Kansas Football 2013: Charlie Weis Provides Spring Update

USA TODAY Sports

Charlie Weis met with the media on Tuesday afternoon to provide an update on the ongoing Spring football season for the Jayhawks.

Head Coach Charlie Weis

On if Jake Heaps is the starting quarterback:
"I would say that he's the man to beat out. I put him first (on the depth chart) for a reason. If I thought he deserved to be second right now, I'd put him second. One of the obvious questions I'd have to ask myself if I were sitting in your seat would be `How could you put guys first (on the depth chart) ahead of guys who played last year?' My answer is we were 1-11 last year, and I'd prefer not to be 1-11 again. If I think certain guys are better than other guys, I'm putting them ahead. We have new guys coming in the summer time. Guess what? If I think those guys are better than the guys who were practicing in the spring, I'm putting them ahead of the other guys. There are at least a half-dozen on defense that have a chance of being on the field the first play of the game when we play in September. When you're 1-11, you don't worry about being in love with anybody; you put the best guys out there, whoever they are. That's the only way you're going to get better."

On what he's done differently this year compared to last year in spring practice:
"People want to talk about changing the culture (of a program), I don't call it changing the culture. It's cleaning out the program. Let's not say that all with a negative vibe. Cleaning out the program meant top-to-bottom. If you don't want to be here, leave. I could care less whether you're here or not. Either you're a Kansas guy, or you're not a Kansas guy. Don't talk to me about the depth chart; if you want to move up on the depth chart, go play better than the guy ahead of you. It's a very simple philosophy. I am totally unsympathetic to any player that wants to come in and talk about the depth chart, I'm not interested. Don't bring it up. Go play better than the other guy and you'll move up.

"But it wasn't just that. It was the expectations in the classroom, it was the expectations socially; we got rid of 29 guys, you think about that, 29 scholarship players and a lot of them were guys that were really playing. When you're making that much of a commitment to wiping out the program, then obviously the question you ask is `where do we go from here?' As we do that, you keep in mind that your ultimate goal is for all of your guys to graduate. Now, while you're doing that, you want them to play football at a high enough level that you can improve the state of the union of Kansas football. That's why Huldon Tharp is in school right now. He wanted to walk away, but I wouldn't let him walk away. I said to him `you come back here and graduate.' What would have been the point of going to school all that time if you don't graduate? That defeats the whole purpose. You have 100 guys on your team, if 10 of them play a down in the NFL, that's a high percentage. If 10 percent of them play, that's a high percentage. But now, we've gone through our 1-11 and getting rid of the 29 guys and changing the culture academically. Now they know me and I know them a whole lot better than at this time last year and there's really no gray area any more. It's all black-and-white; it's either this way or that way. There's no `how am I going to look at that?' they know how I'm going to react. If you ask them a question of what my reaction is going to be, they know what my reaction is going to be. There's no guessing game here."

On if it's comforting to be in the same place two years in a row:
"I could have stayed at those places too, it just didn't work out that way. I didn't choose to leave Notre Dame, they chose that for me. I went to the Chiefs and my daughter had a bad experience there, so that's why we left there. I went to Florida and really had no intentions of leaving there, but after talking to Dr. (Sheahon) Zenger a few times, I just felt like this was a place that I wanted to be, and want to be for a long time. Now, if I want to be here for a long time, there are a lot of things that have to change. One them is we have to start winning more football games. That would be a good place to get to this year."

On DL Ben Goodman being a player on the rise:
"First of all, he learned by watching (former DE) Josh Williams practice last year. Josh took him under his wing; Ben was like his puppy dog. One of the best things that Josh left with us was his work ethic; he was wonderful and Ben was his guy. Ben has carried that over. He goes full-speed on every play, just like Josh did. I think that has put him in a position, where he already had some God-given ability, but when you're going full-speed on every play (it helps you tremendously). I called Josh out in front of the team at the end of the year. I said `Ben Goodman's performance is because of you; Ben Goodman is going to be a good player because of you.' I told him `when you leave here, even though you're leaving a team that went 1-11, Ben owes you a great debt, because that's why he's going to become a player around here.'"

