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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kansas defense frustrated by NIU

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KU quarterback Jordan Webb describes the game-winning TD pass to D.J. Beshears

KU quarterback Jordan Webb describes the game-winning touchdown pass to D.J. Beshears following KU's 45-42 victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 10, 2011.

KU receiver D.J. Beshears said he wasn't worried that his final TD would be overturned

KU receiver D.J. Beshears said he wasn't worried that his final TD would be overturned after a replay in KU's 45-42 victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 10, 2011.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Turner Gill

Kansas coach Turner Gill talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 45-42 victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 10, 2011.

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Kansas University linebacker Steven Johnson’s first stop in the locker room was to find teammates Jordan Webb and D.J. Beshears, who combined on the Jayhawks’ game-winning touchdown Saturday.

He wanted to thank them personally following KU’s 45-42 victory over Northern Illinois.

“(The offense) had our back,” Johnson said. “I just give all the praise to them.”

The Jayhawks’ defense did little to slow down Northern Illinois’ offense — and especially quarterback Chandler Harnish.

The senior completed 27 of 33 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns; he also rushed 11 times for 89 yards and a career-high three scores.

“I’m really happy that we won, but at the same time, I’ve got an ‘uh’ feeling,” Johnson said, “because I know there are some things on the field that — not only myself, but as a defense — we need to correct.”

The issues were numerous.

KU defensive coordinator Vic Shealy said his players’ set recognition and communication were poor, which led to breakdowns.

Also, on NIU’s longest pass of the night, KU cornerback Tyler Patmon stopped when he heard a whistle and was beaten on the play.

“There’s no excuses,” Shealy said. “We’ve got to keep on coaching them. I’m disappointed.”

The Jayhawks also weren’t playing at full strength.

Shealy said Patmon was playing despite a pulled groin and hadn’t participated fully in practice this week. Nose tackle John Williams left Saturday’s game because of a leg injury, and linebacker Tunde Bakare also was injured in the first half and didn’t return after taking a hit to the head.

Bakare said afterward he’d be fine for next week.

“We had some things happen that are hard to explain right now that are not the sign of a great defense,” Shealy said, “but we’ll get some of those things corrected.”

Johnson said part of the problem was NIU’s game plan. Against Army last week, the Huskies had run some exotic formations, such as having two fullbacks and one running back in the shotgun formation.

“We were focused on that,” Johnson said, “and they came out with something totally different.”

On Saturday, NIU’s sets were more standard, with two or three wide receivers and one running back.

KU also had issues in the secondary for the second straight week.

Shealy said because KU’s dime package — with six defensive backs — was ineffective early on, he was hesitant to use it late. That limited KU’s ability to blitz from different positions.

Harnish also slowed down KU’s blitzes, as any added pressure could potentially leave a crease where the QB could scramble to pick up big yardage.

“There’s progress that has been made,” Shealy said, “but again, the margin of error was so much thinner tonight (with Harnish) that it didn’t show.”

KU’s cornerbacks were once again challenged on the edges, with NIU picking up much of its passing yardage on bubble screens in front of cornerbacks.

“We did have a lot of cushion, but we’ve just got to compete,” Johnson said. “It just comes down to competing. Sometimes those guys are wide open, and we were over top of them. You’ve just got to be able to compete and come up and make a play.”

KU cornerback Greg Brown said KU’s defenders needed to be more aggressive.

“We were close to the ball, but we just didn’t make our plays,” Brown said. “You’ve got to fight through the arms and play the ball better at its highest point.”

Johnson wasn’t the only KU defender that was appreciative of his team’s offense.

Following NIU’s final incompletion, KU linebacker Darius Willis ran up to Webb on the field.

He gave him a big hug.

“At times in the game,” Willis said, “they carried us.”

Comments

teemvee 2 years, 10 months ago

“We were close to the ball, but we just didn’t make our plays,” Brown said.

Yes, that was true on a few plays like their last touchdown but for the other 90% of the game, they were catching the ball without a defender within 5-10 yards of the receiver.

