LAWRENCE -- Even after the arrival of a large collection of junior-college transfers and freshman during the summer, Kansas defensive coordinator Dave Campo is still cautioning that the defense will need some time to mature and develop. Earlier this spring, Campo said that he would likely spend the first weeks of fall camp as a teaching and evaluation period. But on Wednesday, Campo said he had been happy with his unit’s tempo and effort during the first week of practice.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Campo said. “We’re not anywhere near where we need to be to compete and be successful.
“But the attitude part of it has been outstanding. And that’s the same with even our veteran guys. We gotta get better. We’re sitting here… to think that we’re just gonna walk out there and be better because we brought in a few new players is unrealistic.”
The KU defense is still awaiting the arrival of two juco defensive linemen — Jordan Tavai and Ty McKinney — who had to finish up summer coursework. Last Wednesday, KU coach Charlie Weis said Tavai’s arrival date would be in approximately a week — with McKinney coming in a short time later. On Wednesday, Campo said the defense wasn’t waiting around for the extra bodies.
“We’re moving forward,” Campo said. “And then as soon as those guys get here, we plug them in. Because we really don’t know what we have in them.”
Freshman Mlles learning on the fly
True freshman middle linebacker Schyler Miles appears to be getting plenty of reps during fall camp. A native of Tampa, Fla., Miles was a late coup for Weis in his first recruiting class. At 6 feet 2 and 228 pounds, Miles already has advanced size for a freshman. But like most freshmen, he faces a steep learning curve while mastering a college defensive cheme.
“The one thing he does have is instincts,” Campo said. “He knows how to play football. Now it’s just making sure that he understands our scheme and what we’re trying to accomplish. I think he’s done a nice job to this point.”
Campo has mostly avoided singling out players on defense — for positive or negative reasons. So on Wednesday, the question was phrased like this:
If you were just sitting around with your friends and one of them asked you who your most talented defensive player was… what would be your answer?
Campo’s response: “To be honest with you, we’re a team right now. And I’m not gonna pick one guy out. I’m gonna let it show, rather than somebody saying something about a guy.”
Bukare makes progress
There is, however, at least one linebacker that has stood out during the first week of fall camp, according to linebackers coach DeMontie Cross.
That would be senior Tunde Bakare, who is slated to start at the Jayhawks’ Sam linebacker position.
“The guy that’s really come on a little more this camp has been Tunde,” Cross said. “He was really kind of out, and he’s really kind of come into his own, as far as running around, knowing his assignment, and actually adding a physical presence.”