Friday, August 12, 2011

Vic Shealy stoked about KU defense’s progress


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.


ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years, 9 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

waywardJay 6 years, 9 months ago

Really Persy?

I don't see any overly large talk. I just see a guy who's excited about his players....

All Conference/ NFL Draft level DE ? Why do you think these other schools wanted him, and I'm sure Even in Mangino's head he was thinking... if Running the football doesn't work out, Kid will be an pass rusher in short order.....

Nebraska, Notre Dame, Purdue, Texas Tech and Florida wanted him to play DEFENSE.

Other than that, it's back slapping because our boys are getting after it. Must you always be a heel ?

Gary Wirsig 6 years, 9 months ago

Surely you don't expect him to quite make sense? :^)

ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years, 9 months ago

Uh, the guy you wished would contract herpes from another posters wife

waywardJay 6 years, 9 months ago

I assume you meant Eric Chenowith, because I posted on the Eric chenowith article and I got a deleted post because of it.

It's not a comparable argument. I do not have any misgivings that Eric Chenowith is anything but a sub Par Basketball player who was much more interesting in music than playing basketball. Also< i believe that Eric Chenowith's Coach, did attempt to push the buttons to make him a better basketball player because he would rather be dadgummit Roy.

If there is one Jayhawk who could accurately fill your Turner GIll desposition, I point to one Calvin Thompson.

waywardJay 6 years, 9 months ago

Believe it or not, Brak. He's not a bear, he actually is a Jayhawk fan, just not a Gill Fan.

jaymar74 6 years, 9 months ago

Man I wish Opurum was still at running back, Miller was at KSU because less playing time here, Bourbon was thinking of transfering or had transfered and we had some slower player at the outside linebacker position. If Gill had just listened to you perse guy, that would be the case. Man I wish you were coach.

ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years, 9 months ago

Why not? my career win/loss record is better than gills!

justinryman 6 years, 9 months ago

In what? How many consecutive years you can live with your mom???

Cause I'm guessing you have never coached a Div. 1 football team let alone coached at any level besides on your XBox. And lets be serious for a second, did you make your mom buy you that too cause the sun was to bright to come out of her basement??

hawk316 6 years, 9 months ago

Gotta love this line:

“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.”

Two years from now this class may take us much farther than any of us might have hoped.

stravinsky 6 years, 9 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.

waywardJay 6 years, 9 months ago

In High school he played DE. High School.

Which is why we switched him to inside linebacker ( where he is currently about 20 pounds under playing weight ( as a freshman, mind you.... )

Andy Hess 6 years, 9 months ago

he was a LB on his rivals page and every highlight video i've seen of his shows him playing a LB. I have a hard time believing they wanted him to be a D-End. Gotta be a mistake there.

Matt Tait 6 years, 9 months ago

He was originally listed as a DE on KU's roster but that's been changed now... He is a linebacker and played a little of both in high school.

Shealy said the staff was thinking LB when they were recruiting him so this shouldn't be a huge surprise but it is noteworthy, especially since he's playing so well.

More than a couple of people — players and coaches — have told me that Garrett's a beast. Keep an eye out for him. No. 57.

Andy Hess 6 years, 9 months ago

yea his highlight videos looked promising. good to hear he's made the adjustment well so far.

WoolyMammoth 6 years, 9 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?

nuleafjhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

It's the NFL's way of cutting back on spending. They charge extra for vowels. I'm surprised they gave him the "u".

justinryman 6 years, 9 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?????

justanotherfan 6 years, 9 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.

TheGiftedOne 6 years, 9 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.

texashawk10 6 years, 9 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.

KU_Alumn_2000 6 years, 9 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.

fromthatstandpoint 6 years, 9 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?

texashawk10 6 years, 9 months ago

It doesn't matter how big the RB's for the other team are because opposing teams ran over, around, and through KU's defense last year. KU's run defense ranked 107th last season and gave up 200+ rushing yards 8 times and only generated 8 sacks by the DLine. If KU is going to be an improved team, it starts with the big uglies up front and their ability to stop the run and generate a pass rush. If KU can't stop the run or generate a pass rush with their DLine, KU's defense will struggle again to stay competitive against their opponents this year and keep games close.

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