Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Talent search: Campo focused on players, not plays, when KU’s defense lines up this spring

Defensive coordinator Dave Campo takes a close look at linebacker Ryan Karlin during Kansas University football practice on Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

Defensive coordinator Dave Campo takes a close look at linebacker Ryan Karlin during Kansas University football practice on Tuesday, April 17, 2012.


Kansas University defensive coordinator Dave Campo is not interested in talking about specific players this spring.

In fact, Campo is not even all that interested in coaching specific defenses.

He’s looking for football players. And until he finds them — or at least until he knows he can count on them — the first-year KU coordinator and former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys is not going to worry about much else.

“We’ve played probably more base defense this spring than we’ll play during the whole course of next year,” Campo said during a news conference Tuesday. “You don’t find very many base football teams that line up with two backs, two tight ends. But that is good for us because we’re seeing guys have to be physical and have to run and do the things they have to do. It really isn’t about scheme, it’s about evaluating how good these players are.”

Three months and 11 practices into his time at KU, Campo remains in the evaluation process. It’s what spring practice is for, he says, and it’s the perfect way to get the book on guys without muddying the water with how they fit into this scheme or that set.

To some degree, that includes whether guys are playing the right position and if they should be playing at all. Things such as effort, enthusiasm and understanding fill the pages of Campo’s evaluation.

“Guys, (the KU defense was) 120th in the (country) last year,” Campo said. “Of course, I’m nervous about the guys being able to compete on this level, but we wouldn’t be there if that weren’t the case. What we’ve gotta do is get competitive. If we get competitive on that side of the ball, with our quarterback situation, that combination means we’re gonna be a little bit better. It’s all speculation right now.”

It’s also the part of coaching that Campo loves best. Teaching, drilling and getting the most out of guys is what puts the bounce in his step. Although there remains a long way to go, Campo seems pleased with the progress.

“I think (the team’s enthusiasm is) better now than it has been at any time,” Campo said. “I really think our guys understand what it takes. ... If we can come out of this spring knowing the guys that are here that we can count on, then I think we will have come out ahead really.”

McCay ruling today?

The case for wide receiver Justin McCay is scheduled to be reviewed by the NCAA today, and a ruling is expected by Thursday at the latest.

McCay, the Bishop Miege High prospect who transferred from Oklahoma before the start of the spring semester, is seeking a special waiver that would allow him to play this fall instead of sitting out a year.

There is plenty of precedent for such moves throughout college athletics. Just five days ago, USC defensive back Josh Shaw, a transfer from Florida, was granted a hardship waiver after the NCAA reviewed his case, which involved his ailing father and grandfather and the need to be closer to their Palmdale, Calif., home.

Though the specifics of McCay’s case have not been made public, KU coach Charlie Weis and offensive-line coach Tim Grunhard, who coached McCay in high school, have said he has a legitimate case.

Secondary a step ahead

Campo said Tuesday that the KU secondary, which features cornerbacks Greg Brown and Tyler Patmon and safeties Bradley McDougald and Lubbock Smith as returning players with starting experience, had established itself as the top unit on the defense through the first two-thirds of the spring.

“I feel halfway decent about the secondary as a whole,” Campo said. “I think there are some players there. We’ve got three DBs coming in that can run, so it’s going to be a competition still, but I feel pretty decent about that group above all the other groups at this point.”

The DBs that Campo referenced are incoming freshmen Greg Allen and Tyree Williams and junior-college transfer Nasir Moore. Given KU’s lack of depth and experience at cornerback, all three could be in line for early playing time.

Playing both ways

Although no new position switches have popped up in the past couple of weeks, that does not mean that Campo hasn’t had his eye on the offensive side of the ball.

“I see some guys over there that I’d like to have,” Campo said. “I might not get ’em, or I may get ’em part time, but we haven’t made any position moves.”

What the KU coaching staff has done is strive to locate the best football players on the roster. With more than 20 new players scheduled to arrive in June, the list could change drastically between now and September, but both Campo and Weis have stressed that all they can do is work with what they have.

