it goes.
Q. You talked about wanting guys to have vocal leadership and all that. Is that the biggest thing, or has he made strides elsewhere?
CHARLIE WEIS: I'd like to think that based off his mannerisms and being settled in at tackle and how he picked it up in the summertime, and he's 290 plus, he's not like that 260 guy that ate himself to 290, now he's settled in to where he's at?? you know, Larry is 370, he's 290, so you can't hide the difference in the size. I mean, Larry, just to get around him takes some time. But I think Pat has not gone through the summertime just waiting for somebody else to come along and move ahead of him. I don't think that's his game plan. I think his game plan is you're going to have to work really hard to move ahead of me.
Q. So that was the deal last year, too, with Keba and Kevin Young and those guys? Do maybe some of these younger guys see that? Do you think they saw that and that rubbed off on them?
CHARLIE WEIS: It could have been. I never thought of it from that perspective. That could be it, but I didn't really give it that much thought.
Q. Are you saying you can just tell him that the quarterback has jumped bail thathe will continue as such?
CHARLIE WEIS: I think that's what his dad's company is. I think that's what they do, so that's his summer job, one of his summer jobs. He's tough. He's strong. I mean, we met yesterday, our meeting yesterday was on the strength and conditioning report from the summertime and our medical report from the summertime, so that's what we met with yesterday, both with Holsopple and with Murphy Grant to go over everyone.
In the book they ranked the strongest at every position, and the strongest defensive linemen was Semke. There's no phoniness there. That's based off of statistics.
The best part of that meeting, I have to tell you, is Holsopple makes these books of before and after pictures of their bodies. Now, their bodies are still ugly now, mind you, but to watch them where they were and where they've come, I mean, it's unbelievable. You look at some of these guys and you just can't believe it's the same person. I mean, some of them don't look much different, and you know that's not a good thing when they don't look much different.
Q. The pictures of the players, is that part of??
CHARLIE WEIS: Oh, yeah, but more importantly he gives me a copy where I can sit there and?? he wants to show me visual evidence of what a guy?? I'll cite an example of a player that we haven't talked about. There's a guy by the name of Ronnie Davis who's a backup corner. I looked at the picture before and the picture now, and it doesn't look like the same player. He was 172, he's 190. Doesn't even look like the same guy. I wouldn't know he was the same guy looking at his body. Watching a guy like Apa?? no, let's go with Ngalu who's starting at left guard, okay, watching how his body has become more toned. He was always a big guy but a little bit sloppy. You just don't see the same anymore. That's encouraging.
Q. When you are recruiting 17, 18 year old kids, is it difficult to look at them and determine if their body can develop and put on weight and tone up and thing like that?
CHARLIE WEIS: It's hard for me, it's not as hard for Holsopple. Guys who do this for a living, like linemen, I know that Parcells used to always look at a lineman's calves. If he had big calves, he was interested. If he didn't have big calves he wasn't interested. Or sometimes it would be a big ass. Seriously, if a guy had a thin butt, he wasn't interested because they were only going to be so big. So I mean, there are things, but that's why I lean on Scott. I trust Scott. When Scott says what do you think of this kid, he says, well, he could be a 300 pounder, I'm trusting that a year or two with Holsopple he's going to be a 300 pounder. I also have the reverse question: When a guy is way overweight, can we get him down, and he might say yes or he might say no. If it's no, then that ship sails and we let it go.
Q. Has Collins been removed or did he have any input on that?
CHARLIE WEIS: Did he have an input? No, we're not running a democracy here.
Q. What went into the decision?
CHARLIE WEIS: A better chance of getting on the field because he was not in the mix for wide receiver. Now, he's a height, weight, speed guy. You go through the measurements in the summertime, he's always like through the roof. But we're trying to get him the chance to get on to the field. As we looked at that position?? see that nickel position in this league better be somebody who can cover man?to?man, so where everyone wants the nickel to be some of the bigger guys, well, guess what, when they're matched up with those slot receivers, now you've got no chance.
Q. How much influence does John have on the offensive picture, your offensive coordinator?
CHARLIE WEIS: Everything.
Q. Nothing comes from you in terms of??
CHARLIE WEIS: Well, I give my evaluation of every position, but I let the position coaches determine the depth chart. I don't determine the depth chart.
Now, they might not see a guy in the same light that I see a guy. I mean, let me use an example: Jacob Bragg, okay. Right now he's coming in and he's the third center. Okay, from what I watched in the off?season, Jacob Bragg could contend. Now, would I like to red?shirt a freshman offensive lineman? You betcha, but not if he couldn't end up being a starter. You have to see if he goes by both Joe and Keyon before you get to that right there, but those are the type of things that I'd say let's make sure we give this guy a chance, see what it looks like, because sometimes position coaches are too quick to want to cut down to the guys who are just going to be playing in the games, and I think that you have to have some patience for the first week and a half to two weeks of training camp to make sure you don't do that so that you don't miss anyone, because you could miss somebody if you do that.
