Saturday, September 15, 2012


Thieving defense bright spot for KU



KU coach Charlie Weis postgame: TCU

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Video of Kansas coach Charlie Weis' postgame press conference following the Jayhawks' 20-6 loss to TCU on Sept. 15, 2012.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Charlie Weis

Kansas coach Charlie Weis talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 20-6 loss to TCU on Sept. 15, 2012.

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Hidden in the gargantuan shadows of the Kansas University football team’s inability to score touchdowns and kick field goals, Dave Campo’s defense week after week has practiced what he has been preaching in his hoarse voice since he left the NFL’s most famous franchise to work at the Big 12’s most famous basketball school.

The feisty Campo forever challenges his players to force turnovers by finishing plays, and Saturday against the 16th-ranked school in the country, his defense again showed his stamp has taken root already.

Kansas didn’t win, losing 20-6 to TCU in the Forth Worth school’s Big 12 baptism, but future opponents of KU, picked last in the conference for a reason, no doubt gained respect for the disruptive nature of the Jayhawks’ defense.

Three weeks into a 1-2 season, Kansas has a whopping 12 turnovers, including four fumble recoveries against the Horned Frogs (2-0). Unlike in the first two weeks, when the defense set up the offense with good field position that too often didn’t translate to points, this week the turnovers repeatedly rescued the KU defense when TCU was well into threatening drives.

TCU amassed 487 yards and averaged 11.2 yards per pass attempt, numbers that suggest it’s a strange time to praise a defense. But in contrast to the KU offense, the closer the ball moved to the end zone, the better the defense performed. Led by senior defensive end Toben Opurum, Campo’s band of thieves played with an edge seldom seen around here in the past couple of years.

The Horned Frogs drew inside the 20-yard line seven times and had just one touchdown and two field goals to show for those penetrations. (The other touchdown came on a 25-yard pass play).

Turnovers kept the score down. Heading into the week, Kansas ranked second in the nation to SMU (10) with eight turnovers gained.

“Coach Campo made a big emphasis on that when we started camp,” senior defensive end Josh Williams said. “Our defense took heed to that and that’s been a big thing for us every day in practice, to try to get turnovers.”

Campo worked in the NFL from 1989 through 2011, mostly with the Dallas Cowboys, ascending to defensive coordinator (1995-99) and then head coach (2000-2002). He hadn’t been in the college game since working on Jimmie Johnson’s staff at Miami (1987-88). He always had a reputation as a coach gifted at teaching young players, so in that sense the college game seemed like a good fit. But legitimate questions existed as to whether the wide variety of offensive styles in the college game would send him for a loop.

The defense didn’t look great against Rice and the line didn’t get much done, but against TCU, it performed much better. The blitzes that had a telegraphed feel to them in Week 1 against South Dakota State seemed perfectly timed and well-disguised against the Horned Frogs.

It’s not a particularly fast defense — nobody could run down South Dakota State’s Zach Zenner on his 99-yard touchdown run — and not particularly big, but it’s an opportunistic one and that can feed on itself.

“We can’t have guys waiting in the back seeing if things are going to happen,” senior defensive end Toben Opurum said. “If you’re around the ball, good things can happen.”

Campo constantly preaches finishing plays by forcing turnovers.

“He’ll tell you himself that’s the biggest factor in most games that are played,” Opurum said. “So far, we’re doing a good job of that, but there are still plays we’re making where we’re leaving more turnovers on the field.”

Head coach/offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, whose personality and coaching style more closely resembles that of smart-aleck psychologist Bill Parcells than cold-blooded tactician Bill Belichick, clearly played the Rodney Dangerfield angle with his players and it stoked them into putting forth a competitive effort against TCU.

The Horned Frogs expected to roll to an easy victory, right?

“I’m sure they thought that,” Opurum said. “They saw what we put on film in the past and the scores of the games in the past and we lost at home at Rice. Any team can figure they’re going to come roll through us, but we’re a lot tougher than that and we’re going to make sure we continue to improve and get some wins.”

