Kansas Football 2013: Charlie Weis Passes Offensive Playcalling to Assistants

Jamie Squire

Kansas Football 2013: Charlie Weis Passes Offensive Playcalling to Assistants

Head Coach Charlie Weis
Opening Statement...
"Post TCU we get home early from an early game like that I have plenty of time Saturday night until Sunday morning, to analyze a number of things. I've basically been pretty pleased with how things have gone on the defensive side of the ball. Back in the off season when I made a bunch of changes with the staff, really put Dave (Campo) to oversee the defense and Clint (Bowen) to run the defense, and Buddy (Wyatt) and Scott (Vestal) to interject their ideas into the defense. I've just wanted to see how that all went and I've been pretty pleased with how that's all gone. I've been pretty pleased on special teams, everyone was all nervous when I said we didn't have a special teams coach. Everyone's got these different units and that's gone pretty well. Where I've been the most disappointed is on offense. And I went back and reflected how I put Dave, really from running the defense to overseeing the defense, where Clint could get involved with the actual running of the defense. And I sat there and I said to them, I really should be doing more of the same with the offense.

"So here's what I'm doing this week: Ron Powlus is going to run passing game, Jeff Blasko is going to be in charge of the run game and protections. And I'm going to oversee the offense. I'm going to be much more involved with the coaching of the skill positions which I think has been lacking, I've been a position coach at all these positions, quarterback, running back, tight end, wide receiver on the NFL level for multiple years. I think that some of the areas that we're deficient at I think I can lend an improvement. I'm not pushing any coaches aside, just getting more involved at all the skilled positions and letting Ron and Jeff worry about the nuts and bolts. Actually, yesterday on game plan day it was the probably the most refreshing day I've had in quite some time, because there was a much greater exchange of offensive ideas then there has since I've been here. Maybe that's the fact that when the head coach is also the offensive coordinator, sometimes guys can be stifled a little bit in making suggestions, that certainly wasn't the case yesterday. Some of you are under the interpretation that every coach is on the field. Ron's upstairs in the box, he's been upstairs in the box, he will stay up in the box. But now what's going to happen with this new spreading out of the distribution of labor, I will actually at the end of series, be more involved with coaching the quarterback position in between when the offense comes off the field and the defense goes on. So don't have a panic attack if when we're on defense I miss a couple of plays sitting over there, talking to the quarterbacks because that's the way I've done business in the past and that's the way we're going to do it now. Where there's no misnomer, or no confusion what went wrong, what went right, and what we're going to do differently moving forward. So that's quite a drastic change from how we've done on offense, that's basically what I did this year on defense, even though everyone didn't really understand exactly what I was doing, I'm very pleased with how that went, and I've kind of used that as my model moving forward for the rest of the season and this will be like this for the rest of this year. This isn't what we're using for just the Oklahoma game, this is how we're going to be doing business.

"Now I'll talk about Oklahoma for a bit. I obviously have a lot of respect for Coach (Bob) Stoops, he's not into his 15th year and has gone to 14 bowl games, 154 and 38, beat Kansas eight times in a row, three times here. He's had great success. They're ranked 18th in the country, they're 5-1 after their tough loss last week against Texas. They're really a solid team in all facets. He brought in his brother to run the defense, his defense is ranked 13th in the country, they're a good defense but totally different than what we went against last week. Last week we went against even cover for the whole game, this weekend it will be odd with a post safety three quarters of the time. They're totally different defenses. They're different mentalities, different style of play, they're both really good at what they do. We know about the defensive lineman who's hurt. (De Chuka) Ndulue is really their big stud, he plays on our right side at defensive end, Wade plays the nose and Tapper plays over on the left-hand side. I've been really impressed with (Frank) Shannon their field inside linebacker, No. 20. You'll see a lot of him, he's a really good player. The other inside guy, Alexander, the other guy I know a lot about is No. 19 Will Striker, they list him as a second inside linebacker, but he's their starting outside linebacker. I recruited a running back by the name of Matt Jones who's at Florida right now and Striker was on the team. Wish I would have gotten him to go to Florida, he's probably their most dynamic pass rusher, and you'll see even though he's not a real big guy, he's a very high motor and very good pass rusher. They've used multiple guys opposite of him last week, they went with a bigger guy, (P.L.) Lindley who played the Sam Linebacker because he's 250-some pounds, and Texas was trying to play that smashmouth game. We could see him and we could see Nickel. But the rest of those guys will all be there.
"Very solid secondary. It's really interesting, I've already have a lot of respect for (Gabe) Lynn at safety and (Quentin) Hayes plays the field safety. Lynn really runs that defense as the boundary safety. But I had a lot of respect for (Aaron) Colvin at corner. Didn't know nearly as much about (Zack) Sanchez, so many people we're throwing away from Colvin at Sanchez, Sanchez is making all the plays. He had like 15 pass breakups, he's really playing well.

