Kansas coach Charlie Weis discussed the spring football game as well as the spring season as a whole following Saturday's event. Offensive and defensive MVP's Tony Pierson and Michael Reynolds were also available to the media.
Kansas head coach Charlie Weis
On senior quarterback Dayne Crist:
"Well, he could make every throw. He didn't look too rusty to me. He completed 11 of 19, but we had three dropped balls and a couple that in a game would have been called pass interference. They go down as incompletions now, but I thought he slung it around pretty good. He knows the offense, he knows how to run the operation, he can get us out of trouble when it's a bad call. I was generally pleased."
On the defense:
"You saw the problem that we've had all spring: we're really thin at the defensive line. Even though we're rolling those guys through there, there's only so much we can do. We need to get an influx of people. Some of those guys will be playing and some will be moving way down the depth chart. We need that influx. Obviously, the Blue (Team) defense executed a much crisper performance than the White (Team) defense, but that should've been expected."
On Defensive MVP sophomore LB Michael Reynolds:
"Michael Reynolds is one of the guys here who has the ability to come off the edge with speed. He's a fast guy. Whether he's playing outside linebacker or defensive end, he has edge speed. We don't have that many guys right now that have that type of speed. If he can figure it out, he'll really be able to help us."
On Offensive MVP sophomore RB Tony Pierson:
"I told him that in the holes that big, he better be able to score a touchdown. I also told him that there aren't that many guys that run 88 yards. Tony is dangerous in space. When he's in space, it's a problem."
On if he accomplished the things he wanted to in the Spring Game:
"There were a lot of things that happened today, but it looks to me that we walk out of there without anything new (injuries) other than bumps and bruises. That, as a head coach, is almost the No. 1 priority. Maybe something will come up, but I'll be surprised. That being said, there were a lot of things that happened today that made this a good day. First of all, the big guy upstairs helped us with the weather. It was a beautiful day out there. It makes it a lot easier being out there for the Spring Game when the weather is decent. The fans were great. Our players were involved with that kids deal this morning. That was awesome. There were 400 kids over there being coached by our players. I can't tell you how many people we've already heard back from about how great that was. I think the players have to learn that there is more to life than just them. It's what they can do outside of here. We just talked about community service when we were down in the locker room a couple of minutes ago. I told them I would approach that subject more when we come back later on. Right now, I'm more concerned with them finishing the semester and taking their exams. Then we get a bunch of recruits in and a bunch of our guys that signed from last year in. This has been a pretty busy day."
On sophomore Marquis Jackson transitioning from wide receiver to running back:
"That was one of the reasons I wanted to get the ball to him a bunch of times today. When I moved him there, everybody thought, ‘Well he's just moving him there because of the (James) Sims incident.' But actually, Marquis has big size and is cutting weight to be 215-218 (pounds), and was a high school running back until he was a junior when he was converted to wide receiver. He was down a little bit on the depth chart at wide receiver, but I'm looking at this big, good-looking, physical kid saying, ‘He looks like a running back. He doesn't look like a wide receiver.' I sat down and talked to him. I said, ‘You played running back.' He said, ‘Yeah, I was a running back.' I said, ‘Good, because you're a running back again.' He seemed to make a fairly smooth transition. The only thing I'm going to have to decide is what weight I want him. He is a tweener half-back, but he also could be a full back. He could very easily be 230 with a couple of cheeseburgers. You could see he's got some natural running instincts. He's a physical presence. I thought he ran the ball hard down hill."
On where the team stands now:
"I think we've taken a bunch of steps, but I think we have a bunch of steps to go. Too many times, coaches give you some kind of phrase to sugar coat it, but for us to be competitive on a weekly basis, we have a lot of work to do. Offensively, we're ahead of our defense, but I truly believe that we're going to be much improved on defense. Not only philosophically, do I believe in what they're doing, but I do believe that with some of the guys coming in interjected with the people here, we'll be much improved."
On the competitiveness of the game:
"I could have created some situations to have the game closer. I didn't have to call reverses and I didn't have to call flea-flickers, but the fans want to have some fun, too. Jake Heaps' first throw here is a flea-flicker. I didn't have to call those things, but part of the Spring Game is to have fun, too, and I think maybe the Blue Team had a little bit more fun than the White Team. A lot of guys had the opportunity to make plays that either did or didn't, and it will show up very clearly when we watch the tape."
