DALLAS -- It didn't matter if Charlie Weis was with the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Notre Dame or Florida -- he always focused on manufacturing a passing game. Sometimes it worked -- see: Tom Brady, Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel -- and sometimes it didn't, but it was in the game plan. But in his first season as head coach of Kansas, Weis found himself doing something unimaginable: trying to design an offense that never had to throw the ball.
"I'd be walking in every Monday saying we can't throw it, so what are the 20 ways we're going to run the ball this week," Weis said Monday as Big 12 media days got underway.
Fortunately for Weis, running back James Sims was there, ready and willing to take the abuse from defenses focused entirely on stopping him. And Sims flourished, becoming the first Jayhawk to top 1,000 yards on the ground in a season since 2006 and rushing for more than 100 yards in six consecutive conference games.
The best example of Sims' productivity and Weis' reticence came in a 21-17 last-second loss to Texas. Kansas attempted nine passes in that game, while Sims carried the ball 28 times for 176 yards.
Sims earned second-team All-Big-12 honors from conference coaches, while several media outlets put him on the first team. Weis went one step further, proclaiming the 6-foot, 202-pound senior can make the transition from college football to the NFL.
"Do I think he'll be able to play on Sundays?" Weis said. "Yes, I believe he will be able to play on Sundays."
Weis is even willing to go as far as compare Sims to Terrell Davis, but not the Davis "who rushed for nine million yards when he was with the Broncos."
"There is a reason Terrell Davis was a sixth-round draft choice now. He was that slash one-cut runner with good vision, could run the ball inside very well, could run the ball outside okay, could pick up the blitz, is okay in the passing game," Weis said, comparing the attributes Davis showed coming out of Georgia to Sims. "(Sims) doesn't have a glaring weakness."
For his part, Sims isn't even thinking about that next step. He is quick to praise his offensive line, downplay his own performance and express confidence in a more balanced offense led by BYU transfer quarterback Jake Heaps.
If it takes another season of grinding out yards to move the ball, Sims is more than ready.
"Knowing Coach Weis, whatever is working in the game, he is going to keep going with it," Sims said. "If it's working, then why go away from it?"
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.