Kansas vs. Iowa State: Charlie Weis Previews the Cyclones

John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

Charlie Weis talked about the seniors and this weeks home finale against Iowa State

Kansas Head Coach Charlie Weis

On Senior Night:
"Alright, let's get ready for Senior Night; (it's) this Saturday at 6 p.m. I see the student newspaper is well represented (at the press conference). I would expect that our student newspaper would be encouraging our students to show up in force on Saturday night. It's supposed to be a beautiful night. 6 p.m. is too early to go out. (The game will) get over about 9:30, you know, it's just about right. We've got over 30,000 people at this school; it would be really good if a whole bunch of them came and spent the evening with us getting ready for this game."

On Iowa State's coaching staff:
"Coach (Paul) Rhoads has been at Iowa State for four years. He's done a nice job. He's an Iowa guy; he fit the personality there, what they were looking for. And it's a nice mesh with him and Iowa State. They are a well-coached team: they're tough and they're hard-nosed. They are really an extension of his personality, from what I understand. Coach (Courtney) Messingham runs the offense and coaches the quarterbacks. Coach (Wally) Burnham runs the defense and coaches the linebackers."

On Iowa State's defense:
"The defense is ranked 34th in the country in the scoring defense, giving up just 23 points per game and I'd say that's quite an accomplishment playing in this conference. Unfortunately for them, they lost (linebacker) Jake Knott a few weeks ago. I think (he) is one of the best linebackers in the country; an outstanding player. I wish him well, (but) I'm glad he's not playing, but I do wish him well. Due to his injury, they've gone to much more of a nickel package, playing just two linebackers and a nickel back rather than just their 4-3 personnel. However, they still will play 4-3 personnel at times. The defensive line is led by Jack McDonough. He's a really tough person to move inside as the one-technique. He, along with (Cleyon) Laing at the three-technique, provides a pretty formidable challenge. The defensive ends are (Roosevelt) Maggitt and (Willie) Scott. They're kind of those tweeners, between defensive end and linebackers and bring a lot of versatility to their defense."

"Even with Knott gone, they have two outstanding linebackers. Everyone wants to talk about A.J. Klein because he leads the team in tackles. He now plays their boundary linebacker. But Jeremiah George, he's all over the field and he's become more prevalent at Mike linebacker, ever since Knott went out. As a matter of fact, he's fourth on the team in tackles. But in the last two games, he has 27 tackles. He's just been all over the field. If they do play 4-3 defense, (Jevohn) Miller will stay in as the field linebacker. But as of late, (Deon) Broomfield, another DB, has come in to play nickel. They've been playing a lot more with him on the field. The safeties are the heart of their secondary, with both (Durrell) Givens and (Jacques) Washington. Givens is second on the team in tackles and Washington is third. It's kind of funny, everyone talks about (Jeremy) Reeves' only being 5-foot-7, but he also leads the team in pass breakups, because everyone wants to throw at him because he's 5-foot-7. He's a competitive guy, who makes a whole bunch of plays. And opposite of Reeves, it looks like (Jansen) Watson won't be back yet; it looks like (Cliff) Stokes is still going to be starting as their field corner. Watson may or may not be back. We'll have to wait and see how that goes."

On Iowa State's offense:
"Now on offense - here's the key thing: they've got eight returning starters on offense, but all five of their offensive linemen. Usually I talk about the quarterback first or the skill players first, but I'd like to start talking about their offensive line. They are a physical, workmanlike, well-coached group of linemen. And together as a unit, they play very well. (Carter) Bykowski is their left tackle; he's 6-foot-8, over 300 pounds. (Ethan) Tuftee is their left guard. He's 6-foot-4, 310; he's a road grader. Their center, (Tom) Farniok, he's the lightest of the bunch at 6-foot-4, 290 pounds. At right guard, (Kyle) Lichtenberg is 6-foot-6 and over 300 pounds. And right tackle, (Brayden) Burris is 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, as well. So, it seems like every week we're playing a bunch of big guys. But the thing about these guys, they were all the starters last year, so they've been used to playing together for quite some time."

