Jayhawks ramping up speed, putting pressure on defenses
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) From the moment David Beaty arrived at Kansas, the first-year coach promised that he would implement a high-tempo offense that would be designed to put pressure on the defense.
Exactly which defense he was referring to is up for discussion.
The Jayhawks are averaging well over 80 plays through their first two games, but they have lost both - their opener to South Dakota State and last week to Memphis. Sure, they scored plenty of points, but the quick tempo also meant that their defense was often headed back on the field with precious little rest, allowing the opponent to score even more.
''I try not looking at it as getting tired or wearing down,'' cornerback Fish Smithson said. ''It's more opportunities for us to get out there and make plays. That's the beauty of our offense.''
The Jayhawks, who are off this week before a trip to Rutgers, still had to punt eight times against the Tigers, and those drives ended after just 4.25 plays, on average. In other words, they barely did better than a whirlwind three-and-out before the defense was back on the field.
Linebackers Ben Goodman and Marquis Roberts insisted fatigue hasn't been an issue, and Beaty said that the rapid pace at which they call plays isn't unique to Kansas.
Nor is the pressure that puts on the Jayhawks' own defense.
''I'm not so sure that's unique to this offense,'' Beaty said of his ''air raid'' system. ''I think that's pretty much offensive football, period.''
It's certainly a departure from what folks have seen at Kansas the last few years.
Only four times from 2007 through last season, the final year of the Charlie Weis regime, did the Jayhawks run 90 plays in a game. They squeezed out that many against the Jackrabbits, and every player in the locker room afterward insisted they could have run more.
''I was a little disappointed that we didn't play more plays,'' said offensive coordinator Rob Likens, who brought the frenetic offensive system with him from California.
One of the teams Kansas aspires to emulate is Oregon, a program that has made such high-speed offenses in vogue. Jayhawks quarterback Montell Cozart even suggested that they could run 100 offensive plays in a game if everything is clicking.
''We're trying to get up, hopefully, to their speed in the future,'' Cozart said.
Even though the Jayhawks only managed 84 plays against Memphis, it still left them with the most offensive plays run in the Big 12 through two games. The next-closest was TCU, which along with Baylor have been instrumental in turning the league into a high-scoring conference.
Perhaps the Jayhawks and their new-look offense can add to that trend.
''We always talk about practice and speed when nobody else does,'' Beaty said. ''Hidden there where most of the time you may walk, we either try to jog or run or certainly walk fast. ... Everything we talk about is procedure.''