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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Turn for the better: Emphasis on takeaways pays off

Kansas defensive lineman Josh Williams raises his arms after recovering a fumble by South Dakota State in the second quarter, Saturday, September 1, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas defensive lineman Josh Williams raises his arms after recovering a fumble by South Dakota State in the second quarter, Saturday, September 1, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

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Kansas defensive lineman Josh Williams raises his arms after recovering a fumble by South Dakota State in the second quarter, Saturday, September 1, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

For a defense that recorded just 18 turnovers during the entire 2011 season, picking up five takeaways in one game, as Kansas University did in its season-opening victory Saturday, may seem a little bit like magic.

It wasn’t.

“I think that’s a direct result of what we’ve talked about all along,” defensive coordinator Dave Campo said, “getting to the football and making sure we’re around it because you never know.”

During the 31-17 victory against South Dakota State, the Jayhawks hauled in four interceptions — two by senior safety Bradley McDougald — and a fumble. While the turnover total may have surprised some, the execution did not.

“We talk about it every day,” said senior defensive end Josh Williams, who forced a fumble and recovered it on the same play.

The Jayhawks’ stated goal for takeaways-per-game is two. They talk about in every meeting room, during every practice and in the moments leading up to every game. But what they like better than talking about it is seeing it.

“That tells us that they’re listening to what we’re saying,” defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt said.

Although no one in a KU uniform said he expected five turnovers to become the norm, the fast start lifted the team’s confidence.

“If you get five turnovers in a game, you can’t ask for anything more than that,” junior linebacker Huldon Tharp said. “Honestly, if you can get two or three in a game, you’re happy.”

Added McDougald, who enters this week’s game against Rice tied for the NCAA lead in interceptions: “It was like a sense of accomplishment, some things were finally starting to pay off. It was definitely a great feeling, but that was Saturday, and now we’re back to square one and another opponent.”

Newcomers get time

The participation report from last week’s game revealed that 12 newcomers — four true freshmen — played during KU’s opener.

“There’s more of them that we want to get into the game this week,” KU coach Charlie Weis said. “But I think any time they can get 10 or 20 plays in there, first rattle out of the box, we’re on our way to getting the butterflies out, now the next time out it won’t be as big a deal.”

Aslam Sterling (right guard), Mike Ragone (tight vend), Dayne Crist (quarterback), Williams (defensive end) and Jordan Tavai (nose tackle) all started, with true freshmen Tre’ Parmalee (wide receiver) and Schyler Miles (linebacker) logging the most snaps off the bench.

Sorry, Jake

Even though BYU transfer Jake Heaps probably does a pretty mean impersonation of Taylor McHargue, Rice’s dual-threat quarterback, don’t expect him to be rewarded with any hardware.

Heaps, who is sitting out the season because of NCAA transfer rules, was KU’s scout team offensive player of the week last week but does not figure to win the award again.

“I said, ‘If you don’t go down there and be the best player on scout team, then you and I are gonna have a problem,’” Weis said. “So I told him he only gets it once, and he got it the first week.”

Freshman defensive end Tyler Holmes was named the defensive scout team player of the opening week.

Another KU connection

While it has been well detailed how many former Jayhawks are on the coaching staff at Rice, there exists another KU-Rice connection that extends to the playing field.

Senior linebacker Kyle Prater is the son of a Jayhawk. Prater’s father, John, was an offensive lineman at KU from 1980-81.

Comments

99yard_run 1 year, 7 months ago

Kansas 41 Rice 24

Side note: I live 10 min from Rice stadium, it's been 100+ real feel here all week (cool front will hit us Saturday), they are a conditioned team..............

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Randy Bombardier 1 year, 7 months ago

I guess the two blocked punts don't count? Taking those into account is a huge advantage.

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ironhead80 1 year, 7 months ago

The JackRabbits made these turnovers not the defense, heck, they threw right to KU's defense. This is unlikely to happen again, Hopefully a season from now they'll have talent to make plays and turnovers.

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notjustbread 1 year, 7 months ago

All this turnover talk is making me hungry.

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texashawk10 1 year, 7 months ago

It's clear the people who didn't really pay attention to how the defense was playing last year or they wouldn't be totally shocked by the 5 turnovers forced on Saturday. KU's defense last year created 16 of their 18 turnovers during the final 7 games which comes out to an average of 2.3 turnovers forced per game during the second half of last season. I've been saying since the spring that turnovers are the key for the this team's success this year. It's why Oklahoma St. and Baylor had the success they did last year because all of the their defensive numbers were terrible aside from their turnover numbers. KU doesn't have the offense those two teams did last year, but it's still good enough to get to a bowl game if the defense can create turnovers like those two defenses did last year.

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Jayhawk470 1 year, 7 months ago

I have been hailing the Kansas D for getting takeaways in the game. We need more of those to have a chance this season. We need to continue to be aggressive on D and make the big plays. And we've also gotta make the little plays along the way too. This last game was a good first step in the right direction, and I hope there are more of those in the months to come.

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 7 months ago

If all of us regular posters were in a lifeboat and one of us had to be pushed out for the rest of us to survive, who would it be?

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jhawkrulz 1 year, 7 months ago

There are going to be very few games that we lose if we get 5 turnovers. Now keeping that pace up will be nearly impossible.

The turnover battle is considered one of the keys to football. Extra possessions even if they don't lead to an immediate score they can lead to wearing out the other team's defense.

Don't know the percentages, but when you have a +1, +2, and so forth of turnover margin your chances of winning increase significantly.

But averaging less than 1 last season per game is deeply disappointing. What is even worse, is my guess is we averaged giving up the ball well over 2 a game.

If we have a +4 turnover margin, we will have a lot of wins.

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GoHawks1 1 year, 7 months ago

How many of those turnovers turned into points on the next offensive drive? Not only do we need to create turnovers, but we need to turn those into points.

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JHWKDW 1 year, 7 months ago

Its a start. Being in the + in turnovers will help you win games!

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