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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Keegan

Kansas defense short on scheme, talent

Kansas defender Tyler Patmon comes in to tackle Georgia Tech's Orwin Smith in the first half Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011 in Atlanta.

Kansas defender Tyler Patmon comes in to tackle Georgia Tech's Orwin Smith in the first half Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011 in Atlanta.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Turner Gill

Kansas coach Turner Gill talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 66-24 loss to Georgia Tech on Sept. 17, 2011, in Atlanta.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU defensive coordinator: 'What happened today is on Vic Shealy'

Kansas defensive coordinator Vic Shealy took responsibility for the defensive performance in his team's 66-24 loss to Georgia Tech on Sept. 17, 2011.

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— The points Georgia Tech scored didn’t do justice to the more revealing indictment of Kansas University’s defense, which was the ease with which the Yellow Jackets scored them.

Never mind two-hand touch below the belt. If the rules had been one-hand touch anywhere, Tech still would have scored most of its touchdowns.

From Tech’s first play, a beautifully designed counter with a fake by quarterback Tevin Washington that sucked the entire defense in one direction so that running back Orwin Smith could sprint untouched for a 95-yard touchdown, the crowd of 42,025 in Bobby Dodd Stadium watched the home team lock up the front of KU’s defense and sprint away from the back of it with astonishing ease.

Early in the fourth quarter, the announcements noting school and ACC records started, and once they started they never stopped, much like the Tech offense.

The numbers looked like those compiled by eight-man football teams. Tech amassed 604 rushing yards and 768 total yards, averaged 41 yards per reception and averaged 13.5 yards on its 57 plays from scrimmage.

How did a team that lost a year ago to KU execute such a thoroughly humiliating payback? First, the longer players have been schooled by fourth-year Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, the more in sync with his unconventional offense they become. Also, the fewer players in the program who played for his predecessor, the better, because when not everybody follows the leader blindly, the whole isn’t always as great as the sum of its parts. Johnson’s word is gospel to all the players now.

The next ingredient in this perfect storm of a domination of KU’s defense had to do with emotion. The Yellow Jackets were embarrassed by last year’s loss and it showed.

Kansas defensive coordinator Vic Shealy threw himself onto the list of factors. Shealy said that the Jayhawks took pretty much the same approach against the run-oriented option offense as it did a year ago, when it was coordinated by retired Carl Torbush.

“That might, in effect, be the downfall of what we did because we got schemed,” Shealy said.

Johnson figured because what Kansas did a year ago worked, the Jayhawks would try it again. He figured right and ditched a couple of key menu items — veer-option schemes and a fullback-based dive, according to Shealy — and replaced them with a couple of others (a “Belly-G” and “Belly-G option,” Shealy said.)

“Completely counter to how we planned and we couldn’t get out of it,” Shealy said.

When KU did make adjustments, Johnson was introducing play-action passes that resulted in receivers galloping into the end zone untouched.

“Whenever your plan gets schemed, it comes back to me,” Shealy said. “What happened today is on Vic Shealy. I take responsibility for us.”

That’s the right thing for Shealy to say and in fact the game plan did play into Johnson’s hands, but no tactical approach would have resulted in a victory for a Kansas team that has serious defensive deficiencies.

The 3-4 defense does not have anyone in the front three that has shown the ability to shed blocks and get into the backfield. The two who had the best chance of doing so — Patrick Dorsey and John Williams (out for the season) — are injured.

So which is a bigger factor, the lack of production from the line or the lack of experience in the back of the defense? Tough to say because they are so linked together, but the secondary at least has a chance to improve.

“We would probably like to have a few more dynamic reactions out on the field to make some plays on the back end, the front end, and in the coach’s box, but we didn’t get it done,” Shealy said.

Kansas hasn’t been able to recruit a disruptive, get-off-the-ball-and-blow-into-the-backfield defensive tackle since James McClinton. He graduated high school in 2004. Georgia Tech’s offense doesn’t have anything to do with that.

“Sometimes we’d like to have a guy who’s a beast who can thrash guys out of the way and make some plays, sure,” said Shealy, before pointing to an area of hope. “We’re at a point athletically where we don’t look so slow chasing the ball. We’re getting in pace with the play, so we’re making some progress. Getting to the point where we can overcome being in a bad call, we’re not there yet, so as a coach, I’ve got to put us in a really good call every play.”

Shealy doesn’t buy that KU’s young defense doesn’t have any talented playmakers.

“I think Toben (Opurum) can make some plays. Steven Johnson can make some plays. Greg Brown had a couple of errors against Northern Illinois, but I still think Greg Brown can make some plays,” Shealy said. “I think Bradley McDougald can make some plays. Do we have some young guys who are struggling a little bit? Yes, but that’s one of the reasons why we didn’t try to do more in our plan this week.”

