Charlie Weis is in his first year as the Kansas Jayhawks head coach, after most recently serving as Florida Gators offensive coordinator in 2011, and Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator in 2010 after a five year stint as the head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
1) So Kansas is 1-8, tell us why this is. A few years Kansas played for a BCS bowl, what has happened to the program since? Is it a young team, a new system, or what?
Markowitz: "Kansas is weak in a lot of areas that are required to build a successful program. Most notably, there aren't a lot of great prospects in the vicinity, so we have to recruit against other teams on their turf. Much like smaller schools, we have to be better at identifying overlooked and undersized kids and turning them into better players. In 2007, the stars somewhat aligned and the best KU team in years played a very weak schedule against a done north division. The route that Kansas State has chosen, where they find great athletes at the JUCO and CC level and decide what position they would fit into in the Kansas State system is the way we have to go. Previous staffs have been unwilling to commit to recruiting the JUCO ranks."
2) Who are the Jayhawks top players on offense and what are they capable of?
Markowitz: "All of our top players are at running back. James Sims is the lead back and is fully capable of rushing for 100 yards and averaging over five yards per carry. (Tony) Pierson and (Taylor) Cox are great compliments and replacements. Our QB situation is a mess on a good day. Michael Cummings has come into the role in the last few weeks, but he gets little help from the line and no help from the pass catchers."
3) On defense?
Markowitz: "Outside of the defensive backs, the defense has been rather good. The linebackers in particular, (Toben) Opurum, who started his career a successful running back, and (Jake) Love are really pretty good. Dave Campo schemes this unit very well for the talent he has, though the defensive backfield is a tire fire."
4) Kansas' best chance to win this game is.....
Markowitz: "The only way Kansas wins this game is if special teams plays better than they have all year. They make poor decisions, muff punts, miss tackles, anything they can to help the opposition. The defensive starters are now playing a lot of special teams downs. Additionally, Sims has to have a huge game and Cummings has to figure it out AND get help from a pass receiver."
5) Talk more about the direction of the program. Do you think Charlie Weis can get it done in Lawrence? Do you think next year will be better?
Markowitz: "I generally like the direction Weis is going. The schemes are better, and the team is competing on every play. This will all come down to recruiting, though, and while we are in on a lot of highly regarded defensive players so far, offensive players seem scarce."
6) What are your general thoughts about the Big 12 this year?
Markowitz: I'm a little surprised Kansas State is this dominant. I would have expected them to be good, but not dominant like they've been. Oklahoma has been a disappointment again. They just don't always compete against good opponents, even at home, and that blows my mind. Iowa State has also been a pleasant surprise, but most everyone else seem to be what I thought they'd be. WVU is all offense and no defense, Texas lacks playmakers but is really a solid team, Baylor had a huge drop off from RG3, OSU similarly from Weeden/Blackmon, TCU is good but adjusting to a major conference, and Texas Tech is a classic Tuberville team."