On if Reynolds has started to figure it out during the course of the spring:
"He has been up and down. Some days he's been really good and some days he disappears. We've had that conversation several times of which Michael Reynolds are we going to have today? There was a play last week where we had three different coaches coach him on the same play about going full speed. Then at the end of practice, I called Michael out, but not in a negative way. I said, ‘Michael, do you realize why you have three different coaches calling you out? Because you're one of the guys here that can make that play. That's the reason they are saying anything. If they didn't think you were good enough, nobody would be talking to you. They would just ignore you.' My whole coaching point to him is that he's going to be one of the guys to really help us and hopefully today is just another step in him turning the corner."
On how he chose the Spring Game roster:
"I had Jake Heaps as a backup quarterback because Michael Cummings right now would be our second quarterback. You want to see a guy get legitimate snaps to see where he is at as we move forward. Of all the factors we could say, that would probably be the one that I could have changed, but that doesn't help our team. That doesn't help our team get ready. Michael needed the reps because he's going to be the one competing to be No. 2 right now. Jake's not going to be competing this year."
On RS freshman QB Michael Cummings:
"Too many times, people get stereotyped. People want to say, ‘Mike is the athletic quarterback.' Well Mike has a cannon for an arm. He's not tall, but he has a cannon for an arm. Him throwing the ball is not the issue. His experience is the issue, but he's a freshman. He's only been here one year, so that's part of the process. He can make every throw. Now we have to get him more fine-tuned in running the offense."
On the progression of the wide receivers this spring:
"I'll just talk about the spring. I've been pretty pleased with the competition at wide receiver. I'm pretty pleased at the depth too. Going into the summertime, I'm not going to lose any sleep about having enough contenders at wide receiver. We will have enough guys to catch the ball."
On if he was able to insert all of the packages he wanted to this spring:
"The only packages I really had to hold completely were the ones that are dictated by loading up on offense and loading up on defense with multiple tight end groupings. I just didn't have enough tight ends to do it, so there is no sense in doing it now. There are different packages that you can expose some people with. There are going to be games this year where they are going to fast break on every play on offense and you want to slow the pace of the game down. You want to take the air out of the ball. You want to slow the pace down so that your defense isn't out there huffing and puffing on every play. We have tight ends coming and defensive linemen coming. We have guys that we are counting on to be in the mix that aren't here yet. So instead of putting those packages in, we just held them. When those guys come in here we will go ahead and get them in. I'd say we have a good chunk in,in all three facets: offense, defense and special teams."
On if the defense has seen the trick plays that were run in the spring game:
"Yes, but you see what happens in practice is you don't rush. Everyone wants to be an All-American in practice. It's like when you call a screen in practice and no one rushes and then they make the play and everyone cheers. Then, you run the play in a game and everyone is 10 yards behind the quarterback and the guy with the screen is running down the field by himself. Yes, we run the reverse and yes, we ran the flea flicker in practice."
On how he will use senior linebacker/defensive end Toben Opurum:
"What we did with Toben today- because we wanted Toben to play every play-we made him a cross between a defensive end and a Sam linebacker, because that's what he's going to be. In this league not very many people play regular offensive personnel groupings. Toben's natural position is as a Sam linebacker. In offensive philosophy, no one plays (a style that would require the defense to use a Sam linebacker) so you'd be wasting a good player by just making him a full time Sam linebacker. If you played against a team that loaded it up and tried to pound you, he'd be a Sam linebacker."
On how many touches he plans to give sophomore running back Tony Pierson each game:
"I'd say that you want to on a weekly basis try to limit his touches to mid-to-high teens. Everyone wants him to touch the ball 20 times, but that's not good coaching overall. If he carries the ball seven times for 141 yards, I'll take that. If I come in and you call me dumb after a game, I'll say, ‘Ok, I'm dumb then.' I'll take those numbers. There is going to be a game or two where you have to give it to him, but on a weekly basis you want him to be there for the next game. We have enough running backs to spread the wealth a little bit. You don't have to wear him out."
