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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Keegan

Column: Kansas’ defense needs stability

Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) escapes Kansas defenders Tevin Shaw (30) and Corey King (99) during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) escapes Kansas defenders Tevin Shaw (30) and Corey King (99) during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

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No matter the level of effort and creativity of the scheming, Kansas University’s football team could play its way into the record books.

Specifically, the defense has a legitimate shot at breaking the NCAA record for most points allowed per game.

Louisiana-Lafayette’s 1997 squad surrendered 50.3 points per game. Two games in, KU’s defense has allowed 48 points per game, and nine of the 10 remaining opponents play in the pass-happy Big 12.

If Kansas stays in competition for infamy, a predictable reaction from many corners will echo during angry walks back to the car: Fire the defensive coordinator!

We all crave easy solutions to complex problems.

Overweight? Just write a check for a weight-loss program, and as soon as it clears, the weight will melt away.

Bad study habits? Take a class on how to study, and you won’t even have to do the homework or pay attention to become a better studier.

Defense can’t stop anybody? Just fire the DC, and with one easy move, all is well. If only life were that easy.

The long road to recovery for KU lies in defensive coordinator Clint Bowen and the rest of the coaching staff recruiting from the high school ranks more speed, size and football savvy.

At this point, as the oft-quote Joe Anonymous — or was it John Wooden? — once said, it’s not about the X’s and O’s, rather the Jimmys and the Joes.

Memphis competes in the American Athletic Conference and doesn’t have the advantage of recruiting to the Big 12, yet the Tigers’ 11 defensive starters weighed an average of 230 pounds, compared to 220 for KU. Defensive tackles Corey King and Daniel Wise and D-end Ben Goodman were the only starters who weigh as much as Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch.

And size ranks second to experience on the list of problems for the Kansas defense.

The Jayhawks are small up front, at linebacker and in the secondary. Depth at defensive tackle and cornerback is shockingly thin.

That’s what happens when coaching staffs constantly are overturned. Prospects look for other schools. New coaches start relationships with recruits and high school coaches from scratch. The temptation to recruit transfers from four-year schools and junior colleges, a losing strategy, tests coaches’ discipline.

At season’s end, first-year head coach David Beaty will train his focus on convincing assistants to stay, not showing them the door.

— Tom Keegan can be seen Sunday nights on WIBW TV on “The Drive.”

Comments

Ashwin Rao 7 years, 2 months ago

Clint Bowen has been a DC since 2014, and on the team since 2012 (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clint_Bowen) . One would have imagined that with the continuity in that position, that would be the stablest. But that is our weakest side so far. I have zero faith in him at this point. This "1st year" pass that the other coaches are (and should be) getting should not be applied to Coach Bowen. If he does not improve the performance of the defense in the next few games, regardless of what Zenger has promised Coach Bowen, he should be let go. I would rather see what other coaches can come up with, with existing personnel. The #EarnIt hash tag should apply to coaches as well.

Marc Frey 7 years, 2 months ago

Your thoughts are exactly what Keegan spoke against. Too many HC changes and flameouts of JUCO players, and graduation, is what has left us thin on D. The best defensive mind can only do so much with undersized, under skilled, and over talented kids. Even Bowen needs time.

Kevin Robert Fest 7 years, 2 months ago

Its not a matter of who to fire its a matter of who are you going to replace them with. Fire Mangino replace with Gill. Fire Gill replace with Weis. Fire Bowen replace with....? What message does that send to the players and coaches? If you replace him and situation stays the same or gets worse what next? What if the the defense is terrible next with a different guy? What then? This team is terrible it has players that except for an offer from Kansas had offers ONLY from fcs schools. We are undersized and overmatched at every position. The problem is at qb Cozart showed he wasnt the right fit and it took Weis 5 games with him at qb to get fired before he was replaced with Cummings. The first thing Bowen did was change the qb and l hope it doesnt take 5 games this year. He just isnt the right fit. Its not the defense we just dont have enough talented players or experience. The D was bad last year with experience so what did you expect this year?

Jerry Walker 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm with you Kevin...fire Bowen and then what? I'm not saying that Bowen is a gee whiz DC but the biggest problem is a lack of talent, not defensive schemes. Even Oral Roberts or Knute Rockne would have a hard time stopping anybody with our personnel.

