Thursday, October 18, 2012

KU football defense takes baby steps

Defensive coordinator Dave Campo takes a close look at linebacker Ryan Karlin during Kansas University football practice on Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

Defensive coordinator Dave Campo takes a close look at linebacker Ryan Karlin during Kansas University football practice on Tuesday, April 17, 2012.


Last year, Kansas University ranked near or at the bottom of Div. I football in most relevant defensive categories.

A year later, under first-year head coach Charlie Weis and defensive coordinator Dave Campo, the Jayhawks have made strides, some more significant than others.

Through six games, KU’s defense ranks 91st nationally (of 120 teams) in total defense (434 yards per game), giving up 201 yards per game on the ground (98th) and 233 yards per outing through the air (69th). KU also ranks 77th in scoring defense, surrendering 28 points per game.

While those rankings represent small improvement from last year’s finish, the area in which the Jayhawks have made the biggest leap is by landing on the first page of the leader board in a couple of defensive categories.

Kansas ranks 13th in red-zone defense (second in the Big 12), giving up 18 scores (13 touchdowns and five field goals) in 27 trips, and is tied for 22nd in takeaways, with 14.

While the players and coaches credit Campo’s experience, expertise and expectations for a lot of the turnaround, it seems confidence has had as much to do with it as anything.

“I have a good understanding of what he’s gonna call or what he’s thinking,” senior cornerback Greg Brown said of Campo. “And that gives me confidence, and I’m sure it does that for the other guys, as well.”

Perhaps the most obvious indication that this defense has taken steps forward came last week, when the Jayhawks limited the nation’s most potent offense to 288 fewer yards than its average in a 20-14 loss to OSU. In the process, KU bottled up the Big 12’s leading rusher, Joseph Randle, (80 yards on 29 carries) and held OSU 35 points below its season average.

“Campo has been around a long time,” Weis said. “He’s seen good play, and he’s seen bad play, but the players haven’t seen good play. That’s more important, because when the players say, ‘Hey, look, that’s the best offense in the country, and we just roughed them up,’ then our expectations of how they play should go up. If they lead the country in offense and we not only slugged it out with them but, at the end of the game, had the best of them, the players really gained more than anyone else on this.”

Weis said last week’s effort added to his team’s growing confidence.

“(They) have some bounce in their step,” he said. “Do they like being 1-5? Absolutely not. Do they feel they’re improving? Absolutely.”

Confidence and Campo are hardly the only things that have aided KU’s slow and steady defensive turnaround.

“Guys are just playing with a lot more passion,” senior safety Bradley McDougald said. “Now we just have to come in with that mentality that, when we’re clicking all 11 guys at one time, then we can be a great defense.”


texashawk10 9 years, 7 months ago

There's nobody that can realistically blame the defense for being 1-5 this year. The only truly bad game this defense has had was KSU game. I was fearing that performance could have crippled what progress the defense had made prior to that game, but they responded with their best performance of the year to me by getting the stops they needed to and giving Cummings a chance to finish the comeback. OU's offense is definitely capable of making KU's defense look like last year's defense, but I don't see that happening. I think KU very well could catch OU looking ahead to next week's showdown with ND and make this game much closer than everyone expects to be. I can honestly see KU keeping this game within 3 scores and giving OU a scare they aren't expecting.

duanep5ku 9 years, 7 months ago

I'm hoping for a competitive game Saturday against OU. I know losing sucks but texashawk is right. This team so far has really only had the KSU game that was bad. Take away the fumbles ,the turnovers we've had a chance to win those games. I know record wise it may not show up yet, but we the fans have to be patient with the team and especially with the coaching staff. It takes time to change what happened under the last coach,losing becomes the expected and if you don't believe you can win,obviously that becomes the results. I hope the attitude on this team is changing in the locker room from a losing attitude, to a believe they can win, and if not this year. I hope the team just keep working hard to get better..

Heck I believe enough in the teams progress this year and the ability of the coaching staff, to get it done.

I'm planning on buying season tickets for KU next year.

Jim Erickson 9 years, 7 months ago

The defensive is where we hoped it would be. The disappointment rests on the special teams and offensive passing game. We can't depend on our field goal unit or passing attack. I'm not putting the blame on Crist alone, but he is a major factor in that let down.

Jim Erickson 9 years, 7 months ago

Another perspective on Crist. At this point, and probably for the past few weeks, his performance is on the coaching staff. They know what he can do in this offense, so if he goes out and throws 3 interceptions, the blame is on the coaching staff for not subbing him out or limiting the passes. KState does well throwing a dozen times a game.

Similar situation for the Chiefs and Cassell. His crap season is due to the fact that We have no other legitimate option. Blame Cennel for playing him and Pioli for not upgrading. Just a thought.

Stan Unruh 9 years, 7 months ago

KU is VERY fortunate that Dave Campo is on the staff. The man could have gone anywhere and he's in Lawrence!

Jayhawker111 9 years, 7 months ago

Crist has shown he cannot get it done.

Crist is now like a deer looking into the headlights.

Time to bench Crist and play whomever else is on the roster.

Need to look to the future and Crist is not the future.

