Continuing to Improve

It's not unusual for things to look this way on the field during spring football. As the offense works to shake off the rust, implement new plays and try to regain the form of a well-oiled machine, the defense can go out and, well, just "play."

Such is the case with the Kansas Jayhawks, as they hit the midpoint of Head Coach Turner Gill's first spring with the program. Though to be fair, the defense has had less thrown at it from a technical standpoint, Gill said, as the staff is focusing on finding the players who are the best fit physically for  defensive coordinator Carl Torbush's scheme.

While both sides of the ball still have a long way to go before September, Gill continues to be pleased by his team's progress.

"I think our guys are continuing to improve," he said. "I see them a little bit more relaxed and starting to react a little bit quicker than thinking and then reacting. And that's all we can ask for, each and every day just keep getting better."

Among those who have stood out as leaders for their play and their attitude have been linebackers Justin Springer and Steven Johnson, safeties Olaitan Oguntodu and Lubbock Smith, cornerback Chris Harris and defensive tackle Jamal Greene.

Hearing Greene's name listed among that group is likely music to the ears of many a Kansas fan. Since he arrived on campus, reports of Greene's potential – combined with his 6-foot-2, 300-plus pound frame – have had Jayhawk Nation waiting for the moment it all came together.

What has Gill seen in Greene thus far?

"A guy that moves pretty well for a big guy," he said. "He still needs to get down a little bit in his body weight, but I think he's shown that he's a guy who can be very physical and still make some plays there. He's shown good leverage and I like the way he plays with some pretty good effort."

Of course, with almost five months to go until September, nothing is written in stone at this point. While depth and talent in the secondary don't look to be an issue, Gill explained, it's far too early to tell about several other key positions – including defensive end and linebacker.

Kansas fans have grown used to outstanding linebacker play in recent years, with names like Banks Floodman, Kevin Kane, Nick Reid, Joe Mortensen, Mike Rivera and James Holt providing rock-solid production in the middle of the Jayhawk defense.

Last year was something else entirely, however, as injuries and inexperience plagued the unit the entire year. Ideally, Gill said the 2010 unit would feature five or six athletes capable of playing big minutes, creating a stable rotation.

However, he wasn't ready to say they're at that point quite yet.

"At this point in time I can't say we have that number," Gill said. "But initially I would say that there is potential that we'll be able to have that many people that we feel good about playing."

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