On if he has seen in a change in the culture of the football team:
"I want to handle that a little bit delicately because what I don't want to do is slight anyone here before me. Let's just say that there is a certain way that I expect things to be done and I want those ways permeated down through the assistant coaches and the leadership through everyone that this is the way I expect things to be done. There are several different ways that you can run an organization. I just think that they are starting to figure me out more. That's probably the most important part of my answer to your question. I'm easier to read now. They are not used to people coming in and just saying it to you. They are used to coaches playing mind games where you have to try to figure out what the coach is thinking. That's my deal. That's not what I do. Here's basically how I do it. Let's say we just lost a game by 28 points. I will come in here (to the media room) and try to take every bullet that I possibly can. Just so you already know, that's what I am going to try to do so that they are deflected so they are not hitting (the players). Once we get behind closed doors, then I start firing them. I just believe that that's my responsibility as head coach. As I tell them, ‘I'll gladly take the bullets for you, obviously we're talking figuratively, I'll take the bullets for you, but just know that I am going to spread the wealth when we get into a private setting."
On if he feels the team is more disciplined now than when he first arrived:
"Anytime you come in as a head coach, you have certain expectations about how things are supposed to be done. All I can say is that that is the way it's going to be done. Right or wrong, that's how it's going to be done. When you're the head coach you get to make that decision. I think that the team understands how I am going to react to most situations. There are going to be things that we haven't been exposed to yet, but they will know very clearly how I am going to react. I think it makes it easier to move forward."
On how he feels about his coaching team:
"It's very cohesive. You would expect me to say that anyway, but I think more than anything else, and I noticed this more last night than I did today-last night we invited all of the ex-players back for a cookout. There were hundreds and hundreds of ex-players here last night and I just kind of watched. I talked to tons of ex-players, but as far as watching the staff, they get along. It's nice to see. You feel you know what you are hiring, but it's nice to sit back and watch it. I think that's more important. I think we're headed in the right direction there."
On when he expects to hear about Justin McCay's eligibility:
"They said by May 2. The never ending saga, but they told us by May 2. Just like I said last time, as soon as I had something you guys had it shortly thereafter. When I have, he'll know about it first and then I'll get it out there as quickly as I can."
On if he is optimistic about McCay's eligibility:
"When they sit there and say no, but do this. They say, ‘We're saying no now, but this is what you should.' I think that they would like for this to be yes. That's what I think."
On how he felt about the fan turnout:
"I don't know the numbers, but the numbers weren't as important as the engagement. I thought the crowd was engaged. They weren't just there for a sunny day. They were into the game. We will work on those bigger numbers as we get close to September, but they were engaged and I think that's a good thing."
On the ceremony honoring former Kansas coach Don Fambrough before the game:
"It's funny because I had to ask a little bit about that this week so that I wasn't caught off guard about whom I was going to be talking about. I think it's pretty cool when somebody's greatest passion is to detest your most notorious rival, I think that's always a good thing. Not knowing the guy, I think that we would have gotten along just fine. There were some of the old timers that had no problem giving me the story last evening so I heard it a little bit more in-depth."
Defensive Game MVP, sophomore LB Michael Reynolds
On playing his position:
"I am very comfortable with it because it gives me the chance to stand up, rush the passer and play in coverage."
On team cohesiveness:
"We are coming together and building team chemistry. We are progressing and we are going to continue to do that through the summer in order to be ready for the fall."
On the coaching staff believing in his abilities:
"It is a real honor because they just want the best for me and they know my abilities. They told me that their expectations are better than what my expectations for myself are, so they want me to work harder and meet those expectations."
On the team's conditioning:
"It was a little tough because we are so limited right now but we were able to get the rotation our coaches had. It is most important, especially in the fourth quarter and the game is on the line, you have to have the energy and the mental toughness to play through it all."
On being able to hit the quarterback come the fall:
"It is going to feel great because it is frustrating when you get to the quarterback and can't tackle them. Once fall gets here, that is what I will have been really waiting for."
Offensive Game MVP, sophomore RB Tony Pierson
On his performance:
"I thought it was a good game today. I was able to show off a little bit - I was able to show the crowd some of my speed."
On his 88-yard touchdown run:
"The line had a good block, and that was all I needed. I saw the hole and I took off. (I knew I would score) once I saw the hole."
On Dayne Crist:
"Dayne Crist had nice leadership - he looked like he had been running the offense for a long time. He knows everything about the offense."
On what Crist does to be such a good leader:
"He is a vocal leader in the locker room. He shows good leadership on and off the field. That is very positive."
On Coach Weis:
"He kept the offense balanced - running the ball and passing the ball. He had good play calling today."