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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Jayhawks’ defensive line waiting for ‘cavalry’

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Want to know what’s more difficult than stepping in to coach a new group of players you only have seen play on film?

Try coaching a group of players who might not be anywhere on the field when the season rolls around.

That’s the situation Kansas University defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt finds himself in this spring. Although there are a handful of defensive linemen with legitimate experience participating in spring drills, KU coach Charlie Weis and defensive coordinator Dave Campo have made no secret of the fact they identified upgrading KU’s defensive line as one of their top priorities this offseason. What’s more, both have been more than happy to talk about the group of D-linemen who are on the way.

“If you guys interviewed Buddy Wyatt, that was one of the most wasted interviews in the history of mankind,” Weis said. “Because what he’s trying to tell you is, ‘I’m going to go out there and coach the heck out of whoever I have, but until the cavalry gets here, the whole complexion of the defensive line is going to change.’ You have a couple of guys on the two-deep that are playing right now that are even gonna be in the two-deep (this fall). Everyone else is going to be running threes.”

With five defensive linemen — three junior-college players, a freshman and a fifth-year senior transfer — set to join the Jayhawks in June, it is expected that many of KU’s starters have yet to set foot on campus. But because those guys are not here yet, Wyatt must work with what he has, and those players must do what they can to solidify their spots before the reinforcements arrive.

Weis said last week that most jobs could not be won outright in the spring. Players can only put themselves in position to be the guy, he said. Campo agreed and said that was the danger of putting too much stock into what goes on in April.

“It’s hard to evaluate where we’re at with that position because a lot of guys are still coming in who we’re counting on to help us,” Campo said of KU’s D-line. “It’s an ongoing process. Are we where we need to be right now? Probably not. Are there a couple of guys in that group that might have a chance to help us? Yes.”

Williams on the mend

One player who has been limited this spring is Tulsa, Okla., defensive tackle John Williams, a junior who started KU’s first two games in 2011 before a torn ACL left him sidelined for the season. At the time, Williams was one of the few bright spots on KU’s depleted defensive line.

Wyatt said recently that Williams quickly was returning to his pre-injury form.

“John really had made a lot of progress up until the time he got hurt,” Wyatt said. “I was really pleased with the way John was playing last year. I don’t think he will drop off any. As a matter of fact, I think he will improve. He’s got size, he’s very flexible, he’s athletic, he runs good for a big guy. I think John will be OK.”

Lopsided at the top

Although eight spring practices hardly represent enough time to make a full evaluation of a team, Weis offered up his take on where KU’s offense and defense stood midway through spring drills.

According to KU’s first-year head coach, the first-string offense and second-string defense have the advantage.

“If you look at the first offense and the first defense, it’s a landslide,” Weis said. “Then you look at the second offense and the second defense, there’s also a landslide the other way. So what is that telling you? It’s telling you that the front-line guys on offense are pretty good, but you don’t have much depth. And it’s telling you, on defense, that these kids that are coming in the summer better be pretty good, because if they’re not, then my hair is going to turn completely white in a hurry.”

Comments

Ralster Jayhawk 2 years ago

How about scheduling a preseason game with "Liberty University"? It could definitely serve as an 'exhibition' game "per se": an exhibition of coaching & playcalling, or lack thereof; an exhibition in toughness, or the lack thereof; an exhibition of a team's awareness of its defensive assignments, or the lack thereof; an exhibition of the requisite physical strength & conditioning, or the lack thereof. In essence, the exhibition of competence and it's ability to foster a return of competetiveness, vs the display of the qualities that in 2yrs time after an OrangeBowl victory, led to the near-complete decimation of a BCS team in almost every category.

This stark comparison only highlights the blood, sweat, and heart given 100+% by a few of last season's players, and they have my complete respect for their efforts under such circumstances: Mr. Jeremiah Hatch, Mr. Steven Johnson, etc...We shall always be proud for how you guys fought individually.

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Ralster Jayhawk 2 years ago

Good lord...did I really just see a scrolling-animation advertisement on this site for "Liberty University"??!!?. Who is the dummkauf that thought advertising specifically at a KU-visited site would be a high-yield endeavor for Turner Gill's new university? Wow! Or should I say "OMG!".

(100% sarcasm intended.)

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bville_hawk 2 years ago

Nice article by Jon Kirby on jayhawkslant about Coach Ianello and the receiving corp:

http://kansas.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1355336

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UBHawker 2 years ago

I hope Shane Smith, Randall Dent, Pat Lewandowski, Kevin Young and Julius Green put this "slap in the face" article up in thier lockers and read it everyday. Work hard and show what you're capable of.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

I know a lot has been written about how you need to build a defense to stop these spread offenses in the Big 12, but look at this year's schedule. We don't play too many dominant passing QBs this year. No scary spread attacks. (and I don't consider Seth Doege and TTech a scary spread with Tubberville at the helm)

Gone are Brandon Weeden and RGIII. Gone are Blackmon Broyles and Wright. We're trading very good QB Tannehill, for very good QB Geno Smith of WVA. Trading pretty good James Franklin for pretty good Casey Pachall, and we are still looking at a total of 3 QBs who can really beat you passing.

