Weis Looks To Turn Kansas Into Perennial Winning Machine
By Steve Pipps
To say that Charlie Weis needs a solid season is an understatement. Weis needs a miracle. One that gives Kansas its first winning season since its 8-5 record in 2008. With that miracle Weis might be able to stay on as Kansas head coach; if not, the jury is still out.
Kansas brought in Weis two years ago to turn the team around. He even had a five-year plan to turn the team into a perennial winning machine and then let one of the other staff members take over as head coach. Weis’ “plan” seems to have been more of a pipe dream when looking at his first two seasons.
Kansas won just one game in 2012 against South Dakota State. It was the first year, so we can cut Weis some slack. During his second year, however, he went 3-9 with one conference win against West Virginia, which also had a rough season.
In 2013, the top Kansas receiver had only 333 receiving yards and one touchdown. That was Tony Pierson, a running back, who the year before was the second running back behind James Sims. In 2012, not a single wide receiver caught a touchdown; those went to running backs and tight ends. If Weis wants to begin turning this team around, the wide receivers would be a good place to start.
Weis is looking to do just that, naming himself the new receivers coach for the upcoming season. This is a bold move. It places the strength of the receiving corps solely on his shoulders, and if they continue to underperform, he only has himself to blame.
Weis does have some coaching experience at this position. He was the Jets receivers coach in 1997 along with being their offensive coordinator, and also coached the Patriots receivers in 1996, so his choice wasn't blind confidence in himself. Hopefully his past experience translates to a strong season for Kansas receivers.
This season Kansas brought in four receivers, all out of high school, any of whom could be competing for game time this season. The Jayhawks have Rodriguez Coleman, their leading receiver in 2013, along with Nick Harwell, a Miami (Ohio) transfer who redshirted last year. Tony Pierson has also moved from running back and should be a good slot receiver with the ability to get yards after the catch.
The quarterback situation is another issue. Last year Kansas played three different quarterbacks in Jake Heaps, Montell Cozart and Michael Cummings. Heaps was Kansas’ primary starter until he lost the job to Cozart for a stretch. Heaps threw eight of the team’s nine touchdowns, but had 10 interceptions.
Cozart is looking to compete for the starting job, as will T.J. Millweard, a UCLA transfer. Cozart didn’t get a fair shot to show what he was capable of last year. If the race was just between Heaps and Cozart, I believe Cozart would get the start, but with the addition of Millweard, we will have to see how spring practices go to get a better idea of what direction Weis will lean.
By all accounts, Weis needs at least five or six wins in 2014 for job security. We know he can turn a team around, as he proved at Notre Dame. Despite that team growing into a winning squad very quickly, they couldn’t sustain it under Weis. Maybe we are seeing the opposite at Kansas. There was improvement from 2012 to 2013 even if it was just two games. I don’t think Kansas is going to come out guns blazing this season, but I also don’t think they will be last in the Big 12 for the third straight season.
The Jayhawks should see those five wins and Weis at the helm in 2015. That’s why they call it a five-year plan; it takes five years for it to come together. By my watch Weis has three more seasons. I’m in his corner.