If you spend enough time around members of the Kansas defense, youll begin to hear a handful of themes emerge: Speed. Tempo. Depth.
The Jayhawks want to play fast, the faster the better, and definitely fast enough to combat the spread-out, tempo offenses in the Big 12.
From Rice to the end of the season, every team is gonna run (a tempo-driven offense), said sophomore linebacker Ben Goodman, starting with the Jayhawks week-two opponent. So we have to get lined up quick and get lined up fast. Because if not, well be out of position, and were not trying to go down that road again.
Earlier this week, Charlie Weis referred to a no-huddle defense as a prescription for the super-charged offenses in the Big 12. Its not quite possible, of course there are simply too many personnel changes that must take place on the defensive side. But Weis is attempting to simplify the process by starting the Jayhawks in a base nickel defense.
The tempo of the game is dictated as going from almost no-huddle defense to match no-huddle offense, Weis said. And (you) go from base defense to a nickel defense to even dime or quarter or something even more extravagant to get guys on the field that are secondary-type players. You dont have time to flip-flop them all over.
Weis said that linebackers coach Clint Bowen would be key in helping the defense adjust. And based on two days of practices, it seems clear that Bowen has taken a larger role in helping coordinate the defensive schemes.
Bowen is going to help put this together more than even Dave is going to if we are going to be able to handle the tempo of the game, Weis said.
On Friday afternoon, junior linebacker Ben Heeney explained how the philosophy had been put into practice on the field. Bowen has instituted a thud-spot rule, a move designed to emphasize the importance of running to the football.
We have whats called a thud spot, Heeney said. So on every run play, whenever the first guy gets to the ball-carrier, everybody on the defense has to sprint to that spot.
The play, Heeney says, is not over until every defensive player reaches the thud spot, and so far, the message seems to be taking hold.
Speed, speed, speed, junior nose tackle Keon Stowers said.
Its been stressed since spring, Heeney said. We run to the ball after every single play.Passing the conditioning test
The Jayhawks set their alarm clocks early on Thursday morning, waking up at 5:15 a.m. and bussing from Naismith Hall to KUs indoor practice facility for the programs annual conditioning test.
It was a real crazy experience for some of the new guys, Stowers said. It was their first day here and they wake up at 5:15 and have to run the freaking run-test.
According to Stowers, the test consists of two 300-yard sprints, with a three-minute break in between the runs. For a defensive lineman under 300 pounds, each run must be completed in under 52 seconds. For linemen over 300, that time increases to 54 seconds. The time, of course, drops for other, lighter position groups. For instance: Linebackers and tight ends must complete the test in 49 seconds, while all other positions have to complete the runs in 47 seconds.
It sounds easy saying it, Stowers said. But when you get out there and you have to run it, 300 pounds, its kind of tough. But we trained for it the whole summer. So there was no reason why you shouldnt make it.Video of the Day
Junior starter Jake Heaps and the rest of the KU quarterbackswarmed up during the opening minutes
of Fridays practice. On most days, they get a little help from quarterbacks coach Ron Paulus, a former signal-caller at Notre Dame. Thats Paulus playing catch with Heaps.Video of the Day: II
There are a few givens when you attend a KU football practice. There will be some yelling, there will be some running, andthere will definitely be some Bon Jovi. Without fail, the warm-up playlist consists of hip-hop, Springsteen and Bon Jovi. Heres a glimpse of what KU practice sounds like.