"And then we talk about quarterbacks. Everyone wants to talk about (Steele) Jantz and (Jared) Barnett. It looks like right now, Jantz is the guy, but we have to be ready for both quarterbacks. Jantz is the experienced guy; he's got a nice touch and he also is not afraid to run the ball. And they're not afraid to run it with him. He's a nice player. They've gone back and forth, but Jantz has played much more in the last few weeks. Barnett's played a lot (in his career), as well. You kind of have to be ready for both of them anyway. It's very similar at running back. They play (Shontrelle) Johnson and (James) White. They're both very similar in stature; they're both about 5-foot-8, 5-foot-9, about 190 pounds. They're both quick and they're both fast and when one guy is in there versus the other guy, sometimes you don't really notice the difference. They're both really, really good players."

"(Ernst) Brun handles the tight end position and he's 6-foot-3, 240 pounds. He's got nice hands. He is often flexed, so he's playing like a wide receiver position and they look to him as a threat on third down, because a lot of the time he doesn't draw as much attention as those wide receivers do. With the wide receivers, I usually start by talking about the big guys first. The guy I would mention first is (Aaron Horne). He plays their slot. He's all of 5-foot-8, 178 pounds, but he's quick, he's fast, he has good routes and he's an excellent slot receiver. And when you're playing multiple wide receivers, especially this group that plays three or four of them on almost every play, you need a dynamic slot receiver. This guy's definitely one of them. You know, outside of him, (Chris) Young will definitely play. And then, as of late, (Quenton) Bundrage has been playing the wide receiver. I don't know whether (Josh) Lenz will be back or not. If Lenz is back, I'm sure they'll go ahead and play him."

On Iowa State's special teams:
"By the way, Horne is also the punt returner, which should come as no surprise. Their kickoff returners are (Jarvis) West and (Albert) Gary. Then there's (Edwin) Arceo; he handles both the kickoffs and the field goals, where (Kirby) Van Der Kamp handles the punting and he averages over 42-yards a punt. And their long snapper is a good one, a guy by the name of (Spencer) Thornton. And I only mention the long snappers when they're good snappers, plus they're not slugs. That means they can run down the field and cover. And this guy, you have to account for him, because a lot of times you don't account for the center, they don't usually make a play. Well, this is a guy who'll run down field and make a play."

On the group of KU seniors:
"And my last note before we get going, being that this is the last home game, I'd just like to tell you how much I've appreciated this group of seniors that are going out. A lot of these guys are on their third coach. I can't even imagine that. During their timeframe going from, Coach (Mark) Mangino, to Coach (Turner) Gill, to Coach (Charlie) Weis and the trials and tribulations they've been through. They've gutted it out and bought in (to all three coaching systems). And, you know, there's two different ways as a coach you can approach guys when you're a new coach. There are some coaches that are under the mentality, ‘well wait until I get my guys in here.' Well, these are my guys, and I'll be there for them forever; whatever they need from me, within reason. I'll be there, I'll be there for them. I don't need to have recruited them and I don't need to have coached them (for very long) to respect them. And I hope that together with the coaches, the underclassmen and the fan base, I'm hoping we can provide enough inspiration and motivation to go ahead and knock off a touch Iowa State team and let them leave with a good taste in their mouths."

On when he first started to figure out the personality of his senior class:
"(It was) probably when we came back from summer vacation. When you're with them, you can keep your feet on them the whole time. Once I got in here, when recruiting was done, and you're around them all the time, it is a lot easier to monitor young men when you're around them all the time. It's totally different when you're not. So now it's the month of July and I'm vacationing and spending quality time with my family, I'm not really sure (what we have). Even though (strength and conditioning coach Scott) Holsopple's back at the ranch going through workouts, you really don't know what you're going to get when you come back. Every one of them (the seniors) looked better than they did when I left. Now, they're not very good looking to start off with, but they all looked better when I came back and that's usually the first major sign when you can see these guys want something good to happen."

