Kansas vs. Rice: Charlie Weis Previews the Owls

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas vs. Rice: Charlie Weis Previews the Owls

Kansas Head Coach Charlie Weis
Opening Statement...
"Week two, finally getting into a regular work week, which is what every coach and player really likes, when it's all said and done. On to Rice, on the road, Saturday night, should be nice and toasty. We should have some good weather this week to prepare for that, Tuesday and Wednesday, if the predictions stay true to form. They won the last 5 games last year, and six out of the last seven, including a bowl game win over Air Force. Matter of fact, it's coach Bailiff's second time in six years that he's got a bowl win. The thing that really gets you about this team is they have almost their whole team back, they have their whole coaching staff back and in college football that's a rarity. Now they have almost everyone back on offense and defense, and obviously that kicker we'll talk about, and they have no staff changes. It's no coincidence that last year they led the country with time and possession because that's the way they like to play. And most of you would know better than me, that (John) Reagan who was here from 2005- 2009, he's the offensive coordinator for coach Bailiff and he's been there for the last four years, the last three years as the offensive coordinator. As a matter of fact, last year, statistically they averaged 424 yards a game, and 31 points. And in their first game against Texas A&M they had 509 yards and 31 points. So there's a good chance you're going to need 31 points to have a chance to win the game, although I'm sure our defensive staff is hoping that's not the case, or counting on that not being the case.

"Everyone knows about (Taylor) McHargue - 6-2, 215, experienced. Not only is he an accurate thrower, but he can run the zone read, he can run the option and he's also pretty good at scrambling. In the opener against A&M, they also played (Driphus) Jackson, he's not as tall, not as experienced, a dynamic rusher as well. They both saw time, in the A&M game. On their two big running backs, real big, (Charles) Ross, 6-1, 235, rushed for 107 yards in the opener. And Peterson, who people talk about being banged up, but from the sounds of it, he's playing too, he's 6-2, 235. So you got two guys, 6-1, 6-2, 235 pounds, big bruising running backs to start off with. As a matter of fact, their number one receiver is also a big guy, he's 6-5, you talkin' about (Jordan) Taylor, he's 6-5. Now (Donte) Moore is not as tall, he's got a little bit more wiggle, he's a puny six-feet tall compared to some of these massive people they have here. In addition, I really like their- they have a redshirt freshman, by the name of (Connor) Cella -I hope I'm pronouncing that right- I kinda like this kid, he can block pretty good, he can catch pretty good, they detach him, they do a lot of things with him, I think he shows a lot of ability. And although I can only call five returning guys on the offensive line, it's really six on the returning offensive line because they have six guys who all started significant time last year. At the tackles, (Caleb) Williams and (Jon) Hodde are the starting tackles. Now Hodde plays left tackle, he's 6-7, 310. (Nate) Richards is their center, he's 6-4, 310. Carlson is their left guard, he's a converted defensive lineman and right guard (Andrew) Reue, Reue's their right guard, and he's another 6-5, 300 pounder as well, so they have pretty good size on the front. Matter of fact, their right tackle, who I think is pretty good, is actually their smallest guy.

"Their defensive coordinator is Chris Thurmund, he coaches the corners and by no irony at all, the best players on this team are those two corners. (Phillip) Gaines and (Bryce) Callahan are really good front line players. Callahan is also the punt returner. But they have two front line corners, normally you go into a game saying, "He's good, go with that guy" but they got two of them. I'm impressed by both those corners. To be honest, the leader of the secondary is (Paul) Porras, their free safety. He's actually the guy kinda holds it all together. Leslie Frazier's son (Corey Frazier) is starting at strong safety. It looks to me that there is a little more of a committee over there at strong safety, where they're rolling them through, but right now he's listed as the number one guy. But this is head coach's in the NFL's, I guess this is the designated University they go to, because Coach Kubiak's son goes there, not only does he hold for special teams, but he's one of the main guys on special teams. Between Coach Frazier and Coach Kubiak, they got the market cornered here. The linebackers, (James) Radcliffe and (Michael) Kutzler handle the inside positions. (Cameron) Nwosu hasn't showed up yet, and he has probably their best guy last year, but he hasn't showed up yet. Last year, Hill was number 11 last year, he's their nickel, well this year he's wearing number two, but it's the same guy. Up front, their defensive ends are (Cody) Bauer and (Tanner) Leland, they're smaller, faster, high-effort guys. Then they've got higher 290-plus inside guys in (Christian) Covington and (Stuart) Mouchantaf- I'm hoping I get kudos if that pronunciation is exactly the way I said it.

