Temporarily slowed by a slight twinge in his hamstring, Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong is back disrupting the offense on the Jayhawks’ football practice fields.
“Today Dorance gets in, it’s like the first play and he gets a fumble recovery for a touchdown. He’s always finding himself around the ball,” KU junior linebacker Joe Dineen said of Armstrong, a 6-foot-4, 246-pound junior from Houston — the Big 12’s preseason defensive player of the year.
“He’s a good one to have in there because double teams, triple teams take the linemen off of us so we can run through and make plays. Dorance is a freak. He’s a stud,” Dineen added after Monday morning’s KU practice, the Jayhawks’ seventh of the preseason in preparation for a Sept. 2 opener against Southeast Missouri State.
Armstrong’s minor injury had him miss a practice or two, but he’s been back full speed the past couple days.
“He was arguing with ‘Murph’ every day just trying to get back in there,” Dineen said of Armstrong seeking clearance from head football athletic trainer Murphy Grant. “He’s not the type of guy resting on his laurels. He wants to get better. He’s a guy who wants to blow what he did last year out of the water. I think he can do that.”
KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said Armstrong, who had 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss his sophomore season, “is back to feeling good. Murphy Grant has done a good job getting him healthy. Dorance has been doing a good job taking care of himself and getting healthy.”
Bowen said Armstrong has emerged as a team leader.
“Dorance isn’t a big talking guy,” Bowen said. “He’s a quiet guy, but not at the same time that he’s mute. The thing about him is he has a good head on his shoulders. He senses when something has to be said.
“He understands that which I kind of like. Some of those guys that are nonstop talking … everyone tunes them out after a while. Dorance picks his spots. I think that’s a credit to his awareness. If the tempo is down and things aren’t going well, he’s smart enough to understand when he needs to step up and be a leader. He’s a great teammate for our guys.”
Armstrong has made his hamstring twinge pretty much a non-issue early in camp.
“A lot of times we’d try to get him in a couple plays (late last week) and then take him out. He’d give you the ‘No, no, no, no, no, I’m staying in,’” Bowen said. “No. We’re trying to take care of him and do what’s best for him. He wants to be in there. He’s that guy.”
On the injury front, sophomore receiver Daylon Charlot, a transfer from Alabama, has a minor leg injury and missed Monday’s practice. “He kind of tweaked himself a bit. He’ll probably be out a few days. He’s fine,” offensive coordinator Doug Meacham said. “We’ll let a few days go by, let it settle down a bit.”
No favorite in QB race
Junior Peyton Bender and sophomore Carter Stanley continue to vie for the starting quarterback job.
“I mean we’re still going through the install (of Air Raid offense) so I can’t say one guy is ahead of the other,” Meacham said after Monday’s practice. “I don’t think we have that mindset right now that, ‘Hey let’s figure out (who is No. 1).’ I think we’re just kind of letting them get reps, letting them build a case. When we get close we’ll figure it out. I don’t think there’s ever going to be a point where we decide, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s the guy.’ I think we’re going to wait. We’re just trying to assess and let them build their own numbers and build their own case as we go.”
He said both are sharing time running the offense at practice.
“They are getting equal amount of reps and equal amount of (work with) 1s and 2s,” Meacham said. “There will be times they are in with the 1s but they are equally in with the 1s and equally in with the 2s. You are with the 1 receivers and the 1 O-line you’ve got a little more of a pure picture of what you are going to get.”