Monday, November 22, 2010

Bradley McDougald shows promise at safety for KU football

Kansas safety Bradley McDougald can't keep up with Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle as Randle heads in for a touchdown during the first quarter, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas safety Bradley McDougald can't keep up with Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle as Randle heads in for a touchdown during the first quarter, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010 at Kivisto Field.


In some ways, it has been the theme of the 2010 Kansas University football season, even if nobody thought it would be.

Players changing positions has become the norm at KU during the past few seasons, and the most recent shifts showed up Saturday, when four Jayhawks were in new spots during a 48-14 loss to No. 12 Oklahoma State.

A couple of the moves — sophomore quarterback Kale Pick to wide receiver and freshman running back James Sims stepping in to take snaps in the Wildcat formation — seemed minor, as neither was on the field often in his new role. Red-shirt freshman Kevin Young also played a new position Saturday, moving from defensive end to defensive tackle.

But there was one position change that had a big impact. Wide receiver Bradley McDougald’s slide over to safety seemed to be done with an eye to the future.

McDougald, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, hails from Dublin, Ohio, and was recruited out of high school by Ohio State as a safety. He came to Kansas largely because then-KU coach Mark Mangino offered him a chance to play wide receiver.

Now, though, after back-to-back seasons without a bowl appearance and a stretch that has included 15 losses in 18 games, McDougald is starting to think more with his mind than his heart. Credit KU coach Turner Gill for giving him the opportunity to do so.

“Coach Gill put it in my hands, whether I wanted to even take the chance at safety,” McDougald said. “He made it clear that it was my choice. I actually made the decision a long time ago, but I’m gonna be wherever the team needs me to be, and that was on offense. But it was finally time for them to switch me over so I took it in stride.”

Starting at strong safety, McDougald finished with eight tackles and delivered both good and bad moments against OSU. At times he looked strong, fast and athletic. At others he looked out-of-position and unsure. For the most part, though, those around him were impressed.

“I think he has potential,” Gill said. “We believe he has some athleticism. I would just like to get him another ballgame, particularly against these two teams (Oklahoma State and Missouri) who throw the ball and have some talented receivers. We just want to evaluate him here in these two ballgames, and that’ll help us decide.”

Added senior Chris Harris: “I thought he played really well. And he’s just gonna get better. It’s kinda hard being thrown in there at safety because you’re pretty much like the quarterback back there. (Oklahoma State) definitely came at him.”

Injury/QB update

Gill said Sunday night that he and offensive coordinator Chuck Long had not decided who would start at quarterback Saturday against Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Quinn Mecham has started KU’s last four games, and Jordan Webb started the six games before that. One of them will get the call for KU’s finale.

“We’re gonna try to play the best guy that gives us an opportunity to win,” Gill said.

In injury news, the severity of offensive lineman Sal Capra’s ankle injury remained unknown Sunday night.

“It’ll probably be the middle of the week before we know the true status of it,” Gill said.


KU_Alumn_2000 7 years, 6 months ago

Personally I thought our defense looked faster after watching the game again on DVR.

Just got to keep getting better each week...and " keep sawing wood. "

Boy do we need to recruit some defensive linemen.

One final point...think we might need to get some coaching help with special teams.

honk_for_hawks 7 years, 6 months ago

glad this finally happened. I was talking to justin thorton last year before he left to go do his pre-draft workouts and asked him who he thought was gonna play safety next year since we were losing him and stuckey. He said the best pure safety on the team was mcdougald and that he wished he would consider it. glad to see he is finally giving it a try.

hawk316 7 years, 6 months ago

honk, thanks for that interesting anecdote. This might turn out to be a great move for both McDougald and the team. I'm all for getting the players in the best position to be successful.

Nutflush21 7 years, 6 months ago

We could have a nice trio of safeties between McDougald, Lubbock Smith and Keeston Terry.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 6 months ago

The entire DB group is really developing nicely. We will be getting a lot more speed in the middle/LB in the next year, but as 2000 says, we need some more DL. Interesting to hear that Kevin Young moved inside. He'll need to add more lbs to really be effective inside, but that should help our team speed there as well.

Nutflush21 7 years, 6 months ago

Agreed with the needed DL help. Getting Tharp back at LB next year will be nice too.

yates33333 7 years, 6 months ago

Isn't this miserable season about over?

I do think the coach has done a better job than I expected. Now he needs to recruit players who can compete with Missouri and the southern schools.