On how difficult it was for them to adjust to a new coach:
"I've really never really had much confrontation, to be honest with you. In college or the pros, you'd be really surprised at the number of confrontations you have. There are very, very few. Usually, everyone wants the same thing and everyone has different approaches to how to do it, but there's very few times where players are confrontational."

On what he wants the seniors to remember about their experience at Kansas:
"First of all, their experience is not over yet. So I would like them to walk out of here with a good taste in their mouth. If all of a sudden, on Saturday night, all of those 900-game losing streaks and all that other stuff go by the boards, and you're partying on the field after the game, that's what they're going to remember. They're going to remember the camaraderie with their teammates. You don't focus on the bad things; you remember the good things; you focus on the good things. And there are still a couple of opportunities for some good memories yet to be created. Now philosophically, I think that they're leaving here well-rounded young men and I think when you go to school, the biggest thing that happens is you grow up. Growing up with just good things happening doesn't really prepare you for life. What prepares you for life is when you have to deal with good and bad and how you're going to persevere when things are bad and then how you handle it when things are going well. And they've certainly had more than their share of negative things that happened, but I think that (they will) walk out with their head high. I mean, you'll be a much better person down the road."

On his players' memories of playing at KU:
"One thing here that I think that I have to get ingrained throughout this system with players current, future and past is, this can't be about who you played for, this is what school you played for. You played for Kansas. You didn't play for (Coach) Weis and it's got to be about Kansas. It can't be about a coach. I think because there's been a number of coaches (here recently), it's been very eclectic and segregated, because it's always stereotype or grouped with a coach. I'd rather by the time I'm out of here have gotten that stigma out of the way and just have people glad that they went to Kansas to both matriculate and to play football."

On how important Dayne Crist's role was during the offseason:
"I think he was probably the most significant of the four fifth-year guys by far. Although, I think that all four of them have handled themselves wonderfully on and off the field, especially off the field. But I think that Dayne coming in and providing, not only his leadership, but it was, ‘this is the way you're supposed to act; this is the way you're supposed to carry yourself; this is what the expectation should be.' When you see a guy like that, you know there's a slam dunk that he's going to be successful in life regardless of whether playing football or doing something else, because he's got that special something about him that people want to follow. It's tough to create leadership. People are inherently leaders or they're not. You can't fake leadership; players will see right through it just like people in life see right through it. But he's a natural."

On if the fifth-year transfers consider themselves Jayhawks:
"I think that all four of those guys will always have a warm place in their heart for this school. I don't think any of them regrets coming here and I think that all four of them will always look at themselves as, I'm glad that I spent that year there. All four them wanted to all be First Team All-Americans, that's what everyone else does, right? They wanted to be undefeated and on First Team. That's what you aspire to. That being said, I don't think any of them regret being part of this institution."

On if he's talked to any of his seniors about playing at the next level:
"(I will in) December. I talk about that in December. Just like when my coaches want to start talking about the offseason; I say ‘we'll talk about the offseason when it's the offseason.' Right now, we're talking about Iowa State. So I then continue and tell them to shut up. We're going to talk about Iowa State."

On if any other players will be seeing their last games at Memorial Stadium:
"You mean in addition to (the seniors)? I've gotten to the point now in the roster where I can take a full recruiting class and I don't have to get rid of anyone to do that. So, for all you recruiting gurus, I have as many spots as (I need). I can take a full class plus two, because I can count two backwards. I know you've all been trying to figure out the numbers. I can take as many as 27 and I don't have to get rid of anyone with eligibility left to do that. Might there be some guys that decide to graduate at the end of this year that are redshirt juniors? Yeah, there's a couple that might do it, but usually those are guys that aren't playing anyway and have decided that football isn't the way to go. They want to go get a job and go start making money, which is why you go to college. I wouldn't know who they are at this time, because I've really talked to everyone just to ask them initially what their goals would be to see if anyone had planned that off the bat. No one's given that indication at this time."