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baldwinjhawk 2 years, 10 months ago

Everyone is being so nice. I was there watching the game. THE DEFENSE SUCKS! Linebacker pursuit is 3 steps behind. We gave them 10 yards out in the flats on play action passes probably 10 plays. No corrections were ever made. These are fundamental things you learn in high school. Their scholarships are worth about $100,000 maybe they need to be reminded about that when they are talking to them about playing with passion...

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baldwinjhawk 2 years, 10 months ago

Everyone is being so nice. I was there watching the game. THE DEFENSE SUCKS! Linebacker pursuit is 3 steps behind. We gave them 10 yards out in the flats on play action passes probably 10 plays. No corrections were ever made. These are fundamental things you learn in high school. Their scholarships are worth about $100,000 maybe they need to be reminded about that when they are talking to them about playing with passion...

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Keith Hummel 2 years, 10 months ago

Great win last night, but my enthusiasm is tempered by another unimpressive defensive showing. I expected our D-Line to struggle this year, but they have actually done pretty well. Surprisingly, the one area I thought would be a strength, our D-Backs, has turned out to be our biggest weakness. Time after time they got beat on those bubble screens, or were out of position on down-field plays, or simply couldn't make tackles. It's as if they are so afraid of getting burned that they aren't making even the most basic plays. Why are we giving receivers so much cushion? I thought all that added speed was going to put an end to last year's bubble screen nightmare. But right now I think we are going to see that play time after time all season long. I have to believe much of this can be attributed to youth and inexperience. If so, we should get better as the season progresses. Unfortunately, the competition only gets better as well, so the D needs to improve by leaps and bounds.

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troutsee 2 years, 10 months ago

In the first two games, we have given way too much cushion to the other teams' wideouts with the result that we are giving up easy first downs over and over and over again. Very Veryfrustrating to watch, as this happened all last season too. Come on coaches. This flaw is on YOU!!!

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Migady 2 years, 10 months ago

Not true troutsee... If we had talent rather that Athletes in the CB position our coaches wouldn't have to give so much cushion to the wideouts. Only going to get worse as the talent gets better in the big "12" 2-10 is still better than 1-11.

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basty 2 years, 10 months ago

It sort of baffles me that KU didn't work more on shoring up defense against screen passes. If we were watching tape on NIU's game against Army, did the staff not think they would be watching our tape against McNeese? Obviously they did and what they saw was a defense which had no idea how to defend the screen, be it RB or WR.

It looked like all we did was focus on what NIU did last week instead of using their film and our film to predict what they would be doing this week.

WORK ON THE FREAKING SCREEN!

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Benjamin Piehler 2 years, 10 months ago

I think between our first two games we've given up some 600+ passing yards.... still good wins though.

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Randy Bombardier 2 years, 10 months ago

We are not attacking, we are reacting. Reacting defenses always get their a$$ kicked. Shealy, get your head outa your backside and start attacking or you will be under attack. We fans are not going to sit through another repeat of having a great offense and a defense that is slow, reactive, plays not to lose, takes no chances (and that means more than an occasional blitz). Defenses dictate what offenses do. Do I have to draw a picture? Why do you stunt on third down? So, you don't get burned on a 28-yd QB draw.

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bville_hawk 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm a little worried about our defense as well, but after watching the end of the Notre Dame / Michigan game I'm not so sure there aren't a lot of us in the same boat. I couldn't believe how wide open the ND receiver was on their go-ahead score with 30 sec left. And then what did Michigan do but go 70 yds in 2 plays for the winning score?

Bottom line: We're not done winning games this season by a long shot.

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dougr 2 years, 10 months ago

Brilliant coaching by Turner Gill et al. Fans, remember you're not on the field. Trust me everything looks a lot easier from the stands than it does when you're standing toe to toe with an opponent. I'm going to defend the KU defense because I continue to see improvement over last year. The bottom line is; KU got the "W" and it was a team effort. The entire team still has a lot of room for improvement but what team in college football, at this point in the season, doesn't? Every team needs naysayers, they motivate and usually are the first to show up and proclaim their loyalty when their team is winning. Here's how I see it: As long as the defense remembers they are part of the team effort, they continue to work hard and use the naysayers trying to reclaim their scholarships to motivate their play, the KU defense will be just fine. As for the naysayers, they tend to disappear into the woodwork the more a team wins.