"They've got one of the best kickers in the country, if not the best, in (Chris) Boswell.  We saw up close and personal last year, but that's no surprise, he's done it before, he'll do it again. (James) Farrimond, he'll handle the punting, Callahan is the punt returner, (Jeremy) Eddington and (Ryan) Pollard will handle the kick returns, I mentioned Kubiak as the holder and (Tanyan) Farley will handle snaps."

On dual-threat Rice quarterback, McHargue...
"It's going to be the motif of the entire year. Most weeks, when we go against- most of the opponents are running  similar offensive schemes where the quarterback is involved as a runner. We're going to have to do a better job of tackling the quarterback or else this guy will just gash us. He does all the runs, the design calls, pull it down and go. You better be ready to defend him, you can't just ignore him and treat him like a passer, because he can beat you running the option, he can beat you on his own read or a pass play if you don't keep your rush lanes he can pull it down and beat you there."

On his concerns about the new players on the road...
"Actually , I feel better after having one game under my belt, to be honest with you. And going on the road can actually be a blessing sometimes, because there's less distractions when you go on the road. You go there, you go to the hotel together, it's not like you're scrambling for tickets and who's coming in and who's in town, where are they staying. When you're at home, there's a whole different set of circumstances than when you're on the road. You hit the road, you get to the hotel, you get your meetings, you eat- they eat about 18 times before they play, especially if it's a night game- and before you know it they're getting on the bus and going to the game. It's a  lot more of a business trip than people would ever imagine."

On Conner Embree...
"He's done this now, the entire spring. He catapulted to the head of the pack, then at training camp he never looked back. And we've been seeing him do this now for quite some time, this is his first chance to do it live in a game, he stepped up to the plate and delivered. Before you even talk about the returns, there's two things he does really well, he catches the ball really well and makes good decisions. One of the best plays he might have made was the one he makes no yards on. The ball is out bouncing and instead of letting it roll, he goes ahead and gets it and gets one or two yards on the play, the ball would have probably rolled another 20 yards, it would have been deep in our territory. So that counts as one of his returns, you could really nix that one; he was just saving yards on that play rather than gaining yards. It was a very good decision."

On playing a non-Big 12 team on the road...
"From what I understand- and I'm not that familiar with their home crowds, personally- but supposedly there are not real big crowds. And that's actually good when  you go on the road. Especially the first time. To go on the road and not have it be 80,000 people going absolutely bonkers walking into the door, when your first rattle out of the box, is probably a good way to ease into it. Because we know several times this year, that will be the case. So I think this is a good way to start."

On the Jayhawks' offensive line...
"They obviously ran-block very well. I mentioned the other day we had a couple of pressures, one was just a communication error and one was a physical error, but we didn't throw it that many times. I would say that pass protection has yet to be determined. What is it incomplete because there's not enough evidence based off of that last game, based off of what we were doing. Anytime you rush for close to 300 yards, it isn't just the runners, there's obviously some holes in there or else you don't get that many yards. I thought it was a good start, they're basically at what I described to you, of all those descriptions of where I thought we were going to be, more physical, I really believe that what we lose in experience, we gain in physicality, especially in those two guards. And I think those two guards are very physical players."

On seeking 'revenge' from the last KU, Rice meeting...
"I don't ever use that. I use it as more of a teaching tool. I don't talk about getting revenge for what they did, because we were the ones that blew it. They deserved to win because we didn't close out the game. We didn't close out on offense when we had a comfortable lead, we didn't close out on defense when we had a chance to hold it. Give credit to Rice, they deserved to win that game and we deserved to lose it. Because that's how we played... we played not to lose, instead of playing to win."