FSUJHAWK 7 years, 6 months ago

I think this move was a long time coming. This is a really tough position to be thrown into - OSU and Mizzery as your first two games at the position on this level. Something tells me however that BM will step up to the challenge and will be a force to reckon with next year.


Layne Pierce 7 years, 6 months ago

These are changes that reflect 2 realities. 1) We need every player we have to be maximizing his abilities on the field and not doing something in a mediocre way. McDougal has great talent, and could be a pro- safety, if he works at it 2) The emphasis Coach Gill is putting on lean and mean, means that the prototypes are changing, if Pick does not have quite what it takes for what Gill and Long want, then he can leave, or evolve. I am happy if he wants to evolve. He has speed, he has brains, if he masters routes, watch out. Hopefully he also has hands, and who knows, maybe he can block.

Sink or swim, Gill is establishing new benchmarks, and he will insist on them. Last years recruits, and who we tentatively have coming in this year, make that clear.

justanotherfan 7 years, 6 months ago

The former administration recruited players by telling them they could play where they wanted, even if that wasn't their strongest position. That's how we landed Opurum (most schools wanted him at FB or on defense), McDougald (most teams wanted him on defense), and a few others. These guys were high rated prospects, but based on their offensive skills, they actually would have been ranked lower.

I'm glad to see that a lot of the players are coming in with a more open mind, and willing to make changes to help the team win. I think the team could make some pretty large improvements next year if we can stabilize our line play.

TopCityHawk 7 years, 6 months ago

How refreshing to read some positive and realistic points of view.

McDougald clearly possesses the ability to make a contribution on either side of the ball. In my opinion, however, his impact at wide receiver had proved to be fruitless, and I'm very encouraged that Coach Gill was ready and willing to make a move (not his first good position switch). Although he was able to haul in some great grabs on offense throughout the past two seasons, his impact on the outcomes of our games has been minimal.

This move was right for two reasons. 1. His natural position is safety. As evidenced by his recruitment, body type and skills, McDougald definitely looks the part of a hard-hitting Oskie causer.

  1. Individual and Team Benefits. Moving forward, McDougald will potentially have a shot at playing safety at the next level, given that he will continue to learn and work. Guys with his size, speed and ball skills rarely go unnoticed. This move also clearly improves our defense. Even after being thrown into the Lion's den against OSU, he proved very capable and even an improvement over options B, C, D, etc. with such limited practice.

I really appreciate a team with guys that can put their egos to the side, and try something new. McDougald and Opurum have set great examples for the younger Hawks to follow. A selfless attitude goes a long way in the makeup of a true winner. It was only a short time ago that guys like Charles Gordon, Nick Reid, etc. were willing to make short term sacrifices in an effort to lay the foundation of Mangino's program. Now, let's hope Coach Gill's eye for putting players in the best position to succeed is just as keen.

He's got my vote.

djhawk75 7 years, 6 months ago

I like this comment (and the avatar too).

JBurtin 7 years, 6 months ago

It's nice to finally be able to talk football again. Most of the flamers and trolls have already made up their mind, given up, and slowed down on their posting so the rest of us can have a conversation.

In hindsight I think most people now have a much more realistic view on what the real talent level of this team is currently. There are definitely some playmakers, but a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link and this team definitely has some weak links.

It seems like that was the biggest problem with the last staff. They would get talented players, but year after year their recruiting classes would have gaping holes that had to be filled with whoever was left at the end of the year. For the most part so far this staff has done a good job of filling the obvious gaps, though admittedly I'm a bit concerned at this point with the lack of defensive line recruits as we definitely need a significant improvement in that area if we are going to be any better next year. Luckily Opurum has helped and we have a couple more D ends that are redshirting right now that might pan out ok.

All in all I think we're finally starting to see the small signs of improvement that we've all been crying out for all year. The miscues and penalties have reduced dramatically, holes are being filled with the best available candidates (even if it's not the best natural fit), and the players are buying in and playing hard. The results on the field still aren't what you're ultimately looking for, but making continuous steps in the right direction will eventually get you there.

I think this move of McDougald to safety could be a major improvement. To me he looks like kind of a tweener as a receiver. He's got speed, but he's not the long ball threat, he can make cuts, but is a bit too tall to make them faster than the average defensive back, and doesn't seem to have quite the knack for finding the hole in the zone that a guy like Kerry Meier did. So he's not bad at anything, but he doesn't really have a strong point that he can hang his hat on.