If Beaty/Bowen are...as professed...here for the long haul, I think they are capable of leading KU football back to being competitive in the conference.

Brett McCabe 7 years, 2 months ago

We have two returning starters on defense from a team that went 3-9 last year...we are starting two freshman...we are starting three players who weren't with the program last year...and we are starting a player who sat out last year.

Though Doug believes that these are excuses, I believe that it might take more than a couple of games for a unit like this to improve. And, if we suffer any bad injuries, it will probably get worse.

It's sheer lunacy to suggest that any of these coaches, on any side of the ball, be let go, but it sure didn't take long for our "patience" to wear off.

Bowen is absolutely the perfect guy for this program. He'll get the roster thickened-up with players who will stay, and who will compete. He knows more about the offenses in this conference than the rest of the coaching staff combined, and he'll have us tough as nails within three years.

The real measure of Dave Beaty will be whether or not he can weather the storm by being strong and by making smart choices.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 2 months ago

I don't want to beat a dead horse here. Bowen is not a new guy to this program, and he is not a new DC.

Look at his performance's over the last 8 years, and tell me if this is REALLY the right guy for KU's defense. I mean, if you're a selecting official, are you going to hire the guy that can not show successful performance on his resume. He can't because he doesn't have it. Not a single season.

It would be in his best interest to go to an SEC school like Bama, and learn under Sabin and their coaches, and then come back to KU with more knowledge about how to be successful.

Doug Roberts 7 years, 2 months ago

I don't know, but 2007 season (12-1), Orange Bowl victory, and 2008 season and Insight Bowl victory sound pretty successful to me.

But then again, we had better players and a strong offense. Don't have either of those right now. In pass-happy Big 12 it's easier to produce a good offense first. Once Beaty establishes the offense, the defense will follow.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 2 months ago

Doug - Bowen was not our defensive coordinator during the Orange Bowl season. And you forget, 2008-2009 Insight Bowl year our defense was a major liability.

Doug Roberts 7 years, 2 months ago

He was co-defensive coordinator in '07, and a bowl game season is a successful season as far as I'm concerned.

Stephen Johnson 7 years, 2 months ago

It's not the Xs & Os Doug - Saban would do no better with this defense

Calvin Miller 7 years, 2 months ago

That "X's and O's" line is just bullsh$t. If that were the case, why do coaches ever get fired at programs that perenially recruit in the top 15? Mack Brown at UT, Chizik at Auburn, Muschamp at UF, Wies at ND, Lane Kiffin at USC.....the list goes on. Sumlin at aTm was smart enough to fire coaches and hire the DC from LSU, because he had the athletes on D, its jus that the coaches sucked. Reality is that coaching trumps recruiting in college almost always. Once in a while a coach may hit the recruiting jackpot once in a while (easy examples Gill at Buffalo the year he won the MAC, Zook at Illinois), but it won't last.
Teams that win consistently do so because of the coaching---the quality athletes then follow the coaching.

Robert Brock 7 years, 2 months ago

Deal with this: KU has very few Big 12-level football players on its roster due to the Gill and Weis regimes. Period. It will take years to recover.

Alex Fletcher 7 years, 2 months ago

The Defense hasn't been the problem the last 2 years prior to this one. They have actually been the one bright spot. They gave up some points because our offense was so terrible that they were always on the field. This year we only have 2 returning starters on Defense, and like it states in the article we are undersized. Clint Bowen is not the problem.

Armen Kurdian 7 years, 2 months ago

Memphis had some long & hard drives. Defense got tired. Running game is a bright spot for us, we need drives of 10 plays or more. I don't feel at this point that we have a coaching problem, nor do we have a morale / cohesion issue. I think it's just execution. Gill & Weis needed to be fired, they were bad choices. I think Beaty can at the very least get this team to .500. These days, that's enough to get to a post-season game (not that most of them mean much anymore).

I live in PA now, or I'd be at the games...come on down...it's beautiful outside!

