Tuesday, October 9, 2012

LB Ben Heeney bright spot for KU defense

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein escapes linebacker Ben Heeney for a carry during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan.

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein escapes linebacker Ben Heeney for a carry during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan.



Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein escapes linebacker Ben Heeney for a carry during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan.

When a team gives up 475 yards, eight touchdowns and 56 points to its in-state rival, it can be pretty tough to find positive things to point to on the defensive side of the field.

But even in the wake of Saturday’s 56-16 loss at Kansas State, that task was a piece of cake for Kansas University coach Charlie Weis. That’s thanks to sophomore linebacker Ben Heeney, who led the Jayhawks with 14 tackles and is tied for sixth in the Big 12 with 41 stops. That number and his 3.5 tackles-for-loss lead KU’s defense.

“His mentality is really what you’re looking for,” Weis said of Heeney, who has started every game at middle linebacker for the Jayhawks (1-4). “He’s far from perfect, but his mentality is what you’re looking for. If you had a bunch of guys that had his mentality, you’d be way further along.”

It wasn’t so much the number Heeney finished with that impressed Weis as it was the way his tackles came. Whether it was in the first half or the disappointing final minutes, Heeney was the same player, sprinting to the ball and slamming opponents to the ground.

“It doesn’t surprise me, the production that Ben Heeney has,” Weis said. “Because one of the guys running full speed on every play from sideline to sideline, throwing his body around like a missile, is Ben Heeney. I’m not saying there aren’t other players playing hard, but he plays the game different than a lot of people do.”

Never was that more evident than on Heeney’s stop of K-State quarterback Collin Klein right before halftime. With 16 seconds to play in the half and the Wildcats sitting at the KU five-yard line with no timeouts, Klein took the snap, lunged forward and stretched the play outside to his left, racing against the clock and the KU defense to get to the end zone to give KSU a 28-14 halftime lead.

He never got there, though, as Heeney kept pace with the elusive KSU quarterback and wrestled him down, in bounds, at the one-yard line. The stop allowed time to run out on the half and sent the Jayhawks sprinting to the locker room with serious momentum.

“It didn’t turn out this way,” Weis said. “But that could’ve been a game-changing play. Klein had the angle to the end zone on him, too.”

According to Weis, Heeney is a one of those classic, play-the-way-you-practice football players. That’s not always a good thing.

“Sometimes, in practice, when it’s offense against defense, if you’re not going full speed, he’ll still take you to the ground,” Weis said. “On one side of my mouth I’m screaming at him, the other side I’m laughing because the guy only knows one speed.”

For a defense that has shown small improvement but still ranks 97th in the nation in total defense, Heeney has been the kind of steady force Weis would like to see more often.

“He’s called out in a positive manner by his defensive coaches all the time,” Weis said. “That’s been the Ben Heeney that I’ve known since I’ve been here.”

Kicking game changes?

On his weekly radio show Monday night, Weis hinted that he might use some different players in the kicking game Saturday against Oklahoma State.

“I think the one thing you’ll see is we’re gonna get some other specialists involved in the game,” Weis said. “That’s the way you try to improve it. And that won’t be the only position.”

So far this season, junior kick Ron Doherty has made just five of 10 field goals, including a 1-of-5 mark on kicks longer than 30 yards. In the loss to K-State, Doherty missed a 24-yarder.

An updated depth chart will be released today, but freshman Austin Barone and sophomore Nick Prolago were listed behind Doherty on last week’s depth chart.

KU-OU kickoff set

The Big 12 Conference announced Monday morning that KU’s Oct. 20 football game at Oklahoma would kick off at 6:05 p.m. and would be televised on Fox Sports Net.

Kansas is traveling to Oklahoma for first time since the 2008 season, when the Sooners claimed a 45-31 shootout victory. The Jayhawks and Sooners combined for 1,165 yards of offense, including 825 through the air.

OU leads the all-time series with KU, 69-27-6. The Sooners are also 36-13-3 against the Jayhawks in Lawrence.


Micky Baker 1 year, 6 months ago

Remember last year when Gill said Heeney was too fast and may get himself in the wrong position, "too fast". Heeney deserved better than that, and he's going to be fine if he keeps working hard.


