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Sunday, July 25, 2010

KU safeties looking to model their games after Stuckey

KU's Lubbock Smith tries to drag down Texas Tech's Baron Batch (25) at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas, in this file photo from Oct. 31, 2009. Smith is one of the top KU safeties on the depth chart heading into the 2010 season.

KU's Lubbock Smith tries to drag down Texas Tech's Baron Batch (25) at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas, in this file photo from Oct. 31, 2009. Smith is one of the top KU safeties on the depth chart heading into the 2010 season.

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In his four different coaching stops, Robert Wimberly has never seen a position group quite like this year’s Kansas University safeties.

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He’s been on new staffs before, and usually the players try to make inroads to the coach to ensure their own playing time.

“I think that’s why,” Wimberly said, “I was surprised to see a group so tightly knit.”

Call it the Darrell Stuckey effect.

The former KU safety not only was one of KU’s best leaders over the past few seasons, he also molded the safeties group that remains.

Stuckey made it a point to talk to younger players on the sideline, helping explain a play or why KU was in a certain coverage.

“When I had meetings with my safeties, they always talked about Darrell Stuckey talking about, ‘Hey, we’re a group. We’re a family. We’re a unit,’” Wimberly said.

This year’s unity, Wimberly said, isn’t hard to spot.

The new KU safeties coach sees his players talking to each other in meetings, making sure everyone in the group understands his assignments.

Other times, he’ll spot his guys huddling up in the locker room. Or a few will come to him after practice to ask questions.

He’ll even peek over during some scrimmages, seeing his safeties down on one knee, watching the play in front of them and talking through it.

“I’ve been places where guys are off on the sideline just talking about anything,” Wimberly said. “I was very encouraged to see my group focused and trying to make sure they were taking mental reps throughout practice.”

Wimberly said KU’s three safeties with the most experience have done the best job of picking up KU’s new schemes — which include some special 3-4 and 3-3-5 packages implemented by defensive coordinator Carl Torbush.

Senior Phillip Strozier had three starts and 23 tackles last season. He also contributed two interceptions in 2008.

“You could tell he has had game experience,” Wimberly said. “He was very good in directing safeties, giving little coaching points about what to expect from the offense. I was really pleased with his attitude.”

Sophomore Lubbock Smith started six games a year ago, ranking eighth on the team with 42 tackles. He missed a few spring practices with minor injuries.

“I think fall camp is going to be very important for him,” Wimberly said. “But he did show signs that he has a chance to be very special.”

Olaitan Oguntodu has the best size of the KU safeties at 6 feet, 218 pounds, and Wimberly said the senior’s biggest strength was defending against the run.

A pair of red-shirt freshmen provide KU with depth.

Prinz Kande, a four-star recruit out of Euless, Texas, is still developing.

“He’s coming along just fine,” Wimberly said. “He has a chance to have a very good career here at Kansas. Still, once again, that learning curve and the speed of the game, and he’s still adjusting to that.”

Dexter Linton, from Arlington, Texas, also is a part of the future and could help on special teams this season.

Comments

Funhawk 4 years, 1 month ago

Amazing how just one person can have an effect on many. Darrell Stuckey is an amazing person. Best of success in the NFL, Darrell!

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hawk316 4 years, 1 month ago

Thank you, Darrell Stuckey! Your influence on KU football did not end with your completed eligibility; it lives on with the current crop of safeties. Again, thank you.

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newjayhawk 4 years, 1 month ago

I agree that Darrell Stuckey is one tough act to follow........BUT, come on fellas! The KU defense gave up 4600yards last season. Three thousand of those yards came through the air! Somebody on this staff better open their dadblasted eyes and see what the heck is wrong! Yes< I do agree that we have L. Smith at safety nad he IS good but he alone will NOT turn this secondary around. You can listen, be good students of the game, be polite, and on Saturday .....get your freakin' heads ripped off. Coach Wimberly is one good guy and I hope that he has a better gameplan than last year. However, I don't see much changing with the same players. I hope they all put in a lot of hard work, or we're in for one long year!

Total Defense

Team G Pts/G Yds/G PassYds RushYds Int IntTD FumRec FumYds Tack PassDef Sack
Nebraska 13 11.2 284.5 2458 1241 20 2 0 0 0 N/A 0
Oklahoma 12 13.5 273.5 2219 1063 18 1 0 0 0 N/A 0
Texas 13 15.2 251.8 2456 818 25 4 0 0 0 N/A 0
Texas Tech 12 21.8 348.8 2685 1500 10 0 0 0 0 N/A 0
Oklahoma St. 12 21.8 329.9 2907 1052 18 2 0 0 0 N/A 0
Iowa St. 12 22.6 414.3 2940 2032 17 0 0 0 0 N/A 0
Kansas St. 12 23.3 339.9 2814 1265 13 1 0 0 0 N/A 0
Missouri 12 24.6 358.0 3139 1157 8 1 0 0 0 N/A 0
Baylor 12 27.3 405.6 2722 2145 10 3 0 0 0 N/A 0
Kansas 12 28.4 383.3 2940 1659 7 1 0 0 0 N/A 0
Colorado 12 28.8 363.0 2422 1934 9 1 0 0 0 N/A 0
Texas A&M 12 32.7 431.3 3153 2023 12 0 0 0 0 N/A 0

Last updated through games completed on Jan 7, 2010

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NebraskaJayhawk 4 years, 1 month ago

Yeah...as well as I liked some of the players on the team the last few seasons, we have really stunk on defense lately. Step it up gentlemen. YOU CAN DOOOIIIIIITTT!!!

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JBurtin 4 years, 1 month ago

newjayhawk,

The thing that I don't think your taking into account is just how bad the defensive scheme was last year. I had hopes that Bowen would continue with a defense that that was at least similar to Bill Young's. Instead for some reason he had to reinvent the wheel and go back to a defense that was much more similar to what he played in under Glen Mason.

Sure we lost some good players after '07, but it was obvious to everyone in the stands that our defensive schemes were no longer the super aggressive ones that we were used to seeing with Young at the helm.

They may not be world beaters, but I already saw marked improvement in the spring game. Hopefully that trend continues.

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justanotherfan 4 years, 1 month ago

First and foremost, I hope these guys follow Stuckey's lead not only on the field, but off it as well. Darrell Stuckey is one of the most stand up guys you will ever meet.

As for an improved pass defense, two things have to happen.

1) More aggressive play from the corners. When you are playing in a passing conference like the Big 12, you can't just give away 7 yards of cushion to the other teams' WRs. That's just asking for them to hurt you on RAC yards.

2) Better pass rush. Other than Laptad, we didn't generate much pressure from our front four last year. That meant we had to blitz, leaving guys in one on one situations. If we can generate a rush with our front four consistently, that will take a lot of pressure off the corners to have to cover for more than four seconds, because everybody knows that given enough time, a WR will always eventually get open.

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NebraskaJayhawk 4 years, 1 month ago

Just beat Nebraska this year. Please.

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