'He’s a Tasmanian devil:' Torneden displays growth in junior campaign
It’s no secret that the game slows down for veteran players at almost any level.
That expression is often thrown around by experienced players in nearly every sport, though it’s not always easy to explain. University of Kansas defensive back Bryce Torneden, who has looked better through the first two games of the 2018 season, couldn’t pinpoint a specific example of how things have gotten easier for him in his junior campaign.
“I don’t think there is one play I have in mind,” Torneden said. “Maybe just my confidence. When you have more experience, the game slows down.”
Regardless, it has been evident to everyone that Torneden has displayed improvement this year.
This season, Torneden has tallied 12 total tackles, including six solo stops. Torneden, who plays nickelback for the Jayhawks, recorded one tackle-for-loss and recovered a fumble. To put that in comparison, Torneden finished with 61 tackles in 11 starts during his sophomore season.
“He’s a Tasmanian devil,” head coach David Beaty said. “He’s a tornado coming to the line of scrimmage. But that can be counterproductive if you don’t know how to get your body under control.”
In the offseason, the coaching staff put an emphasis on helping Torneden control his speed at the point of attack.
Torneden demonstrated that during the win over Central Michigan this past weekend, which helped Kansas snap a 46-game road losing skid. Following a 7-yard gain in the first quarter, Torneden halted the Chippewas’ drive with a crucial stop.
There was miscommunication by the Central Michigan offense on this option play, as all receivers were blocking downfield. Torneden, however, charged toward the ball after noticing the broken play and made a solo stop on quarterback Tony Poljan, who is 6-foot-7 and weighs 225 pounds.
“I’m trying to be more consistent,” Torneden said. “I want to step up as a leader for my teammates and do whatever I need to do.”
Torneden made another key play in the first quarter, which ultimately halted another drive by Central Michigan. The Chippewas recorded just one first down during the first half, though this particular play should have been their second first down.
Poljan hit his receiver on a flat route on third down, but Torneden read it immediately and ended up making the play to get his team off the field.
Torneden certainly missed some tackles by being out of control last weekend, but it is something that he’s continuing to work on
“He’s got to learn that to become the player that I think he can really be,” Beaty said. “But we’ve seen that. We identified that as an area he can improve on. He’s gotten better.”