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 2 months ago

The Kansas defense is capable of setting all kinds of records in addition to point per game. I believe we are about 3rd in the NCAa for yards per play. Kansas D has the potential to allow over 1,000 total yards per game agains several opponents, once the Big 12 season commences. Giving up those numbers should have a shot becoming number 1 in every defensive metric that exist, perhaps all time number 1.

It's a given we will be blown away by all our opponents. However, we should be able to get a great idea how our younger guys compare to our competition down the road a year or two. For Kansas fans, it's the second half, when the game has been decided, is the most important because our opponents will be playing their freshmen and sophomore roster to gain playing time. We will then be able to judge the relative strength of our players and coaches.

Beyond all that, the most important thing for Kansas football this year are:

  1. The performance of the Kansas Men's Basketball Team

  2. Imporvement by every department to achieve higher rankings. I think KU is about 62 now out of around 67. We are in danger of dropping out.

If KU BBall underperforms and/or loses its AAU status we endanger our attractiveness to the BIG when realignment commences in the next year or so.

Joe Ross 7 years, 2 months ago

Dropping out of what, exactly? 67 what?

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 2 months ago

Our AAU ranking. I no expert on the matter but I believe you needs to be in the top 67 or so to maintain AAU membership.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 2 months ago

AAU is an academic organization who's membership is largely determined by the amount of research grants a school attains with an emphasis on medical research grants. KU is in absolutely no danger of losing its status there because athletics has absolutely nothing to do with membership.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 2 months ago

But membership into the BIG 10 (and PAC-12) AAU membership is very important. Our men's basketball program makes us attractive for athletics. Most likely, neither on there own (AAU Membership and BBall) would make KU desirable. The two combined have high synergy.

The football program will never recover in time.

Michael Lorraine 7 years, 2 months ago

The AAU has 62 members. I can find nothing on their website about ranking.

Joe Ross 7 years, 2 months ago

I had to study up on this. True, AAU membership can be revoked. But of four schools that exited the association, only one was by revocation. True there is some internal ranking system (footnote 6 in the wiki link), but I have no idea how Kansas measures against it. Please provide infomation if you have it, and please also give a credible source regarding impending realignment.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_of_American_Universities

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 2 months ago

A very well informed internal source told me our ranking. We are about two spots from the bottom.

Joe Ross 7 years, 2 months ago

"In an interview Friday, Perlman said he didn't think the AAU's decision would affect the university's (Nebraska's) efforts to attract research dollars or top faculty. He said it also likely wouldn't affect UNL's entry into the Big Ten Conference, a transition that officially takes place July 1 (2011)."

Evidently AAU membership is an important consideration for some schools in a climate of realignment, and AAU membership can be lost.

Source: http://journalstar.com/news/local/education/article_d9eca939-b681-535d-ad1a-a98d9ef3b01e.html

Ken Schmidt 7 years, 2 months ago

I am not a Beaty fanboy. I am a KU fanboy and enjoy supporting the University in many ways, both academically as well as athletically. I have to provide my support for all of the coaching staff, including Beaty, over the next few years. For Beaty, specifically:

  1. Defense has been the hardest hit unit by defections and dismissals.
  2. The defense has put the most players from KU football on rosters in the League--and stuck there. In most every case, these players were here multiple years and built strong skills to combine with their athleticism which serve as a basis to succeed at the next level and not just flame out--even when physically diminutive at times. Most didn't luck into a roster spot based upon pure speculation and size (Dorial Green-Beckham).
  3. Under Campo, Beaty received tutelage from one of the best and most experienced defensive minds around, over the past few seasons. Don't think they didn't spend time talking about formations, schemes and experiences late into the night, many nights.

Beaty gets his pass like the other coaches. He's working hard with what he has. We can do no worse right now and experience over the last few years with defenses which were at least effective, show that the capability is there with the right personnel. There is a reason his DBs give the 10yd cushions to opposing receivers. It is too easy for them to get burned right now while they develop their coverage skills. We had the same problem with Gill in the early years. These players need to learn their jobs, and quickly. Beaty has proven he can do that. I am more apt to stay with a guy who has shown he can teach that than invite a new coach in whom I have to wonder if he can...

Bville Hawk 7 years, 2 months ago

Not to put words in his mouth, but I think Ken meant Bowen instead of Beaty in every instance in his post...

