After loss to K-State, Kansas begins offseason

Charlie Weis felt a difference in the culture at Kansas as he

stood on the sideline Saturday, the clock melting away in the

second half and Kansas State on its way to another win over its

rival.

Unlike last season, when the Wildcats blitzed their way to one

of the most lopsided victories in the history of the series, Weis

thought Kansas was in the game. In fact, until a field goal that

made the final margin 31-10, the Jayhawks were still within

striking distance.

All despite six turnovers, an inept offense and a sometimes

porous defense.

So even though the Jayhawks finished 3-9 in his second year in

charge, and last in the Big 12 once again, there are signs – modest

though they may be – that there’s been progress on Mount Oread.

”I never felt, even when the score was 21-10, the game was

getting away from us, and that is a change,” Weis said. ”Last

year, we were in the second half of that game, it was wide open. It

was like there was nothing you could do about it. I never felt that

way.”

Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger dispelled any notion

that Weis’ job may be in jeopardy on Saturday when he gave the

somewhat embattled coach a vote of confidence. Zenger noted that

any rebuilding job takes time and he was prepared to give Weis the

opportunity to see it through.

Still, despite the signs of progress, there are just as many

signs that Kansas is no better off than when it fired Turner Gill

two years ago. After all, Gill was 5-19 in his two seasons in

charge, and Weis will be lugging a 4-20 mark into his third

season.

While the Jayhawks ended an infuriating 27-game Big 12 losing

streak by beating West Virginia, they still haven’t won a league

road game since 2008 – a streak of 22 games.

Not only that, but the Jayhawks will also be forced to replace

some of their best players – many of those guys that Weis

inherited. The most glaring loss to graduation is running back

James Sims, who became the first player in school history with

back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

”We have a lot of older guys coming back that have been here a

couple of years with us,” Weis said. ”There are a bunch of them.

When you have a bunch of them that have been the same system for a

couple of years, even though there are going to be tweaks in the

system I think that that usually bodes well in the uptick for

performance.”

As for recruiting, Weis planned to hit the road immediately.

His first stops this week will be with the offensive linemen who

have already committed to the program. Offensive line coach Tim

Grunhard announced this past week that he was leaving the program

and Weis wants to make sure that those incoming players are firm in

their commitments.

Then, he’ll start visiting with players whom he hopes can make

an immediate impact. There are plenty of holes heading into next

season, particularly along the offensive and defensive lines.

”I usually feel pretty good about our plan in recruiting,”

Weis said. ”The only time when it was rough is when you first get

here and you’re scrambling. I think that we have a good plan in

place and earmarked where we’re deficient at, where we need a high

school kid, where we need a junior college kid, and identified who

they are. Now you have to go get them.”

Senior safety Dexter Linton, who went through three coaches – he

was recruited by Mark Mangino, then played for Gill and Weis – also

believes that there were signs of progress this season.

It just takes scratching away a lot of the misery to see

them.

”I feel like that this year,” Linton said. ”Things didn’t

work out our way but I always felt a positive vibe in how our team

came together.”

Offensive lineman Gavin Howard, another senior, believes that

there’s some momentum within the program for the first time in

years. After all, three wins – and a Big 12 victory – trumps the

one victory the Jayhawks managed last season.

”Those younger guys, you start to see them working harder and

really expecting to win rather than wanting to win,” Howard said.

”I really think they’ll continue next year with that mindset that

you know what, we’re not hoping we can beat somebody, we should

beat them.”