On LB Darius Willis:
"I'm very encouraged with Darius. I felt that he was one of those entitled guys (when I got here last year). He was the leading tackler on a team that wasn't any good. So you're the leading tackler on a team that wasn't any good, does that all of a sudden make you good? Instead of going up the depth chart, he started moving down on the depth chart. Eventually, he got buried to where he wasn't going to play anymore, so he went over to the show team. Now, when you go over to the show team, one of two things can happen: either you're going to go through the motions and you'll be anonymous the rest of your career, or you'll fight your way back. He worked his butt off. He worked his butt off in everything he did where eventually I said `we need to find something for him to do.' We put him as an outside player, because he has a fast twitch off the edge. He started turning into somewhat of a pass-rusher behind (former DE/LB) Toben (Opurum) and we started to see some production. Now we've tweaked what we're doing on defense, so you need a couple of bigger bodies at inside linebacker. He's a little undersized for `Buck', but he's plenty big enough to play inside linebacker. To be honest with you, he's pushing (Ben) Heeney. It's not a run-away with Heeney in first. He's pushing him for playing time. It's been a nice competition and I've been very pleased with Willis. He's one of those guys that could have thrown in the towel and been the 30th player that wasn't here, but he went in the other direction and kudos to him, because that's why he is where he is right now."

On comparing LB Ben Heeney to LB Darius Willis:
"Ben is a little smaller and a little quicker. They are both very physical players that can take on the inside game that most teams will sprinkle in at you. They're both capable of doing that, it's just Darius is a little bit bigger. He's a little bit slower, but also a little bit bigger."

On what changed with LB Darius Willis that kept him going:
"When you're trying to run everybody out of here, because I would have gotten rid of 50 if I had to, some guys will go the other way. They don't all have to be great players. For example, Dexter Linton was a guy I had gone, but he ended up playing a whole bunch last year. Why? Because he came around. You always hear about the guys who are gone, but you don't hear much about the success stories, about the guys who had one foot out the door and fought their way back here, not only to back to be around, but back here to be productive."

On what he likes about the competitiveness of the team this spring:
"We have better competition in two aspects (this year compared to last year): You have better competition within your own depth chart on offense and defense and then you have better competition offense against defense. If you remember last year at this time, you and I could have started on the defensive line in the spring. It was in shambles. That's not the case anymore. Now you have decent players going against decent players and that makes everybody better. There is competition on each side of the ball and then there's much, much better competition when the offense and defense are going against each other. Much better than it ever was at any time last spring."

On how returning players have responded to being listed below newcomers on the depth chart this spring:
"I don't care how they feel about being listed below other players; I care about how they respond. I don't care how they feel about it. If you're a football coach and you're worrying about people's feelings, you're not going to hang around in this business for very long. Obviously, there are guys that move down the depth chart and guys that move up the depth chart. We talked about (Darius) Willis, he's a perfect example. He's listed at No. 2 (at mike linebacker), but he got some reps at No. 1 last week. There are guys that move both ways. I learned a long time ago a very simple phrase: Go by what you see. That's a coaching phrase saying just watch what happens and go by what you see. Don't play guys based off of reputation, go by what you see. As long as you live by that, you'll be okay."

On how he feels about his wide receivers:
"There are a couple of players that I've been very pleased with, and I will site them. A couple people have seen Christian Matthews on the two-deep, but he's been running with the first team for the whole last week. He's been the most pleasant surprise of anyone. I was hoping that Justin McCay would move up into that realm and he has moved up in that realm too. So those guys who were running as twos (to start with) are running as ones. Who could have evaluated Christian Matthews at wide receiver last year? His claim to fame was as wildcat quarterback and that's what anyone knows about Christian Matthews, but if we had to play a game today, he would start at wide receiver, and so would McCay. Those are two guys - one was on the show team last year and the other was wallowing away in anonymity. Now, they're both factors. And you have to remember, there are a number of guys coming in at that position - we talked about the defense having a half-dozen - but that's the one position on offense where there are a few guys who could get into the mix in a hurry. So the guys that are here better stake their claim right now, because I'm not going to sit here and put them on the bench and not find out what they can do. Some people are going to be second-guessing me when they see their names on the depth chart ahead of some of the guys that are here. But for the guys that are here, this is their time now. They're five practices in and they've got 10 to go. Now is the time when they can position themselves based off of their performance."

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