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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bowen, KU football assistants adjust roles to maximize new defense

Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis, right, laughs with linebackers coach Clint Bowen as the players stretch out during practice on Friday, Aug. 9, 2013. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis, right, laughs with linebackers coach Clint Bowen as the players stretch out during practice on Friday, Aug. 9, 2013. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

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Last week, during his first news conference of fall camp, Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis unveiled a new look for this year’s defense.

Sunday, KU’s defensive assistants revealed a little more about how the Jayhawks’ nickel system will work.

In addition to having more defensive backs on the field in order to match the fast-paced offenses in the Big 12, linebackers coach Clint Bowen will play a bigger part in coordinating the defense. It’s a role Bowen is familiar with, having spent six seasons as a defensive coordinator in the past, four at KU (2006-09) and one each at Western Kentucky (2010) and North Texas (2011). And it’s a change that he, Weis and Dave Campo, who remains KU’s assistant head coach in charge of defense, believe gives KU its best chance to slow down opponents.

“Being the linebacker coach, it’s on my shoulders to put the front and the coverages together,” said Bowen. “And it’s my responsibility to get us in a defense that’s sound and solid.”

The new-look KU defense — a versatile system with five defensive backs in its base look — hardly will be a dictatorship with Bowen calling the shots. Instead, each of KU’s defensive assistants, from Bowen and Campo to defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt and assistant secondary coach Scott Vestal, will have the freedom to provide input. But Bowen will be the guy responsible for meshing what happens in the secondary with what the Jayhawks are doing up front.

“Bowen’s gonna have to help put this together more than even Dave’s going to if we’re gonna be able to handle the tempo of the game,” Weis said. “The tempo of the game has dictated us going to almost no-huddle defense to match no-huddle offense.”

Although the new responsibilities given to Bowen certainly increase his importance, the move is not in any way a demotion for Campo. In fact, Campo said he was comfortable with the direction the defense was headed.

“We’ve got a lot of experience on our defensive staff and some of the experience is more geared to this style of offense than mine is,” Campo said. “Last year, it was more me telling everybody what to do, and, this year, we’re listening to each other and making those kinds of decisions. With the way things are going now, that’s the way to go.”

Added Bowen: “We work together. Buddy’s really strong at helping on pressures. Dave’s strong on coverages. And then on game day we put it all together and go.”

In order to be most efficient in doing that, Bowen, Campo and Wyatt all will be coaching from the sideline on Saturdays. Campo said being on the field instead of in the coaches’ box would allow him to have a more hands-on approach with the secondary, something he believed was missing in 2012. And Bowen said having the three main position coaches eye-to-eye with their defensive players would keep things from getting lost in translation. In the past, it operated a little like the children’s game of “Telephone.” One person would pass the message on to another and so on until it reached the intended recipient, by which time the message had changed. Now, if Bowen has something to tell to Ben Heeney or Campo needs to make an adjustment with Cassius Sendish, the coaches can walk up to a player and tell him themselves.

Bowen cut his teeth as a coordinator at KU under the tutelage of Bill Young, and said he felt comfortable in the Big 12 because that was all he had ever known.

“My first year ever coordinating a defense (alone) was 2008 when the tempo took off,” Bowen recalled. “This kind of tempo is what football has been my entire time. Facing a team that huddles is what’s different to me.”

In addition to understanding spread offenses, the 40-year-old Bowen said he learned a lot during his two years away from Lawrence that pushed him to grow as a defensive coordinator.

“That’s a different league,” he said of the Sun Belt Conference, which both UNT and WKU called home during Bowen’s time. “(Offensive coaches) tried things. You see things in that league that, if it doesn’t work, the one beat writer and the 20 fans in the stands saw it and nothing happened. Offenses in that league are crazy. It really tests you.”

Bowen said he expected his new role to be his biggest challenge yet, but added that he was eager to help the KU defense improve.

“Each year’s a little bit different,” he said. “And I’m just always excited to do whatever has to be done. Coach Weis came up with what he thought we needed to do to get our defense going and this is what we came out with. You gotta have rules and stuff in your defense so it stays consistent. If you can tell a kid that it’s always or never, you’re a lot better off. And we’ve worked really hard on giving our guys concrete rules that they can learn, understand and master. I think we’re a lot more on the same page, staff-wise, with exactly what we want to do with a lot of that stuff.”

Comments

kujayhawk 8 months ago

This is basically a demotion for campo in everything but title. KU was constantly lined up incorrectly last year. Campo couldn't figure out you can't cover 5 receivers with 4 defensive backs and a linebacker.

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NOTcrusher 8 months ago

Shayanna. Shaneah. Just sayin'.

I'm not hiding.

At least he wasn't hiding behind the insulation.