Credit Weis with making the players believe in themselves after a potentially crippling loss at home to Rice. Here’s guessing Weis pulled that off with a little more creativity and depth than simply telling his players to “believe” and backing that up with an acronym that spells the word.


jumpinjayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

I credit TCU, the ball just popped out for the most part except on the sack.

Eric Dawson 9 years, 4 months ago

You didn't see the same game I saw, both live at the stadium and later in the replay I just finished watching after I got home. All but the bad snap fumble were caused by KU hits "just popping" the ball out.

Jayhawk1116 9 years, 4 months ago

Any chance Campo could maybe stress tackling sometime soon? It's also an important part of the game...

77hawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Amen to improving the tackling. KU's defensive backfield is especially inept at this part of the game.

pepper_bar 9 years, 4 months ago

Mr. Keegan, Kansas fired Turner Gill a long time ago. No need to keep being catty.

kubiggestfan 9 years, 4 months ago

Agree, turner gill has moved it is time for you to move on and see if Charlie Weiss will earn his pay...don't make excuses for his loses either, you didn't for gill.

jayhawkintexas 9 years, 4 months ago

Naw, keep on being catty about the "believe" thing. The only part of "believe" was I believed we needed a new coach.

Eric Dawson 9 years, 4 months ago

Sorry, but Jerry Johnson's PR machine to the contrary, the NFL's most famous franchise is the Green Bay Packers. Even though primarily a Baltimore Colt fan growing up, I always liked Tom Landry's Cowboys (loved Roger Staubach, Tom Lilly and "Bullet" Bob Hayes). I was still a fan after JJ bought them, fired Landry and erroneously labeled the Pokes "America's Team". But everyone I knew growing up acknowledged that Green Bay was the standard, and aspired to "Run to Daylight" like the Packers did. They had more pre-Super Bowl NFL titles (11) than any other team, were winners of the first two Super Bowls and won two more since the AFL-NFL merger, the most recent two years ago.

A flamboyant franchise that has been all hat and no cattle since 1995, Dallas (5) doesn't even have the record for most Super Bowl wins, the Pittsburgh Steelers do (6) -- and Green Bay is right behind them with 4 Super Bowls.

That's 15 Green Bay championships total. The next closest is the Bears with 9, 8 before 1970 and 1 Super Bowl. The Packers have won a championship in every decade but two -- never missing a decade until the dry spell from 1970-1989 -- since the NFL was formed in 1920. And THAT is why the hometown owned Packers have kept their high profile over the decades, and are uncontestably the NFL's "most famous" franchise.

The Cowboys the NFL's most famous franchise? Nope.

Al Martin 9 years, 4 months ago

Having grown up in Texas and being assimilated early into Cowboys fandom, I have no argument with your "all hat, no cattle" designation for them, or your disdain for their marketing.

You do have some of your history a little off, though. The "America's Team" label happened many years before Jerry bought the team. It first popped up in 1978, and neither Tex Schramm nor Tom Landry were fans of it. Jerry, of course, embraces anything shiny and expensive, so he loves it. Having seen eight Super Bowl teams, and five winners, I have forfeited the right to complain about anything regarding the Cowboys, but I gotta tell ya, it's no fun having your favorite team owned by a guy like that. For crying out loud, he does a rap advertisement for pizza down here.

Eric Dawson 9 years, 4 months ago

My bad on the "AT" label. Thanks for the info. :-)

JakeBarnes 9 years, 4 months ago

You are a true Texan. I was raised in Texas. Landry was the "gold standard" without doubt. Then the interloper from Arkansas came along and canned him in a disgraceful way. He turned the Cowboys into a P.T. Barnum side show. Hopefully they aren't as good as this year as some pundits are saying. Although I shall be a Chicago Bears fan til the end, watch the Houston Texans this year.

I think Weiss is a winner.

