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July 3, 2011Just over a month ago Kansas head coach Turner Gill announced changes on his defensive staff when Carl Torbush resigned. It was a move Gill didn't know he would have to make just before summer camps were set to start.
Gill moved quick promoting Vic Shealy and Buddy Wyatt to run the defense. Wyatt was elevated to the co-defensive coordinator position after joining Gill's staff as the defensive line coach coming from Texas A&M.
A new philosophy on defense?
Wyatt knew Torbush well although they never coached on the same staff. They both coached at Texas A&M and Alabama just missing each other by a year or two. Wyatt is ready to take on a new role although it might not have happened in an ideal way.
"It's exciting to have a new position but we will miss Carl," Wyatt said. "He is a good friend and good person. I'm excited to formulate ideas with Vic. Our backgrounds are similar and we both like to be aggressive."
Shealy hinted at the press conference in late May the defense could play with a different style. Wyatt didn't give specifics hoping to save some of the changes for the early opponents on the schedule.
"People think being aggressive is playing reckless and blitzing," Wyatt said. "But that's not always the case. Playing that way doesn't always mean you have to blitz. We just don't want to always be on our heels."
Calling all interior linemen
The spring didn't quite produce the results Wyatt would like to see at defensive tackle. The depth chart shows there aren't a lot of bodies to go around. One thing the coaches like to do is take athletic players and grow them into tackles.
Before an injury sidelined Kevin Young he was showing progress after moving inside last season.
"Kevin caught my eye before he got hurt," Wyatt said. "He was doing some good things. We hope he can play at 275-280 pounds and then next year around 290. He will help us be more athletic."
There are proven players returning inside like Patrick Dorsey, John Williams, and Richard Johnson. Some of those individuals will need to step up and anchor the inside game.
"I hope we are more productive with the inside guys," Wyatt said. "I think John (Williams) will get better. This was his first spring season with no injuries. Dorsey missed a lot of the spring and Richard didn't have as good of a spring as I wanted to see. The good thing is we have guys with a lot of experience. Hopefully they will improve."
Opurum continues to improve
Two years ago Toben Opurum was the Jayhawks leading rusher. When it was announced he was moving to defense several Kansas football followers questioned the switch. It looks like the move is starting to pay off.
"I'm pleased with his progress," Wyatt said. "He came to us on defense and is still learning how to play his position. Last year he really started to pick up defensive end and came on at the end of the year. I was real pleased with his effort in the off-season. He had a great spring season. I think he's going to be productive and will help the guys around him."
Looking for versatility
There are several players on the line that could grow into other positions or play at different spots. That could make Wyatt's job easier until they settle into a full-time position.
"I like guys that can play multiple positions," Wyatt said. "Right now we have a few of them that are doing that."
In the spring Pat Lewandowski floated between the edge and the interior. At 6-foot-6, 265 pounds he is right on the bubble size-wise and could get time at several positions on the line.
"He had to play some tackle because of lack of depth in the spring," Wyatt said. "It will all depend on how his body progresses. He still has a defensive end body, but he's only a redshirt freshman. What little I saw of him at defensive tackle I liked it."
Both Keba Agostinho and Julius Green are in the same situation. They have the ability to develop into inside players, but the staff will have to wait and see how they progress. Agostinho was a pleasant surprise last year and played in all 12 games as a true freshman.
"Keba is still at 250 pounds and hasn't put on much weight," Wyatt said. "We will take guys like him and if they grow enough we can move them inside. Our defensive scheme will allow us to play some of these guys at strong-side defensive end."
Young players will get a shot
Wyatt has coached at Nebraska, Alabama, Texas A&M and other tradition-rich programs. He's coached a lot of young talent in his career so he wants to see those players prove themselves.
"I don't like to count on freshmen," he said. "I want to see how they are once we can work with them."
Once camp opens in August Wyatt will get to work with players who are new to the program. Green went through spring football after enrolling in January. There is potential in the new class and Wyatt is ready to see what they can do.
"Julius is a part of this class so you have to look at him as a freshman," Wyatt said. "A couple of guys we are excited about are Ben Goodman and Michael Reynolds. We feel good about some of the young kids coming in. We have guys that can run and have length. I think they will be ready."
Jayhawk Slant is speaking with the Kansas coaches and will have much more summer football coverage
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- Kaleb Tarczewski, a top target for Bill Self, has started with a strong showing in Las Vegas here
- Julius Randle, the second rated basketball prospect in the 2013 class, talks about his interest in Kansas here
- Shay was at the Peach Jam and spoke to several recruiting targets. He broke down a lot of the behind the scenes information here
- We looked at seven, new players that could make a difference on the football field this season here