LAWRENCE | It’s not even July yet, but Kansas coach Charlie Weis has already spent a healthy part of his summer evaluating and scouting his program’s upcoming fall schedule. His first impression: The first four games could fall into place perfectly for a team coming off a 2-10 season.
“If you were gonna make a schedule,” Weis said, “you couldn’t have set it up any better than the way the first four games are.”
Let’s sort through Weis’ rationale. KU will open with two non-conference home games — South Dakota State on Sept. 1 and Rice the next week on Sept. 8. The matchups won’t be easy, Weis says, but they should provide an adequate warmup for a team that will still be finding its footing under a new coach.
Next comes Big 12 newcomer TCU at home on Sept. 15. A difficult challenge? Sure. But Weis likes the fact KU will stay at home for its first conference game.
“Pick them out of a hat,” Weis said. “Which game in the Big 12 is easy for us right now?
“… Tell me which one’s easy? I mean, Iowa State? The team that went to the Pinstripe Bowl last year? You want to just automatically say they’re an easy one?”
Finally, the Jayhawks will finish their non-conference slate with a road game at Northern Illinois on Sept. 22, a game that Weis believes will serve as a nice lead-in to the Jayhawks’ first Big 12 road game — a biggie against Kansas State on Oct. 6.
“It’s almost like it’s its own season,” Weis said Monday during a lengthy interview session.
For now, Weis is preparing for some time off in July before the grind of the season begins with the start of camp on Aug. 1. In fact, Weis says, he’s already scripted out the first seven practices of the season and his staff has finished evaluation of the opening four-game stretch.
“The first four scouting reports,” Weis said, “and analysis of our first four opponents will be finished (Tuesday).”
Sophomore Pat Lewandowki, a former Blue Valley West standout, is switching from the defensive line to offensive tackle, Weis announced Monday.
Lewandowski redshirted in 2010 before appearing in all 12 games last season. Weis said he believes Lewandowski will have a better opportunity to play on the offensive line.
“If we were playing in a league where they play smash-mouth football, I think Pat would be better suited to play defensive line than in the league we’re playing in,” Weis said. “In the league we’re playing in, the whole game is in space. You have to have guys that can play in space.”
Newcomers blend in
Nearly the entire roster will have reported to campus by the end of this week, Weis said. The staff is waiting on two players to finish high school, while two more players will report in July. The list of newcomers on campus includes linebacker Anthony McDonald and tight end Mike Ragone, both senior transfers from Notre Dame, and defensive lineman Josh Williams, a senior transfer from Nebraska.
“He hasn’t gotten nearly as much ink as you would have expected from him,” Weis said of Williams. “This guy is a frontline player for a top program for years.”
On Monday, Weis continued a theme from spring: The Jayhawks’ two-deep depth chart will be packed with newcomers when it’s unveiled in August.
“(Defensive coordinator Dave) Campo and I spent a lot of time together revamping this personnel,” Weis said. “When we hand out a depth chart on August 1, there’s going to be a lot of new names on the two-deep. I don’t mean a few new names – there’s going to be a lot of new names.
“A lot of new names on the two-deep. Even in the secondary, no starters will change, but you’re going to have three new names in the two-deep, even in the secondary.”
Praise for Parmalee
Weis believes his staff may have picked up a late recruiting coup in the form of freshman receiver Tre Parmalee, a former standout at Bishop Miege and the son of Chiefs tight ends coach Bernie Parmalee.
For a while, Parmalee flirted with the idea of playing defensive back in college, but Weis, who coached Bernie Parmalee while he played for the New York Jets, thinks Parmalee is better suited to play receiver.
“We sat there and watched tape of Miege play,” Weis said. “Have people not watched tape of this kid?”
The elder Parmalee also coached under Weis during his tenure at Notre Dame.