Charlie Weis and company keep expectations in mind
- Nov. 7, 2012
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Before every practice, before every walkthrough and before every home game, the Kansas Jayhawks are reminded of what is expected from them.
A huge whiteboard with a list of team goals hangs just outside the Jayhawks’ locker room. If the goals are met, a helmet sticker is added for that game; if not, it stays blank. This season the stickers have been coming in patches, but that hasn’t altered Kansas’ objectives.
“The goals never change,” Kansas coach Charlie Weis said. “You add things to that list, you don’t take things away from that list.”
At the top of the list: Win a Big 12 game. From there the list gets more specific. The defense has its eyes set on holding their opponent to under 21 points, less than 125-yards rushing and to make a minimum of 15 disruptive plays — tackles for loss, fumble recoveries, deflected passes, etc.
For the Kansas players, the stickers represent a point of pride, but not every action gets rewarded with a piece of adhesive art. For some Jayhawks, their personal goals are just as important.
It’s improvement in leadership that has freshman quarterback Michael Cummings focused.
“A leader that is looked up to by his teammates always leads by example first and speaks second,” Cummings said. “That’s one of the things I like to do.”
For some of the other Jayhawks the goal is to play at their full potential, and the inability to reach that isn’t something a sticker can bandage.
“I expect myself to do so good, but I still am a young buck out there on the field,” sophomore tight end Jimmay Mundine said. “I’m not happy at all because I’ve got high expectations for myself. I worked hard over the summer to achieve those goals and hopefully go above and beyond those goals.”
Mundine has been working to become more sound in the Kansas run game. He said in practice he feels comfortable with his footwork, but in games he sometimes panics as a blocker. As a receiver, Mundine hopes to add onto his total of two touchdowns this year.
If there is one thing about these Jayhawks, it’s that they can see how close they are to getting an elusive Big 12 victory. The last few years of Kansas football has seen players looking worn down as the season has come to a close. With this team it’s the opposite. There is optimism in the locker room, and the players feel closer than ever to getting over the hump.
But getting climbing that hill this year will require something Kansas hasn’t done since Sept. 12, 2009: win a road game.
“I’d like to develop a mindset that it doesn’t matter where you play,” Defensive coordinator Dave Campo said. “Two of our next three are on the road. We can make some strides.”
Campo and Weis have both refused to continue with the same road plan they have used all season. One of the tweaks is for the Jayhawks to hold a walkthrough at the road venue to get more acclimated to the surroundings and keep the players focused on football when they run out of the tunnel on Saturday.
Changing Kansas’ road mentality could kill two goals with one sticker — getting a Big 12 win and doing so outside of Lawrence.
“We all need to do a better job when we’re on the road,” Weis said. “In the last three games, that’s not the way it’s gone. That would be an add-on, not a subtraction.”
Blake is a senior from Chicago, Ill., studying journalism on the news and information track. Read more from Blake Schuster.