"Over on the offensive side of the ball, Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell co-run the offense. I think Heupel is definitely the play caller. They're averaging 423 yards a game and 29 points and they average two and a quarter game rushing. They use a little less than half the time, they're another team that uses ten people like we got last week, they just don't do it as high of a percentage. Last week it was two thirds of the time, this week it's a little less than half the time. Everyone wants to talk about Blake Bell, everyone but Beau Bell his cousin on our team, doesn't want to talk about him at all. To be honest with you I've been very impressed. I didn't know what they were going to get when he started playing, here's a 6-foot-6 252 pound guy. I think that Oklahoma has done a nice job using similar to the way that Kansas State used (Collin) Klein. He's a power runner and because he's such a bull as a runner, it causes more people to load up the box, he's good at play action and he's completing 65 percent of his passes. They're doing a nice job with him, he's doing a very nice job for them. They play multiple running backs, they play (Brennan) Clay and (Damien)Williams and they play (Roy) Finch. Finch is the smallest of the three, he's also lightening quick, you'll see him back there as the kick-off returner along with Clay, they're the two guys who will be the kick-off returners. At wide receiver they play a bunch of them. I'll mention (Jalen) Saunders and (Sterling) Shepard, Saunders because he's their punt returner and Shepard because he stands out but they have a bunch of good players at wide receiver. And probably one of the biggest keys to their team that a lot of people don't give them credit for is (Trey) Millard, he's listed as their fullback or tight end, but he is the guy when they're not in 10 people that gives them all their versatility. He can line up as a fullback, he can line up as a tight end, he could move to a wide receiver, he's a really solid player. They could even give him the ball sometimes at halfback. I think he's really good. Gabe Ikard centers their offensive line, and centers literally and figuratively, he's the leader of that group. They're very big up front, (Kendal) Thompson and (Adam) Shead on the left side, and (Bronson) Irwin and (Daryl) Williams on the right. And I already mentioned the returners and they're set and ready to go."

On how coach Powlus and Blasko's position will change...
"He'll still run quarterback meetings but what happens a lot of time when you have a veteran coach, who has been running offenses for a long time, sometimes ideas, not by me personally, but sometimes you hold in ideas because the head coach/offensive coordinator has a bunch of them on his own. So now I let them put all their stuff up, I don't say anything yet. Before I put anything in addition to, I went through play-by-play, okay show me what, show me on tape. This gives them an opportunity to show me what they want to do and why and instead of me laying down the base of what we're going to do, now their ideas are the base of what we're going to do and I can just expand from that. It gives them a lot more input, and a lot more say of what we're going to do. I've always believed that our offense is run through the quarterback. And no one knows what our quarterbacks can and can't do better than Ron. Now Jeff is a really interesting person because at first he was working with Rob Ianello and Ron over at Akron. Then I brought him in there and he was with me 24/7. I couldn't get rid of the guy. I worked early to late and he was with me every second. He was like sponge and he was the guy who knew how I think better than anybody. So that's why when I came here I hired him, I knew exactly what I was getting and that has been more or the same now for the last year and a half. I think this will allow us some better coordination, but more than coordination, it's going to be more guys getting to interject ways of how can we improve the offense, how can we score more points. I felt that I had to back off a little bit, or else we're never going to get any better. It's not easy for me to do it this way, but I sat back and said I was willing to do it with Dave, why am I not willing to do it with myself. I'm willing to do it with him, and that's how I had to look at it, that's not an easy thing to do. But I'm doing it because I think that Kansas Football needs it. That's why I'm doing it, because I really don't care about my ego. I just want to get better and win. That's all I want to do."