“There are some guys on offense that we feel could be two-way type players,” Campo said. “We’re gonna try to get the best 11 guys on offense and the best 11 guys on defense, whoever those guys are. That’s just a philosophy. You have to get your best guys on the field. And Charlie’s great with that.”


Doug Cramer 8 years, 7 months ago

After listening to Campo's press conference yesterday...and Weis's presser last week...I get the impression that they are very nervous about the lack of talent on defense.

Paraphrasing from my own perception of what Weis said...I heard him say...that if these JUCO defensive linemen coming in during the summer aren't better than what we currently have...he'll be pulling his hair out all season.

Campo was very quick to check media questions regarding his excitement for an improving defense...mentioning that he inherited the worst defense in all of FBS football...and that they are not a Big 12 caliber defense.

We're in for another long season folks.

Joseph Kuebel 8 years, 7 months ago

Good thing Weis hired u as coach. He did say hair would turn white quickly, but our LBS will be better particularly as we have opurum a yr older, a 4 star recruit kande who finally is big enough, and a xfer from notre dame who also found playing time despite being behind their Samoan NFL 1st rounder, at DL...we have Nebraska de coming in (who played behind suh and still got playing time), we had our best dt play the first 2 games and then get hurt... And we have enforcements on the way. Hate to call you negative Nancy, but definitely negative Nancyboy. Our defensive coordinator didn't know what was going on, nor did our coach last year... Tell me how we will be as bad as last year, cuz that's pretty much impossible.

Displayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Not to mention the whole team will be in better football shape through rigorous conditioning this year.

Martin Shupert 8 years, 7 months ago

Displayhawk... I've been a Notre Dame fan all my life. Charlie Weis's Notre Dame teams were woefully out of shape. They went through a culture shock when Kelly arrived. Don't count on CW's teams being in better shape than anyone except last year's KU team. It ain't gonna happen.

Joseph Kuebel 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm drinking the koolaid, and suggest that you do, also... It's on the house.

Doug Cramer 8 years, 7 months ago

You must be adding grain alcohol with that koolaid because you're the only one drinking it. By the way...Opurum is a defensive end...not a line backer.

No negative Nancy here...just realistic. I love KU football...but until we get some talent on the D-line...we'll continue to struggle.

Havn't heard much about Prinz Kande...but again...he's a line backer. We need dudes on the line that can pressure a QB.

Finally...I never said we would be as bad as last year. I agree with what Campo said...our defense is no where close to competiting with other Big 12 defenses.

Cameron Cederlind 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm hoping that they are just being cautious with their evaluation of this new frankenstein team. Keep in mind Campo hasn't coached college guys in 25 years and has only been working with pros. We'll definitely be better and I think we'll still be able to compete on defense with at least half the big 12, along with stellar offensive weapons, I can see us still getting 6 wins next year.

Jeff Smith 8 years, 7 months ago

Technically Opurum was the "Buck" Linebacker

Joseph Kuebel 8 years, 7 months ago

Ya I meant there to be A period, not comma before "at de" ya I recognized kande as a lb, and technically opurum is a buck lb, so again... How are they gonna be as bad as last year?

Nice attempt at defacing my statement tho...

Andy Godwin 8 years, 7 months ago

It is not surprising that Weis and his coaching staff are reserved in their assessment of the team. Players make plays and last season there weren't many big plays. These are the same players in spring practice from last year, minus last year's seniors and the addition of a couple of 5th year transfers. A few of the incoming freshman may make an impact and change the overall impressions when they enroll in the FAll and begin practicing, but few football program rely heavily on freshman. This is not like basketball where one or two top recruits can change an entire team and program. Hopefully with better coaching and higher expectations, this year's version of KU football will be more competitive. Unlikely they will win very many more games than last year, I am guessing 4, but hopefully their effort will be better and the games more compeling.

lurkerhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Campo said if they (offense) didn’t make plays with the (defensive) unit we have now, I’d be disappointed and a little nervous about the season.

