Friday, April 6, 2012

Tryout time: KU defensive coordinator Campo sees spring as proving ground

Kansas linemen Julius Green (99), Dylan Avery (62), Pat Lewandowski (91), John Williams and Keba Agostinho (96) get loose during the first day of spring practices on Tuesday, March 27, 2012.

Kansas linemen Julius Green (99), Dylan Avery (62), Pat Lewandowski (91), John Williams and Keba Agostinho (96) get loose during the first day of spring practices on Tuesday, March 27, 2012.


When Kansas University defensive coordinator Dave Campo took the job in January, one of the things he said he was looking forward to about returning to the college game fresh off of a 23-year stint in the NFL was the opportunity to teach again.

It seems he picked the right place.

Five practices into spring drills, Campo said Thursday that he told his players to use this month as a time to prove themselves and that teaching had dominated the first few days of practice.

“It’s a blank sheet,” Campo said. “And I told our defense that when we first got together. I said, ‘If you want to know what we’re doing in the next month, I can give you a sheet of paper and tell you how we’re going to insert defenses and how we’re gonna do all these things. But, really, you should only know one thing — this is a tryout.’ And that’s the approach that we’re taking.”

By tryout, Campo was not talking only about stopwatches and an almost-daily shuffling of the depth chart. He and the rest of the coaching staff are in a hard-core look-under-the-hood phase, and he expects that to continue throughout the spring. Diving into the playbook and beginning preparations for Big 12 offenses can wait.

“We’re trying to evaluate who we are more than anything else,” Campo said. “Scheme is the least of the concerns that I have. We really want to be able, at the end of spring practice, to say, ‘We can count on this guy and this guy and this guy,’ and then the guys we’ve got coming in are gonna fill in.”

So far this spring, Campo said the defense had progressed at a slow and steady pace. There are multiple reasons for that, but the biggest is that Campo and his defensive coaches still are getting to know their personnel. That starts with trust, and Campo said it was a two-way street.

“‘Even though I have certain things that might prove it, I still have to prove to you that I can help you get better and that we’re doing things the right way around here on defense,’” Campo said he told his unit. “‘That’s my responsibility. At the same time, it’s your responsibility to prove to me that you can do what I ask you to do.’”

As for specific guys who have stood out through the first third of spring drills, Campo said he did not want to name names.

“I want everybody to think that they’re that guy,” Campo said. “The one thing I will say is there’s been a drastic improvement from the first practice to this practice as far as guys understanding what we want from the snap of the football to the end of the play.”

The need for speed

Both Campo and head coach Charlie Weis have talked repeatedly about their desire to upgrade KU’s speed. That was one of the topics of Campo’s meeting with the media again Thursday, but since he actually had seen what’s on the field, Campo could provide his opinion about KU’s wheels.

“Not the best,” he said. “But I think we have some guys that can run. Remember, you don’t have to find 30, all you have to do is find 11 of them. That’s something that people forget sometimes.”

Saying goodbye

Campo was a couple of minutes late to his news conference Thursday because he had just heard that longtime friend and former colleague Joe Avezzano had passed away after suffering a heart attack in Italy. Campo worked with Avezzano, 68, at Oregon State, Pittsburgh and with the Dallas Cowboys.

“I apologize for being late,” Campo said. “I’m a little discombobulated today. I just want to convey my condolences to Joe and his family. He was a good friend, and he was an important guy in my career.”

Ticket sales soaring

KU officials announced Thursday that, while season-ticket sales remain ongoing, the effort already had surpassed what the university had sold during the past few seasons.

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly how many season-ticket packages had been sold because renewals continue to roll in.

But a press release said that more than 3,000 new season-ticket packages already had been purchased for next season, which includes the new “Coach’s Corner” option that was sold out.


Randy Bombardier 2 years ago

I don't think it was a lack of defensive speed that caused the embarrassment at Ga Tech. I have never seen a football team be so out of position. I understand what they are doing now but at some point it seems to me that we need some serious classroom (film) time.


chalky 2 years ago

Looks like they have a little captain in them this year....Go Hawks!


jdhawk 2 years ago

First Sentence in the article made me not want to read the rest. "When Kansas University defensive coordinator Dave Campo took the job in January"

Can the paper that covers the University get the name right, PLEASE.

The University of Kansas, not Kansas University is what my diploma reads


omng392 2 years ago

Everyone on this page is talking how this team is going to suck, we will be a .500 or better team this year and I'm calling it bowl eligible. All you have to do is look at what a great coaching job can do and how far a team can go (see badketball). Did you see how well Cassel played when Weiss was at KC?

