Changes coming to Kansas D

Ever wonder what Charlie Weis has been doing since spring football ended? That's simple. The first-year Kansas coach has been working, sometimes almost around the clock, in fact, to ensure his team is prepared for the start of fall camp. And one area of particular focus has been his defense - assessing strengths, evaluating weaknesses and preparing for the arrival of reinforcements.

Ever wonder what Charlie Weis has been doing since spring football ended?

Working. Working…a lot.

His office at the Anderson Family Football Complex is neat and orderly, everything in its appropriate place. The shelves are packed with old play books, scouting reports and dozens of photos of his family. And next to the mammoth desk sits a box with a comforter folded atop it – a box which Weis explains contains an inflatable mattress for nights when he's at the office past 2 a.m. In the next breath he acknowledges he's usually up with first light and back to work.

This is clearly a man who knows how to burn the midnight oil. He'll leave on a well-earned vacation in the near future, but before he does he'll have more than a week's worth of fall camp practices scripted out and scouting reports finished on the Jayhawks' first four opponents of the year.

One of his primary concerns during the past couple of months has been poring over the mounds of data gathered during the spring to get a feel for the strengths and weaknesses of the program he inherited.

For him, spring football was primarily about installing the offense - which means he and defensive coordinator Dave Campo have spent a great deal of time together of late.

"Campo and I spent a lot of time together revamping the personnel," Weis said. "When we hand out a depth chart on Aug. 1, there's going to be a lot of new names on the two-deep. And I don't mean a few new names, fellas. There's going to be a lot of new names."

Much is expected of Weis' first recruiting class, including the plethora of fifth-year transfers he managed to land - such as Notre Dame linebacker Anthony McDonald and Nebraska defensive end Josh Williams.

The burden is particularly heavy on defense, where newcomers are expected to compete not just for spots not just in the two-deep, but in the starting lineup and many positions on the field. That's why post-spring evaluations have been so important.

They need to know exactly how many holes they have to fill.

"So our biggest changes, the biggest amount of effort I had to do is go back and watch the defense - just watch the defense - and say 'Okay, this guy can't play, this guy can't play, this guy can't play,'" Weis said.

Those evaluations have already led to a pair of personnel changes, as two defensive linemen have been shifted across the line of scrimmage to the offensive line. Weis was only willing to reveal the identity of one, however - Pat Lewandowski.

As to the other, Weis just smiled, and said it would come to light in time.

"If we're playing in a league where they play smash mouth football, I think Pat would be better suited to play defensive line than in the league we're playing in," he said. "The league we're playing in, the whole game is in space. So you have to have guys playing that can play in space. It isn't about whether a guy can play. You guys have one vision about what the players have to be. It's what position they have to play versus the teams you're playing against."

Because of the speed of the offenses in the Big 12, one thing Weis has stressed to his defensive players is that they should be less worried about being on the one-deep than being on the two-deep.

The game is so fast paced that teams have to be able to roll out defensive substitutions on the fly, and have confidence in their ability to perform.

"You can't worry about who is in the game," Weis said. "You can't worry that your second defensive line is in the game - you can't worry about it. The game happens too fast. You have to have enough confidence that you can play two-deep at every position."

Is the idea of so many new faces on defense a little unsettling for Kansas fans? It should be. Rebooting is never easy.

However, it should also be a source of some excitement. In just a few months, Jayhawk Nation will have a chance to see what highly-regarded prospects such as McDonald, Williams, Jordan Tavai, Schyler Miles, Ty McKinney, Greg Allen and others can really do.

The Kansas defense ranked as one of the worst in the country last season. There's nowhere to go but up.


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