Friday, July 13, 2012

Defensive depth a focus for Weis in fast-paced Big 12


Most years, and with most teams, players focus their efforts and attention on cracking the first team on the depth chart.

But for this year’s Kansas University football team, at least the defense, new head coach Charlie Weis is delivering a different message.

“What I’m explaining to our defensive guys (is) they’re not trying to get into the one-deep,” Weis said. “They’re trying to get into the two-deep. Because all the two guys will be playing.”

There are many reasons for Weis’ desire to play both his starters and reserves with more regularity. Part of it stems from the need to keep fresh bodies on the field to compete with the Big 12’s high-octane offenses. And part of it makes a statement about Weis’ feelings about KU’s first-team talent.

“I believe in the Big 12 you better be able to play two deep,” Weis said. “Because the game is so fast paced, so many teams play the game at the line of scrimmage, that you have to be able to roll them through. And you can’t worry about who’s in the game. You can’t worry what your second defensive line’s thinking. You can’t worry about it. The game happens too fast. So you have to have enough confidence that you can play two deep at every position.”

With 27 newcomers reporting to preseason camp in a few weeks, and Weis and his coaching staff believing they have upgraded KU’s defensive talent, playing multiple lineups does not seem as scary as it might have during the past couple of seasons. Of course, scary or not, that’s the method Weis is planning on using in hopes of keeping his defense fresh and competitive for four quarters.

“It’s not like the quarterback,” Weis said. “The starting rush end is going to play and then the guy behind him, he’s gonna be playing, too. I don’t know if it’ll be 50-50 or 60-40, but they’ll both play significant snaps in every game.”

D-tackle likes Kansas

Port Arthur (Texas) Memorial High defensive tackle Matthew Romar, recently told that the Jayhawks had moved to the top of his list.

The Class of 2013 prospect, who earned all-area honors last season, has developed a strong relationship with KU defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt, and it’s Wyatt’s past ties to impact players Von Miller (Texas A&M;) and Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska) that have the two-star lineman interested in KU.

“He’s a great man and has a great background,” Romar told Jon Kirby of “He’s been to some good schools and coached some great players.”

Romar, who has received offers from Kansas, Iowa State, Utah, Tulsa, and North Texas, is in the process of planning an official visit to KU.

OU’s Grissom to TE

Former Hutchinson High standout Geneo Grissom has been moved to tight end during the offseason by the Oklahoma coaching staff.

Grissom, a four-star defensive end out of high school and one of the biggest names that the Jayhawks missed out on in recent years, was the No. 3 ranked player in Kansas in the Class of 2010 and was ranked as the 13th best defensive end prospect in the nation.

After picking OU, Grissom red-shirted in 2010 after suffering a foot injury before the start of the season. Last year, Grissom, 6-foot-4, 247 pounds, played in six games as a third-string D-end and finished the season with five tackles, including three against Ball State and one against Kansas State.

OU lost its top two tight ends from 2011 to graduation and watched another transfer, leaving the Sooners with no returning experience at the position and Grissom with a better shot at playing time.

Make it ‘Coach Johnson’

Former KU defensive lineman Richard Johnson Jr., recently joined the coaching staff at Fort Scott Community College.

Johnson, who hails from Jefferson City, Mo., graduated from KU last December and played in all 12 games last season — starting nine — and finished with 16 tackles, including two for loss.

In addition to his on-the-field coaching duties, Johnson will recruit Kansas and Missouri.


DrGraydog 9 years, 10 months ago

I am looking forward to watching the defense this year. Expecting large steps forward and to being in games late where in the past we were not able to get it done....

AirCapJay 9 years, 10 months ago

I double agree. We definitely should have beaten Texas Tech last year. I think the biggest gain this year will be conditioning. Poor player conditioning is why we got blown out so much last year and why we could not hold onto leads in the second half.

Sam Brockert 9 years, 10 months ago

Coaches not being able to make adjustments on the fly heck, even at halftime, is equally responsible for the blowing of games

Tony Bandle 9 years, 10 months ago

Then Gill would still be that OK with you?

Eric Mitchell 9 years, 10 months ago

No, now that we have Charlie, Campo, and Bowen. However if we would have gotten to bowl game and won then Turner would probably be seen in a more positive light and would most likely be the current head coach.Now whether we would have succeeded in the 2012 season under Turner we won't ever know. I don't think Gill would be able to sustain success here, but I sure hope Weis can at least get us back to the level of 2008 type consistency

texashawk10 9 years, 10 months ago

If Gill had gotten the team to a bowl game last year, I would have no problem with him still being the coach at KU. That would've meant the defense could've held a lead (TT, Baylor) and the offense was able to get out of its own way (ISU, Missouri).

Bangkok_Jayhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

Geneo Grissom as a tight end?

