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Friday, August 12, 2011

Vic Shealy stoked about KU defense’s progress

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Which KU football player has stood out the most at practice?

We asked Kansas football players which of their teammates had especially impressed them at practice.

Kansas University defensive coordinator Vic Shealy spoke with reporters for about 25 minutes following Thursday’s practice and it seemed as if he could’ve talked for at least twice that long.

The reason? Serious strides are being made on defense and Shealy, who was promoted this spring to replace Carl Torbush, seems more than a little excited about each one.

Here are the highlights:

Opurum on fire

The progression of junior Toben Opurum as a defender has reached the point where Shealy has started to mention him in the same breath with words like all-conference and NFL Draft.

“Toben’s not a perfect player,” Shealy said. “Toben can get a lot better. He is now in the process of becoming a good player and that process will continue. But he did two plays today that I would put up against any guy in our conference. He made two plays that were pretty doggone salty. What we want to do is take advantage of that.”

Earlier this week, both Opurum and Shealy confirmed that Opurum would be an outside linebacker in KU’s 3-4 defensive set. The goal, Shealy said, is to move Opurum around to create mismatches that he can exploit.

As for the two plays Opurum made on Thursday, Shealy stopped short of describing them exactly, but said both involved incredible athleticism and a little bit of trickery that threw off the ball carrier just enough to allow Opurum to lower the boom.

“He’s a confident guy,” Shealy said. “But I went over to him during our break today and I said, ‘That was a really nice move.’ He just shook it off and said, ‘Yeah, it was a good play.’ But we want to bottle that one up many times over. Part of our problem of not getting pressure on the quarterback last year is being chipped away at.”

Freshmen amaze

Some of the newest faces on the KU roster continue to push the upperclassmen in practice. A handful of them may have already played their way into early playing time.

“We have some freshmen that have amazed us,” Shealy said. “When I say amazed, I mean, they’ve picked up on (our defense) as fast as some of the upperclassmen did last year. We’re really excited about those individuals.”

One of them is Collin Garrett, of Beaumont, Texas. Garrett, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound hitting machine, appears to have put himself into the rotation at inside linebacker because he has impressed the coaches with his intelligence and passion.

“Colin Garrett did a really nice job during some pass coverage for about three plays in a row,” Shealy said. “He just did a great job matching up to some routes, and in front of all the upperclassmen linebackers I said, ‘You know that guy wants to play right now. He’s not making mistakes and he’s playing fast.’”

Garrett was not the only freshman to impress Shealy during the first week of fall camp.

“You know what’s nice,” he asked. “You look at those defensive freshmen and not one of ’em’s a miss. They can all play. It’s a very talented class.”

Williams keeps rolling

After a strong spring in which he showed a better understanding of his current position, defensive tackle John Williams, a former offensive lineman, has continued to improve during fall camp.

Shealy said the 6-3, 300-pounder from Tulsa, Okla., has transformed from a big body with plenty of potential to a lean pass rusher thirsting to make plays.

“He’s become more serious,” Shealy said. “We really like the way that he’s approaching practice right now too. He’s pretty consistent on and off the field... He has a serious mentality on the field of wanting to be coached and wanting to be a good player. As a coach, that fires you up to see a guy that wants to be coached.”

Roll call

Several other defensive players drew praise from Shealy on Thursday. Those mentioned most often included linebackers Steven Johnson and Tunde Bakare, cornerback Greg Brown and safety Bradley McDougald.

Comments

fromthatstandpoint 2 years, 8 months ago

Why are so many have heart palpitations about stopping the run. Are most Big whatever teams running two back power with a massive FB or are they spreading and trying to beat you to the spot and taking advantage of angles? Were the dominating LB's last year big guys or fast guys? Were you more likely to see KU defenders run over, or run past last year?

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KU_Alumn_2000 2 years, 8 months ago

I just don't see how our defensive line is going to hold up. We are so thin on the d-line that there is no way we will be able to put pressure on opposing QB's.

Until they start recruiting some talent in the trenches...this defense will struggle.

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texashawk10 2 years, 8 months ago

There's been so much talk of improved speed and pass rushing from the LB's and secondary, but what about the ability to stop the run because if KU can't do that, all the speed in the world won't matter. Most of the teams KU faces this year are run first teams and if KU can't stop the run, that's a near guaranteed losing record and another miserable season for KU.

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TheGiftedOne 2 years, 8 months ago

KU is going to get ran on by the Big XII South...Im as big of a fan as the next guy but this season could be just as ugly as last year. Im sorry but Jordan Webb is not leading anyone to the promised land. This defense is undersized to say the least...these Texas and OU kids are beasts. I love KU football but its never going to happen with this conference alignment. The schedule is straight up brutal.

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justanotherfan 2 years, 8 months ago

I just like the fact that our increased speed will allow guys to get where they need to be in order to make plays. You can't hit what you can't catch, and we had a lot of problems not being in position to make plays defensively last season. I for one am glad we have lots of guys that can get to spots and bring the hammer when they arrive.

I like the fact that we have a deep group of LBs. Part of last year's problem was that we didn't have any depth. That shouldn't be an issue this year, even if a couple of guys do get dinged up as the season progresses, which is inevitable at this level.

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justinryman 2 years, 8 months ago

I like that the freshman are making huge strides and that this staff realizes that you put the best players on the field and not just the guys who have been here a few years and "paid their dues".

With youth comes speed, yes mistakes will be made, but until Ahperse writes the perfect post then he can not expect perfection from the coaching staff either. And by perfect I don't mean grammar and punctuation, I'd like to see one that actually made sense and that wasn't negative in tone.

Perhaps Ahperse could use some constructive criticism instead of his tiring and over used bashing criticism???

Ah who are we kidding, Ahperse is Mangino's old private Chef and is still out of work. Thought that that gravy train would never end didn't you?????

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WoolyMammoth 2 years, 8 months ago

Totally off subject, anyone watch last nights Chargers vs. Seahawks game and notice that Darrell Stuckey's name on his jersey said Stucky?

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JHWKDW 2 years, 8 months ago

The offense can do some good If the Offensive line can get it together and the run game can live up to the challenge they can create opportunities for the Wide Receivers and Tight Ends!

The Defense I dont know!First off they are changing from 4-3 to 3-4!That will be a bit of a rough transition I think!NFL Teams that did it had trouble with changing so much as college teams!

This team is still rebuilding but hopefully making strides!I still say the defense still a work in progress!Well hope they can make this 3-4 work!The coach in the Defense to watch is Singletary!I think he can help the LBs be good!Vantz Singletary was the LBs coach with the NFL SF 49ersI loved how Vantz has had the LBs watch game tape of Pat Willis of the SF 49ers one of the best linebackers in the NFL now and showed how he plays at the position!Vantz coached him while he was in San Fran!Cant beat showing them a Potential Hall Of Famer and how he plays!

Well hoping for the Best!Rock Chalk in 2011!

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stravinsky 2 years, 8 months ago

"Collin Garrett, of Beaumont, Texas. Garrett, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound hitting machine... came to Kansas as a defensive end."

A 6-foot-1, 215 pound defensive end? I know that Turner Gill believes that speed kills, but not when a Texas-born, bovine-growth-hormone fed, 310 pound offensive tackle kills you first. I'm pretty sure we have safeties bigger than that.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 8 months ago

wow! there is a lot of living up to do with this article. i'm putting it in the memory banks for later this season

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