On if he was impressed by the assistant coaches' creativity...
"The ideas were good. I had to shoot a lot of ideas down, I had to humble the coaches some. I would say the definite foundation of what we are doing came from the assistant coaches. Jeff (Blasko) met with Tim (Grunhard) and Reggie (Mitchell,) and Ron (Powlus) met with Rob (Ianello). They sat and discussed things and then presented everything to me. We have had some pretty late nights because we are not doing well enough on offense. You can sit here and blame the players all you want, but the bottom line is, our job is to figure out how to make it better. We will see how this goes."

On if the coaching changes were a direct result of the TCU game...
"Every week, I think about different things after a game. How am I going to make the team better is all I worry about after the game is over. I sit there and think of different things I can do. Everyone is will be sitting there analyzing the game we just played, I am worried about the next game. I will watch the tape the next morning and that is when I will do my analysis. We are not moving the ball well enough, we are not changing field position enough, and we are making critical errors at the wrong time. We told our team going into the game that we were going to play conservative, we were going to punt a lot. Unfortunately, that was true. All it let us do was let us be in a close game in the fourth quarter because the defense had four turnovers."

On Aslam Sterling's transition at right tackle...
"I think within the next couple of weeks, that niche will be a lot more comfortable for him than the left side. That transition of just getting used to putting your right hand down instead of your left. He is a right-handed player and they usually like to play on the right side."

On any potential pitfalls with new coaching setup...
"There are not pitfalls. It is more of an open-exchange between the head coach and the offensive coordinator. In a 20-hour work week, there is only so many things you can do. I think it will be a better utilization of our resources."

On any adjustments the players would notice with the new coaching setup...
"There won't be an adjustment. The only adjustment for them is that I am in their position meetings now. That is not a good thing for them. The individual workouts, I used to not be as involved with, but now I am much more involved and that is not a good thing for them (the players) either."

On the ability to develop players...
"I think that question doesn't have the same impact this season seeing as how we have so many juco guys. As we transition to being a high school recruiting force supplemented by juco guys, it is a totally different environment. When you have a guy for four or five years, it is different than when you only have them for a year or two. Look at Isaiah Johnson, he is playing pretty good. He walked in the door and he was on the field. Look at JaCorey Shepherd now versus a year ago. He was horrible last year because he was a wide receiver playing corner. Now, he is a corner playing corner. I think that really comes with the development of your young guys."

On stabilizing the offensive line...
"I think the best thing that happened is that Gavin (Howard) solidified the interior part of our offensive line. I am not saying he played wonderfully, no one played that well for us. You watched the game and you probably didn't notice that position during the game, and that is a good thing. We have not made any other changes since. I think that each week you can go with the same group of guys, you are one step closer to building up some chemistry."

On if the conservative approach is the best for the program...
"You have to play to the strength of your time, and right now, that is the defense for us. If you can allow the defense as much as you possibly can to play on a long field, you will have a good chance to win the game a lot of times. Until the fourth quarter, field position was not in TCU's favor. Almost the whole fourth quarter was played with us backed up on our end, or them punting from their 40-yard line. We were never able to flip field position in the fourth quarter. Even though it was a seven-point game, they never were in danger because we couldn't flip the field. Conservative was the approach for this game because I didn't think they were going to score that many points on us. I thought we matched up well, defensively, against TCU. With the exception of that one unfortunate play early in the third quarter, I thought our defense played pretty well."

On Montell Cozart being on the depth chart...
"Montell is one of the few candidates for a redshirt that we haven't come close to making a decision on yet with seven games yet to go. People talk about pulling redshirts off, but really we haven't put the redshirts on. I think that once we get past the halfway mark of the season that's when the conversation begins. If a kid can be involved for half a season sometimes it makes him more prepared to play the next year. I would not put him on the depth chart if he wasn't a legitimate candidate to play this week."

On seeing development in Montell...
"I've said right from the fall I'm really high on Montell. Sometimes people think he's just an athletic quarterback so they're just going to run with him, but he can throw good enough, trust me."

On evaluating a quarterback...
"Usually it comes down to two major things. Leadership is your intangible quality and accuracy is your tangible quality. Now in today's game athleticism goes right along with those things, but I think that those two qualities go a long way. Every good quarterback that I've ever been associated with has had those two qualities."