Time to buy, this stock is about to go up!!


danno1313 2 years ago

They can t get worse than last season. UGH!


Phoggin_Loud 2 years ago

Regarding speed, here's the entire quote from Coach Campo:

"Not the best, but I think we have some guys that can run," Campo said. "You have to remember, you don't have to find 30 guys that can run. All you have to do is find 11 of them. That's something that people forget sometimes. I guarantee that our 30 players are maybe not as good as 30 players at Oklahoma. But maybe six of them are as good as anybody at Oklahoma. Then you have to find guys to fill in that do it the right way, and then you've got a chance to get better."


KGphoto 2 years ago

I wouldn't read a whole lot into what Campo says about the players at this point. I think they are still lighting fires under butts out there.

His quote is a tricky one.

Re: Speed

“Not the best,” he said. “But I think we have some guys that can run. Remember, you don’t have to find 30, all you have to do is find 11 of them."

"...guys that can run." Okay, does that mean they are fast? Well...

Bakare, Tharp, Opurum, Brown, Simmons (maybe Willis). These guys can run. I think they can run pretty fast, too. That's 5 or 6, of the 7 or 8 positions that really need to be able to run on a defensive unit. It doesn't matter though, because you can't come out and say "I like our speed". He's keeping these guys motivated, and keeping them in the dark is part of that process.

Personally I think him saying our defensive speed is "not the best" is a good thing. It too, keeps guys motivated.


ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years ago

Speeeeeeeeeeeeeeed... mean the 127 different articles last year about Turner being a good recruiter and bringing in speed were not true...If only a poster would of gone against the grain and tried to explain to everyone that Turners recruits were a joke!


2 years ago

Nice mention of Joe Avezzano above. Anyone who has spent time living in or around the DFW area in the last couple of decades knows that, perhaps outside of Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson, he was one of the most beloved coaches in town. Players who played for him and fans alike appreciated and respected him. He was a friendly down-to-Earth guy who will be missed.

~ R.I.P. Coach Joe ~


Warren 2 years ago

Also remember, this will be the 5th different defense we have had in the last 5 years.


KU79 2 years ago

Uh, I don't think Julius Green is in that picture.


flyingfinn 2 years ago

Let's face it last year's defense was one of the worst in history, but they were also on the field way too much because of a poor offense. I don't expect a great defense this year but they should improve and should be more effective with less time on the field because Coach Weiss will have an offense that can control the ball for lengthy periods of time. While I won't make any record predictions I do expect us to be MUCH more competitive and able to make half-time adjustments that were not seen in the past two years.


Sam Brockert 2 years ago

You know I have heard a lot of people around me comment and say that Weis's SB rigns came with Tom Brady under center. Tom Brady wasn't that highly touted coming out of college, so I wonder how much hand weis had in his development. At the very least you can make the argument, how many superbowls has tom brady won without weis?


Danny Hernandez 2 years ago

"you don’t have to find 30, all you have to do is find 11 of them"

This staff will find the 11 on D. We have some and those that come in this summer will fill out the remainder.

I can see 7-5 our first we coulda shoulda won last year, we will win this year plus games we have no business even winning. Mark my words


baldwinjhawk 2 years ago

I will be pleased if the defense can get all of the it's players into position by the time the ball is snapped. I don't know how many times we were caught out of position last year? It was way too many times.


Michael Pannacciulli 2 years ago

Can't win without D. Needs to be the focus. We will get there.


Ben Kliewer 2 years ago

I'm not saying I don't trust the coaching staff. But just a word of warning, and I think everybody knows this already, but don't expect this team to do anything spectacular this year. Could be another pretty bad season. The key is the transition from year one to year two. I'm not saying to expect the 2013 Big 12 Championship, but there should be signs of improvement that season if this coaching staff is worth their salt, which their resume's would suggest they are. That's where Turner failed. You could see that there was little inspiration, and even less work ethic in the players under his watch, and the team actually regressed in the second season. In this age of college football, that can't happen. Hopefully we can pull off 5 wins this year, that'd be fantastic and I'd be sold on this staff. But even if we don't get 5 or more wins, I'm not writing them off. Like I said, the key will be what is done on the field in the Fall of 2013.


Doug Cramer 2 years ago

Translation - our D will suck again this season.


Ryan Lee 2 years ago

I think 5-7 1st year, 8-4 2nd year w/ Heaps. But Christ and company will lead an exciting new regime. Then coach will leave for a bigger program.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.