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Tempo Talk: KU assistant Clint Bowen says KU ready for OSU's pace
For the sixth consecutive week, the Kansas football team is facing an opponent that prefers up-tempo football as its offensive attack of choice.
Oklahoma State, which enters the game ranked 14th in the country with a 7-1 record (4-1 in Big 12 play), has averaged 77 plays per game and run most of them at rapid-fire pace.
By now, the fast flow is nothing new for the KU defense or for de facto defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, who has a ton of experience facing these types of attack, both from his days in the Big 12 and elsewhere.
“If they got in a huddle, that may be confusing,” Bowen joked. “That's the reality of where we're at in the Big 12.”
While the Cowboys like to go fast like the rest of the Big 12's offenses, they are more balanced than most and are a threat to run as often as they throw.
“It does kind of fit the mold of what we've seen, which, week in and week out in the conference is about the same,” Bowen said. “They've all kind of put their little twists on it, and they all use tempo to their advantage.”
For the Jayhawks, tempo has not necessarily been an issue this season. In the 54-16 loss to Texas Tech in October, it was the volume of plays (100), not necessarily the pace that put KU's defense in a bind. And, a couple of weeks ago against Baylor, the Jayhawks simply ran into a buzz saw and, believe it or not, actually held the Bears to around or below their offensive averages.
Asked to explain the pressure that up-tempo offenses put on defenses, Bowen went into detail about the alignment, the snap and the mismatches that come with the quick pace. But one of the biggest issues Bowen said defenses face is the fake counts. Think Peyton Manning invades college football.
“If they're going to sprint to the ball, at that point in time when the QB's up there selling it, you have to be aligned and ready to play in what you're gonna play.” Bowen said. “When they're going fast and they give the fake count, their eyes in the sky get to see exactly what you were going to do on that snap. Now, of course we have our counters to when they catch us there and we change the call and do some things and we've had a lot of success playing the cat and mouse game with 'em.”
Occasionally, though, the ruse works and the offenses are able to audible and catch KU (as well as others) in a bad spot. That happened a time or two in the recent loss to Texas.
“Last week (at UT), it was virtually every snap,” Bowen said. “They were leaning heavily on it.”
All in all, though, Bowen and the KU coaching staff have been pleased with the Jayhawks' progress in handling the tempo, something which the KU defense struggled with mightily during the past three seasons.
“Tempo hasn't been an issue in our games,” Bowen said. “I believe in the system that we've put into place to handle tempo and I think our kids have a very good understanding of it.”