Nine weeks into the season, Kansas coach Charlie Weis is still grappling with the question of why a veteran-laden receiving corps has turned into a key point of weakness for the 1-8 Jayhawks.
Some of the struggles can be blamed on injuries. Some of it on inconsistent quarterback play. But following KU’s 41-14 loss to Baylor on Saturday in Waco, Weis put it like this: “Our production in the passing game has been bad,” Weis said.
In nine games, a Kansas wide receiver has yet to score a touchdown. So what happened? Last spring, Weis seemed pleased with the depth at the position. The Jayhawks returned seniors Daymond Patterson, Kale Pick and D.J. Beshears. And there were so many bodies at the position that Weis converted Marquis Jackson into a running back and JaCorey Shepherd into a cornerback.
Pick (knee), Patterson (head) and Beshears (shoulder) have all battled injuries at certain points this season. But even when healthy, none has been particularly dangerous in the passing game.
Pick leads KU with 22 receptions for 341 yards, while Patterson has 19 catches for 160 yards. Running back Tony Pierson is third with 18 catches.
“Am I surprised we haven’t gotten more production out of the position?” Weis asked, in response to a question. “Yes, I’m surprised.”
The Jayhawks do have a young slew of receivers that have had the opportunity to emerge this season. Sophomore Andrew Turzilli and Chris Omigie have both claimed starting spots. True freshman Tre’ Parmalee has been in the rotation at times. And junior college transfer Josh Ford has mostly been relegated to special teams.
“They’re all different, that’s it,” Weis explained on Sunday night. “Turzilli’s a very polished route-runner; he’s graceful with good hands. But he’s not physical like Omigie is. And Ford, being physical isn’t a problem; he just has trouble catching the ball. That’s why he’s had a tough time finding his way out there.”
Justin McCay, a transfer from Oklahoma, will be eligible next season, giving Kansas another athletic body. A former Bishop Miege standout, McCay will have two years of eligibility left.
“He has a chance of being a one or a two (receiver),” Weis said of McCay.
Still, Weis has made it clear that he’d like to address the situation in recruiting — targeting both junior college and high school players.
“It’s gonna be important to make sure that we have some guys that are ready to play right (away),” Weis said.Sims' workload
Junior running back James Sims has a solid chance of surpassing 1,000 yards for the first time in his career — despite missing the first three games of the season.
Sims set a new single-season high on Saturday, rushing for 126 yards and pushing his season rushing total to 748 yards. (He rushed for 742 yards as a freshman in 2010.)
Sims has averaged more than 26 carries in his last five games, but Weis says that he feels Sims could handle a similar workload for the rest of the season.Thinking of Jersey
Weis, a native of New Jersey, said Sunday that he continues to hear first-hand accounts of the damage along the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy hit the area last week. Weis, who spent summers on the shore while growing up, said he’s been in contact with friend Jon Bon Jovi, another New Jersey native, about the damage done to the area.