Kansas head coach Charlie Weis knows his third year at Kansas must be a successful one and for probably the first time, he truly believes his team could make big strides in righting the ship, after a record of 4-20 in his two seasons. The Jayhawks begin 2014 with a new offense led by new offensive coordinator John Reagan, which will allow the coach to be the jest CEO and overseer of the program, while being free to lend input and guidance wherever it’s needed for the first time in his tenure.
Speaking at his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Weis looked ahead to his team’s Saturday season opener with Southeast Missouri State at Memorial Stadium, a game where he hopes the team will come out with a fire that has been lacking the past two years in the opening affair.
“I think it’s important to play well in all three facets, and the fans would like you to play well for them, but I think psychologically you've got to play well for you,” Weis said. “Because I think that for our team - look, I'm cognizant of the fact that last year we were going against an FCS team (South Dakota) and it's 14-7 at halftime. I was there too.”
“I think that you have to be respectful of your opponent. Okay. They (Southeast Missouri) just won 77-0. They could have won 100-nothing if they wanted to. He was nice about it in that facet. But I think it's important for the psyche of our team for us to play well. If we come out and have a sloppy opener, a win is still a win if that's the case, but a sloppy opener doesn't help the psyche of the team.”
There’s little doubt that the key to how far Kansas can go this year will be quarterback Montell Cozart, who begins his first full season as the team’s staring quarterback and in Reagan’s new offense, Weis is expecting big things from him and even more important, the confidence is high that Cozart is ready to accept the challenge.
"He’s confident, bordering on cocky. That’s a good place to be,” Weis said. “I think you’re going to see a different kid.”
Cozart’s growing confidence has led to calming the fears of Weis, albeit slowly. Now, the thought is that last year’s woes have a chance to turn into one of this year’s strength and with that could comes big leaps forward for a program desperately looking to star catching some breaks.
“I think like I said before, for the sake of being redundant, there are just less of them that I worry about now,” Weis said. “Last year at this time you wondered whether or not the passing game even had a chance. I don't feel that way anymore. You worried about well, are all these guys on defense going to pan out? I think our defense is going to be pretty solid, to tell you the truth. I think if our offense can score enough points, we'll have a chance to win a whole bunch of games.”
All the more reason why Weis is setting his expectations higher that just about everyone else is giving the Jayhawks. With the most depth the team has enjoyed during his tenure, it's a sentiment that isn't felt by only the head coach.
"I think our players would be disappointed if they don't win a significantly higher number of games than they won last year," Weis said.