On the speed Rice plays at...
"They don't play the whole game at a fast-paced tempo, it just so happens that when the other team is playing that fast- a lot of the times the reason why they have that many plays is because the other team is off the field so quick. Sometimes it's because of the other team's offense, not the defense. And I'm not going to minimize what they did against Texas A&M, but Texas A&M looked like they had a patch-work defense, they looked like they were just putting the pieces together there. Our defensive stats are very familiar on what they do on offense, and vice versa. For example, Reagan and Clint(Bowen), have been friends for a long time. Worked together for a bunch of years, there's not a whole bunch of surprises, it's the same thing when we're looking at their defense, they've lined up in one defense the whole game, one coverage pretty much the whole game,  and say 'we're going to be better than  you.'"

On any communication with the coaching staff at Rice...
"I barely talk to my wife. No, I pretty much don't talk to anyone. I talk to all my friends, therefore it's a very short list."

On players taking criticisms easier from last weekend...
"It's utopia. It's perfect. It can't be better. And it's been a bad week for some of those young men, by the way. Because you can really get on them hard, because they're feeling good about themselves. It's great, they come in after a win feeling good, and you just tear them down right off the bat. It's just a wonderful feeling as a coach to be able to do that. But in reality you're not beating them down, because they're more open minded. They listen to you, they want to be better, after a win and they're feeling good about themselves constructive criticism is relatively easy in the grand scheme of things."

On Rodriguez Coleman diving for the ball, Saturday...
"I'd say the entire night, out of all the throws we threw, that's the only real throw that Jake (Heaps) would have liked to have had back. It ran right by him. He over threw it by a few yards. It was actually good to see a receiver try to lay out to get to the ball. I think he's a guy- I can't just force feed him, he's got to earn the time, but he's on the cusp of taking a meteoric rise up the depth chart when he gets it. When he gets it, it will be a tough time getting him off the field."

On the importance of captains during the first road game...
"The captains work with the leadership committee with the fact that we haven't won a road game in quite some time and now it's time to go take care of business. Even last year when we didn't win a road game it was a very organized type of thing. I was never displeased with our actions. The big thing was to make sure part of the burden has to fall on them to make sure they are ready to go at kickoff. It's different on the road than it is at home. At home you have the crowd, the juice, the band and everything. When you're on the road that home crowd isn't there."

On Kevin Short being ready to go...
"I'll let you know when I know. He said he's got some personal things he's working through. It was a little bit of surprise to us at the end of the week. It wasn't something we were expecting."

On Taylor Cox's Injury...
"Well Taylor is going today. I would say if he had to play on Sunday he might have been to soar to play. But he's ready to play today. We are going to have to see visual evidence to be absolutely sure."

On possible red shirts...
"Well it is too early because you have to wait and see how things go at the position. I try not to make a decision with freshman until almost half way through the season. Lets say there is a guy like Ben Johnson who is on the cusp of actually playing. If I want to use him then I want to use him. I'm not going to waste a year for him to come in and get a couple scrub snaps at the end of a game."

On the passing game...
"There was nothing like any game last year. If you watched the game there was not one game that looked like that game. We had three or four dropped balls on twenty passes and three throw-aways. If we get those percentages again I'll take it. We just need to improve on catching the ball. As far as the throw-aways are concerned they go down as incompletions I consider them to be smart plays."

On how to improve on dropped balls...
"I say different things to different players. It depends on who they are. I will say, 'they are selling hands maybe you should go out and by a pair.' Sometimes that hurts their feelings too much so I say it a little nicer than that. We need to make the plays that we dropped passes on. There's nothing I need to say to them, they know it well before they come off the field."

On previous road games...
"I've only been here a year. I only know the games we were in last year. Anything before I was here has nothing to do with what we are trying to do now. All I know for the program winning last week go the losing streak out of the way. Winning this week will get losing on the road out of the way. Winning three weeks from now against Texas Tech gets the conference streak out of the way. So there's steps you have to take to go ahead and move up."

On Justin McCay and his first game...
"I don't think he had first game jitters. I think that he was wired for sound. I think he was excited. He hadn't played football in a bunch of years now. He played a few snaps for Oklahoma a few years back and then he sat out all of last season. The same could be said for our quarterback. But I expect them both to be better this week than they were last week."