Micky Baker 1 year, 6 months ago

I want to send a message to the KU Fans that are being extremely negative. There was two really bad years. We know this. So, now it's time to separate the men among the boys among the fan base. Here is a list of the characteristics.

  1. Men don't leave at half time to no return because they want to drink some beer at 2:30 in the afternoon. You have all day to drink some beer later.
  2. Men don't have unrealistic expectations after what we saw the last two years, and men do indeed say it how it is. Gill shorted this roster two years of coaching and it's a mess that can't be fixed in five games.
  3. Men do know when there are obvious improvements. Every game this year has shown improvements, not consistency yet.
  4. Men turn the game on and watch it all the way through.

I was at the game when KU broke the streak against K-State in 2004, and after John Randle ran for the TD to put KU up by 2 scores, a K-State fan sitting near me on the West Side almost right on the South 10 yard line started to head for the exits. I told him, real men don't leave early just because you're about to lose.

Yes, I know, it takes learning from mistakes to gain wisdom. I went to a Royals game once when they were playing Cleveland, and after the 7th inning the Royals were down 8-2. I left early. I didn't even turn the game on in the vehicle because I was so frustrated. When I got home, I turned on the TV it happened to be on ESPN, the last channel I was watching and they had just begun the highlights of the Royals game that night. The Royals won 10-9. I left early and missed it. Don't leave early! You'll miss it!


Ben Kliewer 1 year, 6 months ago

Pachall just left/was dismissed from TCU. Pick him up Coach Weis! Become the King of Recycled Quarterbacks!


jhawkrulz 1 year, 6 months ago

I went to that KU OU game, and shootout is correct. Briscoe had 200+ yards and that wasn't decided until midway into the 4th quarter.

Anyone else notice that we have a better record at Oklahoma then we do in Lawrence (unless if some of those wins were at a neutral site). 13-36-3 at home 14-33-3 at Norman.


Lloyd Kinnison 1 year, 6 months ago

The Jayhawks have 2 teams: first half and second half. The coaching staff must get the first hlf team to play for the second half of the game.


vd 1 year, 6 months ago

Most of those tackles are 10+ yds. past the line of scrimmage. Kind of like praising Crist for hustling and tackling the guy who intercepted his pass.


jhawkln 1 year, 6 months ago

I don't know if any of our LBs would start anywhere else in the Big XII or at Pitt St. for that matter. Our good players on defense are 2nd and 3rd stringers elsewhere. There is nothing good about this defense, and there hasn't been since 07-08. I laugh every time one of these articles is produced about a great player on defense. We need playmakers!!!!!!!!!!


Jason Keller 1 year, 6 months ago

You can't say enough about Heeney. He has ELITE speed for the linebacker position. I bet he is one of the fastest true linebackers in the Big 12. He is also on the smaller side but he fills like a man so who cares.


danno1313 1 year, 6 months ago

The same Heeney that I saw take the WRONG route to the ball carrier multiple times on Sat resulting in huge runs for KSU? That one? Really?


flyingfinn 1 year, 6 months ago

Hello!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why would you write an article titled "LB Ben Heeney bright spot for KU defense" with a picture of Ben missing a tackle of Collin Klein. Is the defense that bad?. come on LJW


Doug Roberts 1 year, 6 months ago

Somebody get Kathy Ireland's agent on the phone.


Jim Erickson 1 year, 6 months ago

Time for a red shirting rant... I do not understand why coaches play guys like Ben Heeney as a true freshman when they are not able to play a major role. I am sure he made a decent contribution last year, but was it worth his eligibility in 2015? Was burning Todd Reesing's red shirt, only to allow him a minimal role the rest of the season, worth it? Our team seems full of guys who are true sophomores that did not play a large role last year. There is a LOT of value in 5th year seniors.

Cairo_Jayhawk's red shirt policy. All players red shirt (including JUCO players) unless they are in the starting lineup or have a starters equivalent role. Ben Heeney should be a red-shirt freshman with 3 huge years ahead of him.

End of rant!


Ashwin Rao 1 year, 6 months ago

I like someone's idea of trying out some one from the soccer team also!


ahpersecoachingexperience 1 year, 6 months ago

How bad must those other two kickers suck?


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