Wednesday, September 10, 2014

KU secondary ready to move forward

Southeast Missouri State receiver Paul McRoberts pulls in a late fourth-quarter touchdown pass while defended by Kansas players JaCorey Shepherd and Isaiah Johnson on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Southeast Missouri State receiver Paul McRoberts pulls in a late fourth-quarter touchdown pass while defended by Kansas players JaCorey Shepherd and Isaiah Johnson on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.


Five completions for 184 yards and three touchdowns.

Those were the staggering fourth-quarter passing numbers put up by Southeast Missouri State quarterback Kyle Snyder during last week’s 34-28 loss to Kansas University that left several Jayhawk supporters scratching their heads and wondering what happened to the vaunted KU secondary.

But the worries of the fans never made their way into the Kansas locker room.

“Uh uh,” senior safety Cassius Sendish said Wednesday. “No concerns.”

The reasons for the continued faith of the KU secondary are plenty and they get to the very nature of what it takes to play defensive back at any level: short memory, extreme confidence, love of a challenge.

Like Sendish, senior cornerback JaCorey Shepherd said he was not overly focused on people’s impressions of the Kansas secondary after Week 1 because he knows they still have plenty of time to prove themselves.

“It was just that fourth quarter,” Shepherd said. “It wasn’t like we were playing that way the whole game. I don’t really care about putting doubts in people’s minds because we know what we can do. The mistakes we made, they were all correctable. The fact that we understand what we did wrong and we can see it on film and learn from it, we can fix it next game.”

Fixing any flaws that led to that fourth-quarter near-collapse will be critical against a Duke team that features a couple of elite wideouts as well as some talented complementary pieces. Seniors Jamison Crowder and Isaac Blakeney get the headlines, but the presence of junior slot receiver Max McCaffrey and junior tight end David Reeves has the Jayhawks well aware that defending the pass during Saturday’s game — 2:30 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina — will come down to a lot more than Shepherd and Dexter McDonald against Blakeney and Crowder.

“Sunday, we went to the film room and analyzed all the stuff that could’ve gone our way and didn’t,” Sendish said. “I’ve heard throughout my time playing football that the biggest week of transition comes from your first week playing to the second week, so I’m looking forward to us learning from some of the mistakes, mental errors and missed assignments we made in the first game and capitalizing on that.”

Shepherd, with the help of a few text messages and ribbings from head coach Charlie Weis, knows he’ll be in for a major test given McDonald’s strong showing last week.

“He said something again (Tuesday),” Shepherd joked of Weis. “I think it’s good to have that relationship. I take it as he trusts me. He’s just out there playing, joking around and making it a little more fun and not as serious going into the game. I actually like it.”

Strong safety Isaiah Johnson also likes his position entering Week 2.

“The Duke coaches are probably sleeping on me right now, thinking, ‘Yeah, we got him. He’s not as good as we thought he was,’” he said with a smile.

And all four veterans in KU’s starting secondary are confident that the freshness of last Saturday’s forgettable fourth quarter will help them lock in when kickoff rolls around this week.

“It’s real hard to watch that,” Shepherd said. “When we look at it, it’s disappointing because we know we’re better than that.”


Danny Hernandez 7 years, 11 months ago

Our secondary will respond and in a big way.

Marc Frey 7 years, 11 months ago

If we do not pressure the QB then we will see Duke's QB look like a Heisman candidate. Our backs can only cover his man for so long.

John Fitzgerald 7 years, 11 months ago

I agree. Emphasis has to be put on the pass rush. If they want to pressure only bringing 4 then I say every once in awhile bring Heeney in for a blitz and drop an end out to spy the QB. Heeney is fast and determined. He will get a few sacks or at least put pressure on the QB. And spy the end out on whatever side the RB is in I case he tries to dump a screen off. May not be a smart idea but I think they have to think like that without a talented d line.

John Fitzgerald 7 years, 11 months ago

I sure hope not. If that's the case then Troy is better than us.

Joe Ross 7 years, 11 months ago

Wow, really? I think it will be much more closely contested. I dont know that I can call a winner, but I think it will be within 14 points either way.

Lucas Town 7 years, 11 months ago

I will give Duke some credit they are a good team. We have the ability to be a good team too. But we have to play for ALL 4 Quarters. If we only score in the teens this game then I will say the offense's play making and scoring ability isn't there yet, and other than a new coach what is really different than the last 3-5 years. We need to score at least 24 points to show that we are making progress and that this team is heading in the right direction. I don't anticipate the Duke game being a defensive battle. RCJH!

Doug Cramer 7 years, 11 months ago

You're prediction could be close. We havn't won on the road since Mangino's last season...September 12, 2009.

kellerman411 7 years, 11 months ago

I watched a little bit of the last Duke game and their offense scares me some. That option will be hard to stop of our D-line isn't competing.