I agree. Our defense has a long ways to go.

Jeff Smith 8 years, 7 months ago

Im always positive going into each season whether its ku football, baseball and even Royals baseball. But with that said I think you're right table rock. I am expecting improvement on both sides of the ball. But we have seen this secondary already guys. Until Weis has another year or two to really bring in the talent do not expect many W's. Our run D will be better, not good, but better. Of course our passing game will improve with the people that Weis brought in and hopefully McCay gets granted the hardship. We will be a better team with much more discipline. As KU fans we need to celebrate the small things this year like competing all 4 quarters and making adjustments, and maybe winning a conference game or two. Hopefully the older guys lay a foundation and we can rise up and compete for big 12 hardware.

april28 8 years, 7 months ago

Last year's 2-10 team lost by 1 point to Baylor after giving up a 21-point 4th quarter lead, they lost to ISU by 3 points in Ames. Both games were winnable and would have made us 4-6. We lost by 11 to TTU at home after going out to a 3 or 4 touchdown lead and we lost by 14 to Mizzou the week after getting absolutely destroyed by A&M.

My point? Though we aren't playing last year's schedule, this year's team probably needs to be 4 or 5 possessions better, per game, than last year's team in order to have significantly better results. Is the combo of Weis, Crist and company worth 2 to 4 better possessions a game? Can the combo of Campo, a year of experience for many of the defensive players and the incoming recruits create 2 to 4 better possessions per game?

I think that it is doable on both sides of the ball.

It's one thing to preach to kids to "believe", it's another to show them how to get better and demand from them that they do so. This team will be significantly improved. How that translates to W's and L's is yet to be seen but at least I feel like we have a fighting chance as compared to the previous two seasons.

troutsee 8 years, 7 months ago

Good points. Even with a crappy team and a gutsy but talent lacking QB, we could have won a couple of more games. I am much more optimistic this year.

Andy Hess 8 years, 7 months ago

Math wasn't your strong suit huh? With those two close losses as wins we'd be 4-8. 4-6 would only be a ten game season.

Gary Wirsig 8 years, 7 months ago

He may have meant 4-6 at that point in the season.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 7 months ago

He mentioned 4 games. With a few plays, those games + the 2 existing W's would result in 4 to 6 W's, vs. a 4 to 6 record.

AirCapJay 8 years, 7 months ago

Agree. Conditioning alone should allow us to be more competitive. If our guys would have had better conditioning last year I do think we would have won 5 games.

Marcia Parsons 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm hoping that better conditioning will help us avoid those 4th quarter collapses. It always looked like everyone was just too tired by the 4th to do anything, much less compete or hold onto a lead.

baldwinjhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

He should be nervous about the Defense. They were the worst in Kansas football history. Obviously, they will be better this year, but good enough to compete with the offenses we have in the big 12? I'm going to the spring game and it doesn't sound like we will be watching much of what the defense will look like this fall. I'm still excited about the game. Anyone joining me?

april28 8 years, 7 months ago

Now for something completely different....I'd like to see the Big 12 adopt a rivalry schedule for the last game of the season every year.

KU vs. KSU OU vs. OSU TX vs TTU (vs. A&M would have been better, but you gotta start somewhere) Baylor vs. TCU (Baylor vs. FBI would be better but at least this can be a holy war) ISU vs. WVU (There's no rivalry here and never will be. Who's kidding who?)

This league needs something to pull it together and give it a real sense of tradition. Perhaps getting these rivalry games scheduled as finale's every year would help?

texashawk10 8 years, 7 months ago

The Big 12 couldn't do that this year because of how late in the game WVU came over to the Big 12 so they had to have two different versions of the schedule in case WVU couldn't get into the Big 12 for this upcoming season.

John Mueller 8 years, 7 months ago

I will be there and I am looking forward to watching this team.

But, I think it is pretty clear what this staff is saying.