Jones, Smith and Pachall.

We need to channel our inner 2005 defense and stop the run. As ballyhooed as the high-scoring-spread Big 12 is, the running game will keep things going this year. If we stop guys like Joseph Randal, Malcom Brown and even Colin Klein we'll be in position to compete for wins.

In 2005 you could not run on KU. I remember realizing this about half way through the season and even saying it, in disbelief, to my non-KU friends in Boulder. "You cannot run on this KU defense, period". I got some funny looks, but as the season continued it was proven. 2.4 YPC for about 83 YPG.

No NFL linebackers or lineman on that team. Just guys who filled their gaps and attacked the ball carrier. Those guys lived in the backfield. Those guys were disruptive. Those guys were a team.

Charlton Keith, 6'5" 225 had 23 TFLs and 9 sacks that year from the DE. A 225 pound DE doing all that damage. You know who else is 6'5" 225? Neal Page.

All the starting linebackers had at least 10 TFLs and the team recorded 112 on the year. You know who reminds me of these guys? Schyler Miles.

Brandon Perkins, a 6'1" 230 pound OLB who basically played DE, recorded 11 sacks on the year. You know who reminds me of Perkins? I don't even have to say it.

That team didn't have any dominant interior lineman.

The point is, we have the tools to play dominant defense this year. Hell, we had them last year. This is up to Dave Campo, not the cavalry.

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baldwinjhawk 2 years ago

For all of us that watched games in Memorial stadium last year. Could there be a defense that has been worse at KU? How many times was the ball snapped and we had a DBack on the wrong freakin side of the field? 4-3? sometimes it was a 2-5ish. If the the offense has a 3 stack wide don't you have a play in your book to compensate? Thank god for Tobun! He's so fast that he would get to the place that his teammate was SUPPOSED TO BE IN. But one guy does not a Defense make. It wasn't so much the losses (well it was) but how we played on defense in those losses. I'm not so sure that Pitt State wouldn't have scored a ton on us last year. That being said, I think Campo will at least be organized this year and that sets you up for the possibility for a tackle. Sorry for the rant, but it was so painful watching those games and the apathy that went with it on the side lines. If you had a player that was supposed to be dropped back in deep coverage and was up on run coverage wouldn't you be in his face when he came off of the field? I've coached a bit and I certainly would've been.

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edmondjayhawk 2 years ago

Question...why aren't the three juco D-linemen already on campus? They should've been eligible to transfer at semester.

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april28 2 years ago

I'm guessing that Weis is still trolling for a D-lineman - a late qualifier, a juco kid, a graduate transfer. I think that the coaches are also sending a signal to the guys who are on campus now: you better work hard over the summer.

What we all have to be wary of is the time that it takes to turn a football program around. I secretly hope for the 5, 6 or 7-wins season being predicted by different posters but a 4-win season, with tighter games across the board may be the most realistic, and fair, expectation.

Beat the plague in the rotten apple, and Weis might get a statue on campus.

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

Should be an interesting year. Still want to see Opurum and Williams end up being good linemen.

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Doug Cramer 2 years ago

Think our coaching staff is realizing how bad our defense is...particularly on the line.

The worst part is...we lost some young guys in the mass cut that had talent...and only one or two freshman were recruited.

Weis and Campo need to recruit the hell out of some quality D-linemen this year and get some young talent in here. It's the most important position group in football...and we haven't had a decent line since 2008.

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Jim Jackson 2 years ago

Gill was a good man and a solid recruiter (for being 3-9 in '10, he recruited some good players) but he could not run a Big 12 program and he was far too soft.

Weis is a disciplinarian and has learned from his mistakes at ND. I look for a 6-6, 7-5 season. Rock Chalk!

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clevelandjayhawker 2 years ago

Will be great to see how our D plays when they aren't moving and looking at the sideline when the ball is snapped

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jhawkrulz 2 years ago

After reading this article...I just think we will be better next year.

We'll have an offense based on execution and although we aren't totally deep we will put points on the board.

I'm still nervous about our defense, but it sounds like it will be no worse than last year. In addition, with a couple of fingers crossed hoping that some of these players pan out (JUCOs and 5th year seniors), we could see a huge improvement.

I do think the overall level of coaching has drastically improved. I'm not sure too many of the TG fans could argue that point, the DC alone is actually qualified. The Strength and Conditioning coach is solid. Personally, I think the OC is ten times better than Chuck third and long (nickname from his OU days). And people would argue the HC position, but the improvement of grades/accountability seem to show right away that it is an improvement.

I look forward to the upcoming year.

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Andy Hess 2 years ago

love the brutal honesty here. both good and bad. a welcome change from you-know-who.

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