University of Kansas

Weis plans to continue focus on running game

Updated: 2013-10-23T04:39:50Z


The Kansas City Star

— All last year, Kansas coach Charlie Weis talked about establishing an identity on offense, a sense of toughness from a physical rushing attack.

For a few weeks this season, that identity was gone. Now, after rushing for 201 yards last week in a 34-19 loss against Oklahoma, it appears to be back.

Senior running back James Sims has averaged 105 yards per game the last two weeks, while sophomore Darrian Miller ran for 67 yards in nine carries against Oklahoma. The resurgence came after Weis made another round of changes on the offensive line — senior Gavin Howard stabilized a soft spot at center — and the tweaks appear to be paying off.

The emphasis on the running game will continue, Weis says.

“That’s what we’re going to do,” Weis told reporters in Lawrence on Tuesday. “They know it; we know it. Last week we made a firm commitment to this is what we’re going to do.”

Still, the Jayhawks, 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the Big 12, continue to struggle in the passing game. One week after Weis delegated more offensive game-plan duties to quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus and tight-ends coach Jeff Blasko, the passing attack was quiet again. Quarterback Jake Heaps threw for just 16 yards, and Weis confirmed Tuesday that he had relinquished play-calling duties before the Oklahoma game.

That will continue this week against No. 6 Baylor, which is averaging a nation-leading 64.7 points per game.

“We need to make a few big gains in the passing game and try to do all we can to be even better in the running game,” Weis said. “We had a bunch of third-and-short (situations) that we came up short in this past game. We can’t have those against these guys if we’re going to have any chance.”

Injury update

Junior linebacker Ben Heeney and junior running back Tony Pierson are both listed as day-to-day, according to KU’s depth chart. Heeney, a defensive captain, missed last week because of a knee injury, while Pierson has missed the last two games while dealing with recurring symptoms from a concussion. Both players appear to be making progress, but their status is unlikely to be known until just before Saturday’s game.

Also listed day-to-day: receiver Andrew Turzilli, defensive lineman Tedarian Johnson and tight end Trent Smiley.

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