KU coach Charlie Weis grateful for extra week of practice before football opener

08/25/2014 3:28 PM

08/25/2014 3:28 PM

In a utopian world, Charlie Weis would prefer to be playing on college football’s opening weekend. But given Kansas’ current reality — including season-ending injuries to two senior running backs — Weis is suddenly thankful for the week-one bye on the Jayhawks’ schedule.

“I’d love to play early,” Weis said Monday on the Big 12 football coaches teleconference. “But in light of a couple of guys we’ve lost in the last couple weeks, I think it’s turned out to be a benefit for us.

“So I think all it has done is given us more time.”

Last week, Weis announced that running backs Brandon Bourbon (torn ACL) and Taylor Cox (torn Achilles’ tendon) were both lost for the season. The injuries pushed true freshman Corey Avery and junior college transfer De’Andre Mann to the top of the depth chart. Avery is a three-star recruit from Carter High School in Dallas, while Mann racked up more than 1,700 yards last season at Hartnell Community College in Salinas, Calif.

“We have two front-line guys that we like a whole bunch,” Weis said, adding that Mann “isn’t just another guy.”

Another week of practice on the heels of fall camp should provide Avery and Mann some added time to grow comfortable with a new offense. It also buys Weis some time to sort through the depth in the backfield. Last week, Weis switched true freshman Joe Dineen from safety to running back. But beyond those three, the Jayhawks are particularly thin at the position.

For now, though, Weis says he’s comfortable with Avery and Mann carrying the load in the backfield.

“These guys were pushing to be No. 1 when we had the injuries,” Weis said. “So what this has really done is elevating them to 1 and 1a and changed the depth behind them.”

Extra time to scout

Kansas’ opening opponent, Southeast Missouri State, will begin the season on Thursday night against Missouri Baptist. And the early start time should provide the Kansas staff an early jump on preparation for the opener on Sept. 6 at Memorial Stadium.

“We spent last week working on other opponents, not Southeast Missouri,” Weis said. “This week, we’ll treat like game week No. 1. But by Thursday night, after Southeast Missouri has already played their opener, we’ll have that information to use on Friday, which will allow us on Saturday to make sure our information is up to date.

“So we can have a big jumpstart, getting ready for that first opponent.”

To reach Rustin Dodd, call 816-234-4937 or send email to rdodd@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @rustindodd.

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