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Daniel Wise return means Kansas should improve on defense

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Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise catches a break during practice on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark.

Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise catches a break during practice on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark. by Nick Krug

I know you have read this opinion in many previous seasons only to be disappointed, but this time it seems as if it can't possibly be anything but accurate: Kansas should have a better defense this coming season than last.

Now that Daniel Wise decided to return, that means that KU has 10 of its leading 11 tacklers, its two sack leaders and its only two players to pick off passes (Hasan Defense and Mike Lee) back for David Beaty's fourth season.

Plus, several defensive players from junior college were recruited with the intention of helping immediately.

Sure, defensive end Dorance Armstrong will be missed a great deal, despite being limited to two sacks a year after totaling 10 as a sophomore. Still, he led all Big 12 defensive ends in tackles and played a part in KU's big improvement against the run.

In 2015, opponents averaged 5.67 yards per carry, placing KU 123rd in the nation. The numbers improved to 5.17 (106th) in 2016 and 4.19 (55th) in 2017. Other than Armstrong, all the players who brought about that improvement return.

The linebackers all are back and the hope is that speedy Kyron Johnson will improve enough from his true freshman to sophomore season to take on a bigger role.

J.J. Holmes, mobile for his size but still in need of shedding a few pounds, Isi Holani (with a medical redshirt gaining him an extra year) and juco recruit Charles Cole have a chance to make defensive tackle a solid position.

Azura Kamara, juco defensive end, is considered by some the jewel of KU's juco class, and Najee Stevens-McKenzie arrives from juco with a reputation as an explosive edge rusher. Josh Ehambe has one more season remaining.

Four juco defensive backs were recruited to try to shore up a shoddy secondary. Will they make KU better against the pass? Can't get much worse. Plus, top 100 high school recruit Corione Harris could win a job right off the bat.

Most importantly, the driven, energetic, talented, experienced Wise is back, which enables the rest of the front six fall into place.

Comments

Chris DeWeese 6 months ago

I guess there's always a chance, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Tom Keegan 6 months ago

Totally get that Chris. I think that understandably is the mindset of the majority of KU football fans right now.

I'm cautious to project improvements, too, but it would seem with an extra year in the weight room and everybody but Dorance (huge loss, no doubt) back, they should get better. A ranking of 55th against the run, 1 full yard better than the previous year, is pretty encouraging, but won't matter a great deal if the secondary doesn't improve.

Frederick Heckel 6 months ago

Bowen is still the DC. The defense will get worse.

[''] 6 months ago

Isn't this what Beaty said LAST year...and the year before that...and...

Tom Keegan 6 months ago

He was guilty of over-selling and so was I, but I don't think you'll hear as much of that from Beaty this coming season. He knows people are tired of hearing it and need to see it to believe it.

Jack Brooks 6 months ago

If we had a competent HC and DC, Wise would likely do some great things--and the defense absolutely would be improved--next year. Armstrong likely would have had a great season this year too. Unfortunately the poor kid is where he is. I feel bad for all these kids that they haven't been put in a position to win; hopefully they're making the best of their academic education during their time at KU.

Ray Winger 6 months ago

Disagree about the HC/DC. You make and excellent allusion to the struggles to become winners in life, as well as on the field. I believe we have many winners on the team, and hopefully soon there will be W's to prove it. I remember the attitude turn around, after Wise, Dineen and others spoke to the team. I remember the box score of the KU/KS game, and the team effort during Coach Bowen's Transitional HC'ing Stint. Thank you for pointing out the improvement in run defense stats. I would to see the second coming of Gilbert Brown, but more likely we got here as a system apathy toward football(alumni, donors,fans AD's,etc), and it will take a grinding turnaround to correct the program.

Bryson Stricker 6 months ago

Hey Tom, any timeline on when you guys will start breaking down what the team will look like next year? I follow recruiting pretty religiously and closely but I'd like a writer's take on who will actually have an impact and how our defense will actually be better, ill explain below.

You say our defense will be better next year. How? Returning 10 and losing our best player overall. Our 5 secondary members: Torneden, Taylor, Defense, Lee & Miller Jr were the problem in the first part of the season but it eventually just led to the whole defense sucking. I truly believe with better performances out of them, that we would have beaten CMU for sure and hopefully Ohio.