KU’s defensive coordinator said that Georgia Tech doing things so different from conventional offenses and in some cases so different from what it has done in the past was a factor in defensive players at times looking “frozen.”

“Fortunately, we don’t have to play a scheme like that (again this season),” Shealy said. “And hopefully Georgia Tech, Army and Air Force are not on the schedule the next few years.”

Not so fast. Syracuse and Pittsburgh are on their way to the ACC and Texas and Kansas could join them to form a 16-team conference. Oklahoma wants the Pac-12, but the Pac-12 doesn’t want Oklahoma State, so does that mean Oklahoma goes with its neighbor to the SEC? Or does it mean Oklahoma does the right thing Monday and decides to keep the Big 12 together?

Those questions are as difficult to answer as the riddle that is Georgia Tech’s offense.

Comments

hawkfan20 2 years, 7 months ago

holy crap! How dumb is our coaching staff? The FIRST thing you'd ask yourself is if you were the other team's coach and your offense was slowed down the year before, how would you counter that? It's probably not too much of a reach to assume that GT probably wasn't going to do the exact same thing on offense again. For them to not be prepared for a different offensive attack at this level is unacceptable. Either get on the ball or go find another job.

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Leo Hawkins 2 years, 7 months ago

To heck with any BCS conference -- Pac 12 or Big East. We offer Nothing to a BCS conference. We are not a football school no matter how much we would like to spin it! We are who we are -- a middle of the road to mediocre football program with periodic success. Let's call it for what it is -- we are a Mountain West program masquerading as a big time program. We are more like Wyoming, New Mexico, SMU, and Air Force than Oklahoma, Texas, OSU, and MU (yes, MU!) than you think. If we could not capitalize after the Orange Bowl in '08, there is nothing that will. Mountain West, here we come!!!

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longtimehawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Why didn't gill recruit defence players if he is such a good coach? That's where Mangino started when he came here and all coaches start with defence first. I have to hang this on gill for poor coaching and recruiting..

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John Percival 2 years, 7 months ago

Anyone who thinks the stadium is the cause of our losing has never been to Allen Fieldhouse. Bill Snyder did ok in the dump named after him. Faurot Field is half erector set. It's called coaching & players.

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Randy Bombardier 2 years, 7 months ago

It took me quite awhile to figure it out, the big difference between last year's game and this year. It was Carl Torbush. He left to fight for his life, Vic Shealy was promoted, and I suspect that the door is being left open for Torbush. He is the kind of guy we need who has seen it all. So, let's not be too hard. Unlike MM promoting Bowen after Bill Young left, we are in a different situation. Godspeed to Carl Torbush. May you get well soon!

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 7 months ago

Maybe players will not want to play for Gill and his approach to their private lives?

Spending more money on stadiums is not what wins games..... it is the coaching staff and players. KU won games before people went nuts on spending. After all stadiums are such superficial objects.

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eastcoasthawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Paul Johnson flat out beat Vic Shealy like a drum yesterday. He's been doing it for years with this offense. He knows this offense better than anyone in the country so when he throws a curve and watches the reaction he is already a step ahead. Against Vic he seemed two steps ahead. He did it with a Navy team that always had undersized players competing with the big boys and went to more bowl games than KU did.

I can only hope that we look better against our conference opponents with known offenses than we looked against GT. That was as fugly as a game can get. And I know that Johnson pissed off a lot of people when he had a 4th and 3 and went for it with a 40 point lead.

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jhawkrulz 2 years, 7 months ago

I also don't think there has been enough criticism of the offense yesterday. With a run, run the wildcat, pass on "Chuck" third and long, we were actually lucky to be in the game as long as we were. There were some amazing catches that were made that kept our offense out there.

I was really surprised that everytime the wildcat was run, the guy that received it always ran with it, never once was it handed to another player, it was always a fake. If I picked up on that, I'm sure the DC of GT was all over that. Plus when you run the Wildcat if the player can pass and run it opens up more of the field. When we lined up in the wildcat, GT knew we were going to run, so they pushed 8 into the box, talk about tipping your hand.

Finally, could we get at least one halftime adjustment in any game? I've always judged coaches on what they do based on ingame and especially halftime adjustments.

Think about that, and now judge the KU coaching staff...your thoughts.

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jhawkrulz 2 years, 7 months ago

I watched the OU, FSU, LSU, MSU, etc defenses and at the snap of the ball the line was pushing through the OL and forcing quick passes, pitches, or decisions. Quick decisions lead to turnovers as evident in both of those games. KU doesn't get a good push at the line of scrimmage and therefore slows the game down for the offense (of the other team). With time, good decisions are made. I think there was probably 1 play where KU forced a bad decision, which was a sack (which actually wasn't the worst decision that the QB could have made). If KU wants to improve they need to put 4 guys on the line and push the line back. This does a few things, cuts down runs up the middle, cuts down passing lanes, and forces the QB to make quicker decisions.

