Sunday, July 1, 2018

KU football defensive players encouraged by offseason strides

Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen (29) and other players gather in for a huddle during practice on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen (29) and other players gather in for a huddle during practice on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.


None of the Kansas football team’s defensive leaders entered the offseason feeling anything in the neighborhood of content, what with the Jayhawks allowing 43.4 points and 468.3 yards per game in 2017.

And while none are about to assume the whole scheme and unit are completely mended now, either, because of the practices, workouts and study they’ve put in since then, they at least are encouraged by what they deem noticeable advancements in the right direction.

Redshirt senior linebacker Joe Dineen identified the displays of some of his unsung teammates as one reason he felt encouraged about KU’s defense.

“All throughout spring we had guys come out of the woodwork who hadn’t played as much,” Dineen said recently, while appearing on 1320 KLWN’s Rock Chalk Sports Talk, with Nick Schwerdt. “We’ve got some depth this year and it’s really more than we’ve had in previous years.”

A lack of capable reserves has plagued the entire roster since before fourth-year head coach David Beaty took over. Dineen's time in the program dates back to the 2014 season, prior to Beaty’s arrival, and the linebacker from Lawrence couldn’t help but express his optimism for the defense heading into his final college season.

“It’s good to see improvement from so many different guys in so many different levels — linebackers, D-linemen, DBs, we’re all competing for spots and that’s in the end gonna make us a lot better,” Dineen said.

With defensive linemen Daniel Wise and J.J. Holmes, linebacker Keith Loneker Jr., safeties Mike Lee and Tyrone Miller Jr., nickelback Bryce Torneden, and cornerbacks Hasan Defense, Shak Taylor and Kyle Mayberry all joining Dineen as returning 2017 starters, the unit took on a distinctly more veteran feel during preparations for the 2018 season.

“Where I notice it the most is kind of in the weight room,” Dineen said. “The (strength) coaches don’t need to be motivators anymore. They just kind of tell us to lift and get our technique right, but they don’t have to pick us up, because we have so many guys that are older and have experienced what they’ve experienced here, and they know that it’s on us to change it. The coaches can say what they want but at the end of the day it’s going to come down to the players wanting to move this program forward.”

A redshirt junior in his fourth year at KU, linebacker Denzel Feaster, too, finds himself hopeful about the coming fall. Feaster described the scenes around Anderson Family Football Complex the past several months and said they featured players falling in line with needed to be accomplished.

“Honestly I feel way more positive about this season than I ever have for the simple fact that we have not focused like this,” Feaster said. “I just see it without even having to speak on it.”

According to Lee, he witnessed “ready-to-work” teammates seeking improvement, showing discipline and striving to play smarter.

“Everybody’s serious and wants to win,” Lee said.


Kevin Robert Fest 3 years, 5 months ago

Didn't we hear all this rhetoric last year and they got creamed by Ohio and C Mich just to start. Let's just let the season start and see how they do. While lm happy to get into on the team these cheer leader stoiries become hollow if the team plays poorly this year.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 5 months ago

Would you rather hear the players be down on themselves and say they're still going to suck next year?

Kevin Robert Fest 3 years, 5 months ago

I'd rather hear them say nothing and just let their play speak for itself. If the results are the same what will it matter.

Bryson Stricker 3 years, 5 months ago

How do you expect them to say nothing when they are being put on radio shows and being asked these very questions?

You are something else.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 5 months ago

So you want them to not answer questions when asked by local media about their progress this spring and summer? These players do have media obligations and are fulfilling those obligations.

All that came out of these quotes are that players are stepping up into leadership roles this offseason in regards to accountability and they appear to better than they were last year because they have more experience.

These guys didn't say they were better than other teams, all they said is they're better than where they were last year which considering the number of returning players is a very reasonable expectation.

Kevin Robert Fest 3 years, 5 months ago

Yes so hopefully they can finish in the top 120 in the nation l guess.

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 5 months ago

I hear what you are saying, it is frustrating to hear all the excitement building, when this has been repetition under Beaty. However, I agree with others, you can't ignore the media. I do think the media has tried to give different angles, and tried to pry into differences from last year to this year. I think we all know ultimately, the Coach has done little to make strides, and therefore this is frustrating. I do think that many of these players are solid, and with proper coaching will develop.

Doug Cramer 3 years, 5 months ago

Clint Bowen is still running the show so it won't matter. Bowen's Defenses Points per Game Compared to 130 FBS teams:

  1. 2017: finished 129

  2. 2016: finished 113

  3. 2015: finished 128

  4. 2014: finished 106

  5. 2011: finished 94 (North Texas)

  6. 2010 finished 99 (Western Kentucky)

  7. 2009 finished 85 (Kansas)

  8. 2008 finished 87 (Kansas)

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the research...I agree the players won't matter with Bowen running the show. Beaty's biggest mistake last year, was retaining Bowen.

Doug Roberts 3 years, 5 months ago

Your hatred of Clint Bowen is well documented, but the KU offense has been absolutely terrible pretty much since 2009 as well.

If we were losing games 52-48 instead of 52-6 Bowen's coaching might cause me more concern, but the offense has shown zero ability to stay on the field for any length of time, or put points on the board.

Bowen's defense has shown that it can hang with other teams, but not when the offense is consistently turning the ball over with a short field or going three and out all the time and taking only 45 seconds off the clock in doing so.

If we can get an offense to at least be competitive I bet the defensive numbers would improve. They'd have too! If not, Bowen would have to go.

Doug Cramer 3 years, 5 months ago

Doug - Do you not remember 2008 and 2009 ?

Was our offense under Todd Reesing, Briscoe, and Meier not good enough ?

Mangino's worst decision was promoting Bowen into the D-Coordinator position.

Sorry, the proof is in the pudding. Why would we expect a different result using the same formula ? Thats usually what psychologists call irrational behavior.

Bowen has never come close to proving himself as a competent D-Coordinator, and anyone that knows anything about football can see the missed assignments and lack of proper positioning all over the defense.

No hatred here...just fact that he's not able to run a competitive defense.

John Fitzgerald 3 years, 5 months ago

Based on the amount of production returning and the new players coming in our defense should make huge strides this year.

Jay Scott 3 years, 5 months ago

Have none of the Chicken Littles figured out that football stories are mostly bait for them to exhibit their comical levels of derangement?

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