On cornerback Greg Brown being a quiet leader of the defense:
"Well, first of all he's not quiet. I hate to give you the bad news. So, you have him wrong right off the bat. Maybe he's quiet around you. The one thing you have to understand, in this conference, playing corner is a miserable job. It's like being the defensive coordinator, because every week you have quarterbacks that are slinging it for 300, 400 or 500 yards and you've got some top-line receiver come and lineup in front of you every week, so that's a really tough job. Now on the flipside, not knowing where this is going, if he aspires to play on Sunday they (the NFL scouts) all get to see him, so they don't have to project what he can do, they get to watch him. I think that he'll probably have himself a chance and what he does with it is going to be up to him."

On the development of his younger offensive linemen:
"You saw (redshirt freshman) Luke Luhrsen got a little time in the game the other day and sometimes guys like that just go unnoticed. But we've started to sprinkle in more and more to get a little taste, we call it get your feet wet, where you just get a little bit of game action. Obviously, we have a couple of guys like, Randall (Dent) and Aslam (Sterling) who've been playing close to every snap in the game, so you don't count those guys, but there's been times this year where (Damon) Martin's played, now Luhrsen's playing some and (Pat) Lewandowski's moving along nicely. But Lewandowski's behind (senior) Tanner (Hawkinson) and for me to take Tanner out would be kind of a rough decision, just like, taking (Trevor ) Marrongelli out would be kind of rough."

On if having anonymous offensive linemen is a good thing:

"The whole goal is for no one to know who they are, because if no one knows who they are, that means they're probably playing pretty well. The only time you notice them is when they're getting beat. You don't notice them when they're blocking people. You notice them when they're getting beat. And you watch Tony run down the left sideline; you're not looking at Tanner's block, you're looking at Tony run down the sideline. So you notice it when somebody's running around the edge and sacking your quarterback, that's when you notice them. Or if there's a run getting blown up in the back, that's when you notice them. So you know, it's probably, of all the positions, the one where anonymity is the key to success."

On game-planning with a run-heavy offense every week:

"It's kind of challenging. It's almost exactly the opposite for me. I'm fired up for Monday figuring out, how are we going to run it this week? They (our opponents) know we're going to run it, we know we're going to run it, but you've got to stay one step ahead of the posse. Let's say we take last week's game plan where you rush for 390 yards and let's go put it against Iowa State. We would get the crap kicked out of us. They would dog us because they would have answers to those things. Now, that doesn't mean you don't run those plays, but you have to figure out a different way to run them. You still have the plays, but it's called window dressing. You dress them up, but you still want to, at the end of the day, you'll be able to do the things you're best at. I mean, a whole bunch of window dressing. There was a big, healthy order of it dialed up on Monday, so we've got a lot of it."

On Tony Pierson's performance after getting his elbow brace off:

"No, that's just what I thought that Tony would be able to do with how people are zeroing in on trying to stop James Sims. I think if you did it without James, and Tony trying to do it alone, it wouldn't be quite so easy. I think that it's a compliment to the guys up front, but it's a compliment to respect that they have to pay James, too. Because (defenses have to decide) what are you going to do? Just let him run up the middle while Tony's going to the outside? So it's a compliment to both of them."

On how close the team is to winning a close game:

"(Against Texas Tech) I felt that after Michael's run on fourth down, we should've put the game away in regulation. Now, like on the second play (from the Texas Tech 15-yardline), if you go back and watch the second play, you'd see that I'd be very annoyed (with the result) and you would know why if you would've really watched it. That play really should've been a touchdown. Now everyone wants to yell at me for throwing fade route to the end zone, but go watch the play. That's all I'll tell you. Just go watch the play. The reason why you call those plays is because you think it's going to lead to a touchdown, which if I could've diagrammed any more sure, slam dunk touchdown than that one, you were going to have to show me one. With that being said, after second down, I had enough confidence in my team to run the ball to the right. If we got the first down, fine, but if we didn't, I was going to have the ball in the middle of the field so that the field goal kicker could kick the ball down the middle of the uprights, which is what he did."