What makes us think Taylor, Defense, Lee, Miller Jr & Torneden will get any better? You don't just learn how to cover someone. That is taught with years and years of coaching and with Clint Bowen's trash 4-2-5, you would think we would be able to cover more but with corners clearly instructed to play 15 yards off receivers, they can't even begin to cover people. Then when they even try they get absolutely obliterated. Take that series with James Washington vs Hasan @ OSU. They literally were picking on him because someone on that offensive staff knew how bad he was.

You've seen me defend the Beaty era on this messaging board. You'll continue to see it. You'll even see an #InBeatyWeTrust banner flying over the spring game. But I quite frankly don't see how we can expect our defense to be better even though I really truly want them to be.

Frederick Heckel 6 months ago

The only way that banner ever flies is if Zenger or Beaty paid for it. True fans don't trust those morons at all.

Bryson Stricker 6 months ago

I am a true fan and I believe in his process.

Frederick Heckel 6 months ago

Then you aren't a true fan. There is nothing about 3-33 that you should ever believe in. He's gone after another horrible showing in the non-con where they will go 0-3.

Tom Keegan 6 months ago

What do you mean when you say you believe in his process? What is his process?

Bryson Stricker 6 months ago

David Beaty's head coaching philosophy: Build a team with player's that want to wear Kansas on the front of their jersey instead of play for the name on the back. (unlike many of Charlie Weis' players). (See Daniel Wise, guaranteed draft pick, coming back after 1-11 season saying "UNFINISHED BUSINESS")

Use his connection's in Texas to get us LEADERS not just football players from the state of Texas. (Booker, Sims, Dorance & Hakeen).

Surround himself with coaches that are better than him and hopefully presume the role that the coach 75 miles west down the road does of just managing coaches rather than the game. (because he isn't good at coaching the game himself). (Meacham, Hull, Williams, Riley & Bradford).

The biggest problem we have run into is that David Beaty was LEFT from Previous HC with maybe four players that were capable of BIG XII Football. (Fish Smithson, We'll say Joe Dineen but I don't think he was capable pre-development, We'll say Daniel Wise but none of you had any idea he would be this good and Michael Cummings who unluckily tore his ACL in a Spring Game.

Like I've been saying for months when you continually roast Beaty up a cliff about JUCO's. Yes, some highly touted kids who had committed bailed on said commitments thus leaving us with nothing. 4 and 5* freshman are the ONLY Freshman who should be playing consistently in a P5 conference. The rest should be redshirted unless they are GEMS. We CLEARLY needed players who could make an impact NOW. David Beaty went after HS kids who could make an impact NOW and ended up losing those commitments because he is not that good at coaching football games and the talent just isn't experienced or there yet for us and we went 1-11.

By what you say repeatedly, you would prefer us to have gotten the 2-3* HS kids that would have done nothing for us next year or even the year after and even 80% probably the year after that. Beaty needed players defensively who could come in and make an impact NOW. So he had to go to JUCO players who are of a higher caliber than the HS prospects we could have gotten, but have the key component of experience.

This is his process and the entire staff's understanding. I assure you Tom, these guys know what they're doing WAY more than you do. I appreciate your coverage of Kansas Football but I am personally sick of your tirade and I'm glad to see you turning towards finding optimism for next year. I fully expect David Beaty to be fired and wouldn't be surprised if Sheahon Zenger is as well. But quite frankly, Sheahon Zenger can't evaluate how good someone is going to be on Saturday's when he interviews them, he can only see how good they'll be Sunday-Friday and David Beaty is DAMN GOOD at that seeing as you drank the we are gonna be good Kool-Aid last year.

Tom Keegan 6 months ago

Defense was in his first year of Big 12 play and played just one year of juco ball. He showed flashes. Projecting improvement from him is not a stretch at all. It was a learning year for Lee and he thought instead of reacted some of the time. Not unreasonable to project improvement from him. Torneden was much better in second half than first half of season, so I think he'll be a little better yet next year. If two of the four juco DB recruits can win starting jobs that means they're better than the one-year-older-than-this-year guys they'll be replacing. LB Kyron Johnson won't be as undersized as a year ago so I think he'll improve. As far as breaking down personnel, we're not as equipped to do that as a year ago at this time because Beaty did not have an end-of-year presser to address signings and we have not had any access to assistants either. Once the Feb. signing period ends, I assume he'll do a press conference and maybe even have assistants available at some point. It might be tougher to get postseason stories because access will be worse. We'll keep trying though.

