Jayhawks to 'stay the course' with Weis
The Sports Xchange
NCAAF Team Report - Kansas - INSIDE SLANT
The man who gave Weis, the former Notre Dame coach, his second head position at the Bowl Subdivision level, was not going to give up that easy. Athletic director Sheahon Zenger saw the structure Weis put into place early in his tenure and still believes that a positive turnaround on the field is possible.
"This is when you stay the course," Zenger told the Lawrence Journal-World.
After paying a $6 million buyout to the previous coach, Turner Gill, no one at Kansas was eager to do the same thing with three remaining years on Weis' contract. With a 3-9 overall finish in 2013, which included a 1-8 mark in the Big 12, Weis managed one fewer win than Gill over two seasons, the length of time Gill was allowed to coach as part of his five-year deal.
The last-place finish for Kansas was its fifth straight in either league or divisional play. This after reaching the Orange Bowl and going 12-1 in 2007, then going 8-5 with an Insight Bowl win the next season under Mark Mangino.
The maddening issue thus far with Weis in charge has been the inability of the Kansas offense to compete anywhere close to the level needed to win in the Big 12.
The 15.3-point average the Jayhawks managed was almost 10 points less than the nearest Big 12 rival, Iowa State. In addition, the Jayhawks ranked last in total offense as the only team to average fewer (294.5 yards) than 300 yards.
For the second straight season, Weis had to scrap his intentions to open up the passing game with an FBS transfer quarterback. Jake Heaps, who had a year to learn the Kansas system after transferring from BYU, was largely ineffective. Often, his receivers failed to hold on to passes and even dropped several more balls in a season-ending loss to Kansas State on Nov. 30. At other times, however, Heaps' accuracy was suspect. Defensive pressure was not contained, either.
The same story was true a year earlier when Dayne Crist failed to revive the Kansas offense and run the pro-style schemes Weis introduced. He, too, was replaced as the Jayhawks' starter.
This time as Kansas approaches spring camp, a full-scale competition figures to materialize involving Heaps, Montell Cozart and T.J. Millweard. Cozart came on as a true freshman and started the last three games for Kansas, including a 31-19 victory against West Virginia that ended the Jayhawks' 27-game losing streak in Big 12 play. Millweard is yet another FBS transfer, from UCLA.
Improvement was made on defense this past season. Linebackers Ben Heeney and Jake Love were both active and reasonably sure tacklers. Cornerbacks Dexter McDonald and JaCorey Shepherd demonstrated good cover skills. Still, breakdowns led to too many big plays by opponents, who did not need many points to overtake Kansas.
Just five seniors were in the starting lineup against Kansas State. That, of course, is not necessarily a good sign. With the need to rebuild still obvious, more talent is needed for the Jayhawks to make a move in the Big 12. Their top offensive weapon, running back James Sims, was a senior and finished with 1,110 yards rushing.
As for Weis' second season, there were few highlights, except that the Jayhawks did snap that lengthy Big 12 skid. However, their losing streak on the road climbed to 24 straight, as Weis lost at every Big 12 location and went 0-9 in conference road games over his two-year stretch.
"We didn't end the season like we wanted to, but we did have the win against West Virginia in a game we could have easily quit since we weren't going to make a bowl game," said center Gavin Howard, an outgoing senior.
Staying the course apparently means living with gradual steps.
NCAAF Team Report - Kansas - NOTES, QUOTES