"So that being said, I must trust our team, because if I didn't trust our team, I'd have gone for it on fourth down. But hey, it didn't work out. And we scored a touchdown and (the defense) gets it to third-and-10, they make a play on the post, now they're down there and they score, they come back and score again and we don't. We end up losing. The players are going to know that you have confidence in them, because once you show the players that you don't have confidence in them, you're done. You're done."

On the team's effort this season:
"There have been a few games where I've been disappointed. I was disappointed in Oklahoma; I was disappointed in the second half against Kansas State; I was disappointed in the second half against Baylor. And obviously, I was disappointed in a bunch of those fourth quarters at the end when we had chances to win. But that being said, they're going against a top 20 team on the road, where everyone says we stink, that we don't have a chance, can't play with them, we're supposed to lose by 100. And somebody forgot to tell our guys. They didn't get the memo."

On what a win this week would do for the Jayhawk program:
"To be honest with you, it's not about the program this week. It's about the seniors this week. I selfishly take the team out of this one. I would want that for the seniors, not for the program. I mean, obviously, every win is going to matter to the program, but I'm dead serious when I say I want to win this game very, very, very badly this week, but not because of me and not because of the program. I want to win it for those kids very badly."

On if he will let some of the seniors give pep talks to the team:
"Well, I'll do some of those things towards the end of the week. Right now, it's all business. Right now, it's Tuesday; it's first and second down game plan. I don't really worry about those things until you get through Thursday. I mean, there is so much mentally - you know, installation and all that other stuff. There's so much that takes place in three days in a very little window, because of time constraints that you're under. You really don't have time to philosophically let guys get up there and talk for an hour. You just don't have time for that."

On if this year's Senior Day is different because of the circumstances this group has gone through:
"Well, it's different from my perspective, because I know one thing, I place significance on it. So, I don't know what's happened before, nor do I really care. I just know that I think it's important to me that these guys, with how things have gone, get shown some respect. That's more than anything else.:

On if Dayne Crist will start because it's Senior Day:
"Michael (Cummings) will start at quarterback. You know, I might play Dayne (Crist) in the game, but Michael will start at quarterback. Hey look, I brought Dayne in here. No one loves Dayne more than me. But this is about the team. There's no better way for me to honor those seniors, Dayne included, than to win."

On if the team's record is misleading:
"
Well, the players don't think this way, but my No. 1 goal, going back to what I said to everyone right in the beginning, was to make the team competitive. That was my No. 1 goal; the first thing I said is that I was very disappointed in the number of games that weren't competitive. And when I went around talking to the fan base around the state of Kansas, I said ‘don't leave at halftime; we'll fight for 60 minutes.' Hey, there's been spots of games where it hasn't looked that way. I mean, even in the Oklahoma game, look, you're losing by 100 at halftime; you give up a kickoff return (for a touchdown) on the first play of the second half. Then the whole second half is left to go at 7-7. That game could've been 100-0 if they threw in the towel. It really could've been that bad. It's already at forties to nothing, but you have a whole half to go. You have 29 minutes and 45 seconds, and you go 7-7 the rest of the game. So, it just goes to show you, the team doesn't throw in the towel. And I think when a team fights for 60 minutes, you always can respect them and I think that they've certainly earned my respect."

On this year's seniors being remembered as part of turning the program around:
"Well, they will be, because I'll make sure everyone knows it. Too many times, people like that are forgotten. I just got here, but you can bet that I won't forget them; therefore, I won't allow them to be forgotten."

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