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October 8, 2013

Notebook: Change at center

When head coach Charlie Weis released the new depth chart on Tuesday, three of the five positions on the offensive line were different. Senior Gavin Howard was the biggest change on the list, rocketing up to the top of the depth chart at center above Dylan Admire.

"The biggest thing is, can Gavin hold up at center because that is the position we've been held at hostage a little bit by," Weis said. "As a head coach you don't want to isolate one player or one position and put all our blame on one area, but it is one area where we obviously have to do better."

Howard will be the Jayhawks' third different starter at center this season.

"We've tried (Pat) Lewandowski at center and that didn't work out, Dylan we tried at center and that didn't work out, (Mike) Smithburg in the spring we tried at center and that didn't work out," Weis said. "Gavin is the one guy here that has been here, who has played center, guard and tackle and has some girth to him. He's a 300-pounder that we felt, as we maneuver these guys around, gave us the best opportunity to do something."

Lewandowski and Aslam Sterling moved back to their spring positions of left tackle and right tackle respectively while Ngalu Fusimalohi and Smithburg held down their left and right guard spots.

"The guys that are actually playing halfway decent on the line are Smithburg and Ngalu. They've been the two constant people," Weis said. "They've been far from perfect mind you, but they've been the two most constant guys we've had."


Pierson's MRI comes back negative

After leaving Saturday's game with a concussion, Tony Pierson will miss this week's game against TCU. His MRI came back negative, but Weis said he is still dealing with concussion symptoms.

"I don't know when he will be back, but he will be back," Weis said. "He's got a headache, a sore neck and he's walking around like an old man, but other than that, there's nothing wrong with him."

Prior to the injury, Pierson notched his first 100-plus yard receiving game of his career with a team-high 118 yards. After a 39-yard reception, he was knocked out of bounds and his shoulder bounced off the track. Pierson is leading the Jayhawks with 21 receptions for 327 yards and a touchdown and averaging 81.8 yards per game.

Brandon Bourbon, who ranks second among the receivers with 13 receptions for 75 yards, will take over his starting spot for the foreseeable future.

"He is one of the faster guys we have especially for his size," Weis said. "He has good ball skills, we can play him in the backfield. We can play him out of the backfield. I wouldn't call him a surprise, but we are really pleased with his development."


Turzilli moving up the depth chart

Andrew Turzilli, a junior wide receiver, jumped up to the top spot of the depth chart at the "Z" passing Rodriguez Coleman and Tre' Parmalee.

"It wasn't Saturday's game that's moved him up," Weis said. "Andrew was a little bit of a disappointment in the spring time because athletically, he is probably one of our two fastest wide receivers with some size, some athleticism, some power, some ball skills, but he just wasn't playing very well. He didn't play well in the spring and he didn't play well in training camp."

Weis said Turzilli's struggles in spring ball seemed to stem from his on-field performance.

"I wouldn't necessarily say effort, but not showing up. Being there, but not being there," Weis said. "When you go through practice every practice, and practice is over and you never even noticed he was out there, that's usually not a good thing."


Faifili could redshirt

Junior college transfer Samson Faifili was on the sideline in sweatpants for Saturday's game and Weis confirmed that he could miss more time.

"He looks like he's a ways from playing," Weis said. "Every time we get going he re-aggravates it. He's really not that different from Taylor (Cox) to be perfectly honest with you and it might not be treated any differently that Taylor to be perfectly honest with you there too. He's another guy who is a potential medical redshirt if things continue going the way they're going."

In the first two games, Faifili recorded eight tackles. Jake Love will start at will linebacker this week.


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