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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Filling linebacker void could be key

Graduation of LB trio of Holt, Rivera, Mortensen leaves Jayhawks’ defense with gaping hole

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Quigley switching sides of the ball

Despite just making the move from offense to defense, newly-minted KU linebacker Angus Quigley is on top of the depth chart.

Goodbye 105 tackles, 10 sacks and six forced fumbles.

So long 93 tackles — eight for loss — and four forced fumbles.

And sayonara, too, to 90 tackles, two sacks and nine quarterback hurries.

Those are the numbers supplied by former Kansas University linebackers James Holt, Mike Rivera and Joe Mortensen, respectively, last season — and the numbers that will have to be replaced entering 2009.

It’s no secret that the biggest challenge facing KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen this fall will be figuring out how to duplicate that kind of production at the linebacker position.

What’s less clear, however, is who he intends to do that with.

Although the Jayhawks will have to fill just two of the linebacker spots — the team plans to operate out of a 4-2-5 alignment, using an extra safety playing a hybrid-type role — experienced talent isn’t necessarily abundant. Justin Springer, a junior from Los Fresnos, Texas, showed flashes as a reserve last fall, before suffering a season-ending injury against Kansas State. He’ll be joined by fellow ’08 reserve Arist Wright, who started two games last season and finished the year with 33 tackles. Kansas also could get a boost from running back-turned-linebacker Angus Quigley and junior college transfer Vernon Brooks, who earned JUCO All-American honors last year at Brenham (Texas) Blinn Community College.

For their part, the unit’s departing players seem confident that their replacements — whoever they turn out to be — will have little trouble making the transition to the starting lineup while anchoring a KU defense that finished 10th in the Big 12 in pass defense a season ago.

“All ... of those guys can play,” Rivera said at the end of last season. “They know what it takes. They’ve seen how hard you have to work, and, hopefully, we’ve taught them a lot.”

With the exception of the linebacking corps, however, the Jayhawks appear to be in relatively good shape defensively.

The secondary, which underwent a massive midseason overhaul in ’08, returns four starters in safeties Darrell Stuckey and Phillip Strozier and cornerbacks Justin Thornton and Daymond Patterson, and the defensive line, with Jake Laptad and transfer Quintin Woods at the end positions, should provide Kansas with an improved pass-rush.

Kansas showed a marked ability to stop the run last season, allowing just 123.1 yards per game to finish 28th nationally. If the defense can maintain that level of success, while getting a boost from what figures to be a more experienced secondary, it would go a long way in the team’s quest for a first-ever berth in the Big 12 Championship.

Comments

Jesse Newell 10 years, 5 months ago

jhawkclassof02 — This story was written in advance for our KU Edition section that goes in the newspaper over the next few days. Because it is a special section, the stories are written two weeks in advance to make deadline. That's the reason for there being extra stories on the Web site this morning. It's also the reason that this story seems a little bit outdated — it was written before media day.

Jesse Newell KUsports.com online editor

NebraskaJayhawk 10 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for clarifying the issue... I hate to support a rant, but don't you think it's a little rediculous to print an article with false information if you know about it beforehand? You know you're going to have these kinds of comments and you know it's going to start false rumors about our defense. I liked the article and actually makes sense to me to have that base defense if we can't field three quality linebackers, but lets print the facts, eh?

MitchumMan 10 years, 5 months ago

I second what NebraskaJayhawk wrote....

Jonathan Kealing 10 years, 5 months ago

Nebraska and Mitchum-- That's a question more for me, rather than Jesse or Dugan.

And, to answer it, yes. It's silly and stupid. We probably should have posted these stories two weeks ago. And, failing that, we should have changed this article to reflect the facts as they stand now. But that's neither of their fault — that's those of us who manage content's fault.

Jonathan Kealing Online editor

Eliott Reeder 10 years, 5 months ago

Um... I'm just happy to wake up to a good cup of coffee and a bunch of articles about my team. They should probably be post-dated to when they were originally written, but other than that, I don't see the need to rake our Journal World writers over the coals after every article...

KGphoto 10 years, 5 months ago

George Castanza, you're all ove... I mean... Jon Kealing, you're all over it! Nice.

Jonathan "Even" Kealing, manning up. Very refreshing.

You still kinda F'd up though. If you want to fill the void Joe Poz left at the Star, as the overweight bald guy, yooouuuu're gonna have to do better!

KGphoto 10 years, 5 months ago

Oh yeah. The article. More so, the video.

Angus is just a likable guy. I must say, at the very least, I'm in the front of the Angus Quigley bandwagon. He's done everything he's been asked to do, Much like Kerry, and has never complained about his role.

Too bad the transition came so late. But with his athleticism and that addiction of his, to impact, he might just be able to turn this into a nice career. Both at KU and beyond.

I still say that if we weren't so stacked at RB, and if he could hold on to the ball, he is an effective runner and would be in serious contention for carries. He would certainly have Texas' attention.

Jonathan Kealing 10 years, 5 months ago

KG--

It's an old photo. I'm still balding but you wouldn't believe how much weight I've lost. ;-)

Cheers, Jonathan Kealing

NebraskaJayhawk 10 years, 5 months ago

You'd be a good boss to work for, Kealing. Not too bosses stick up for their underlings if it puts themself in a precarious position. Have any job openings? lol

milehighhawk 10 years, 5 months ago

Not to pile on here, but isn't the whole point of stories online to get information accurate?

If they aren't going to play with a 4-2-5, CHANGE IT IN THE ARTICLE. I should not have to read the comments of an article to get accurate information.

d_prowess 10 years, 5 months ago

Sounds like Jonathan must have been working out with The Drive folks if he lost all that weight. Too bad though you couldn't have transferred some of it to Romary!

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