Bryson Stricker 6 months ago

I agree it is reasonable to project improvement from them. What I don't agree with is that we should expect much if anything at all.

I don't know if you ever played Football Tom, frankly it doesn't matter. But almost any sport works this way unless you are just an extraordinary athlete. You don't learn to cover someone from your Freshman-Senior year of College. You learn that in 7-8th grade. You get better at it from 9-12th, you master it in college and perfect it in the NFL. Our players are literally in the 7-8th grade level of being able to cover someone. It is completely nonexistent. I''m very excited for Corione next year because I know he is capable of covering someone but if Bowen has him playing off WR, that will be the end.

Pius Waldman 6 months ago

This isn't new but success depends on getting higher rated players. So far they have 2 signed. Having better results would help and with limited local talent far away recruiting is difficult. We all know how important a quarterback is will the present group find a winner or do we need a new one. I believe Beaty might have had too much confidence on the Bender transfer. Maybe he will improve with another season ahead. It is easy to complain but encouragement works better. Like they say dance with the one that brung ya.

Tom Keegan 6 months ago

I would love to see what Bender could do with consistent protection and one more sure-handed receiver. I just don't see him getting much protection though.

John Brazelton 6 months ago

The whole 2018 season will depend upon how much our offensive line will improve. Our left side was decent, especially since Hakeem was playing with two bad shoulders. If KU can come with an improved right guard and tackle, then we need 3 back-up linemen. The most important will be a back-up center. Bender can put up big passing numbers if he can trust his pass blocking so he doesn't have to rush passes. Meachem has better offensive talent to work with this season. He needs to get his receivers to block when they aren't involved in the play and stay with the running game when it is working this season.

Bryson Stricker 6 months ago

Posting this here as well so people can see it: David Beaty's head coaching philosophy: Build a team with player's that want to wear Kansas on the front of their jersey instead of play for the name on the back. (unlike many of Charlie Weis' players). (See Daniel Wise, guaranteed draft pick, coming back after 1-11 season saying "UNFINISHED BUSINESS")

Use his connection's in Texas to get us LEADERS not just football players from the state of Texas. (Booker, Sims, Dorance & Hakeen).

Surround himself with coaches that are better than him and hopefully presume the role that the coach 75 miles west down the road does of just managing coaches rather than the game. (because he isn't good at coaching the game himself). (Meacham, Hull, Williams, Riley & Bradford).

The biggest problem we have run into is that David Beaty was LEFT from Previous HC with maybe four players that were capable of BIG XII Football. (Fish Smithson, We'll say Joe Dineen but I don't think he was capable pre-development, We'll say Daniel Wise but none of you had any idea he would be this good and Michael Cummings who unluckily tore his ACL in a Spring Game.

Like I've been saying for months when you continually roast Beaty up a cliff about JUCO's. Yes, some highly touted kids who had committed bailed on said commitments thus leaving us with nothing. 4 and 5* freshman are the ONLY Freshman who should be playing consistently in a P5 conference. The rest should be redshirted unless they are GEMS. We CLEARLY needed players who could make an impact NOW. David Beaty went after HS kids who could make an impact NOW and ended up losing those commitments because he is not that good at coaching football games and the talent just isn't experienced or there yet for us and we went 1-11.

By what you say repeatedly, you would prefer us to have gotten the 2-3* HS kids that would have done nothing for us next year or even the year after and even 80% probably the year after that. Beaty needed players defensively who could come in and make an impact NOW. So he had to go to JUCO players who are of a higher caliber than the HS prospects we could have gotten, but have the key component of experience.

This is his process and the entire staff's understanding. I assure you Tom, these guys know what they're doing WAY more than you do. I appreciate your coverage of Kansas Football but I am personally sick of your tirade and I'm glad to see you turning towards finding optimism for next year. I fully expect David Beaty to be fired and wouldn't be surprised if Sheahon Zenger is as well. But quite frankly, Sheahon Zenger can't evaluate how good someone is going to be on Saturday's when he interviews them, he can only see how good they'll be Sunday-Friday and David Beaty is DAMN GOOD at that seeing as you drank the we are gonna be good Kool-Aid last year.

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