Glen Miller 7 years, 11 months ago

Our D line was, is and will be our biggest problem. It doesn't matter how good of a secondary you have without pressure. If we can't make them throw the ball before they want to or get some sacks...... lonnnnnnnng day. Secondary can only cover for so long.

Brandon Mahon 7 years, 11 months ago

Hopefully some of the new guys we brought in get a chance like Wise, Williams, Mosby... It was tough to hear the Olobia got injured. Or hopefully our current guys can get on their horse and fight to get some pressure

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 11 months ago

Tow of the biggest passing plays SEMO got had nothing to do with lack of pressure from the DLine, they were just flat out mistakes by the secondary. Either their first or second T'S was because of a blown coverage. I don't remember if SEMO scored on the play or not, but when Johnson and McDonald, I believe we're the two parties involved, ran into each other.

I do hope the secondary can get it together against Duke, but someone on the DLine has to step up to keep Michael Reynolds from getting double teamed.

At the end of the day, I think Duke will end up winning something like 38-24.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 11 months ago

Go back and watch the SEMO game Aaron. SEMO's O-line had no problems protecting Snyder. They also opened up big holes in the 2nd half in an attempt to run a version of the K-State offense. Pressure opposing QBs is something this program hasn't done since the Mangino / Bill Young / James McClinton days.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 11 months ago

How bad is reading comprehension? Tell me where I said the DLine had a good game against SEMO? Especially since you don't even think Michael Reynolds is a defensive linemen and he's the only one in the front 7 I mentioned by name? All I said was that two of SEMO's biggest pass plays came on screw ups by the DB's that had nothing to do with the DLine.

Tell me how the DLine is responsible for two DB's running into each other or a DB not knowing his responsibility and letting a receiver get 20 yards behind him. Those were two specific examples in which the DLine would not have impacted the play even if was an elite DLine.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 11 months ago

Point taken. Although - you know as well as I do, a soft d-line provides comfort to a QB that allows him focus that much more to make the plays you're talking about. I'm a believer that if your D-line is as bad as ours, it doesn't matter how NFL like your secondary is. With 7-9 seconds in a pocket, Big 12 QBs will find Big 12 receivers despite having studs in the secondary.

Micky Baker 7 years, 11 months ago

KU will need to bring some blitzes and disguise them at times. They can also fake the blitz if they have success with it a couple of times early to force Boone to make quick passes for short gains, no gains, or short losses. Gotta mix it up. I like the idea of blitzing Heeney at times, but I think that he needs to be the hawk on Boone if he starts to scramble. If Duke only puts out 3 wide outs, then a safety, while the nickel or dime package is in, can force one of the guys off Reynolds and force Boone to step up into pressure.

They have to have success a few times in the blitz in order to fake that blitz and drop a gun in coverage that could result in a turnover on a quick pass over the middle or a hot read blowing up in Duke's face. Gotta use the quickness to our advantage on the D-Line.

It is just as important for the offense to continue executing for the whole game, because if this game is close in the 4th quarter, advantage Kansas.

John Fitzgerald 7 years, 11 months ago

A few Mangino facts for Mr. Cramer. He played KSU, OU, OSU, Texas, Texas Tech, and Baylor (Big 12 top teams and all still on current schedule) 28 times in his career at KU. He won 7 of those games, giving him a 25% winning percentage against half of our current schedule. He beat KSU 4 out of 8 tries (3 of those wins not against Snyder), OU 0 out of 5 tries, OSU 1 out of 3 tries, Texas 0 out of 4 tries, Texas Tech 0 out of 4 tries, and Baylor 2 out of 4 tries (which we can all agree is a different team now than when Mangino coached). He did manage to make it to 4 bowl games and 2 of those years he played Texas, OU, and Texas Tech. Out of his 8 years coaching he only faced OU, Texas, and Tech on the same schedule 4 times. Out of those 4 times he had 2 winning records. If you base his previous records on our current schedule, which is the only thing you can base it on because that's the only legitimate stats we have, then he would have a 0% chance of beating Texas, Texas Tech, or OU. He would have a 50% chance of beating Baylor (again different team but those are the stats I have), a 33% chance at beating OSU, and a 25% chance at beating KSU (notice I used his record against Snyder because he's back at KSU). That gives him an 18% chance that he would beat KSU, Baylor, and OSU in one season and a 0% that any of his wins would be against Texas, Texas Tech, or OU. He's not a horrible coach, and I would even consider him a good coach, but these stats go to show he's not perfect, nor anything close to it. Mark Mangino would simply have a rough time with our current schedule. The stats prove it. And keep in mind, this isn't adding in Iowa St (because they aren't a Big 12 power) or TCU and West Virginia because he hasn't played them.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 11 months ago

And we had ONE HELL OF A TIME following those teams ! Much more exciting to have 3 bowls in 8 seasons, including a trip to Miami (it was so cold down there...but so fun)...and several Coach of the Year awards.

Ya think thats going to happen under Weis ?

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