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.”


bville_hawk 2 years ago

Under promise and over deliver. Smart P-R.


Doug Cramer 2 years ago

Does anyone know what happened to 100 ?

He was always so positive.


Jayhawk1958 2 years ago

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


Jayhawk1958 2 years ago

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


jaymar74 2 years 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.


Joe Baker 2 years 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.


ejlumus 2 years 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.


Jim Jackson 2 years 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!!


KGphoto 2 years ago

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


flyingfinn 2 years 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.


John Mueller 2 years 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!!


april28 2 years 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?


baldwinjhawk 2 years 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 2 years 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.


Doug Cramer 2 years 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.


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