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Keith Hummel 8 months, 1 week ago

Please don't feed the troll! ^

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Joan Kalivoda 8 months, 1 week ago

Kansas State owns Kansas football, what a great job Snyder has done and now he is doing it again. People are saying that Snyder is a great coach and he is, just ask anyone in the know of football. If it wasn't for Snyder the State of Kansas wouldn't be known. People are now realizing that maybe KU should have keep Mangino. Watch out as the fat man may be on the Kansas State sidelines again, only in a different role, Head Coach.

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Ralster Jayhawk 8 months, 1 week ago

Too much griping on here about years-gone-by-Bowen. Sounds just like dinging Weis for the NDame years. What's that saying that hard-working men say: If at first you dont succeed, try, try again. So how about seeing if 2013 Bowen and 2013 Weis are better than in the past. Nothing speaks stronger than stats and results and W's! Taking the dead-last defense upwards should be relatively easy to do. Just wait and see for yourselves. I liked Campo's comments, and Charlie's attempt at tackling the spread offenses "head-on". Charlie wants to compete with everybody. I like that alot.

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Joseph Bullock 8 months, 1 week ago

there is a big difference between being dedicated, and being a hater, or negative, right from the start. The overall staff, in my opinion, is great, and we need to see good results from all of them-it isn't just Bowen. and you are right that the fact we are even talking about this, with not everyone thinking negatively, is a very good thing. Thanks in Austin.

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Joseph Bullock 8 months, 1 week ago

People trust Weis and Campo, but not their decision on what they are doing with the staff. Does anyone know what level of success Bowen had at the other schools? I know those leagues are not ours, but if he did well against schools with Big 12 type offenses, then I am fine with him. Let's at least give him a chance! We have a lot of talent, but it will take time to gel, but I am very optimistic about this season, especially with all of the Ju-Co players we have, and the returning players! We just might surprise a lot of folks, and we "ARE NOT" going to be last in the conference. Mark my words on that. I hope. LOL

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Joseph Bullock 8 months, 1 week ago

WOW! So much negativity. It's almost like when we lose a game in basketball. Damn fair weather fans!

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Michael Leiker 8 months, 1 week ago

What time are practices if you wanted to go watch for a while?

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texashawk10 8 months, 1 week ago

You know what makes a defensive coordinator look good? A pass rush. A pass rush allows defenses to play more aggressive on the perimeter and do more bump and run and press coverage. When a team doesn't have a pass rush, DB's can't be as aggressive because if they beat, there is no safety net of a pass getting thrown early or the QB getting sacked. KU has had some talented DB's post Orange Bowl, but no DB can realistically be expected to cover opposing WR's for 8+ seconds and expect good things to happen. Marquel Combs and co. are the most important element to KU's secondary actually looking decent this year.

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clevelandjayhawker 8 months, 1 week ago

I just hate the 12 yard cushions our corners use to give to WRs. I hope we run a little more bump and run this year, that to me is the best way to slow down the spread. I think starting in a base D of nickel will help with the 3rd downs so we are not sub-ing like crazy.

There is no where to go but up, lets see how this "new" D plays before we start screaming for people to get fired. I trust Campo, we looked really good at times last year, not for whole games but for stretches. I think the conditioning and talent gap wont be as big, this will help. Also, an offense that doesnt go run, run, incomplete pass every time will help.

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Gregor Southard 8 months, 1 week ago

WKU had a horrible defense under Bowen, too. I guess that makes me a Bowen hater

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Bob Bailey 8 months, 1 week ago

Several years ago, rast meta (or vice versa) said he played with Bowen on the Jayhawk team. He said that the then DC was the worst in the country, and Bowen never learned from anyone else. It is generally conceded that Bowen is a nice guy and a Jayhawk supporter. Maybe great in support of recruiting. But rasta meta said they were always out of position! My view he was probably right. The team has conceded every 8 - 10 yds on every pass play for the last 3 years! They are out of position. They've been taught "Don't let them score on you" and that guarantees that they will -- 8 to 10 yards at a time.

They have also indicated they can't/won't/didn't teach the basic art of tackling. Elmer Schaake's rules are:

           1. Belt Buckle Rule   2. reposition to be where the runner will be in  2 steps
  1. Wrap Up, basically between knees and hip The great Royals player had one of 3 perfect bodies -- Ruth, another baseball player, and Bo Jackson. See the movie on him -- anything but perfect execution wont' stop him.

Personally, the Defense rates zero with me. Too much reliance on the recruits talent. Our team is not alone, most coaches for Defense are useless. Many defensive linemen 'wrap up' around the shoulders. A runner can carry them 2 to 6 yards with that effort.

Last night Weis coached ND his last year vs Mich. His Defense was lousy then, too.

Barring good luck based on 'talent', my prediction is Wins - 0 Losses 12.