Ken Schmidt 7 years, 2 months ago

Lol, good catch. Indeed. Bowen, not Beaty. My mind was following one track right then.

Bryan Mohr 7 years, 2 months ago

KU is getting what it deserves for the way it threw Mark Mangino under the bus after all the hard work he did to make something of KU football. Mangino was no saint, but he was a good coach and didn't deserve the "abuse" witch-hunt that allowed KU to fire him at a reduced cost to the University at the expense of damaging Mangino's reputation/career. KU could have remedied this situation by hiring back Mangino instead of Weis or Beaty... but KU is way too prideful and fearful (lawyers, you know) for that. The powers that fired Mangino can never admit they destroyed KU football - it will always be spun that Mangino was abusive and they had no choice but to fire him - you know - for the good of the kids. Another thing, I'm so tired of excuses... it's always, "Gotta give him time". I've been hearing that since the day Mangino was fired... and every time it proves that "more time" is not the solution. In fact, the more time given to these Zenger hires, the more the team descends into the FCS ranks. Here's a shocker for KU football fans, "Winning has more to do with coaching ability than time". With all the money and prestige of being in a power conference, there should be no reason KU can't beat South Dakota State at home - regardless of what's happened in past years. KU is more pathetic than SMU football, because SMU got the death penalty, but KU did it to itself. Nothing against Beaty, but I don't think he has the experience and tenacity to right this ship (providing more time is only useful if he's got what it takes... and because he had no prior head-coaching experience, and none of us can predict the future, well, who the heck knows). And, Zenger, ... thanks for getting us a track, and the worst power conference football team in the nation... so wonderful that we can have even more empty seats now that the track has been moved. Someone needs to do the right thing, hire Mangino, keep Beaty and Bowen on staff as assistants. That is a solution that WILL work GIVEN TIME. But, KU won't do it - they'd rather be a football laughing stock than swallow their pride regarding Mangino. Fine, have it your way - maintain your pride and arrogance - and keep tasting the fruits of your bad decisions every Saturday - poop flavored fruits.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 2 months ago

AMEN !

Perkins witch hunt has set us back at least 10 years...if not more.

Greg Ledom 7 years, 2 months ago

With the exception of agreeing with your comment on Mangino getting railroaded, the rest is idle chit chat. What exactly do you give a new coaching staff if not time for past indescretions? Beaty will right the ship, but unfortunately for you, it will take time to see the fruits of his labor.

Ashwin Rao 7 years, 2 months ago

I hear everyone saying that it is only 2 games into the season, but I question the logic because Coach Bowen has been in the position from before. The weakness in the personnel was partly his fault for not figuring out earlier that key members of last year's team were on their way out. If this happened in BBall, then there will be an uprising of fans! To add to that, Coach Bowen was the "interim head coach" for most of last year, so he should have firmed up some of the weaknesses ahead of time (regardless of who got the job eventually) I still don't get it why coaches are not held responsible for their roles! The #EarnIt has to apply to all (including us fans).

Brett McCabe 7 years, 2 months ago

The weakness in the personnel is solely on Weis - Bowen gets no blame. The head coach solely approves the offering of scholarships and is solely responsible for the overall strategy. This isn't even debatable.

Are you suggesting that we'd fire the defensive coordinator on the basketball team if we gave up too many points to WSU in the tourney?

Coaches are held responsible. Just ask Gill and Weis.

There was a notable uptick in the play of this team under Bowen, and there will be a noticeable uptick next year when we have a full-year run at recruiting both for scholarships and for walk-ons. While Zenger was wasting time on a coaching search, it was Bowen and Reggie who held together all of our recruiting efforts.

Things will take a turn for the better. Just watch.

David McNickle 7 years, 2 months ago

Meyer and Saban couldn't do anything with this roster. Is the best player on the team a track star from WSU? Calling for coaches' heads is exactly why KU football is where it is.

Joe Joseph 7 years, 2 months ago

You'd think the sky is falling reading all of these comments.

The sky fell YEARS ago...

John Beck 7 years, 2 months ago

Is our AAU standing being tied to our basketball or any sports program as alluded to above? Seriously? First of all there are only 60 Universities recognized as members and secondly this is function of a university's commitment to research and quality academics. LOL

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 2 months ago

You entirely missed the point, which is our AAU status combined with Basketball makes KU an attractive addition to the BIG 10. Both are critical components.

