Thursday, September 29, 2005

Keith is ready to feast

Jayhawk DE wants chance to clobber high-powered Tech offense


Kansas University defensive end Charlton Keith quietly is rubbing his hands together, anticipating a full-course meal.

Texas Tech's hyped passing offense plays right into the hands of Keith, an athletic end known for his pass-rushing capabilities. He plans to have fun Saturday, when KU and Tech meet at 6 p.m. in Lubbock, Texas.

"Me as a senior defensive lineman," Keith said, "who wouldn't want to rush the passer every play?"

Considering it's the 6-foot-5, 225-pounder's bread-and-butter, Keith salivates at a shot to slither in and sock a quarterback. Since Tech passes more than any team in America and throws twice as much as it runs, Keith and fellow end Jermial Ashley will have plenty of opportunities.

"They're ideal for it," linebacker Nick Reid said. "They're tall, they have long arms. They did a great job last year, and I'm sure they will again this year."

Keith broke up a pass last year against Texas Tech, and Ashley had two tackles for a loss (including a sack) and broke up a pass. The two did break through a couple of times despite facing a formation that was anything but normal.

"They have a little tricky scheme the way their offensive line is so spread out," Keith said. "But it's just not me. We have a lot of great defensive linemen that will be in there contributing. I feel I'm going to help them get sacks just by me getting pressure, and vice versa."

The trickery refers to the spread-out setup of the Tech line. Using the standard five linemen, the Red Raiders have significantly more space between linemen than other teams.

It makes Keith and other defensive linemen change their instinctive strategies from normal formations.

"In a way, because it makes you think you can go underneath, or you might get a lot wider and you think if you're a speed rusher, you're already going to get wide on the tackle," Keith said. "The more wider you get, it's going to lessen your time to get to the quarterback.

"You've got to pick your spot where you feel comfortable, and time it up right to where you get to the quarterback on time."

Keith makes up a defensive unit that's done its part to pester the quarterback in victories over Florida Atlantic, Appalachian State and Louisiana Tech during KU's nonconference schedule. He's already registered a pair of quarterback sacks, as well as five tackles for a loss, two passes broken up and three quarterback hurries.

In all, KU has 10 sacks, six by senior linebacker Brandon Perkins.

"They have an offense that can do a lot of things," Perkins said, "which gives us a chance to showcase some of the talents that we have."

That would include pass rushing, which Keith and Perkins thrive at. As much pressure as the Kansas secondary might feel facing such a vaunted passing attack, Keith knows he must do his part, too - and it could lead to the Jayhawks celebrating in a hostile environment as significant underdogs.

"It would be real good to win on the road down in Lubbock and against in ranked opponent," Keith said. "That would give us a lot of energy."

¢ Loudspeakers: The Jayhawks practiced Wednesday at Memorial Stadium, but if you were anywhere near campus, you probably already knew.

That's because the loudspeakers were on throughout practice, playing an endless loop of crowd noise and Texas Tech fight songs.

The purpose is to simulate what it's like in a hostile environment, so that the offense could practice communicating and calling audibles.

The defense? Well, they just had to put up with it.

"It's a headache for me," Reid quipped. "I'm sure it is (beneficial). It's good for our offense to get some of that noise so they can work on silent counts."

¢ Tech injuries: The Red Raiders are entering Saturday's game a bit banged up.

According to the Dallas Morning News, linebackers Brock Stratton and Chad Hill are questionable for Saturday's game because of undisclosed injuries. In addition, defensive tackles Dek Bake and Ken Scott did not play against Indiana State.


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