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Friday, August 12, 2016

Deeper KU defense focused on winning ‘money down,’ improving as unit

Kansas senior linebacker Marcquis Roberts, right, and junior linebacker Joe Dineen, Jr. work on defensive drills during practice at Memorial Stadium on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.

Kansas senior linebacker Marcquis Roberts, right, and junior linebacker Joe Dineen, Jr. work on defensive drills during practice at Memorial Stadium on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.

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In year number two of his rebuilding project with the Kansas football program, head coach David Beaty recognizes the need for a vastly improved defense.

The Jayhawks surrendered 560.8 yards and 46.1 points during Beaty’s first season, leaving him and his staff with no shortage of quandaries to overcome.

Now just more than a week into preseason camp, with Friday marking KU’s 10th practice, Beaty says defensive coordinator Clint Bowen and his troops have shown progress in key areas.

For example, behind the leadership of senior safety Fish Smithson and senior linebacker Marcquis Roberts, the head coach said his defense has better recognized the value of winning third-down situations — “We have to become better in that money down,” Beaty said.

On the subject of getting the other team’s offense off the field, the coach also identified turnovers as a camp emphasis. The staff pits the offense against the defense in a takeaway competition every day, taking a point away from the offense every time the defense comes away with the football. The players have put pride into those battles, in part because the losing side has to run sprints afterward.

“They’ve created some,” Beaty said of turnovers, “but they also have done exactly what we’ve asked them to do in regard to being aware of opportunities.”

While defensive coaches have preached swarming to the football and competing for passes in the air, they haven’t overlooked the very basic notion of tackling in the open field. As one would expect, Beaty and his staff acknowledge KU’s 0-12 2015 season featured opponents extending possessions with ease.

“Last year I just remember (opposing skill players) being able to make guys miss on that side, and these guys have become better sure tacklers in the open field,” Beaty said, while offering a long list of the preseason’s defensive standouts thus far, including Roberts, Smithson, sophomore defensive tackle Daniel Wise and junior linebacker Joe Dineen. “We hope that carries over for us when we get to the big field on game days.”

Beaty, always quick to praise his players for their efforts, also made a point to express his approval for the practice efforts of some true freshmen on defense: cornerbacks Mike Lee and Kyle Mayberry, defensive back Bryce Torneden (whom Beaty revealed will not red shirt, but instead see the field in his first year) and defensive end Isaiah Bean.

It’s the arrival of such players that has quickly improved KU’s depth from a season ago. Beaty said the defense now experiences “very little drop off” when second-unit players sub in, adding the depth chart tends to flip-flop from day to day based on individual performances at certain positions.

“it’s been fun watching our defense actually have really good competition on that side,” Beaty said, “which is what depth creates for you.”

Comments

Gerry Butler 1 year, 2 months ago

Really pulling for our guys. I love the attitude and enthusiasm Coach has. I know it is hard for a lot of people to be excited when, we are coming off an 0-12 season and what these last years have brought. It is still hard for to fully grasp just how far down Weiss & Gill pulled this program down. Having said that I DO believe Coach Beaty is on the right track, for sure. The key is that we have just got to have patience, this is as they say a marathon not a sprint. I guess because it's a new season I actually am excited for it to begin and see & look for progress which I feel there has been made. There is little things about the team that I feel is better - - ONE I just feel our defense WILL be much better, ya I realize can't get much worse BUT think we are going to be improved, if nothing else from the year of experience.

Second, I can see where Coach Beaty and staff are making progress as far as the type of athletes, rated players. We are now at least getting looks from the so called 4 star players and such.- - In the past 4 star and a lot of 3 star players wouldn't have even given KU a sniff, but if nothing else we are getting into some houses to at least talk & even have gotten a couple - - -that's progress. Patience, Patience, Patience got to have it. We just can't keep turning Coaches over every two - - three- - - four years if we EVER expect to get any continuity . - - Recruits see this, you turns coaches over like that, they have to wonder, WHY would I want to go to a place like that. - - -Ya I for one, if a few am excited, not expecting mountains, but looking for the little things to show progress,-- - - maybe I'm a senile old fool but then again- - - -Let the Games Begin - - -ROCK CHALK ALL DAY LONG BABY

Garry Wright 1 year, 2 months ago

Gerry Butler, your attitude is what we need more of. In all of my years of following Jayhawk football (64th) the past few have been the worst. But we have had some good years and I believe we are on the way back to some more good years. Yes, it will take some time and patience, but I believe we are moving the right direction. Even though last year was a bad record, our guys never gave up. That was a big change from recent years. We'll see more good changes this year. I'm thinking we may see some surprises.

Gerry Butler 1 year, 2 months ago

Well Garry you got me just a tad on years, but just the slimmest. - - you got me by 2 lol. Yes you are 100% correct, like you said & I agree we are on the way back believe it or not.Just have to - -or fans have to realize you have to crawl before you walk. You are right, this is something I noticed also last year - - -we had players still giving it up every play like the score was 0-0 that's you Coaching Staff instilling confidence into the players, teaching that never give up attitude. I truly feel our defense will be vastly improved. Now saying that we are stil gonna take some big hits, that's just the way it is. We were sooo way down. But you I too remember some good years Coach Fam was super, but remember the drubbings we use to take from Nebraska yr in and yr out to. We gonna be ok

David Robinett 1 year, 2 months ago

Yes Gerry! and it should be noted that there is a difference between patience for coaches who were trending downward versus a coach trending upward. This is the year we begin to trend upward in the win column as well as on the other metrics like strength, speed, and recruit ratings.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 2 months ago

We've actually gotten highly rated recruits for most of the last 5-7 years. Unfortunately, way too many didn't even see the field, or were part of the exodus with the coaching changes that left the program with an FCS level roster. In that regard, we did alright last year in taking the FCS NC to the brink. Unfortunately, we don't play in the FCS, or even a middling FBS league.

As David mentions, there's a ton of improvement already made in conditioning, and still more to come. We are headed in the right direction.

David Robinett 1 year, 2 months ago

Grammar-dick here:

The Jayhawks surrendered 560.8 yards and 46.1 points PER GAME during Beaty’s first season, leaving him and his staff with no shortage of quandaries to overcome.

Doug Cramer 1 year, 2 months ago

I fear that as long as Clint Bowen is our defensive coordinator...there will always be limitations regarding the performance of our defense. All you have to do is look at his track record over the years at Kansas and at other schools.

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