I understand the appeal of playing at a place like OU, but Grissom would certainly have been more of a focal point of our defense. It is a shame to see so many Kansas kids go elsewhere and end up buried in depth charts. In 2010, the year our recruiting class collapsed, 3 Kansas kids signed with Oklahoma. Nothing is to say they all would have signed for Kansas, but pretend for a minute that they would have all signed... Think they would be better off?

  1. Geneo Grissom: Buried in the depth chart at the wrong position.
  2. Justin McCay: Transferred to Kansas after a difficult time at OU.
  3. Blake Bell: Nice "wrinkle" to the offense but will waste a lot of talent and eligibility behind Landry Jones. Could at least make the case that Bell may be a starter someday.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 10 months ago

I hear you, but isn't it sad when KU recruits a player that probably would walk in as a starter as a freshman, that at OU after redshirting gets limited playing time as a third-string back. I do realize that you don't get as many reps in practice as the third stringer and therefore a little bit more difficult to improve; however, it seems like OU and other powerhouses have a system to recruit and maintain high caliber players. KU will land a couple of them a year, but will need to continue to develop talent to expand our abilities.

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 10 months ago

I'm not sure they measure up so badly against an OU player as much as there are already established players in those positions because of years of a successful program. The promising kids are just insurance in case of injury. If they would have come to Kansas the playing time would have been available. Kids will forever be impressed by the fact that a big-name school wants them, and feel sure that makes them good enough to play on the first team.

Chris Bailey 9 years, 10 months ago

As crazy as it sounds Geneo playing Tight End is not that big of a stretch. He has huge strong hands. I watched him pick a pass out the air during the playoffs against McPherson his senior year. It was with out question the best catch of the season home or visitor. I didn't miss many games either. We went to all be 1 or two games. I agree he would be starting here but he does have a good shot to get some serious playing time. I'm sure that if the OU coaches moved him it was because he showed his versatility in playing on offense the guy was a beast!

Randy Bombardier 9 years, 10 months ago

I imagine recruiters don't like being negative but there is a positive way to state reality. HERE, you will be our no 1. TE, QB, LB. HERE, at KU, you will be our starter if everything works out for at least three, possibly four years. You are the no. 24 TE nationwide and I can tell you that the odds of KU landing someone at your position with more upside than you is not likely. So, the question is do you want to be on a national championship team or do you want to play on one? Besides, you have quite a fan base of friends and family that I know would love to be able to see you play every game. Let's make that happen. That would be my spiel to Kansas talent. But, then I have absolutely no experience.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

The defense will be significantly better because there is a coaching and talent upgrade.

Coaching: Not a knock on Vic Shealy, you just can't really replace your D-Coordinator like that at the last minute. Having a guy like Campo as our DC is incredible.

Talent: It would be hard to argue that we are not more talented at every position. The fact that so many guys return a year wiser and stronger means the talent will increase. The biggest weakness, the DLine, has been addressed with several JUCO guys and Williams from Nebraska.

Certainly not predicting a return of our Fort Worth or Orange Bowl defensive level, but I feel there is a strong case that this defense can belong in the Big 12 and limit embarrassing point differentials.

Jeff Kilgore 9 years, 10 months ago

Actually, I won't be surprised if there isn't that much more talent. We weren't thin--we were almost without roster fills. It was incredibly bad and I don't know how much that can be improved upon without completely new players. Whatever happens defensively this year won't be the current staff's fault, but it will be their daily problem.

I hope that these men, who have experienced a lot of success won't bail in a few years with a good laugh behind them because if that happens, we'll have hit rock bottom.

The Gill experience has left me looking at "what if" not in terms of the good that could happen, but the bad.

Doug Cramer 9 years, 10 months ago

KU Nation - please temper your expectations regarding our defense this year. We are coming off of a season in which our defense was ranked dead last.

Campo tried telling reporters this very thing during one of his spring post practice pressers.

The additions on the line might help a little...but from an overall talent perspective...were still super thin on defense.

tical523 9 years, 10 months ago

I just can't temper it man, i'm gonna have to "let it turn to something else".