The Jayhawk football team and marching band are plenty of reason to feel confident about this year!

Doug Rodriguez Lawrence, KS Williams Fund Member

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David Hodges 2 years, 10 months ago

love the tag at the end of your post!!! I may be the only non-kusports.com staff member whos sitename isn't followed by (anonymous) way to stand behind what you say rather than hide behind it.

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escaped_labrat 2 years, 10 months ago

That is my real name. I escaped from a lab after they conducted experiments on me. It involved training me to press a button in order for a food pellet to be released into a dish for me to consume. I finally figured out that if I pressed the button twice....then held it for aproximately 2.5 seconds then ran frantically around my cage 3 consecutive times and screeched in a rhythmic sequence that sounded like the themesong from mortal combat, I could train/induce my observer to the point of excitement that they actually opened the door to my cage, retrieved me and then.....I bit their finger with all my might, they dropped me to the ground and screeched halfway from being embarrassed and overplaying the injury as is common in scientists so as to save face....then I scamperred across the floor and hid under some kind of steel cabinet with trays and patiently I waited for a door to be left unshut...then I bolted for the entryway and eventually found an uncovered airduct that I used to scamper my way to eventual freedom.... Well, after all was said and done, I decided to call myself 'escaped_labrat' because I'd grown fond of a mythical college mascot during my captivity and this site would only allow me to use an underscore instead of a space between my first name and last name....ever since, I've followed this team.Some rats are driven to become chefs, some are driven to become martial arts senseis'....me...I'm just a humongous KU fan....

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Jonathan Allison 2 years, 10 months ago

you give yourself way too much credit.

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gdkadjayhawk 2 years, 10 months ago

Guess we're all 'fessing up now. I knew a Tim and Jeff Hodges back in the late 70's at KU. Are they your brothers?

Gary Wirsig Lawrence, KS Wirsig Retirement Fund Member

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basty 2 years, 10 months ago

Frankly, though there was criticism of the defense, I don't see many 'naysayers' on this page. To me a naysayer is someone who uses their critique to predict that the team will be terrible in the future, etc. I certainly critiqued the defense because they obviously had no answer for screen passes 2 weeks straight. Nevertheless, I was quite happy about the win and am optimistic that this team will (and already has) exceed expectations. That doesn't mean there is no place for criticism.

To say that the coaching was brilliant is disingenuous. Brilliant coaching would have encompassed fixing obvious mistakes from the previous week and making in game defensive adjustments to counter their offensive game plan. That clearly didn't happen. Has the coaching been better than last year, to this point, absolutely. Especially on the offensive side. Has it been brilliant? No. I'd say average to above average for a D-I program.

Regardless of my critiques I'm still optimistic for the team and excited about the rest of the season.

Alan Fogleman Lawrence, KS KU Alumnus Faithful Tailgater Realist

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Chris Bailey 2 years, 10 months ago

I'll add mine and leave it as well. I will tell you right now though I am upset when we lose. Losing sucks. If we lose we come on the site and discuss what we could/should do differently. I graduated from Kansas and I am very proud of that. I am not a member of the Williams fund at this point I'm a member of the Carter Bailey college fund which I save money for my son to be a proud alumnus someday was well. That said I am also of fan of KU athletics and an avid supporter of my alma mater. You won't ever hear me scream fire Gill or spew stupidity like that. My thoughts may not be on par with everyone but I get pretty amped up for the games and get really upset when we lose. Being a DI player is an amazing gift and honor and I want a good effort out of each and every member of our teams. I was very proud of our teams effort last night on both sides of the ball. I know we will improve as the season progresses. I also feel pretty good about the outlook of the rest of the season and the future of Kansas football! Rock Chalk!

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JJHAWK 2 years, 10 months ago

The possible upside here is that the athletes on defense have a higher play level they can be coached to. If that is so, our football team has a lot more upside as the year progresses.

