Campus Corner

KU coach Charlie Weis scouts opponents on college football's opening weekend

Montell Cozart and the KU Jayhawks will get to play for real on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in their season opener.
Montell Cozart and the KU Jayhawks will get to play for real on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in their season opener. The Kansas City Star

Charlie Weis’ first glimpse of Southeast Missouri State came on Thursday night, on a streaming broadcast on his computer.

Weis couldn’t see much. Southeast Missouri State routed Missouri Baptist 77-0 in a contest that was over by halftime. But it did allow Weis to acquire some basic intelligence on the Redhawks before the Jayhawks’ season opener at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

“It gives you a chance to confirm what their bread and butter is,” Weis said Monday during the Big 12 coaches teleconference.

The rest of Weis’ weekend — a week-one bye for Kansas — included some college football binging, an opportunity to scout opponents throughout the Big 12. It’s the second straight year Weis and the Jayhawks have had an open week during the first Saturday of the season.

“I turned into your typical football junkie. I tried to catch as many of our opponents as I possibly could that were on TV,” Weis said. “I actually drove my wife crazy by the end of the day because I tried to get as many pieces of as many games as possible.”

Last week, Weis said the early bye provided some fringe benefits for KU after losing two of their top running backs — Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox — during preseason camp. The Jayhawks had an extra week of practice to allow true freshman running back Corey Avery and juco transfer De’Andre Mann to become more comfortable in the new spread offense. But despite the extra week of preparation, Weis would have preferred to open the season with the rest of the country.

“I could lie and tell you that everyone was happy that we were off this week,” Weis said. “But that would be a lie. I think that every player and all of the coaches would’ve been much happier if they were playing on Saturday rather than sitting around watching games on TV. The flip side of that is we lost the two running backs about three weeks ago, and we (still) go in about as healthy as we will be all year.”

Big 12 looking strong

If you put much stock into early-season performances, you might surmise that Kansas’ Big 12 schedule just got a little harder — at least on paper. Unranked West Virginia gave No. 2 Alabama a stiff test on Saturday night, while Oklahoma State hung with No. 1 Florida State in another marquee nonconference matchup.

Both West Virginia and Oklahoma State ended up losing, but the results suggest that the Big 12 could be a little deeper than previously thought. Both West Virginia and Oklahoma State were not expected to be major factors in the Big 12 race.

“I don’t think that anybody who is involved with the Big 12 finds that a big surprise,” Weis said. “People in other parts of the country think it is a big surprise, but we all know this is a loaded league. You can’t underestimate any competitors in this league.”

Kansas opens the Big 12 season against Texas on Sept. 27 in Lawrence. The Jayhawks then travel to West Virginia on Oct. 4 and play host to Oklahoma State on Oct. 11.

Heeney throws first pitch

Kansas linebacker Ben Heeney threw out the first pitch before the Royals game during Sunday’s “KU Day at The K”. Heeney, a former high school baseball player in Hutchinson, looked a little bit rusty, drilling the Jayhawk mascot in the head.

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

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