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Randy Bombardier 8 months, 1 week ago

I used to rant on Bowen but I think with Weiss and Campo we should give him and them the benefit of the doubt. It is a problem matching up with the speed. But whatever we do I would rather bring heat each and every down than watch a team march down the field seemingly unstoppable. Rather see us risk giving up a big one. For instance I want to see us jump more routes and play man defense with our guys right in their face two or three yards from scrimmage, not ten yards downfield.

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Jason Keller 8 months, 1 week ago

How in the world can anyone defend Bowen? Because during his days as a DC here at KU we just didn't have any talent? Isn't he a recruiter? How many people that he had to work with went on to play in the NFL?

Give it up already. Offenses set records against us while Bowen was in charge. We were HISTORICALLY bad. It was just silly really.

It's not like the guy had 1 year and then we canned him. We had a large enough sample to make an accurate judgement which is that he is not a good coach if winning games is what is important to you. Simple as that. I can see why CW kept him on staff because of his ties to in-state people but it's shocking that he will be given a real responsibility on the team.

I guarantee that if you ask Gill what the biggest thing he would have changed about his tenure here, it would be something to do with Bowen, followed by names on the back of the jerseys.

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Brett McCabe 8 months, 1 week ago

If anyone ever needed evidence that KU is not a football school, all you have to do is read some of the posts, above.

The fact that at our coaching staff is trying something new, with the worst defense in the NCAA, while competing in the most offensive-minded conference in the country, should not be a matter of concern. What would concern me is if the staff came in and said "Hey, we've got it covered. Don't worry about it."

Between Campo, Bowen and Weis, we have quite a bit of football knowledge on the staff. I think that we might want to give them a little room to show what they can do.

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d_bradley27 8 months, 1 week ago

Resting the fate of our defense with Bowen could be a major mistake. Here's to hoping HCCW will pull the plug on this "innovation" sooner rather than later.

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troutsee 8 months, 1 week ago

Hey its is a question of whether you trust you HC to make the right decisions or you don't. I personally think that our HC knows what he is doing and most of the would be coach-posters on this board don't have the experience or the proximity to the team to be knowledgeable enough to understand. If the HC thinks this is what is best for the team, then it is fine by me.

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JayDocMD 8 months, 1 week ago

I don't get it. Why have the defensive coordinator (Campo) standing on the sidelines and have the Linebackers coach (Bowen) "be the guy responsible for meshing what happens in the secondary with what the Jayhawks are doing up front." "Bowen’s gonna have to help put this together more than even Dave’s going to if we’re gonna be able to handle the tempo of the game,” Weis said.

What? Why isn't your assistant HC and DC (and ex-NFL coach) "meshing" the secondary/LB/DL? Why is Bowen helping even "more than" Dave? Another name for meshing would be "coordinating" - as in Defensive Coordinator. Time for new job titles?

I hope something's getting lost in translation because this makes no sense to me.

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Jim Erickson 8 months, 1 week ago

I would personally rather have the coordinators in the box, but don't think it is a game changer either way.

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NebraskaJayhawk 8 months, 1 week ago

This has trainwreck written all over it. Our guys will look like chickens with their heads cut off trying to get to their assignments at the last minute. Prediction...we'll give up more big plays this year than any year previous. Sorry for the negativity...but.

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Jason Keller 8 months, 1 week ago

Clint Bowen, the worst defensive coach the University of Kansas has ever had. If anyone wants to argue that, simply respond with any successful unit that Clint Bowen has been directly in charge of. If coach Weis is tying his bumper to Clint Bowen, he'll be gone by next year.

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texashawk10 8 months, 1 week ago

Matt, did the change in base defense happen before or after MJM tore his knee up?

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jhox 8 months, 1 week ago

I just hope we finally figure out how to defend K State's read option, and the little borderline illegal pick play passing offenses many of the Big 12 schools run.

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Brett McCabe 8 months, 1 week ago

This sounds like a smart way to try and deal with the pace of Big 12 offenses. I admire Campo for having the self-confidence to delegate such an important task.

Campo will have weekly film to review the calls with Bowen and the rest of the staff, so I'm not too concerned about Bowen's ability to make the right calls.

It's not just the players who have to improve every year, the coaching staff has to do it's part, too. Weis is a creative and flexible coach, and his style will pay off for us.

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JHWKDW 8 months, 1 week ago

Do not tell me Campo will leave after this season.Say it aint so!

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Dirk Medema 8 months, 1 week ago

Did I read correctly that Campo is in the 2nd year of a 2 year contract? Is this also foreshadowing of coaching changes in the off-season? Would sure hate to lose the pull of DC with recruits, as well as the wealth of experience. It also sounds/seems like he is one of the more enthusiastic coaches.

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ja_hok91 8 months, 1 week ago

It makes me nervous with Bowen calling the shots. We went from one of the better defenses in the country in 2007 to average at best in 2008. I know we lost two stars, but that big of a drop off is inexcusable.

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