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A Spring Look At Kansas Football
May 02, 2012
By Wendell Barnhouse |
Big 12 Correspondent

2011: 2-10 overall, 0-9 in Big 12.
Starters returning: Offense 6, defense 6.

Spring practice was a step in the process for Kansas under new coach Charlie Weis. In addition to improving the Jayhawks' record and talent level, Weis is trying to change the team's mental attitude and approach.

"When you first come into a program and you identify from top to bottom, the one thing you have to do is set a mentality that matches your philosophy on how things are going to be done," Weis said. "I think you get one opportunity to set it right. You only get one chance. You don't get a do-over. I learned a long time ago that it's always easier to set that table right in the beginning."

The former Notre Dame coach has brought in half a dozen transfers from other schools, including three from the Irish. The most recognizable name is quarterback Dane Crist. The senior is eligible to play this season and will be the Jayhawks' starter. Crist has become a team leader and he is helping the Jayhawks understand Weis' coaching philosophy.

"I think he's just been incredibly consistent in his message," Crist said. "He's always honest, always telling the truth, whether that's what you want to hear or not. It's just common sense. It's using good judgment. Everyone has a conscience, and, doing the right thing, he's huge on that."

Kansas should have a solid offensive line and there is good depth and talent at receiver. If Crist plays up to his potential, the offense should be fine.

Spring practice didn't provide a lot of answers for a defense that was last in the FBS in total defense and scoring defense last season. Weis likes the talent of his defensive backs and is hoping that a number of newcomers who will arrive before preseason practices will help with the depth and talent on the defensive line.

"I think we've taken a bunch of steps," Weis said after the spring game, which drew an estimated crowd of 15,000. "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."

Who's missing
Quarterback Jordan Webb, running back Darrian Miller, wide receiver Keeston Terry, offensive tackle Jeff Spikes, linebacker Steven Johnson.

Quarterback Dane Crist, tight end Mike Ragone, linebacker Anthony McDonald, defensive end Josh Williams.

Spring buzz
College football teams usually select captains in August before the start of the season. Weis had his players vote for captains during spring practice. Senior quarterback Dayne Crist, senior offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson and senior defensive end Toben Opurum were selected. A special teams player will serve as a fourth captain each week. Weis wanted to have leaders selected to help the other players during the offseason.

Linebacker Collin Garrett and cornerback Chris Robinson were dismissed from the team after being cited for battery and interference with a police officer following an incident at a Lawrence bar. Running back James Sims was suspended for the first three games after he was cited for operating a vehicle under the influence. Shortly after being named coach, 10 other players left the program.

Tight end Mike Ragone and linebacker Anthony McDonald along with quarterback Dayne Crist are taking advantage of an NCAA rule that allows players to transfer and play immediately, without having to sit out a season, if they've graduated from their previous institution. All three played at Notre Dame when Weis was the coach there.

Daymond Patterson, a 5-8 fifth-year senior who missed last season after suffering a groin injury in the first game of the year, is back in action and will add to what should be a deep receiving corps.

"There are several different ways that you can run an organization. I just think that they are starting to figure me out more. I'm easier to read now. They are not used to people coming in and just saying it to (them). They are used to coaches playing mind games, where you have to try to figure out what the coach is thinking. That's not what I do."
- Charlie Weis

"If you don't come in early and show your discipline, you're never going to earn that respect from your players. Some people see it as harsh. But the fact that he's doing it now, more so than later, it definitely will help him down the road."
- senior defensive end Toben Oporum on Charlie Weis' coaching style.

"Coach (Charlie) Weis and (defensive coordinator Dave) Campo together, they both want to bring a lot more pressure than we did last year. We sat back in a lot of zone (last year), and this year, we're getting up in people's faces."
- senior safety Bradley McDougald

2012 Schedule

Sept. 1 South Dakota State
Sept. 8 Rice
Sept. 15 TCU*
Sept. 22 at Northern Illinois
Oct. 6 at Kansas State*
Oct. 13 Oklahoma State*
Oct. 20 at Oklahoma*
Oct. 27 Texas*
Nov. 3 at Baylor*
Nov. 10 at Texas Tech*
Nov. 17 Iowa State*
Dec. 1 at West Virginia*
* Big 12 Conference game.

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