The actual number is less important (www.aau.edu/about/article.aspx?id=5476) than the fact KU is near the bottom to make that list. We are dangerously close to losing our membership.

Bville Hawk 7 years, 2 months ago

Suzi, what are you talking about as far as losing our AAU membership??? The link you provide is just the AAU home page and they state clearly there that:

"Membership in AAU is by invitation and is based on the high quality of programs of academic research and scholarship and undergraduate, graduate, and professional education in a number of fields, as well as general recognition that a university is outstanding by reason of the excellence of its research and education programs. Information about AAU membership is available here."

I don't see anywhere that they rank member institutions. KU is near the bottom of their list because the list is alphabetical and KU is listed as the University of Kansas. Notice that YALE is last on that list!

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 2 months ago

Take a look at the recent US News and World Report rankings. As you can see they have us listed at 115 (http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/page+10

Then look at the list of schools from the AAU website or wikirpedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_of_American_Universities). You can see we are very near or at the bottom.

The LJW wrote an article about this a few years back. www2.ljworld.com/news/2012/sep/22/ku-should-be-concerned-about-aau-membership/

With Nebraska losing their membership shortly after joining the BIG, I doubt member schools will be anxious to repeat what many feel was a mistake.

The Big 12 will be history in a couple of years. Kansas is on the borderline of going to the BIG 10 or with KSU to the WAC (or AAU). Since no contributions will be provided by the football team, it's up to improvement in our AAU ranking and BBall team the next couple of years.

Robert Brown 7 years, 2 months ago

AAU status and US News Rankings are unrelated. The latter is a measure of undergraduate programs (at least the ranking to which you refer) and the AAU is related to research. KU gets penalized by US News for not being selective in admissions. They accept over 90% of applicants. KU does not appear to be close to being kicked out of AAU. It has rarely happened during the entirety of the organization.

Humpy Helsel 7 years, 2 months ago

Didn't take long. The finger pointing has started. Here we go. Mangino. Gill. Weis. The KU high basketball IQ crowd demonstrates its very low football program development IQ. It only knows blame, fire, and hire... some big name coach who would NEVER come coach football at KU. Take note of Justin Fuente, Head football coach at Memphis who took over a program in much better shape than ours, and had a losing season his first year, won fewer his second year, and then went 10-3 his third. And this at a basketball school. Now the talk is him being a leading candidate for coaching at OU when Stoops leaves or retires. What do we have to have here for just some respectability? Lots and lots of bodies which takes three or four years to show some real impact. Swallow hard KU fan base. What we have here is what KSU was in football 30 years ago. Let's be thankful this guy Beaty loved KU enough to want to take over this program. I wouldn't want the job. Too much work and not enough fan support. Dead end job at a basketball school. If unsuccessful, he'll land an assistant job at a Texas-based Big 12 school. Successful, and he'll be a red hot name for a great job at a big time football school. Here is the reality and best case scenario. KU will probably land somewhere between zero and one win this year. Maybe three next year. Maybe. Year three. Respectability. Five wins max. Right now. I'd die for 5 wins any year. Five wins at KU, and we are talking freaking national coach of the year!

Ashwin Rao 7 years, 2 months ago

I am not asking for Coach Beaty's head. He and the OC have done a fabulous job (regardless of Cozart's personal performance)! But there is a marked difference between the offensive side of the team and the defensive side. The defensive side seems to be totally unprepared, confused, and with no fundamentals (opposing players have so much room, and seem to be unmarked most of the time!)... and that is purely on the coaching staff. This is especially disheartening if you realize that the DC has been there for a longer time, and has had time to build relationships with that side of the house, and help them improve in skill & tactics. I am not asking for his immediate removal... I am just questioning whether the accountability applies to just the players or to the coaches also!

Bob Bailey 7 years, 2 months ago

BS! How stable can you get, with Bowen 4+ years. The ranks of the market are what's thin. There may half a dozen out there. Pick one. Pay him. Make sure he can

  1. teach tackling
  2. teach coverage 3.Come up with a solid Defensive Scheme.

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