Weis, team focused on Saturday’s opener
By Trevor Graff
The 6-3 loss to North Dakota State on Sept. 4, 2010 and the slow start that followed remain on the minds of those surrounding Kansas Football.
With league-mate South Dakota State coming to Memorial Stadium for the Sat. 6:00 p.m. season opener, coach Charlie Weis is confident in his team’s focus.
“They’re well aware of it.” Weis said. “I live in the present and the future. I don’t really live in the past, but I think that bringing back moments from the past, both good and bad, are always good teaching points. I also could talk about a few years ago winning the Orange Bowl.”
That focus on executing every play and their game-by-game approach should be noticeable on game days. Unlike some coaches, Weis, for the most part, will keep his cool on the sidelines.
“There’s always nervousness for players.” Weis said. “One thing though, I think they’ll follow me and that’s not me. I do most of my yelling in practice. I reserve my yelling on game days for officials, because they deserve it, and for someone who does something stupid and gets a 15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.”
The coach’s humor toward the officials characterizes the demeanor he feels the team will exhibit on Saturday – A calm, cool focus that starts from the top down.
Don’t expect the Jayhawks to hold anything back this Sat. against a team that lead the Missouri Valley in passing last season.
“Most people say well let’s be really conservative,” Weis said. “I don’t think that’s the way we have to approach the game. I think we have to win this game. We’ll worry about the second game after this one’s over.”
Weis released this week’s two-deep depth chart at the Tuesday press conference.
Aslam Sterling will make the move from right tackle to the starter at right guard.
Jordan Tavai won the nose tackle job in his short time in camp.
“Of the five guys listed in those two spots, he’s the one player inside that could play outside effortlessly,” Weis said. “I always talk about building inherent depth and versatility. He’s the guy that allows us to do that.”
Hutchinson, Kan. native Ben Heeney will start at middle linebacker. Weis said Transfer Anthony McDonald isn’t ready to play his physical brand of football this weekend.
Freshman receiver Tre’ Parmalee and transfer running back Taylor Cox both moved into second team roles.
Freshman Reily Jeffers takes the place of regular longsnapper Justin Carnes, suspended three games for a violation of team rules.
The depth chart included three second-team spots still under consideration. The coaching staff encourages the competition at this level of the depth chart, because it promotes depth.
“It’s a little tougher when it’s the first position.” Weis said. “If you have two (players) you’re trying to make a decision on, then you don’t have one. If you had one, he’d be playing. At the backup position you want multiple guys to play.”
For Weis, it’s time to gauge the team’s progress in the stadium rather than on the practice field.
“I’m really excited for our team, to see how they’re going to play more than anything else,” Weis said. “We’ve been talking about this stuff forever. It’s time to play and get an opportunity to see where we are.”