Ethan Berger 9 years, 4 months ago

Um the Cowboys are easily the most famous franchise if you take the word famous by definition. Most Jersey sales, most tv views, and so on and so forth. Now are they the most successful? No. However when it comes to popularity and fame, the cowboys have the top spot. There isn't one stat to show the packers are more famous then the Boys beside the fact that won 11 pre superbowl championships. Which has nothing to do with fame.

Eric Dawson 9 years, 4 months ago

You are right, there are no "famous" stats per se (at least that you or I know of), but given that the Cowboys are Texas' team (sorry, Houston) and that Dallas has the second most populous state -- and the most football crazy state -- in the country backing it, I would not be at all surprised to have someone prove that the Cowboys have more fans than any other single team.

But since you mentioned it, just what is the definition of "famous", and how does it compare to the definition of "popular", since it is popularity you are talking about? From Merriam Webster:

FAMOUS: widely known; honored for achievement

POPULAR: of or relating to the general public; suitable to the majority; frequently encountered or widely accepted; commonly liked or approved

So we see that while being popular requires a measure of being famous, being famous does not require being popular. The Packers are just as well-known as the Cowboys -- or any other popular team, for that matter -- anywhere in the world where NFL football is followed, and by definition are more renowned for their accomplishments because they have accomplished more than any other team in the history of the game.

So -- thanks for helping me prove my point.

Ethan Berger 9 years, 4 months ago

However since entering the league the Cowboys have achieved more then the pack. When the Pack was at it's peak, football was not. Being famous is about glamour and popularity, both of which the cowboys have. The Pack are an incredible organisation but when you look at numbers, Cowboys have the edge in fame.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 4 months ago

Let's not get too excited, KU did give up 487 yards, at home.

Ethan Berger 9 years, 4 months ago

and 20 points which is ultimately what matters the most.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 4 months ago

OU was giving up a ton of yds last year as well, but the D was fine because it still limited pts - the std for ultimately evaluating the game.

Micky Baker 9 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, and TCUs defense is probably the 2nd or 3rd best in the league. Kansas could steal a few games this year.

And lets face it, if this team gets better at tackling, and the plays TCU again next year and limits the big plays, Kansas wins.

It's going to get better. They are just going to have to close in on the ball carriers before the dive for the knees. Keep their heads up. It's moving in the right direction.

Baylor, Texas Tech, Iowa State <<< Those are winnable games. Remember, last week TCU put up 42 points in the first half. If KU can just make 5 or 6 open field tackles more against TCU today, TCU only scores 7. That first TD, damn near batted down too. Their receive made a play.

The only other TD TCU scored, that was a prayer pass. He got hit on the arm. They were lucky it didn't flutter up in the air and get picked off.

I haven't seen Texas play yet, but I haven't heard anything about a stellar offense there. They have to go to Lawrence.

Oklahoma State and OU are going to beat us, but K-State, as well coached as they are, they aren't particularly fast. If our guys can fight off the blocks and don't get lured in on those seal off blocks, they can stop K-State or at least limit them even in Manhattan.

Weis needs to mix it up better than he did today, but there were probably 8 or 10 plays where it just came down to Kansas not executing, not catching passes, or passes just to hot too close. 8 or 10 plays that could have kept the ball away from TCU and cut their scoring in half and added 7 to ours.

I see a lot of progress being made, what we should have seen under Gill, but didn't.

Eric Dawson 9 years, 4 months ago

Regarding Texas scoring this year: vs Wyoming W 37-17 vs New Mexico W 45-0 @ Ole Miss W 66-31

Dirk Medema 9 years, 4 months ago

Your Orange Bowl winning coach started at 2-10 in his first year (and finished at .500) and finished on a 7 game skid.

You should chill.

Gary Wirsig 9 years, 4 months ago

"Our administrators?" Since when do Rogers State's administrators call the shots at KU?

burnmu 9 years, 4 months ago

rogersstate80, your biggest fan here. what beer are you on dude, i'm like on # 18 & thinking about how STUPID (just broke something) ku administrators are for firing an Orange Bowl winning coach and hiring Turner Gill.

