DALLAS — Last year at the Big 12 Media Days at the Dallas Omni Hotel, University of Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis didn’t mince words when describing his one-win team from the year prior.
His “pile of crap” comments describing his Jayhawks made for big headlines and a national talking point.
Monday morning, Weis was more careful with his words, but the message was much the same. Kansas has a lot of work to do to get out of the conference cellar. When asked if he had a win number that would signify progress, he declined to share it.
“We haven’t done a thing in the two years I’ve been here,” Weis said. “We won one game two years ago, we won three games last year, we won one game in the conference, we haven’t won a game on the road, so for me to get up here and say these are what my expectations are for you, I’m just not very — I’m not very smart.
“But our team very clearly knows what our expectations are. There’s no hiding it.”
Weis will try and tackle those expectations by changing his offensive scheme along with the hiring of John Reagan as offensive coordinator. The offense will feature a much more mobile quarterback in sophomore Montell Cozart, who took the job from since-transferred Jake Heaps last season.
Weis said his two previous quarterbacks, transfers Dayne Crist and Heaps, were ineffective in part because of their skillset.
“I think with the nature of the offense we’ve been running from the last couple of years, I think the true dropback quarterbacks have been exposed,” he said. “And that’s one of the reasons why I changed what we’re doing.”
Weis went on to say the only position on his offense a year ago that was “Big 12 caliber” was running back, and playing in a spread offense can help mask those deficiencies.
“I think that changing the mentality on offense, going to a more spread out, wide-open offense with an athletic quarterback, hides a lot of sins,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of other people do it with high efficiency and I know the bottom line is if we don’t score more points, we’re not going to win games.”
Baylor set to defend title
When Baylor head coach Art Briles took the podium Monday morning, he made it clear his team plans to build on the immense success of last year, when the Bears won the Big 12 and played in the Fiesta Bowl.
Briles admitted the perception of success is important to try and keep.
“That’s something that we’re working on, because we certainly don’t perceive ourselves that way,” Briles said. “We still see ourselves — me personally, our team — we still see ourselves as the guy fighting hard, scratching hard to try to get some recognition and some respect.
“That’s something we’re having to deal with a little bit as the perception and image of Baylor football, it’s a little different than what it has been in the past thanks to our players.”
Briles said one advantage of a good national perception is the traction a team can get in the polls when it starts the season ranked in the top 15.
The Bears were picked second in the preseason Big 12 poll behind Oklahoma, and boast the league’s preseason offensive player of the year in quarterback Bryce Petty. Briles said he thought Petty should have been a Heisman finalist a season ago, and thinks his track record gives him that chance this season.
“I mean, your first-year starter wins 11 football games, wins the Big 12 championship for the first time in school history, throws 4,200 yards, 33 TDs, three picks and you sit at home in December?” he said. “Do those numbers again this year, he’ll be in New York. Might win it.”
Kingsbury more comfortable in 2nd year
Behind rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech had a roller-coaster season, starting 7-0 before losing five straight and ending with a win at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego.
Kingsbury took some of the blame for the ups and downs, saying he needed to provide more consistency.
“I think consistency as a program and particularly for myself, each and every day making sure you’re bringing the same energy, the same positive message, and you have to provide the stability, especially when things aren’t going well,” he said. “And year one, I probably didn’t do a great job of that, and hopefully we learned from that and can build.
“I think our team learned how to handle adversity.”
Kingsbury said having Davis Webb return at quarterback will help his team stay even-keeled as the season goes on.
“Having a guy who is an established leader and an established player at the quarterback position in our system really helps and has helped the entire off-season,” he said. “We’re excited about him.”
‘Pokes start quick with FSU
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy will have his hands full with a young team with plenty of talent, but short on experience at the college level.
Making matters worse is a tough game right out of the gate with defending national champion Florida State and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.
“It’s going to be a big challenge for our team, but they’re very excited,” Gundy said. “One advantage to an opener against a very good football team, much less the national champion and returning Heisman Trophy winner, is the motivation is there.
“They’ve worked hard this summer. I can’t imagine we’ll have any issues motivating them in practice in the month of August when it gets really hot and they get fatigued. They’ll be able to push through it.”
Patterson looking for offensive boost
Charlie Weis isn’t the only coach changing his offensive scheme to match the high-octane offenses of the Big 12.
TCU head coach Gary Patterson will take the plunge this year as well after fielding the second lowest-scoring team (ahead of Kansas) in the league a year ago.
“It’s truly a change of philosophy,” Patterson said. “You’ve got to look at every part of how you practice, how you do everything.
“It’s about scoring points. We can’t turn the ball over. And then on defense, it’s still about stopping the run, still about making people kick field goals and don’t give up the big play.”
The Horned Frogs will be bolstered defensively by the return from injury of preseason defensive player of the year Devonte Fields, though Patterson mentioned he will have to shake off some rust.
“I haven’t watched him since you watched him,” Patterson said of Fields.