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Archive for Monday, November 29, 2010

Better seasons await for KU football

November 29, 2010

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Lost amid the rubble of blowout losses for the Kansas University football team that finished 3-9 lies an encouraging sign. The defense should improve as soon as next season.

Three players who came into the summer as offensive players eventually were switched to defense, and all three will be counted on as cornerstones in 2011.

Toben Opurum’s switch from running back to linebacker in August didn’t go as smoothly as his mid-season move to defensive end. Opurum was missed at running back, particularly during a season-opening loss to North Dakota State, and he has the ingredients to become an effective tight end. Yet, his ceiling appears highest at defensive end, and it’s where he’s needed most, especially with the emergence of James Sims and the promise of red-shirt Brandon Bourbon.

True freshman Keeston Terry’s switch from receiver to safety coincided with Opurum’s move to linebacker. In three games before a season-ending injury, Terry became the answer to the question: Who is the most likely player to develop into a high-round NFL Draft choice? He has that radar athletes either have or don’t, that quality that moves them efficiently to the right spot at the right instant.

Bradley McDougald played on both sides as a freshman, started his sophomore season at receiver and played the final two games at safety, where he’ll stay put. The Terry-McDougald tandem, with Lubbock Smith in reserve, makes this the strongest position.

Playmaker Tyler Patmon should be ready for every-down duty at cornerback. Isiah Barfield, burned routinely early, improved as the season progressed, and Greg Brown played well late.

The front seven look neither as strong nor as deep as the secondary, but with a productive offseason, hope exists for improvement.

Steven Johnson is the lone returning starter at linebacker, where undersized Huldon Tharp, sidelined by injury in 2010, will contend for a spot.

Look for Darius Willis to emerge as the team’s best at the position. A 6-foot-3, 243-pound middle linebacker out of Houston, Willis started four games (two at MLB, two outside) at Buffalo and missed the rest of his freshman season with a torn pectoral muscle. Recruited by several Big 12 schools out of high school, the Houstonian followed Gill to Kansas.

A year of working on technique will enable Opurum to use his strength and quickness to put more heat on the quarterback. Keba Agostinho played as a true freshman, and with a year in the weight room could lock down the starting job at the other end.

Experienced defensive tackles John Williams, Richard Johnson Jr., Patrick Dorsey and Kevin Young will be pushed by players eligible for their first taste of Big 12 football. Should he work himself into better condition, Young could become the best of the bunch.

The defense’s most important work takes place in the offseason. If the players run so much and work so hard in the weight room that they’re pushed to their breaking points, and the coaches chart where each player’s breaking point is so that they’ll know which can be counted on to battle the hardest against more talented Big 12 teams, better seasons await.

Comments

oldvet 4 years ago

I'm glad you're optimistic, Tom...

I don't know the 3 non-conference teams on the schedule for next year but let us hope that they are absolute chumps that give us a 3-0 start...

Then we get the old "South" - Texas, Oklahoma, OkState, TxA&M, TxTech, Baylor... there might be one win in there, and then again, maybe not... optimistic 1-5...

Back in the "North" we get more of the same from Missouri and hope for the best against Iowa State and Kansas State.

Only the maximum optimism gives us 6 wins and a minor bowl... I see more 3-4 win seasons ahead, as this schedule won't change over the coming years...

Just be sure to schedule total chumps or D-II teams in the first 3...

newmedia 4 years ago

1 down and only 4 or less to go. Things are looking up. Hang in there Hawk fans!

jayhawklawrence 4 years ago

I was pretty fed up with Tom until he picked KS over MO in the border war. I had to read that over about 3 times and it made me smile.

Most people would call that rediculous but I appreciated the gesture and this column is the kind of writing I that makes me feel good on a Monday.

5 stars.

irvan moore 4 years ago

i have a high degree of respect for Mr. Keegan and his writing but i don't see how we can ignore the 2,000 pound elephant in the room. our coaching staff is not on a par with others in our conference and there is now way Kansas can recruit or compete without a coach who inspires confidence and is qualified to coach and recruit at this level. i think setting the bar considering 6 win seasons the goal will lead to further decline in our program.

labmonkey 4 years ago

There will be no improvement until we get rid of the Nebraskan.

abirdsell 4 years ago

And I'll bet some of you are the same "fans" who wanted to see Todd Haley go. Bottom line -- you don't with with X's and O's but with Jimmys and Joes. These are Mangino recruits. Obviously there has to be a reason he finished his last year 0 - 7. Give Turner and his staff some time. It is a learning process.

CLARKKENT 4 years ago

ONE GOOD THING, IT CANNOT SINK MUCH LOWER.

brett conrad 4 years ago

KSU and MU 94 - 14 Gill does not get it, but I would not get to upset either if I made 2 million per year. Gill's great recruits at Buffalo finished 2 - 10 with their last loss to 1-11 Akron. Thanks Lew

Gary Denning 4 years ago

I didn't think Kevin Young was a defensive tackle. I thought he was a DE.

yourworstnightmare 4 years ago

Gill deserves a few more seasons. The initial signs this year were not good, but there were flashes of the team coming together.

The defense played well in a few games, and the offense did as well. There were horrible collapses and inconsistencies, though.

The talent level was not up to snuff for the Big teXasII, which in part can be blamed on Mangino's exit.

Once Gill recruits some of his own guys and steadies on philosophy, he will be in a position to be judged.

TheYetiSpeaks 4 years ago

I think it's ridiculous to call for the firing of any Div. 1 coach after his first year. You simply cannot glean enough information about his personnel decisions, recruiting, and progressing of players from one season. However, I do believe a coach can be judged on his in-game coaching after one season and there were some missteps. I think by this time next year we will be more able to tell which way a Turner Gill-led program is heading. Buck up, Jayhawk fans.

Gregory Newman 4 years ago

It doesn't matter who you bring in for a coach. They are the slowest team that I have ever seen in college football. I don't know what they did in the off season but it is obvious that it wasn't running. The O-line and D-line coaches are pitiful whatever happened to blocking with leverage? They play way too tall. A tree ain't never made a play and if you are weak I would rather have them drop to one knee and clog the hole. Whew! goodness!

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