Saturday, October 2, 2010


Daydreaming about defenses


— Recurring daydreams don’t get nearly the analytical play that night dreams and nightmares get. Speaking for all chronic daydreamers, that’s not right.

Daydreamers suffer enough by constantly getting slapped with speeding tickets and forever having to go back to read the previous three pages that were turned without reading a word. Do you have any idea what it’s like constantly needing to dial your own cell phone to try to locate it, only to learn it’s not charged and can’t ring anyway? And now we must withstand the slight of nobody caring enough to analyze our space flights.

For example, for the past several years, every time I watch a Kansas University basketball game, my mind drifts to a place where one of the basketeers is wearing a football helmet with the Trajan-font KU on the side. Just about every time, that player is lined up on the edge, eyes ablaze with quarterback-hatred.

Darnell Jackson, although even better suited to play tight end, had the sort of agility, speed, size and heart to make terrified quarterbacks panic. Let Thomas Robinson loose, and hurried passes would show less touch than Robinson’s free throws.

Robinson, as will teammate Conner Teahan, will stick with basketball, which brings us back to the need to analyze the meaning of daydreams. Dr. Phil was unavailable for comment, so we’ll try to stand in for him.

Let’s see, could it mean that for the past five seasons Kansas has not had the sort of agile, fast, long defensive end who wiggles, hunts and slams his way onto the highlights? That could be it. Since Chartlon Keith’s departure, nobody has done it quite the same way. Ditto for playing without James McClinton in the middle the past three seasons.

Kansas doesn’t make passers uncomfortable, and it’s tough to win in the Big 12 without doing that, without winning the recruiting battles for the defensive ends who call to mind fast power forwards with an extra layer of muscles.

Strong and fairly fast, Jake Laptad has done good work and has a fan in new defensive coordinator Carl Torbush, but he’s not an all-conference talent.

“Jake’s a smart football player,” Torbush said. “He understands leverage. He understands gaps. He understands when he’s going to get a single block and a double block. Jake, even though stat-wise it may not show it, Jake is having a very, very solid year.”

That’s a pretty fair summary of the KU defense in general. Torbush, who has done a nice job of scheming to mask KU’s deficiencies up front, craves extra heat on the quarterback and more turnovers. Look for more of the musical chairs up front that took place against New Mexico State in today’s Big 12 opener at Baylor. KU’s D-tackles can’t out-muscle the Baylor blockers, so why not try to out-quick them by moving Laptad to the middle and having Steven Johnson and/or Toben Opurum fly off the edge?

“Toben’s got a knack for getting to the quarterback,” Torbush said. “He uses his hands really well, and he’s got some speed and quickness.”

Speed, quickness and a strong, accurate arm give Baylor QB Robert Griffin III the advantage today.


Michael Leiker 11 years, 2 months ago

Guy has to write something every day about Kansas sports.

I never unerstood while Michael Lee didn't play a year at tight end. That was the one I wanted to see.

Clarence Haynes 11 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for this great message of inspiration on Game Day! If I were you, I would steer clear of Laptad this week.

Funhawk 11 years, 2 months ago

Interesting observations in the article. Some of Bill Self's players would have made great football guys on defense. Or, how about Sherron Collins playing either side of the ball. And, it seems like this year's defense is better than last year's. Nobody wants to admit that this year's entire team could be better than last year's long losing streak. And, Charlton Keith and James McClinton were great. And, uh oh. Now Keegee has me daydreaming.

yovoy 11 years, 2 months ago

He's doin' his job - likely about as well as any of us on here do ours.

C. Keith played basketball, btw. Not on the team of course, but he wasn't a slouch. He was a freak athlete.

As for Opurum being a linebacker: he's not there yet. Watch some film of him. He doesn't look quite ready "to stick his nose in there" yet. He DOES look great when he's pursuing the the man with the ball if that man isn't in a crowd. If there's traffic he looks kind of unsure about going ahead and blowing the play up. He's still a situational linebacker. I'm guessing that next year when we've recruited some more 'backers, and when Anguschristopher moves on, he'll be back on the O side of the ball. I don't care where he plays (and being a seemingly "team" guy), and he doesn't either. I just hope he gets the success that he should. He's wise-beyond-his-years, so hopefully it'll be sooner than later.

KU_Alumn_2000 11 years, 2 months ago

Jayhawkinnnebr - Put a sock in it. We all know you opinion on Gill. No matter what happens...he isn't going anywhere for at least another season.

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