We aren't going to get Turnovers if we don't force their QB to react rather than execute.

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jhox 2 years, 7 months ago

Vic Shealy is in the wrong line of work. Period.

I told a friend in week one that the defensive schemes looked to me to be more of a problem than the talent. Yesterday the talent didn't look up to snuff either.

Is Tharp injured? Benched? Playing and just being a complete non factor? He may be on the slow side, but at least he's a football player and a guy who can tackle if he gets his hands on someone. We were getting pushed around like rag dolls yesterday

I'm no X's and O's guru. I played a few years of high school football, and that's about it. But I've been watching football for 45+ years, and it seems to me that the best defenses are read and react defenses. When there is too much thinking going on, there are too many opportunies for mistakes. Maybe it is time dummy down the defense a little,and just let the kids play football? There is clearly a talent deficit, but not to the extent demonstrated in that game yesterday. I'm also not a fan of the 3-4 defense. I've not seen many teams run that defense with much success.

I watched the LSU-Mississippi State game Thursday night. Those defenses were moving around prior to the snap, faking blitzes...they were making the offenses think about them and what they were doing, almost more so than the other way around.

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JacquesMerde 2 years, 7 months ago

Anyone missing Mangino, (sp.) you know the fat guy with the impossible name.

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Aaron Carpenter 2 years, 7 months ago

I'm not going to comment on the game, that spoke for itself. What really bothers me is the lack of adequate coverage not only by kusports.com but also by the ljworld. What ever happened to the "gameday insert" in the the paper? Why is there no video coverage here on the website? I now that we are not a perennial top 10 team or even a top 25 team, but the coverage you provide is poor at best. As a BCS Conference school, I would imagine that every saturday provides you an opportunity to delve into cfb, and to give us, the fans, a look at the possible schemes, match ups and nuances for the week. You, however, choose not to do so, and thus robbing each and every KU fan, young or old, the coverage of their team they deserve. Most every other BCS school has a website, a newspaper much more in tune with the team than we do. It's hard to hope more from our team when the coverage you provide, your job, is done so poorly. Wake up, or leave, please.

Sincerely,

"real" KU Fans

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squawkhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Regarding the title...Master of the obvious!

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Jeff Kilgore 2 years, 7 months ago

As much as I hate to write this, it's obvious to me that KU's defense will be the worst of all Division I teams this year in points allowed. If this is the last year of the XII, which it might not be, I would expect teams to kick poor teams down one last time. KU looks like that team. They don't break down to tackle, they don't pursue well, and all these things may be masked in comments in which the coaches take all the blame, but players play the game, and I don't see four true defenders on the field at any time for KU. These kids simply don't look like division one players, and that isn't something you can coach.

This season, despite the first two wins, can't get over soon enough. If Gill doesn't find some defenders, and if he doesn't grab some juco kids next year who can play, 2012 will be his last year.

I feel bad for him because he came here in a bad situation in which the talent was leaving, the kids were down, and his recruiting has not kept up. Sure, our offense has a bright future, and boy, and if this porous defense keeps taking the field, they'll be on the field all the time.

Did anyone else choke when they saw the statistic on TV that Tech's first five TDs came in an average of 80 seconds? I have watched football for nearly 50 years, and I cannot remember a game in high school, college, or the pros in which a team score on the first play of the first half and the first play of the second half. They scored on their first play three times. Akin to giving up three grand slams in one game!

This was a game reminiscent of the TT "meat necklace" game Pat Knight most famously confessed. Unless we perfect the onside kick, and unless we are prepared to play every series with four downs, we are doomed.

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greenworld 2 years, 7 months ago

Better get some juco transfers in here by next yr like Snyder does at Kstate. Looks like we are not playing for now with the players we have but rather playing for the future. TG - Its okay to yell at your team and get them mad at you. I have a feeling everybody got together for a moment of silence or prayer after the game it was that bad. He needs to get into some players azz, end of story.

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johnnyhrdwd 2 years, 7 months ago

We'll get better, but njjayhawk is right about the investment, look at Oklahoma state.

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Lance Cheney 2 years, 7 months ago

I too am watching this OU-FSU game and they're just completely different players on these teams. They're physical specimens and FAST. Our guys are nowhere near this level. Kind of sad, but I'll keep supporting the Hawks!

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bbritain 2 years, 7 months ago

terrible, bad defense, GA high schools play better. I am appalled by the performance today. Forget recruting this area....