Weis has shown way too much patience waiting for Crist to perform.

Playing Crist again this week is a bad move and does not help Kansas football.

Ryan Woods 9 years, 7 months ago

With your vast football knowledge maybe you should have applied for the head coach job. Can we get some praise in here for the progress KU is making? I'm seriously tired of listening to everyone cry about Crist's playing time.

LSHawk 9 years, 7 months ago

I agree, I dont see any upside to play Crist. If we are going to be changing out QB's I would prefer to see Cummings and Baty splitting the playing time and find out what we have for next year.

Jeff Smith 9 years, 7 months ago

No reason to bench Crist against OU. No KU QB is going to be successful. It will be a confience killer for Cummings

Ryan Woods 9 years, 7 months ago

LSHawk that statement is not well thought out. Heaps will be our starting QB for next year. Barring injuries, Baty probably won't see the field for at least 2 years if ever. In Weis we trust.

troutsee 9 years, 7 months ago

Three in a row for not playing Crist. At this point he is a liability. The team will rally around Cummings but all of them know, deep down, that Crist cannot get it done. That deep down feeling makes a huge difference.

Micky Baker 9 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, all this with what, one quarter of play, even though everyone knows that Sims does IT EVERY SINGLE GAME regardless of who the QB is.

NebraskaJayhawk 9 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, I wouldn't have agreed with you guys three weeks ago because I wanted to give Crist a chance. I think he's had his chance, and this team deserves someone else behind center at this point even if it is the wrong decision. Bad deal for Crist, but he just doesn't have it.

With the way the defense is starting to play, we need some offense right now. I still think it's possible, if this team continues to improve, to pick up 3 maybe 4 wins on the season. ISU is a possibility, Texas is a possibility, and TT is as well. These are three legitmate games this team is capable of winning, assuming the progress continues. I'm not saying they will win them, but I am saying it's possible.

ahpersecoachingexperience 9 years, 7 months ago

Errr, wrong!

Those numbers factor in our pre season cupcakes (wait? are they cupcakes if you lose to them?). We were lucky we got Okie State at home during a hurricane to keep their offensive numbers down. But once Big 12 play wraps up we will be further down the rankings.

Bodonna 9 years, 7 months ago

Exactly. With all the high octane offenses in the Big 12, KU's 'overall defense' ranking may actually end up below last years ranking. OSU had quarterback injury issues, but a moral victory if you're into that. I think a turd, once sprayed with Febreze, is still a turd.

ahpersecoachingexperience 9 years, 7 months ago

And TCU's QB was tripp'n balls when he played against us.

Micky Baker 9 years, 7 months ago

Ya know, the same day we lost to Northern Illinois, a team from that conference beat Iowa, Central Michigan. Miami of Ohio beat Penn State this year. This isn't the 20th Century any more. Appalachian State beat Michigan not too long ago at Michigan. Northern Illinois lost to Iowa by 1 this year. Toledo lost to Arizona at Arizona in OT.

There is no doubt that KU is a better team than a year ago. Everyone knew this coming in, but KU has a chance to win a few more games this season. TCU beat Baylor at Waco with their back up after Pachall was suspended and left TCU for rehab. Iowa State, we had them on the ropes a year ago. Texas Tech, yes we can beat them too. I also think that if our defense plays like it did against OSU, we will beat Texas.

Micky Baker 9 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, I know. They beat us by 1. So what?

Tony Bandle 9 years, 7 months ago

Dave Campo most closely resembles:

1] Jimmy Cagney 2] The St,Louis University Billiken Mascot 3] Mr.Magoo 4] The principal from "Welcome Back Kotter" 5] George Washington without his wig

JakeBarnes 9 years, 7 months ago

I shall probably be depressed after the OU game, but Campo is an excellent defensive coach and if he stays, watch out Big 12.

wildjayhawk 9 years, 7 months ago

Ku is starting to look like a football team, now that Charley is at the controls.Its going to take some time to get the full package together. Just give him a chance. I said when they hired Gill that it wasn't going to work out, now you guys can listen to me now.

Martin Shupert 9 years, 7 months ago

I grew up near South Bend, IN. I was a Notre Dame football fan since Ara began coaching there. Because they are on every Saturday, I have watched them play every year. I suffered through the Weis years. When he came here, my first words were, "I'm in hell." His teams did not improve and his 3rd year was a disaster at ND. The wheels came off. I fear the same thing will happen here.

With that said, the idea that it's time to play someone other than Crist at QB is worth thinking about. After all, Kelly gave up on Crist after several fumbles and interceptions in the red zone. Sound familiar? By sticking with him so long, Kelly lost valuable time developing other QBs. Again, does that sound familiar? However, there is one huge problem here. I will compare it to Weis' playing of Jimmy Clausen at Notre Dame when JC was a freshman. Clausen got the hell beat out of him that year and some say, he was never the same player after that. Do we really want to throw our future QBs to the wolves in a rebuilding year, when we have so little to play for? My thinking is, no, we really don't. Crist should play a good portion of the games from this point on simply because turning over the team to any future QB risks too much of our future for little gain in the present. Get through this year with a tandem tag team approach and get the entire team ready for next year... imho.

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