Friday, April 10, 2015


Column: Coaching secondary at Kansas presents challenge

Kansas co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry grits his teeth as he prepares to give some criticism during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

Kansas co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry grits his teeth as he prepares to give some criticism during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.


Both starting safeties are gone, as are cornerbacks JaCorey Shepherd and Dexter McDonald, both potential NFL draft picks. And a pile of fast-paced Big 12 football offenses will be eager to run up scores to impress the selection committee that chooses the four schools that will vie for the national title.

Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen also coaches the safeties. Co-defensive coordinator Kenny Perry, in charge of the cornerbacks, left powerful TCU to join Bowen and head coach David Beaty. Plenty of coaches say they enjoy tackling difficult challenges. Perry certainly backed up his words. He accepted the most difficult job in the Big 12.

After completing his career as a cornerback at the University of Houston, Perry spent a few years cutting his coaching teeth at his alma mater and worked 18 of his 19 seasons coaching high school football in the state of Texas. He was director of high school relations and recruiting at TCU in 2013 and was head coach Gary Patterson’s cornerbacks coach in 2014.

He has walked into a secondary shy on depth and experience. And you think you have a tough job.

The way he goes about his job, running, teaching and hollering, he appears to love it.

“Where are we?” Perry echoed a question midway through the spring football portion of preparing for a brutal 2015 12-game schedule. “We’re 50 percent of the way there because we just don’t play every play like it’s our last play and that’s kind of what I’m trying to get them to understand is you’re going against our offense, who’s (still learning the Air Raid) and these other offenses, like TCU and Texas Tech and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, those guys have been rolling in this thing for years. They’ve been successful. So we’re not even close to seeing what we’re going to see. I don’t think they understand that.”

Kansas will try to play at a rapid pace on offense. If the Jayhawks succeed in doing so, they’ll score quickly. If they struggle, three-and-out possessions will be common. Either way, the defense will spend the majority of the game on the field and the lack of depth can’t be disguised.

The talent and the pace of the offenses the KU defense will face creates the reality that no defense in the nation will face a more severe test than Kansas.

“I was telling Clint and coach Beaty, we’re going to go through some growing pains where guys just go right by us because we’re not used to seeing it every day,” Perry said. “And then guess what? They’re fixing to go do it again. Baylor’s going to do it again and again and here comes another guy. They’re going to do it four or five plays. You don’t have the luxury of going off the field like offenses do.”

Tevin Shaw and Greg Allen gained valuable experience at nickelback a year ago. Shaw looks bigger, faster, more sure of himself and has a chance to have a big junior season.

Ronnie Davis and Matthew Boateng played some at cornerback last season. Junior-college transfer Brandon Stewart probably has the most promise of the cornerbacks.

“He has that play-making ability and he’s wiry,” Perry said. “I call him Crazy Legs. He’s a project. I try to tone him down. He takes three steps to get to where he needs to be in one step. I’ll tell him, ‘We’ve got to get you right technique-wise.’ It’s not because he’s not trying. The stuff I tell him to work on, that’s what he’s working on.”

Perry’s tight with winning football coaches throughout Texas because he was one of them and he doesn’t have an arrogant bone in his body, which helped him remain friends with the coaches he defeated. He’ll bring better players to Kansas. In time they’ll become Big 12-caliber players.

Kansas is lucky to have Perry, even if it takes a few years for the fruits of his labor to translate to better records.


Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

I feel like the football articles have been very informative and give a true insight into what is going on this year.

Mark Lindrud 7 years, 4 months ago

Agreed. Gives me an idea of how guys are doing, and how the new coaches are approaching this team. Patience will be key this year, as long as I can tell the coaches have these guys prepared and are hustling on game day.

Glen Miller 7 years, 4 months ago

I know in years past, the offseason has brought optimism and then completely let us down when the season starts. I told myself that I wouldn't get my hopes up like that again....... but this coaching staff has got me excited as a fan! I know we will have some growing pains early. But, if we can get some recruits in here and these coaches stick together for a few years..... I can see our team being one that can play with anybody most Saturdays and start making some bowl games. I really believe in this staff and what they are doing! I know this season will be tough in the "L" column and that's ok because I am excited to see our team improve this season and spring us forward into some success in the future. Keep it up Jayhawks, RCJH!!!

Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

To rip off a line from Alanis Morrisette, "...isn't it ironic?"

The more realistic the view of the program, the more optimistic I am. Of course, a lot of that is rooted in the philosophy and work ethic of this coaching staff. Sounds like everyone is keeping it real. And I'll tell you what: we could lose every game as long as I see some fight in these kids and I'd be fine with it. With enough of that kind of thinking, all the adversity we face is going to help Kansas. Sometimes the kid brother grows up strong enough to tear his big brother off the hinges. If three and four years from now we're playing well against Texas and Oklahoma and beating them, and more importantly beating Kansas State annually, I'll bide my time during these growing pains.

Jerry Walker 7 years, 4 months ago

" long as I see some fight in these kids..."

I'll give a big Amen to that because that's where the improvement has to start...look for somebody to knock on their butt.

Like you I'm realistically optimistic that this staff will instill the warrior spirit while stressing the fundamentals. Like footwork, hand techniques, running routes properly and all the other small things that bring success to those willing to compete like warriors.

David Robinett 7 years, 4 months ago

I hope the secondary players are never allowed to eat toast.

Because in years past they were what they ate.

That said I'm very hopeful about what Coach Bowen and Perry will achieve.

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