On our pass defense...
"They really didn't get threatened very much. They gave up that one pass on cover two which should have never happened. I think we will get plenty of opportunity to judge it more when we play teams who sling it more."

On McHargue as a passer...
"I think he's very accurate. And as I've said multiple times accuracy is the number one attribute. On top of that he's experience which makes for a very good combination."

On Christian Matthews taking snaps...
"We have a whole package around him and you have to put it in their to make everyone else work on it too. There are a lot of things we did in that game on purpose; there were also a lot of things we didn't do on purpose. But at the end of the day and as the season draws out that won't be the last time you see Christian taking snaps."

On team's current attitude...
"They were in a good mood until we got to the constructive criticism part of the day on Sunday. There was a lot of pep in their step until five minutes later when we started to talk about the other side of the story. But after that's done their definitely is more juice. It's just one less issue they have to address."

On movement within the depth chart on the line...
"One of the things is Ty McKinney is playing really well and Marquel Combs isn't getting any reps. So what we did we bounced McKinney out to end and moved Combs to the second guy. No other reason as to give Combs a chance to start."

On no-huddle offense...
"We have been practicing trying to get the ball snapped at 15 seconds or less. When we went back and looked at it that's probably what it was at. And it was multiple formations also. It wasn't like we were running the same formation every time. We have working on this for quite some time now. It was part of my methodology when we were coming up with ways on how to get the defense better. Well if we are going to practice it we might as well put it in. Why practice it without doing it ourselves. Half the team it ends up being a waste of time for. So now there is not time that is wasted."

On a change in Victor Simmons...
"I think he's finally found a home. Now he's started to settle into a position he feels comfortable at. Once you know what you're doing and you're a good athlete usually you start making plays and that's what's happening with him."

Kansas Linebackers Coach Clint Bowen
On the advantages of playing Rice last year...
"I think it always does. We are more familiar with their personnel, we've seen them in person, seen what they're capable of doing. You know also, the scheme, their offensive scheme, got a chance to see how that works. But, mostly the personnel being the same is your biggest advantage"

On if knowing Coach Reagan will play to his advantage...
"I don't know, I will say that I'm happy for what he's been able to accomplish there. He's done a great job. The stats and the numbers they rattled off at the end of last year, and the way he's taken over that offense is something that I believe him and Ed Warinner, those guys, the offense that they began working on back in '05 and '06 and all of that, it's good to see John Reagan have success with something I know he's put a lot of work into."

On what impressed him about Rice's offense against Texas A&M...
"How efficient they were. They do a great job of getting themselves in the best play possible for what the defense is aligned and doing and the quarterback is very efficient at running the total package. He gets them in the right way, does it in a hurry. He's capable of running and throwing the ball, throws it very accurate, and they have some guys who can make plays."

On who Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue reminds him of...
"You know, a year ago he's kind of like the quarterback we played at Northern Illinois. He's a true dual threat guy. He's equally dangerous running the ball, whether that be designed quarterback run game or scrambling and making a play happen when no one's open. He also throws the ball very well."

On if South Dakota's quarterback being able to run the ball will prepare the defense for Rice's quarterback...
"I mean it was that first game, always to me the on that makes you the most nervous because you're not exactly sure what you're going to get. You're kind of in that I think this is what they're going to do mode. You're not sure of what their players are capable of and I think the young man from South Dakota did a nice job running the ball with some things and getting some yards there so obviously it allows you to see what you need to change defensively and schematically and make some adjustments."

On the younger linebackers making reads...
"We did quite a few things in that game and everyone has a role in it. Each defensive call someone different has a different job and assignment. It kind of just comes down to making sure you're sound and everyone's doing their job."

On being on the sideline...
"I think for game one our game day operation was pretty smooth. You know, we got guys in and out of the game efficiently. We were able to get on the sidelines and figure out what was taking place in the game, talk about it with our players and make sure we were ready for each series."

On sophomore linebacker Schyler Miles...
"Schyler's doing a nice job. He's a very instinctive football player, understands his assignment and his job and you can count on him to get things done. That mike linebacker position is a pretty solid spot with him and Heeney there."