On if offensive ideas end at game time...
"What happens is when things are going well in a game you get all sorts of people with suggestions, but when things aren't going well those phones are really quiet. You'll say do you have anything and it'll be so quiet you could hear a pin drop. That happens on every level though if things aren't going well you ask if anyone's got something and you'll get no response. If things are going well you got 15 ideas with people saying why we don't do this or that. Everyone is on the same page, but human nature for assistant coaches is if you're doing well they're right there with you, but if things aren't going well they're waiting on you to make the call."

On if he expects more involvement from coaches with the new setup...
"I think that I'm going to have to make sure I let them do their job. In other words if I'm letting one guy be in charge of the passing game and another guy in charge of the running game I need to make sure that I let them do their job. I need to go along with the flow and that will be the toughest part for me, but I think it's the only way we can get better. I think one of the problems is too many times coaches' ego's get in the way of what's best for the program. I think you need to sit here every week and think about what can we do better. Last week it was we're going to play conservative and run the ball because I didn't think they would score many points on us and we'd have a chance to win in the fourth quarter. That's what happened, we didn't get it done and it wasn't good enough, but that's what last week was. Now this week we need to make some changes on how we do business. I've reflected on the changes I made on defense and they've come along nicely so I think I need to do the same on offense.

On the day-to-day players...
"If they were going to be out for an extended period of time I wouldn't have them on there and if I knew they were going to play this week I wouldn't have them in parentheses. There are about a half dozen of them, for example Tony Pierson has already passed his concussion test, but he's still having headaches. He could be fine tomorrow and play this week, now I wouldn't bet on it. In every one of those guys it's either not as bad as I thought they were or it's not as good as I thought. It's all the timing of things that makes it day to day because it depends on the severity. I don't know for sure when those guys will be back. I sit with Murphy Grant every morning at 6:30 and we meet and that's where we are.

Does having day-to-day players make planning harder...
"You plan with them not being there. All those guys I plan for them not being there, that's why you see Jake Love playing middle linebacker and that's why you see Courtney Arnick listed as the will linebacker instead of the second nickel. You have to plan as if they won't be there. It's easier to interject them in than to plan with them being in and them not being able to be in. That's where you'll catch yourself in a bind."

On Love's response to losing his spot and on Love in general...
"He's the exact same person every single day, doesn't say anything just works his butt off every day. He doesn't get moody. He practices hard every single day. He knew that in one case it could mean fewer reps at linebacker would mean more reps on special teams. He knew he would still get his 30-40 reps a game it was more of a where will he get his reps this week. Jake is a valuable member of our team and he's also a guy who's very consistent."

On hoping for similar improvements on offense as he had in defense and special teams...
"We're trying to hit the trifecta. I will do anything, absolutely anything, if it gives us a better chance of winning except for cheating. Cheating I will not do, but I will do anything else. If it gives us the best chance then we'll ride it out and see how it goes."

Tight Ends Coach Jeff Blasko
On if he is more open to sharing ideas...
"I think at times I was reluctant to open my mouth, but now that I have the freedom to do so, I think it obviously helps."

On how his day-to-day job changes...
"Sunday is the day that changes quite a bit. Now it's myself, it's Tim Grunhard, it's Reggie Mitchell, barricading ourselves in the meeting room, bouncing ideas off of one another and then presenting them to Coach on Monday morning after we meet. Throughout the day on Sunday, we'll bounce those same ideas off of Ron (Powlus) and Rob (Ianello) to see if it marries up with what they are trying to do with formations in terms of the pass game."

On cohesiveness between the coaches...
"I think it is very critical. You can't have too much of a grab bag operation. When you're looking to do this in the run game and you are looking to do this when you throw the football, I think you have to marry it up and make it look the same to the defense."

On if he has ever worked closely with the running game...
"When I was at Akron, I was working closely with the line and when I was at Florida I worked right beside coach Weis there and worked with the quarterbacks. Because he was the coordinator he was working with every position, so I got exposed to a lot of it there too, with protections. I have a pretty good understanding of what's going on across the board."

On if this new position adds any more pressure and motivation...
"For me I always have that same motivation to get it right. For me personally it is a great opportunity to have this responsibility, but at the end of the day, I want to do everything I possibly can to get this program moving in the right direction."