Randy Bombardier 9 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, BUT. What was K-States D rated? 65th or something like that. Yet, it bent but didn't break and was opportunistic. We have been very poor at creating turnovers. If our defense can just hold opponents to less than 400 yards we will win games. When you get thrashed like we did last year you cannot chalk all of that up to the players or their condition. It was mostly bad coaching. We have some talent. TG's biggest failure was than he could not manage a game. Three games we lost last year should have been wins. Missouri, if you count them, make it four. 6 wins this year is not out of the question.

texashawk10 9 years, 10 months ago

Baylor's defense was ranked 116th and Oklahoma St. was 107th in total defense last year. They won 10 and 12 games respectively last season. The reason they were able to win was because of an above average offense (remains to be seen if KU can do that) and being very good at creating turnovers. OSU was #1 in turnovers forced with 44 and Baylor was 19th with 29 turnovers forced last year. KU forced 16 turnovers over the last 7 games of last season and if the defense can come close to that next season, they would probably finish in the top 30 for turnovers forced. As long as the defense can create turnovers, they can be a top 90 or so defense and still have a shot at a bowl game this year. There's no reason KU shouldn't go 3-0 in non-conference play this year and you can't convince me that there aren't 3 teams in the Big 12 KU can't beat this year. ISU is winnable, Texas Tech is winnable, and Baylor is winnable. That doesn't mean that KU is necessarily the better team, but the talent level is close enough to where KU can beat them on a good day.

clevelandjayhawker 9 years, 10 months ago

Maybe our corners won't play with an 8-12 yard cushion. That would make me happy.

clevelandjayhawker 9 years, 10 months ago

Seemed like there was always a LB or end that was just "lost"

will be interesting to see how we improve, I think coaching and scheme will make a huge difference, even if the talent is mostly the same or similar

KGphoto 9 years, 10 months ago

Don't forget, a big part of what will help the defense this year will be the offense. Weis, his QB and Co., not to mention his particular genius on that side of the ball, will be hauling chain up and down the field this year.

Last year's offensive three-and-out clinic killed our defense as much as anything.

Our defense can only suck when it's on the field, and it'll be hard to score 60 when you are only getting 12 possessions a game instead of 20. Hell, we don't even have to make a fundamental defensive improvement for our statistical standing to improve. So I do believe we can absolutely go from statistically last to good in one year.

stevemize 9 years, 10 months ago

The O will need to keep getting first downs, milking the play clock, using as much time as possible to finally score the TD. We desperately need to keep the D off the field as long as possible and keep them fresh/rested as much as possible. If we can keep opponents under 35 points, things will be much better!!!

Tony Bandle 9 years, 10 months ago

If our defense goes from dead last to middle of the pack, Coach Dave should be given the Assistant Coach of the Year Award.

Jim Jackson 9 years, 10 months ago

I agree with the poster speaking on the lack of conditioning. I have no idea what that clown of a S&C coach John Williams was thinking, but our D was on the field for so long, you would've thought they would have put more emphasis on it. Then again, "Big" John was not in very good shape himself and was fired from Baylor for his incompetence.

With 5th year transfers like Josh Williams from Nebraska and Mcdonald from ND in addition to the JUCOs, our D will defninitely be better. These guys have had extra years in the weight room. I also like our DBs Mcdougald and Brown.

Campo knows what he is doing, unlike Shealy who was not prepared to be a Big 12 D coordinator.

KGphoto 9 years, 10 months ago

I'm putting good money on McDougald for team DPOY. He's as talented as any defensive player we have, and he's working with an all-time NFL safety producing coordinator. Campo knows the secondary and he has a weapon in McD.

troutsee 9 years, 10 months ago

Our D will be better. Playing two-deep the same amount of time makes a lot of sense. A second teamer is better than a first teamer when the first tearmer has his hands on his hips.

We will be better at the QB position.

We will be better at linebacker.

Our D backs will be playing more man up

Look for KU to be a force to be reckoned with in the B12 this year.

The cake walks are over.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I'm kinda skeptical about the whole "force to be reckoned with" thing right now.

Things are definitely looking up, from the coaching, the talent level and hopefully attendance - but - we still have to realize that the vast majority of D-1 level players that want to be in the Big 12 will be looking at Texas and Oklahoma and the traditional powers first. It will take one heck of a sales job by Weis to consistently bring in top level talent to Lawrence.

Bville Hawk 9 years, 10 months ago

You need to drink some more of the Kool-Aid nuleaf!

shelleysue 9 years, 10 months ago

I have been and still remain cautiously optimistic. I am looking forward to good things happening but not looking for miracles. If I'm not depressed while driving TO the games, I will consider it a pretty successful season.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 10 months ago

Love your tempered optimism. "to the game"!

Cameron Cederlind 9 years, 10 months ago

<p> . . . meaning sports at the University of Kansas. Geneo Grissom? The only thing in there is that we missed out on him. I'm sure we've missed out on a lot of good players from Kansas.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 10 months ago

Last year ranked 120 out of 120 for the second worse defense of all time.

I'm hoping for around 75. If we hit 75 in the Big XII that is drastic improvement because of the prolific nature of the NFL offenses.

I also believe that if it is 60 or below we are in a bowl game.

100 or above and we have 2-3 wins on the season.

Mike Hart 9 years, 10 months ago

This whole line of posting seems stupid. Our defense was fine last year. We were dominating people last year. What games were YOU guys watching? Rock Chalk Gayhawk...