McDougald has more of a solid and all around athletic body that is much more similar to Darrel Stuckey than a Briscoe or Meier. His overall athleticism should allow him to move in any direction. The best safeties have to have enough speed to cover, enough strength to tackle, and be smart enough to read a QB's eyes. So the general athleticism that is actually somewhat of a weakness as a receiver, could be a strength as a safety.

truefan 7 years, 6 months ago

It's also really nice to see that this staff won't just roll out the red carpet for players. They let Toben and McDougald continue their experiments at offensive positions and when it didn't work out they put them in the positions that the big programs were recruiting them for.

Toben was recruited by big time programs to play LB and DE and we can all see why now. If Mangino had put him on defense from day 1 he would be a force to be reckoned with this year, instead he is an athletic freak that doesn't quite know what he's doing on D yet.

McDougald is the same. I agree completely with your assessment of his skills at WR. He's decent at everything a WR needs to be good, but he's not great at any of those things. He doesn't have superior size, speed, or athleticism to be a Briscoe and doesn't possess the knowledge to recognize zone coverage to be a Meier. On defense he's perfect though. Not so flashy or daring that he lets the big play get by him, and big enough to run down hill and lay the wood on a receiver or running back.

I love having both of them on the team, but I believe that this staff is now recruiting players who WANT to play defense from the start. Ben Heeney plays running back now, but he was recruited as a LB and will play LB and he knows that. Same with Chris Robinson and Adonis Saunders who play RB/slot receiver roles right now, but were recruited to play CB.

No question we have not seen the on field results that we want, but I do see reasons to have hope for the future.

Steven Mathew 7 years, 6 months ago

I remember Ohio State was recruiting Bradley McDougald to play safety for them. So if OSU was recruiting him for defense, then he must be pretty good. Turns out he is (or showing promise).

jksport 7 years, 6 months ago

I was at the Nebraska game and didn't McDougal get in the wildcat formation for a few runs? I thought he was fairly effective esp against a good defense.

TRUEHEART 7 years, 6 months ago

It's nice to know that with one game remaining something show promise

newjayhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

We absolutely cannot take too much more improvement! __410 yards thru the air and 3 TDs!! Even through it all < I do agree , he certainly looks the part. He is a great kid.
___THIS IS THE FREAKIN BIG 12! You cannot just pull a guy that has been playing offense for the last two years or so and expect to shut down or even be significant. You have four doggone teams that have won National Championships in this damn conference[Texas-NU-OU-A&M] These doggone coaches have all spring and summer to put the correct personnel in the correct positions! Certainly understand the injury bugs though. The only positive in that game was James Sims again. God bless the Jayhawks. Somebody better damn well look up and see what we are facing...this is terrible

JBurtin 7 years, 6 months ago

This isn't a matter of the coaches "putting the guys in the right positions", it's a matter of keeping promises that were made by the last coaching staff. McDougald was recruited with the promise of playing offense and the coaches were doing what they could to allow that to happen.

As much as we'd all like to think that players are just chess pieces that can be moved around at will the truth is that they are actually real human beings. I think we can all see now why the last coaching staff moved Beshears and Patterson to the defensive side of the ball last year. Their speed and quickness is badly needed on that side of the ball. The problem is that neither of them really want to play on that side of the ball, so neither of them is likely to put their true heart and soul into it. We all saw last year exactly what happened when you simply dropped these 2 players in a position that they didn't want to play. 2 great athletes suddenly looked very ordinary.

The comments from Truefan above are very true and do a good job of describing the mentality of this staff. We have 2 players in this next class that are equals in athleticism with Beshears and Patterson, but these guys are being recruited to play defense from the start. Chris Robinson and Adonis Saunders are easily the best players on their respective high school teams, and I wouldn't be surprised to see one or both of them be an immediate impact player.

Do yourself a favor and take a look at the video of Adonis Saunders (fastest player in Kansas) vs. Darrian Miller (all time leading rusher in this history of Missouri football) from the summer camps on the Shiver. It's fun to watch and shows the kind of speed that we haven't had for quite some time here. Saunders runs step for step in a sprint with Miller with his head turned around backwards as if looking for the ball.

Mike Ardis 7 years, 6 months ago

Toben and McDougald are at KU because Mangino recruited them to specific positions. If Mangino had told McDougald he would be on defense he would probably be at Ohio State today. Same with TO, he would be at Notre Dame. One can argue Mangino shouldn't have made promises but didn't Gil go to NU because Osborne said he would be able to to play QB?

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