And if our defense is already at the top of its game, wait til next year.

Will be interesting to watch what NIU does against a very good Wisconsin team next week.

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Migady 2 years, 10 months ago

Frankly, Doug Rodrigez, Williams fund Member.... I believe you might have the word Brilliant confused with something else. That or you don't get football. Both sides of the ball need to be covered for "brilliant" coaching. Your schpele makes you sound like a middle school principal helping with a recess pick up game. But yes, the band was what helped lead the football team to victory. You could see the confidence spewing out of their helmets when the team heard.... The band.

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mustlehustle 2 years, 10 months ago

There is no such thing as an ugly win.....the objective is "win and advance" and Kansas accomplished that objective. Its much easier to focus on problems when you have a "win" in the film room and practice field.

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KWufan 2 years, 10 months ago

Somebody help me out here. Is this Shealy's first year on the job coaching the defense? I remember all the criticism Chuck Long got last yr in his first yr trying to figure out what talent we had and the best way to use it. Yes, it's a young and fairly inexperienced defense, as well as a co-ordinator unless this is his second year. I believe there will be improvement, we will get better with these screens as both the coaches and young players see more film and coach on how you handle those problems. Relax a little, like some have said, it's just the second game of the year, we are not in big 12 play yet. We will have a better chance to win games than last year, there is improvement throughout the team. It takes time to get better with young guys.

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chalky 2 years, 10 months ago

Moving in the right direction. I was wishing for a team that can compete for four quarters. Maybe better teams will still beat us this year, but perhaps their second and third string wont be put on the field in the third quarter this year. Keep sawing wood KU !! Dennis Mahorney Hutchinson Ks. Owns a computer listens to KU on the radio. Unapologetic homer!

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lama 2 years, 10 months ago

I hope he can recruit 1-2 impact D-linemen for next year. Would take a ton of pressure off the rest of the defense.

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Andy Tweedy 2 years, 10 months ago

I agree...to me that's the problem with the defense. It all starts up front. Just look at the offense now with a healthy OL.

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Keith Hummel 2 years, 10 months ago

Just read that John Williams has a torn ACL. That's a big loss. Things are about to get even tougher for the Defense.

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Ben Kliewer 2 years, 10 months ago

I don't know why everyone is saying 2-10 now. We're clearly better overall (specifically on offense) this year than we were last year, and Georgia Tech is worse than they were last year. I expect us to go 3-0 to start the season. Maybe we'll be 3-9, or maybe 5-7 if we can pull in wins against a couple of the other North teams not named Missouri. But I don't get why, after (especially) the way our offense performed in the first two games everybody now assumes we're going to lose the GTech. GTech is worse off than they were last year! And we beat them last year! And we sucked! Bad! It's up to the team, of course, to win the game. But 3-0 is not unrealistic by a long shot.

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Ben Kliewer 2 years, 10 months ago

P.S. You stop the wishbone, you stop GTech. Period. We can definitely win it. It probably will be uglier than sin, but we can win it.

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Randy Bombardier 2 years, 10 months ago

I think we are capable with our weapons of being better than .500. I think we can beat anyone if everything falls into place. Yet, I will be nervous about our ability to run against conference foes until we actually do so.

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Mike Kendall 2 years, 10 months ago

I said this during the live broadcast but I thought Northern Illinois was celebrating like they won a bowl game when they were ahead by two touchdowns. What I really said was, "I hope that comes back and bites them." And----it did! What a bummer!

I guess I will have to be patient for our defense to improve. Man, we got some killer opponents coming up, though. I am going to remain positive---going to ignore negative comments about the "D", and last, but not least, I am NOT going to ever give up on these guys! Rock Chalk to the end.

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Randy Bombardier 2 years, 10 months ago

I came off too strong above. I apologize, especially to Coach Sheally. There is no excuse. I was just publicly venting. Whew, glad I was hiding behind my moniker.

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KSseahawk 2 years, 10 months ago

ahperse...where are you? Saving yer finest for when conference play starts?

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