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

AtlJaybird - I'm willing to bet mhart123's whole collection of Powerpuff Girls dolls and memorabilia that you and MOST of the regular posters on this board don't go trolling on other schools' boards.

My guess is that they're the kind of people (may be a stretch to call them that) that have no friends and can only get ANY kind of action or reaction from people by exhibiting extreme douchebaggery.

Just a guess.

Dan Harris 9 years, 10 months ago

Excellent guess but do you really want that collection!

Jim Jackson 9 years, 10 months ago

You guys got denied by the Big 10, don't ever forget that embarassing fact.

Linejudgemick 9 years, 10 months ago

I believe this is an optimistic, but still realistic hope for the defense this year. The offense is improved enough this year that we are not constantly putting the defense back on the field after 4 plays (or less). Our defense is not constantly starting with such horrible field position. The defense has not been so hopelessly out of position that the game has been decided before half time (or earlier). Finally that our defense does not surrender a come from behind victory late in the game because of a very evident lack of conditioning.

If these things happen and I think/hope they will - then they will be in games. Then... if they are in games, they can win games. If they stay in and then win some games their confidence could really grow. Confidence can be strange player in a game. Both for the Hawks if they gain it because they "think" they can win now, and for their opponents if they "think" they can loose now.

Am I trying to say this WILL happen - no, but do I think it CAN happen - yes. If it happens will the Hawks be bowl eligible this year? Who knows, but if it happens they'll be much better on the field and fans should be encouraged they are on the right path.

Michael Maris 9 years, 10 months ago

Charlie knows what is going on (for sure). When I lived in Wichita back in the late '80's, I remember listening Coach Mason (on his HawkTalk Show) always talking about the 2nd String guys need to be prepared and ready to go in at any given moment. Coach Mason repeated that statement over and over on his radio shows.

Coach Mangino defensive units (under Coach Bill Young) were the same way. When the trio of Floodman, Reid and Kane were backed-up by Rivera, Springer, Holt, Mortensen. Those guys were prepared and ready for any task thrown their way.

So, Weis is looking at all aspects of the game (not just the offensive side). I won't deny, I did support Gill. But, the correct decision was made (even though it is a costly one). The decision to remove Gill (and the majority of the staff) and bring in Weis and Campo (who would've ever thought that was possible at Kansas Football?) was the RIGHT decision.

I'm fully convinced that with Dr. Sheahon Zenger running the Kansas Athletic Dept., all head coaches will be held accountable for their respective sports. I hope that Dr. Zenger stays in Lawrence for a very long time.

By the way, Kudos to Andrea Geubelle for winning the Triple Jump in Mexico (while she was ill (from the Mexican cuisine, water, etc.......). Yes, I'm related to her.

Rock Chalk.

Ross Cargo 9 years, 10 months ago

Andrea is awesome! I've already sent my congrats to her via my niece. Finley got some hardware too after battling an injury most of the season.

Benjamin Piehler 9 years, 10 months ago

I expect major improvements in defense over last year; but its tough to perform worse.

rockchalk_dpu 9 years, 10 months ago

I agree that to put a better product on the field, we need to start recruiting and getting better talent with which our coaching staff can build on. That being said, where the program has been will close a lot of doors for us that need to be worked back open through a couple of good years under Weis and crew.

As far as Romar is concerned, his rivals page lists that he has interest in Texas and Baylor, but no offer, as well an offer from Texas Tech which the article overlooks. 6' 3" 270 looks pretty good though, and its possible he keeps growing, especially once a college weight staff gets their hooks in him.

Not to correct you, but Iowa State isn't really a lesser school than KU currently as we haven't beaten them consistently and they have had bigger program wins recently (OK State last year). Utah had a solid showing in the Pac 12 this last season, so they aren't exactly chopped liver either. Like I said earlier, the success this season and progress made on the field will pay off in the future recruiting classes to make up for the laughing stock we had become.

texashawk10 9 years, 10 months ago

You got 2 other Big 12 programs that have offered him, a PAC 12 school that has offered him, and two more Big 12 programs that are interested in him. Even though he's a two star kid, that kind of interest leads me to believe a lot of people are viewing Romar as a diamond in the rough type prospect. He already has good size for a HS DT and could be ready to compete at DT sooner than taking a higher rated DE that needs 3 years just to get bulked up enough to be a DT. Get the JuCo DT's who can play immediately while landing HS kids like this that will be around for 5 years to help on the practice team and play early on.

Wisconsin2Kansas 9 years, 10 months ago

Why are you complaining about recruiting against Iowa State and Utah? Utah has a very good program and Iowa State as been bowling for a couple of years in a row now. I think you need to lower your expectations a little.

Mike Hart 9 years, 10 months ago

Couldn't disagree more. A rather retarded analysis from your standpoint

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