Q. Do you go back a little ways, when you first came in here, Ben Heeney was?? he had never started at linebacker before. He was kind of new to the position. When did you know that you had a front?line player?
CHARLIE WEIS: By the end of the first year. You know, first of all, his temperament is?? he's always the guy living on the edge, as you know. That's how he always played. But he's just grown so much. He really has, he's grown so much as a person. He's stepped up, and he's said to the team things that he's done wrong that he acknowledges, that he wants to do better because it's all about, for him, about winning. He's really, more than anything else, turned himself into a leader. There's no doubt that there's a bunch of guys on defense that want to be like Heeney, and that's now a good thing. There was a time a couple years ago that might not have been a good thing, but now they want to be like him, living on the edge, going 100 percent on every play, making plays. Then you've got a chance, because now they don't want to be outdone by him. That's a good thing.
Q. Have you compared him to Zach Thomas a few times?
CHARLIE WEIS: Yeah, because Zach Thomas, look, I played against Zach a whole bunch of times, and everyone said, he's too short, not big enough. All he would do is make every play, go to the Pro Bowl every year. Too short, not big enough. What did they say about Heeney? Too short, not big enough. Anyone who says he's not fast enough, they obviously don't watch the same games that I watch. I mean, because this guy is a legitimate front line player. I'm not reaching when I say that he might be as good as any defensive player in the league, period. I'm not reaching when I'm saying that. I truly believe that.
Look, I watch all the defensive guys every week, and I would want Heeney on my team.
Q. Is Watson a freshman who would have a chance to work his way onto the depth chart?
CHARLIE WEIS: I would say I've been very encouraged with Watson. I think that?? here's an odd couple relationship for you. Heeney has taken him under his wing. Seriously. Even in recruiting, they kind of hit it off. I think that Kyron would like to end up being Heeney when Heeney is gone, and right now based off of the conversation we just had with Russ ton, you'd want that. That's a good thing. Two years ago that might not have been a good thing.
But I think that the kid has got a lot of athleticism, he's got a lot of drive. He's done everything the right way, did well academically in the summertime. I'm very encouraged with Kyron.
Q. Talk about the changes out your window.
CHARLIE WEIS: It really looks good. I've watched all the things they had to do, and I think that when Shane came to me and talked about the possibility of doing it, one of his biggest concerns was them not being able to have it done in time. I actually had an experience that I could share with him because my first year at Notre Dame, we did the same thing. We ripped up a field that had a track, and by the first week of August, it was ready to go. I said, look, all I can tell you is I watched it happen, and I felt there was no way it was going to be ready, but now with all that extra turf, okay, one of the biggest issues I have is daylight savings time when it gets dark early, well, there's so much turf on that field. Do you know that Texas practices on their game field every day? So I could see everyone is worrying about all the spies that hang out up in the parking lot, right in that parking garage. Well, you could practice there every day if you wanted to because there's so much turf there now on that field, besides the fact that it looks so much better cosmetically, and that's before they even put up this new metal fencing that they're going to put up. I think it's a great start. It really is, it's a great start. I think it's going to be great for the football players, first of all, because the venue now has become much safer, and I think that visually for the fans it's night and day different.
Q. I read that Duke is the only BCS school that still has a track.
CHARLIE WEIS: Aren't they taking it out? I thought they were take that out if they didn't. I thought they were doing that last year. Did they take it out already, George? After this season they're taking it out. But I mean, I'm very happy.
Look, I understand the history, the track history at Kansas, and I think that you never want to slight that, but with Rock Chalk Park there, I think now it became that the track no longer was needed, and it just made it a better football venue.
Q. When you catch spies, do you just run them or do you report them to their conference or your conference?
CHARLIE WEIS: Actually a lot of times it's fans for other teams. It's not like coaches. We've had it all the time. Sometimes I just invite them into practice. Do you want to come in? Come on in. And then they don't know what to do. If you want to watch so bad, come on, come on. You want in? Come on, I'll let you in. Or there will be other times somebody will be up there and I'll just look up and might use a little New Jersey vernacular. I've been known to do that once or twice, too.
It's amazing, they hear me when I do that. And they always disappear. They're not there anymore.
Q. Do they ever have cameras going?
CHARLIE WEIS: I'm sure they do, yeah. You can't?? listen, I mean, you've got so many things to worry about that you can't spend a lot of time worrying about that. You really can't. We have great practice fields. They happen in an area where people can, if they want to do that, they can do it. There's not much you can do about it.
Q. Taylor Cox hasn't played in a while, and he's had multiple injuries or different injuries, I guess. Are you??
CHARLIE WEIS: He's just on an extra stretching program. Everything with him is chronic groin, chronic ham, where it doesn't get better. He's on a big stretching program to try to minimize those things. He's not the only one, but that's his real deal. He gets so tight because he's so muscular. Not that he wasn't on the stretching program, but now he's on an extensive stretching program.