John Randall 9 years, 4 months ago

Mangino's record at KU pretty closely paralleled the all time KU results – a few gems (like a 12-1 year), some pretty bad years, a couple more barely winning seasons, and overall results just above 50/50 (until the Lew/Gill years). Looking only at conference games, it wasn't that good.

Al Martin 9 years, 4 months ago

I suppose I should admire your consistency, but for crying out loud, the horse you continue to beat has been dead for three years. Give it a rest.

kuguardgrl13 9 years, 4 months ago

That Orange Bowl winning coach ended his final season with a losing streak. Not having been around for the bowl years, I would have never imagined that that same team and coaching staff had won the Orange Bowl two season before. Turner Gill was a joke and ruined KU Football in two seasons. Now Weis has to build it back up with what is left of the Mangino recruits and his own finds. A good number of Gill's favorites packed up with him. I will say that Opurum has really made the most of the coaching and position changes he's experienced over the years. Props to him. Now we just need a QB who can complete passes and a kicker who can get it through the uprights.

jaymar74 9 years, 4 months ago

Why is Mangino not coaching anywhere?

John Randall 9 years, 4 months ago

Does that, for sure ... and in a 'politically correct' climate, that's a long shot.

april28 9 years, 4 months ago

Play of the year to Opurum. Coaches everywhere should take that clip and show it to their players....the absolute epitome of Never Say Die. The QB was was basically in the end zone....what hustle and what heart by the team captain.

In reading articles from earlier in the year, the real emphasis of Campo was that everyone had to get to the ball....this play really shows it. They'll run it 10 times at film sessions today. It's literally the type of play that can turn around a season.

Andy Godwin 9 years, 4 months ago

Agreed. A loss is a loss. KU fans should not be happy that the Hawks are more competitive and finish the season 1-11 or at best a Turner Gill record of 2-10. Weis' playing calling again is suspect and it will be a long season if any of the key players go down. This team is thin at every spot and lacks break away spead other than Pierson. I went into the game with little hope, got caught up in the feeling that an upset was possible in the first half but the offense stalled again. And then the pass happy Weis killed any hope of a comeback in the second half with 2 straight 3 and outs. Six points is a joke. I thought KU hired an offense genius.

burnmu 9 years, 4 months ago

HEY rogersstate80, i was thinking about how we get stomped every saturday since ku administrators fired the Orange Bowl winning coach and hired Turner Gill. It's been a disgrace since ku administrators hired Turner Gill after firing the Orange Bowl winning coach.

Robert Brock 9 years, 4 months ago

This is one nutty thread. Good to see that L-JW readers start with the bloody marys early.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm just trying to figure out if RS80 is an " us " or a " them ".

And what relation to Mangino it is.

texashawk10 9 years, 4 months ago

He's a troll and he keeps coming back because people keep responding to him. As long as people keep responding to him, he will have fun using the same line again and again. When it quits being fun for him, he will go find something else to troll.

DocPossum 9 years, 4 months ago

This team is improving each week. Kansas in beginning to have football relevance. Yah gotta love it. They must be improving or the K-Snake miscreants would not be chiming in. You win games with defense. With more experience, more physical training, a few more athletes, a couple of taller receivers, and some more more speed KU will be really dangerous. What you have is a team with lots of heart and effort, things they can control. You didn't land in a hole over night. It will take some time to get out. Enjoy watching your team progress, the wins will come. (Sham)rock chalk Jayhawk!

JakeBarnes 9 years, 4 months ago

Keegan always provides a lot of comments with which to disagree, but he is 100% right on Weiss. Again, we got a winner to coach football. I was always worried about Mangino being so fat, but that's what we need.... beefy coaches.

The Chicago Bears are the best known team in pro football despite Dallas' showboat.

kooky 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm loving the turnovers, but if they don't turn into points, they're not making a huge impact in the win column.

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