Quarterbacks Coach Ron Powlus
On the coaching changes...
"Coach has always been open to ideas. It's just the way we presented them was a little bit different this week. He has always been open to ideas because we are always looking to put the offense in the best position on the field to move the ball and score points, so it is a very collaborative effort. Coach has and will continue to have the final say on the things we do, but we all work together and we did this week no different."

On if he was more open to sharing ideas...
"Yeah, part of the deal was to put some ideas out there and see where we go with them. AS you talk through them and you present them to the staff and the head coach, you see some things that aren't so good, maybe this is a little better, let's do it this way. Just because an idea comes up and you say that's a good idea, doesn't mean that's the end of the idea. Clearly things evolve as we talk and sit there all day long and get input from all different perspectives. Maybe it all generated a little differently, but in the end it a huge portion of the ideas came from the group and a huge portion of the ideas for what we are doing came from coach Weis. He clearly has a lot of input in what we are doing."

On working together with Jeff...
"We will be doing things together. We like this formation, we like this personnel; we are presenting the same picture to the defense. That's where Jeff and I can work together with everybody, but that's where he and I might sit together and say how can we make this look the same, how can we present this to the defense and that is a little more the coordination we will be doing."

On freshman Montell Cozart's progression...
"Mentally it is a big leap learning an offense and learning defense, coming from high school and moving on to the college level and seeing things for the first time and the speed of the game and all those things that you have to adjust to. He has adjusted nicely. He is in an awkward role because he sees what's going on in the game plan, but he doesn't get a lot of reps. In the time since we first got Montell through camp and what we've seen right now, he has progressed as a passer, he has progressed as an athlete, he has progressed as a thinker of the game in our offense. He has been able to execute mentally on the board what we have been doing every week and that is a part of it. You want to prepare all your guys to be ready to play, whether there is a plan for them to play or not. You want them to know what to do, what the game plan is, how to execute it and he has shown to be very proficient at that on paper and that is really where his progress has been made so far."

On Jake Heaps...
"Jake, like everybody on offense, has areas he can improve on. Jake has great leadership, he's got a great work ethic, he has very good quarterback skills, he has abilities to make perfect passes. At the same time, he has gotten out of whack on a few plays and on a few occasions. He knows that and that is part of his evaluation process of how he can get better play-to-play and day-to-day, how can he become a better quarterback for our team. I'm not concerned with where Jake is right now, I want to see him progress and continue to get better, just as he does, so he can continue to drive the offense."

On what gets Jake Heaps out of "whack"...
"It is a variety of things. It's not one thing. Football and offense is a very intricate team sport. There are a lot of things that have to blend well and each position has their role in making that happen. That's how things can get out of whack. If something is out of whack here, then the quarterback is off, sometimes somebody else is off, sometimes the timing is off, there are always things that you are working on to make it better. When a play doesn't work, it's not always because the quarterback was wrong. It's not always because the protection was wrong. Maybe the quarterback could have altered the protection to protect himself better. There are a lot of things that go together and sure there are a lot of things to improve on for everybody and Jake isn't immune to that, but Jake has also done a lot of good things that we want to keep building on."

On if Jake tries to be too perfect...
"That is something that I have talked to him about, because he does strain. The kid is in tears after every game that we aren't winning. He is straining so hard to make the offense work and to have success and to make our team win and sometimes you try too hard and you lose your timing and your sense of rhythm and you make a throw that you maybe shouldn't have made. That's where you can get going down a straight path, but you have to stay focused on the task in front of you."

On the advantages to a mobile quarterback...
"There are a lot of variations of offense now and people that are using athletic quarterbacks are using it to their advantage to put different pressures on the defense. The whole game of football is about finding advantages and taking advantage of an opportunity or a situation. When you are using a mobile quarterback, you are trying to put a different kind of pressure on the defense and certainly you see it in the Big 12. It's a theory it's a mentality, it's a style of play that people are using and people are having success with. It's not the only way to have success, but specifically in the Big 12 there are teams having success with it."

On if this new position adds any more pressure and motivation...
"I think it's pretty clear that we are all in this together and we are all doing what we can to make progress and create and environment of success and I don't think there is a better example than coach Weis doing this. He wants to do anything he can to put us in position to have some success. Cleary there is no ego involved, this is all about how do we create some success? How do we make progress? How do we move forward? I think it's commendable and impressive of him to try to take any steps possible to have some success."

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