Dayne Crist arrived at KU this season as a highly celebrated senior quarterback — the former Notre…
KU - KSU Notebook
KU coach Charlie Weis has great admiration for Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder and the KSU program. Snyder resurrected K-State football by leading the Wildcats to 11 straight bowl games between 1993-2003. After stepping down as head coach after the 2005 season, Snyder returned in 2009 and has K-State winning again. The Wildcats earned a berth in the Pin Stripe Bowl in 2010 and then played in the Cotton Bowl last season, finishing at 10-3 in 2011.
Snyder's teams have gone 16-4 against KU with only one loss in Manhattan against the Jayhawks.
"I think that since Coach Snyder's gotten to K-State, things have gone their way big time," Weis said. "A lot of times when people have a rival or an in-state rival, they want you to say negative things, but it is kind of tough for me to say anything negative about coach Snyder. First of all, I think he has a great offensive mind besides being a hell of a head coach. I like the way he creates extra gaps in the run game and how he uses misdirection to really put pressure on the defenses. If you are not sound fundamentally on defense, he will definitely expose you. ... I think if he had his druthers he would just ram it down your throat on (the ground) every play. (It's an) old school type of football and I have a lot of respect for, not only the job he has done at K-State, but him as a coach and as a person."
Weis hopes KU can eventually achieve the same success as K-State.
"I don't want every Kansas fan to be mad at me, but it's (KSU's success) actually a pretty good role model," Weis said. "Everyone wants to look at it differently than that, but from my perspective, they're doing a lot of things right. So let's try to get to the level, first. If we can get there in the not-too-distant-future, that would be a good place to get to and let's go from there. I'm not going to be dumb enough to sit there and say I'm going to wave a magic wand and it's going to happen overnight, but that's where we have to get to first.
"I'm using that as one of the things: ‘Hey, here's them, here's you. Why is that? You're all from Kansas, right? You're all from the same conference, right? You both have the same recruiting base to go off of if you wanted to, right? Then why are they this and why are you that?'"
NO POINTING FINGERS: ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
Weis said his team is still battling despite its 1-3 start. He stressed everyone is united in trying to turn the program around.
"I think the most important thing is to make sure that they know that you're not pointing the finger at them for being the reason why we're losing," Weis said. "I think that's a very important point, because you're never going to flip the switch. You're never going to get them over the hump if they think that you're not in there with them. They've got to know that you're in there battling with them for every second, because most of them are going to keep battling right along with you. As long as they keep battling, the switch is going to get flipped. You just don't know when that's going to happen."
PIERSON A SPEED BURNER
Sophomore running back Tony Pierson has been one of the bright spots this season. A speed burner, Pierson leads the team in rushing with 309 yards (5.3 yards per carry). He's also tied for second on the squad with nine receptions for 135 yards, while leading the Jayhawks in all-purpose yardage with 456 total yards (114 yards per game).
The East St. Louis, Ill., native has been using his speed to run past most defenders since he began playing football at age 5.
"I wouldn't say I was faster than everybody else, but I had speed growing up so I used it to my advantage on the football field," Pierson said. "I was always littler than everybody, so I used my speed."
He admits he really didn't train growing up as a runner.
"I only ran track when I was in seventh grade. I guess it (speed) was just God given," Pierson said.
Pierson said he models his game after "speed backs" Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans and the Kansas City Chiefs' Jamaal Charles.
"I like them a lot," Pierson said. "They're not really big backs, but they're bigger than me. I base my game off them."
Like Johnson and Charles, Pierson is on a mission during each game day.
"I go into the game with a chip on my shoulder every week and try to go out there and play with confidence and do what I can for the team," Pierson said.
KU running backs coach Reggie Mitchell lauds Pierson's toughness. Pierson, who carried the ball 20 times against South Dakota State in the season opener, has upped his carries per game to 14.5 this season from 6.5 in 2011.
"That's a credit to him and the strength staff," Mitchell said. "When coach Weis got here, that was going to be a big emphasis on him being able to get a little bit stronger, a little bit bigger as far as being able to take more of a beating (with more carries). So I've been very pleased with him.
"(I love his) ability to make big plays for us," Mitchell added. "Really, he's improved 100 percent in his overall approach to the game."
With last season's leading rusher James Sims back in action after suspended the first three games, Pierson's carries will likely be reduced. Pierson carried the ball 10 times for 30 yards the last game against Northern Illinois on Sept. 22, while Sims rushed for 91 yards on 18 carries.
Pierson loves having Sims back in the lineup.
"That's good for the team because James is a very good player," Pierson said. "Anything to win the game. ... All the running backs are going to get their share of touches."
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