I appreciate their candor and honesty, but I am not sure how much I would want to read it as a player....

They are basically saying: we don't have enough players. We don't have enough guys who are legitimate Big 12 talent, let alone "pro's".

To compete for championships, we need "pro's", just like we get in bball.

I think we have the right staff and I think they can get these guys to their "ceiling" or close to it.

Let's just hope the ceiling is above ground.

I have my tickets and I am eternally optimistic about our upside!

Optimism and perseverance is a core competency of any Jayhawk football fan!

When I was in school, it was a running joke how long my buds would stay before retiring to the Wheel. I was always so thankful to be in Memorial Stadium after my childhood of games mostly on the radio that I NEVER left a game early in 4 yrs.

But, damned if I didn't want to. Bob Valenscente football could test any man's character.

Go, Fight, Win Jayhawks!!

John Mueller 8 years, 7 months ago

I don't know the man, but he seems to be a very high quality person and I wish him the very best.

I just don't think he was ever qualified to be the football coach at Kansas.

I thought it was a political hire.

I never thought his resume at Buffalo merited consideration for bigger jobs.

He simply had not accomplished enough or had enough experience.

And, sadly that sort of came to light at KU.

I hope he has great success at Liberty!

flyingfinn 8 years, 7 months ago

I also like the brutal honesty and the statement that we need to be competitive on defense which we were not the past 2 years. This team will control the ball and manage the clock to keep us in more games than in the past and bring more wins. The question will be how many. I believe with an average but competitive defense 4 wins so at least a 6-6 record.

KGphoto 8 years, 7 months ago

With the sun in his eyes, Dave Campo makes a really convincing Charles Grodin face.

Jim Jackson 8 years, 7 months ago

Let's not forget we had the youngest team in the Bigh 12 last year, and one of the youngest in the nation, overall. I expect an improvement on D as it couldn't get any worse. With a real coaching staff, transfers ,JUCO players and a real conditioning coach (unlike that clown big John) I expect a 6-6 / 7-5 season.

Go 'Hawks!!

ejlumus 8 years, 7 months ago

Ball control offense .... high risk defense, blitz every play from different angles ..... turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. Couple of upsets ... spell 7-5 record.

We go bowling.

No, I haven't had anything to drink. Probably after the spring game.

Gary Wirsig 8 years, 7 months ago

ej, you sound a little like "100". Loved his optimistic posts.

8 years, 7 months ago

Just beat South Dakota State :-)

Joe Baker 8 years, 7 months ago

Im really excited to see what this NFL coaching staff can do with the program. They can be so many things to these players. It shows that KU is seirous about football bringing in so many NFL coaches.

jaymar74 8 years, 7 months ago

From where we were the last two years to where we want to be is a long journey. This coaching staff has what it takes to make that journey and it starts with steps. We will make steps in the right direction this year. We will be more competitive and we should win more games. We will not be a 7 or 8 win team. Take the steps we take and enjoy them and more importantly cheer them.

Jayhawk1958 8 years, 7 months ago

Campo's expression says it all about this years' coaching philosophy.

Jayhawk1958 8 years, 7 months ago

Intangibles can make up to a point for lack of talent. Just ask Mark Magino.

Doug Cramer 8 years, 7 months ago

Does anyone know what happened to 100 ?

He was always so positive.

KGphoto 8 years, 7 months ago

It comes up from time to time. The two most popular theories based on claimed sources say either dead or incarcerated. : (

april28 8 years, 7 months ago

Webber taking that job borders on the weird. Just friggin' strange. Goes to show, though, that he'll do anything for money.

Do you think that is he going to have a Frank Martin funeral?

april28 8 years, 7 months ago

Wish I could have bought one of those shirts to go with my Norfolk State tee.

texashawk10 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm in College Station today and stopped by an Aggieland Outfitters to see if they had any left, but they've already pulled all of them off the shelves.

Bville Hawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Under promise and over deliver. Smart P-R.

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