Kansas football today as a whole is night and day from where it was just two years ago at this time. The main reason is the culture change that the program has undergone since Charlie Weis took over as head coach 15 months ago.
Yes, it may not have shown in the record books after a difficult 2012, but to just use that would be unfair to coaches and players alike, as to a man they'll tell you the intensity level during spring football is as high as it's ever been under Weis and that's just where he wants it, as Kansas prepares for Saturday's Spring Game.
"There has been a lot more fights, and that is always a good thing," Weis said. "There is a gray area as a head coach when it comes to trash talking because you have to encourage it, or cut it loose. I have talked with them about playing with a little chip on their shoulders this year. I think if they keep on the path they are heading right now, I think we will be much better off going into next season."
Weis began motivating from day one and a rough first season only made the players that much more eager to improve and with the mass influx of new talent from the JUCO ranks that have arrived this semester with more set to arrive in time for fall camp and it's clear that the intensity and especially the competition levels have and will ramp up.
Two newcomers who are making big impacts this spring are offensive lineman Ngalu Fusimalohi and defensive end Chris Martin. Both from the JUCO ranks, both have made an instant impact on the team and look to be examples of the culture change when fall camp and the 2013 season begin.
"We can't block him with one," Weis said of Martin, who has often said that he envisions the Jayhawks having one of the nastiest and most physical defenses in the Big 12, if not the most.
Fusimalohi has often been described as the ideal Weis lineman. He approaches the game in a very workman like fashion and once on the field, he plays with the exact kind of nastiness that Weis has often said he's looking for.
"Ngalu is a beast on the field, he's tough," running back James Sims said. "If he gets ahold of you, good luck. He's brought a lot to the table."
Ty McKinney and Tedarian Johnson will bring a nastiness on the defensive line alongside Martin, but Weis has also singled out defensive lineman Keon Stowers as another guy who has been among the best on either line.
"Keon Stowers has been running practice, which is a good thing for the defense," Weis said. "He's in the backfield every time you turn around. He's off the ball, he's lightning quick, he makes big plays, he plays with enthusiasm, he's been as good as it gets."
In the secondary, Cassius Sendish has elevated the unit as a whole and will make a huge impact this season, just as he has this spring. With others arriving this summer and in time for fall camp, it's the hope of players and coaches alike that the team will distances themselves as far as possible from everything pertaining to last season.
Weis hopes in a way that it will all work together to get his team playing with a chip on its shoulder. If the spring has been any indication, Saturdays next fall could be quite of bit of fun.