Kansas game notes and analysis: defense

Notes and analysis on the Horns' defensive performance in their 59-0 win over Kansas:

Kansas came into DKR as primarily a running offense, and they stayed true to form in Saturday's game, leading Carl Reese's D to stay in a 4-3 set almost the entire game for the first time all season. In passing situations, Reese went with a 4-2-5 alignment, with nickel back Dakarai Pearson replacing SAM 'backer Tyrone Jones. Everick Rawls got the start at WILL 'backer but alternated with Derrick Johnson until late in the third quarter, when Johnson took over for the rest of the game. Johnson finished with six tackles, including a TFL and a sack and Rawls finished with three tackles. The coaches rotated four players at DT. On the Horns' opening defensive possession, Marcus Tubbs (who missed practice during the week and was limited Saturday because of the flu), Adam Doiron and Maurice Gordon all saw snaps in the middle and Stevie Lee worked his way in later in the first quarter. Reese also had his DEs on a four-man rotation, with Cory Redding and Kalen Thornton getting the start, but with back-ups Jermain Anderson and Marcus Wilkins seeing significant action throughout the game. Redshirt freshman Austin Sendlein, who has worked in the middle most of the season, played DE late in the blowout.

Interim Kansas coach Tom Hayes benched regular starter Kinsey and started Zach Dyer in his place against the Horns. Both played and both had a miserable day trying to pass against the Texas secondary. Dyer completed just one of his 10 pass attempts for a whole three yards and Kinsey didn't fare much better with three completions in seven tries, plus two INTs (by Vasher). For the day, the Jayhawks managed five completions for 40 yards with a long throw of 15. On the ground, starting KU tailback Reggie Duncan totaled 28 yards on 15 carries (1.9 yards per rush).

This stat won't come as a surprise considering Texas limited Kansas to an amazingly low 67 total yards and no points, but the Longhorn D stopped the Jayhawks for negative yards on five of their 15 possessions and held them to less than 10 yards on five others. KU's longest drive of the day: eight plays and 22 yards. The Jayhawks' deepest penetration: the Texas 48. KU's offensive total of 67 yards was the lowest for a UT opponent since '90 and the shutout was the Horns' first since a 49-0 win over Houston last season. For the day, the Jayhawks made seven first downs, and four of those came by way of penalty. The visitors attempted 19 passes, completing just five. Nathan Vasher intercepted two of those 19 throws, setting the Horns up for 10 of its 59 points. On 33 rushing attempts, Kansas gained a meager 27 yards. Even after taking out the sack figures -- Texas had two sacks, one each by Johnson and Redding, for minus-seven yards -- the Jayhawks averaged just over a yard per carry. The defense scratched the board with a safety on a sack of KU relief QB Mario Kinsey in the third quarter. "Sometimes you get on a roll and things fall into your lap and that's what happened today," Reese said in a far too modest assessment. "We'll get over this one quickly. Monday (at the first team meeting) I'll love 'em up and be proud of 'em, but then we'll get back to business. And when they make a mistake (in practice), I'll come down hard on 'em." I asked D.D. Lewis what, after such a dominating performance, this defense could possibly do to get better. "Continue to work hard," the senior MLB said. "You can never get complacent. When you do that, that's when things go wrong."

Concerns coming out of the Kansas game and heading into A&M? Well, nothing that manifested itself against the Jayhawks. The only concerns are basically leftovers from earlier games: lack of a consistent pass rush, opposing O's occasional success running the ball up the middle, and tight end coverage breakdowns perhaps. Can you tell I'm searching here? It's tough to find fault with a team that ranks No. 2 in the nation in overall defense. The play of the secondary (particularly the corners) has improved dramatically since the first few minutes of the Oklahoma State, when the Cowboys burned the Texas DBs on a quick scoring drive. Since the opening minutes of that game in Stillwater, Quentin Jammer has been virtually unbeatable and Rod Babers has been pretty salty in coverage as well. Both safety spots are also producing, with Ahmad Brooks hovering near the top of the team tackle list and Vasher up to six INTs on the season. The Horns LB corps, comprised of seniors Lewis, Rawls and Jones plus true freshman Johnson, is also playing its best ball of the season. Those four accounted for 20 of the team's tackles vs. Kansas. Lewis in particular over the last few weeks has had far fewer breakdowns than earlier in the season, and Rawls seems to have elevated his level of play with the push for playing time and the starting role by Johnson.

Late in the game, the Horns LB line-up consisted of next year's probable starting group, with Johnson at WILL, Aurmon Satchell in the middle and Reed Boyd at SAM. Satchell saw his first extensive action since the first weeks of the season. Sophomore Monti Collier, one of the guys that will battle for time (probably along with Aaron Ross, Michael Huff and Cedric Griffin) at Jammer's cornerback spot next fall, played late in the game, as did sophomore Phillip Geiggar, who will compete for PT at safety.


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