Trying to build competitve secondary in Big 12 tough challenge for Kansas


West Virginia wide receiver Gary Jennings (12) is drilled by Kansas safety Mike Lee (11) after a deep catch during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

West Virginia wide receiver Gary Jennings (12) is drilled by Kansas safety Mike Lee (11) after a deep catch during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Playing defensive back in the Big 12 ranks among the most difficult jobs in college sports.

Seldom was that more obvious than this past Saturday when Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph combined to throw for 1,046 yards, including 598 yards from Mayfield, a perennial Heisman Trophy contender.

Kansas has both Oklahoma schools remaining on its schedule after visiting Austin this Saturday in an attempt to defeat the Longhorns for a second consecutive year.

So far, Kansas (1-8 overall, 0-6 in the Big 12) hasn’t had much success in stopping the pass. Opponents have averaged 277.4 passing yards per game with 24 touchdowns and three interceptions.

The failure to assemble a better secondary hasn’t been for lack of trying on the part of the coaching staff. In head coach David Beaty’s three recruiting classes, KU has used 15 scholarships on players now in the secondary, plus four on defensive backs no longer in the program.

The most successful of the bunch so far have been safeties Mike Lee and Tyrone Miller, nickel back Bryce Torneden, cornerback Hasan Defense and former cornerbacks Brandon Stewart and Marnez Ogletree.

Others, listed in alphabetical order: Shola Ayinde, Bazie Bates IV, Julian Chandler, Daylon Charlot (recently converted from receiver to safety), Antonio Cole, Denzel Feaster, Kyle Mayberry, Emmanuel Moore, Ian Peterson, Shaquille Richmond, Stephan Robinson, Shakial Taylor and Robert Topps III (red-shirting in first season in program).

Corione Harris of Landry-Walker High in New Orleans was ranked the 60th best prospect in the nation when he made a verbal commitment to Kansas and shouldn’t have any problem starting from Day 1 should he honor his commitment. Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma and Texas A&M are among other schools that offered Harris.


John Fitzgerald 10 months, 3 weeks ago


Looking ahead to next year, because this year is already over, do you see any sort of promise that we can expect a new product on the field? I think it's fair to say Beaty and Zenger will be around next year regardless.

Brett McCabe 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't agree with your assumption that Beaty is returning. Though I'm disappointed that nothing happened today, there are three probable embarrassing losses left on our schedule. Girod may be letting the schedule do the work for him. I don't care about rumors around town, Girod can't ignore the fire in the living room.

Tom Keegan 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I wouldn't assume they'll both be back. That's very much in the air would be my educated guess.

I don't see a lot of promise, but they will have about 20 seniors, as opposed to seven this season. Keys to getting better would be Chris Hughes and Antoine Frazier getting stronger, Herbert staying healthy, Isaiah Bean putting on weight.

Jeff Coffman 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Since Bowen has returned to KU in 2012, he has not been able to get the defense in the Top 115.

Patrick Dipman 10 months, 3 weeks ago

As bad as KU's defense has been, our offense has been even worse. In the Big XII, you need to score touchdowns, not field goals (or take attempts). Look no further than OU vs OSU... those offenses weren't being stopped. KU needs to find a way to control the ballgame on the offensive side. We need a staff that can identify a system that fits the personnel KU can recruit and identifies what the strengths and weaknesses are of other teams. While we are a long way from competing with anyone, we seem to be a long way from knowing what we are actually trying to do.

Mike Bennett 10 months, 3 weeks ago

In my order of things for KU to accomplish: 1. Fire Bowen-hire quality DC. 2. Give Beatty one more year if for no other reason than 10+ FBS positions may open this fall even without KU and I don't want to get stuck with another position coach/reach candidate 3. Improve Offensive line. Frankly, it's offensive. Allow pressure on 3 man rushes is ridiculous 4. Improve D-Line 5. Improve DB's

If OSU gave up 600 yds to Mayfield, we will probably give up 800 unless OU decides to hand it off a bunch and works on its running game.

Robert Brock 10 months, 3 weeks ago

If Beaty and Zenger return, look for a Jayhawk fan reaction that closely resembles a flat-out boycott.

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