Freshman duo makes difference in opener

Freshmen Keba Agostinho and Keeston Terry were two bright spots on the Kansas defense in last weekend's season opener. Phog.net caught up with the two young talents earlier this week, as well as Jayhawks defensive coordinator Carl Torbush, to talk about their Game One performance and the looming challenge of defending Georgia Tech.

Keba Agostinho would probably like to say that his pre-game experience Saturday didn't include a healthy dose of nerves.

He'd like to spin a story about how he set foot on the turf of Memorial Stadium for the first time as a Kansas Jayhawk, the first time as a collegiate athlete, and the butterflies didn't riot in his stomach.

He'd probably like to say those things, but question the soft-spoken freshman defensive end from Katy, Texas about that Game One experience, and he knows he can't.

"Everyone can tell you they weren't nervous or anything, but I'm not going to lie to you," Agostinho said, smiling. "I went out there and I was pretty nervous. It's a whole different crowd, a crowd I'd never seen before."

Most Kansas fans probably don't want to even attempt to find something positive amid the crushing disappointment of Saturday's season-opening loss to the Bison of North Dakota State, but ask the coaches and they'll tell you there were indeed a few.

Two of those bright spots happened to be true freshmen – a rarity in the world of BCS-level college football – in Agostinho and safety Keeston Terry.

"Both of those young men, for the first game, I thought played well," said Jayhawks defensive coordinator Carl Torbush. "I feel like if they'll continue to do what they're supposed to do and what they can do, that they've got great futures ahead of them."

Fans expected Agostinho and Terry to see the field, after Head Coach Turner Gill mentioned them during a press conference early last week. Injuries and other departures have left the Jayhawk defense depleted at a number of positions, and both freshmen have been named as practice standouts in recent weeks.

What they probably didn't expect, however, was just how many snaps the greenhorn talents would play.

Agostinho failed to record any tackles but played assignment-sound, fundamental football at defensive end, and proved himself capable of rushing the passer – flushing North Dakota State quarterback Jose Mohler from the pocket on more than one occasion.

Terry's impact was a little more tangible, as the Blue Springs (MO) High School product recorded four tackles in the game, including a pair of solos and one tackle for loss. In the process, he displayed outstanding closing speed and the ability to make physical, sure-handed tackles in space.

Despite only shifting to defense from wide receiver two weeks before the game, Terry said the game never got out of hand for him mentally.

"I didn't feel too overwhelmed," he said. "We had gameplanned for North Dakota State, so I knew they didn't have too difficult of an offense to really focus on, so I didn't feel too overwhelmed. I felt confident in what I was learning."

This week might be a different story, however, as the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and their "wingbone" option attack roll into town. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Torbush felt this was the type of situation in which his two freshman standouts might even be better suited to make a difference.

"Keba is a great technician," Torbush said. "And this, in my opinion, is the type of week that I think he'll even be more effective this week than he was last week."

As for Terry, the veteran coordinator explained that his presence will allow the Jayhawks to "run the alley" with his size and athleticism – which essentially amounts to turning them into makeshift linebackers against the run.

"The main thing (Terry will) have to do is make sure he understands if somebody is getting ready to chop at his legs then he's got to stay on his feet," Torbush said.

Fortunately, Agostinho and Terry understand the challenge in front them, and will use their Game One experience as a foundation upon which to build.

"I know what it's like," Agostinho said. "I know what the crowd is going to be like, I know what the environment is going to be like. So I feel like this was just preparation, and now I feel like I'm prepared."

Which is good news for Kansas fans, because it appears as if the both athletes are set to become mainstays on the Kansas defense.

"Unless the go backward, which I don't anticipate happening, or they get injured, which hopefully doesn't happen, I don't think there's any doubt both of them will play much more as the year goes along," Torbush added.


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