Friday, October 5, 2012

KU defense drastically better on third downs


After watching film of his new team, Kansas University football defensive coordinator Dave Campo set out two main goals for his defensive players during their first meeting in the winter.

No. 1 was that the Jayhawks weren’t going to allow teams to run wild over them. And No. 2 was that KU was going to play better on third downs.

KU safety Bradley McDougald was happy to hear Campo talk about the third-down issue.

“That was one of our goals personally before we even had coaches,” McDougald said. “We knew we had to get off the field.”

The Jayhawks have been able to do that better so far this year, drastically improving their third-down defense from a season ago.

KU is ranked 37th nationally in third-down defense efficiency — a statistic coaches put up on a goal chart at the KU football facility. Opponents have converted 34 percent of their third downs.

Last year, the Jayhawks ranked 116th in the stat, allowing opponents to convert 51 percent of their tries.

“Third downs last year was a big downfall for us,” KU junior cornerback Tyler Patmon said, “because we’d come out strong, we’d stop them on first down, make a big play, then third down, we’d almost fall apart.

“I think that had something to do with having a new coach (defensive coordinator) at the end of spring and beginning of summer. Right now, I believe that we can get to third down and stop a lot of people on third down.”

Dig a little deeper, and numbers suggest that KU is an elite defense when an opponent has long distances to go.

The site has a defensive statistic that tracks how defenses perform on “passing downs,” which is plays that are second-and-eight or longer, third-and-five or longer and fourth-and-five or longer.

In that stat, KU is eighth nationally after ranking 104th a year ago.

“If you know they’re going to throw the football, that gives you an advantage,” Campo said. “I feel comfortable in those situations more than when it’s either-or.”

A defense has more options when a running play can be ruled out. Defensive linemen have less gap responsibility and can focus more on just getting upfield and to the quarterback. Campo also has more coverages available when he doesn’t have to worry about a potential run.

KU defensive backs coach Clint Bowen also believes that film study also has helped KU in those second- and third-and-longs.

“It’s not like an offense has 20 plays dialed up for third-and-10. There’s not enough time to practice them,” Bowen said. “You’re dealing with a handful of plays, so if your kids are in-tune to things, they’ve got a little bit better anticipation of what’s going to happen.”

Though KU has been able to thrive on third-and-longs, the problem has been getting opponents into that situation.

According to FootballOutsiders, KU’s ranks 101st nationally in standard downs, which consists of all the plays that aren’t passing downs.

“We’re trying to take steps in the right direction,” McDougald said.


actorman 9 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for the info., Jesse. This is encouraging, as it shows clear progress. I wonder if there's anything similar on the offensive side, because the offense seems to have been more discouraging so far this year than the defense.

Stan Unruh 9 years, 7 months ago

The Jayhawks also need to step up on 4th down. A couple of defensive stops on 4th down this season and we'd be looking at 3-1.

pbouldenv 9 years, 7 months ago

Good article Jesse. Patmnon hit the nail on the head....3rd downs were brutal to watch last year because it did look like the team panicked. Things will continue to get better for the D as the tackling improves (it has already improved a lot).

Beat ksu. They are not as good as they think they are...and we are not as bad as our record indicates. If we made the 4th & 4 tackle against Rice we would probably be 3-1 right now.

vd 9 years, 7 months ago

Can you make a true comparison to last season after playing the easy part of the schedule?

KCSportsMilitia 9 years, 7 months ago

Big XII QB Power Rankings 1. Geno Smith, WVU- Stupid good stats in first Big XII game, early Heisman frontrunner 2. Collin Klein, KSU- Don't think he is Heisman good, but one of the best to play at KSU. 3. Seth Doege, Tech- I think he is vastly underrated, if he limits the INT's he is as good as it gets. 4. Nick Florence, Baylor- Taking advantage of a great Baylor receiving corps. 5. David Ash, Texas- Has been smart and efficient in 2012.
6. Casey Pachall, TCU- Won the game for TCU in Lawrence, threw some passes that were almost impossible to defend. 7. Landry Jones, OU- Has struggled with the young receiving corps, clearly misses Broyles. 8. J.W. Walsh/Wes Lunt- Continue to put up the numbers, but they haven't beaten anybody. 9. Steele Jantz- Leads the Big XII in INT's, but beat Tulsa and Iowa behind solid performances. 10. Dayne Crist- Worst passing rating in the Big XII by far, receiving corps is clearly poor but even when they have gotten open the throws have been inconsistent.

KCSportsMilitia 9 years, 7 months ago

Week Six Predictions

KSU 34 over KU 17... KSU's defense is the story, they have looked great so far.

TCU 31 over ISU 10... TCU could lead the Big XII in defense, although the running game has been lacking.

Tech 38 over OU 28... This game goes down to the wire, I say Doege finally takes it to Jones.

WVU 48 over TEX 41... Texas finally picks off Geno Smith, but the points rack up in a shootout.

Chayse Patrick 9 years, 7 months ago

Weis will have crist throwing the ball all day long, as good as kstates' secondary is the interceptions will give Kstate a short field all day...something they don't need. 55-6!!!!! man i hope I'm wrong.

Brad Watson 9 years, 7 months ago

I know you defensive guys will read need to wrap up....we need 11 hats to a football on every play..period....11 HATS...every play...and you must wrap up every it.?...we are behind you guys all the way....but you have to be have to play BETTER!...WIN THIS GAME!

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