On the differences between Ben Heeney and Schyler Miles...
"Well, athletics wise Heeney probably runs a little bit better than Schyler does. At the same time Schyler is probably a little bit more conscious of assignment and fundamentals. You tell Schyler to be somewhere, he's going to be there and that's something you can always count on with him. He's capable of playing, he'd be playing for a lot of people."

On sophomore buck Ben Goodman...
"I was happy with Ben. He was productive, started off playing pretty well and throughout the game he was active. We need to continue to develop him in that way and hopefully continue to get some pass rush out of him, but he had a solid game."

On working with the new players...
"Week one did give us a good grasp. It's going to allow us to figure out what we do personnel wise, but we have some new guys out there at a lot of different spots and there's a learning curve in it and I think those guys are starting to understand their job better, then be able to focus on their fundamentals better and keep getting a little bit smarter each week."

On if it is easier to communicate with the players after the first game...
"Ya, I mean it's just some guys are new into the system and it's a repetition game. You know, the more reps that they get at seeing different types of attacks like the zone read QB stuff that we saw from South Dakota. Every rep helps them get better for the next time they see it."

On what he learned about the defense last Saturday...
"Coach Glenn over at South Dakota has won a lot of football games and they have a nice offensive package. There's a lot of things that will carry over from week to week that we'll see for the remaining part of the season. There's a lot of things that we can take from that game and teach our kids off of."

On if Rice has any Big 12 traits in their offense...
"Ya, they mix up tempo and have a balanced run pass. Everyone wants to think that the spread offense is just throwing it all over the yard when it's a little bit deceiving. A lot of those teams run the ball very well and Rice ran the ball 309 yards. They're a lot alike, they're kind of in that spread mode."

On how much Kansas' defense blitzed the first game...
"My plan, that was something that gave us a little bit of an advantage. We went out there and executed a few and gave up a few and that's kind of the way that strategy goes and what we did, that's kind of what we're going to be so that's what it is."

On if the blitzing was a result of more trust in the secondary this year...
"It's just a combination. Stopping these offenses, if they know what you're going to line up in snap after snap after snap then eventually they're going to gain an advantage and will be able to take advantage of you. That system that they have in place, that's what they do so I feel like it's important that you keep things changing and not let the quarterback get real comfortable because there's a lot of quarterbacks that if they are comfortable they can beat you."

On talking to Rice's Coach Reagan...
"Ya, ironically I saw him this past weekend so it was good. But, ya we keep in touch pretty regularly. He was out recruiting. John's a heck of a good guy, he's done a great job and I'm happy with what he's accomplished. We've got a lot of good stories together from back in the day."

On his memories with Coach Reagan and the old staff...
"What I liked about them is that they put about 50 points on the scoreboard every week. They were good. They had a lot of success, developed a lot of really good players and we won a lot of games."

On the chance to end the road losing streak...
"It's something that we'll definitely keep putting in our kid's head that you got to go on the road and when. That's one of the milestones that we need to accomplish as a team. You know we ended a losing streak and now it's got to end a losing streak on the road and then we need a conference win so we can put those things behind so all those negative things can disappear."

On if he keeps in touch with formal players Ryan Cantrell or Anthony Steward who now coach at Rice...
"I do, you know Adrian Mayes is still there as well in that group. They're young guys trying to get in the business and fortunately they had an opportunity down there to get a job. But ya, I've seen those guys a couple times, I see them at the conventions, the coaching schools that go on in Texas, a couple things so I keep in touch with them."

On if revenge comes into play...
"I wouldn't say revenge. I think you look at each game as they came here to play us, during the game we didn't do what we needed to do to win, they were able to make the plays when the plays need to be made and they walk out of this thing with a win. I don't know how you get into that whole thing, I mean you get 12 games a year and if you can't get excited about each game and play it as hard as you possibly can then you're probably not the right guy anyways. When you only get 12 shots I don't know how you can't get as motivated as possible to play each one of them."

On if it's easier to play on the road as a defense because of the crowd...
"Ya, we always get the benefit. The home crowd is the one that gets loud when we're in but it's always good to have the crowd be loud. But on the road it's usually not an issue for us. We don't have to deal with the crowd noise on our side of the ball so that makes communication on the field a little bit easier."

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