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pigballin 2 years, 7 months ago

If anyone taped the game, pay attention how Shealy uses the linebackers. They play 5 yards off the ball,,but the telling part is that that are reacting to the play in waiting.

Watch other good team defenses that use an attacking dense, they see the ball carrier and pursue towards the ball carrier. KU for the most part just waits,,by that time the runner has started up field with some speed.

Gill said he wanted an attacking defense..Just what does he call an attacking defense? I have not seen it any any game,including last year.

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georgepburdell 2 years, 7 months ago

Jayhawk43,

First, I am a Georgia Tech alumnus and was at the game today. I listed to the KU defensive coach's audio after the game and he is a straight shooter and probably a good coach. I listed to part of the HC audio and there was a lot of tip toeing on his part and when it became obvious that he wasn't going to say anything worthwhile, I shut it down. As for your armchair defense, those Tech blockers had a say in the equation. Also, they did not run the pure option but two or three times. On the big plays that Tech had on offense, most of them were because Tech ran where your defenders weren't and the passes were generally completed with little interference from defensive backs. The receivers at Tech are excellent downfield blockers, too. Your offense had the ball for 75% of the first half. Had they been able to continue to keep Tech's offense on the sideline in the second half, things might have been different. I do not think Kansas wins, because the Tech guys wanted it more, but Kansas has some good players. Paul Johnson has been around a long time and has been successful for a long time. He outcoached KU. He outcoaches most everybody, though.

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Janet Scott 2 years, 7 months ago

I've followed and watched KU football for near 50 years. Until KU makes the necessary investment in the football program, it will never be more than what it is and has been: a nationally ranked Jayhawk football team every 15 years or so, with the balance of years fielding a team that is Division 1AA, at best. When I say invest the necessary resources, I mean 2X or 3X what is currently invested, starting now. Yes, KU's facilities have improved (that's a relative statement), but not to anywhere they need to be to achieve upper echelon program status, and to be able to stay there year after year. Memorial Stadium is "nice" but no where near equal to the stadiums of the best programs in the land. And Jayhawk Towers, the residence of KU football players? A joke. Jayhawk Towers were built when I was a student at KU in the late '60s. And on and on. My comments here include KU coaches and staff, as well.

I'm presently watching the OU - FSU game on TV. What an impressive setting in Tallahassee: the massive stadium, the packed and boisterous crowd, the thru-the-roof enthusiasm, national TV spotlight, national Game of the Week, and on and on. It's so far from the product and mindset that is KU football in Lawrence, it's stunning. OU will crucify the Jayhawks this year.

We KU fans keep holding out for more, we keep wondering when it will happen for KU, or if it will happen at all, hoping somehow national football prominance will magically appear for KU on an annual basis, if we invest a little here and a little there. But sadly it won't; not till the KU leadership in Strong Hall gets serious about making KU's football program elite, and makes the HUGE necessary investments - a quantum step beyond the current level - to achieve what they say they desire, they need. Nibling at the edges here and there, won't cut it; and it certainly won't allow KU to catch the elite programs that are continually getting better.

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manginorh00lz 2 years, 7 months ago

The Big 12 is dead, Keegan, and the Big East is worthless too. Get over it. No one is buying your spin.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 7 months ago

Kind of like the pot calling the kettle black

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troutsee 2 years, 7 months ago

jhawk 43 is right on the money. Also, GT really did not run the option that much and obviously KU D was not prepared for this departure from their usual style.

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pigballin 2 years, 7 months ago

Pretty poor lame duck excuses. The University should reimburse the tickets and a free beer after each basketball game.

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Jack McEnaney 2 years, 7 months ago

Never in my life have I seen the option defended so poorly. If you are the defensive end going against the triple option is like a Christmas present. Guess what your job is? kick the crap out of the quarterback every single time he shows his face running around the end. Shed your block and make him sorry he showed up at the stadium! This is not hard! How many times do you think the quarterback can get drilled and keep wanting to run to your side. Bury him into the ground. Outside linebackers the same rule applies with the pitch back. Dont even look at the quarterback. Just go drill the running back without looking at the quarterback. Crush the running back. If the DE misses his assignment that is on him. For a team that is supposed to love playing together and trusts one another so much they looked clueless. The defense needs a complete overhaul. If Tx tech scores 40 on KU Shealy must be fired. The only place to go from here is use the bye week to work on shedding blocks and making tackles. We can not have our secondary stuck on blocks by wide receivers. I say open tryouts for every position on the defense Monday at three o clock. Lets see who wants to play.

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Andy Tweedy 2 years, 7 months ago

I agreed with everything in this article until you say Oklahoma should do the "right thing" and keep the Big XII together. The Big XII is a mess, and OU should do whatever is in their best interest!

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