Tom Keegan: Clint Bowen sees better days ahead for Kansas football

Kansas assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Clint Bowen instructs players at a KU football practice that was part of fan appreciation activities Saturday August 8, 2015.

An assistant coach to four different Kansas head coaches in 17 seasons, defensive coordinator Clint Bowen can attest as well as anybody to how tough it is to compete against a Big 12 schedule.

That reality probably helps to explain why Bowen tends not to spread hype about the football program for which he has worked for most of his adult life.

So when Bowen does sound an optimistic voice, it resonates.

“If you look at our team, just depth across the board, which creates competition, which pushes guys more, guys are just more physically developed than they have been, the program continues to grow each year,” Bowen said. “Both sides of the ball, special teams, now you know your twos and threes are a little bit better players. It just has that carryover effect across the board."

Kansas went winless in 2015, David Beaty’s first season, and had two victories last season.

So many factors hint at a big jump for the offense. Offensive coordinator Doug Meacham is a proven winner and his addition to the staff will keep Beaty from spreading himself too thin. Alabama transfer Daylon Charlot juices the anemic punt-return unit and passing game, joining fast Steven Sims and LaQuvionte Gonzalez as explosive receivers. Dominic Williams and Octavius Matthews, promising recruits at running back, join returning Khalil Herbert and Taylor Martin.

An extra year in the weight room for the young offensive line, plus the addition of former Alabama recruit Charles Baldwin at right tackle, makes it possible for Kansas to improve significantly a major weakness the past few seasons. And, of course, experienced Air Raid quarterback Peyton Bender qualifies as potentially the most significant addition.

Less has been said about the defense’s chances of improving, especially given the departure of four of the five starters in the secondary.

“I’m optimistic that it will be better,” Bowen said of the defense. "I think our front seven will be better. I think we’ll be able to stop the run better than we were able to last year. . . . We have to bring the secondary along. We have to find some corners. We have some guys in there who look like they can do it. I would think with our ability to stop the run, usually that’s the first sign of getting better faster."

Since it’s impossible to finish worse than 0-12, it goes without saying that Kansas hit rock bottom in 2015. It’s not a stretch to believe that last season was just the beginning of what shapes as a steady climb toward respectability.

Comments

Dirk Medema

I'm hoping Deron Thompson will be able to contribute after transferring and sitting out last year. He seems like a bit of a forgotten player.

1 week, 5 days ago

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Steve Johnson

Wonderful, optimistic that its going to be better. It cant be worse as KU is and has been an embarrassment to any school with a football program. When the program is respectful then it will be worth watching. Not blaming the coach, just been watching horrible football for many years and hearing the same fluff.

1 week, 4 days ago

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Fred Whitehead Jr.

Duhh.....yeah.....we have heard this before. Until the university get it that support for the football team needs to be parallel to the massive yearly orgy for the basketball team be duplicated for the football program.........well,,,,,,,, what do YOU think?

1 week, 4 days ago

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Al Martin

Oh good grief, you again.

1 week, 4 days ago

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John Brazelton

The major problem with KU football is the Head Coach either quits and moves on to greener pastures or he gets fired. If our Head football coach would match the tenure of Bill Self or Bob Stumps and still win, KU wouldn't have to start over ever 4 or 5 years.

1 week, 4 days ago

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Greg Ledom

Let's see, the last coach to move on without being fired was Glen Mason. All others have been canned with one having made us respectable. I'm confident that given time, we have the right coach......finally! Agree with your overall thought of consistency, but you also have to have the right guy to deliver product consistency and not just longevity. Rock Chalk!

1 week, 4 days ago

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Brock Wells

Never heard what Clint said, "...our ability to stop the run, usually that’s the first sign of getting better faster." We would have won 1-2 more games last year if we stopped the run. Obviously that will help the inexperienced secondary.

It seems like you are genuinely optimistic about Peyton at QB. Hopefully (cliche) the perfect storm hits Lawrence this fall and we get to a bowl game; 6-6 and Dorance is big 12 defensive player of the year are realistic goals.

1 week, 4 days ago

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Steve Johnson

Bowl Game???? You gotta be kidding
The only way they go to a bowl game is as spectators!
That is like saying we hope to win the National Championship in Basketball without mason, Lucas and Jackson. Not Happening, sorry to burst your bubble, Bowl Game??

1 week, 4 days ago

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Greg Ledom

Improbable but not unthinkable. Dream big Brock. Rock Chalk!

1 week, 4 days ago

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Brett McCabe

Brock, going to a bowl game in year three is not out of the question. It will take another big step forward and maybe a little luck, but it's doable - especially with 7 home games. I'd be thrilled to see us sweep the non-con and win two conference games. This would leave us short of a bowl but would be a giant step forward.

1 week, 4 days ago

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Bob Bailey

Defense wins games. But not without tackling and a Defensive Scheme that makes sense. Haven't had that about six years, and probably not with the same DC. Let him move on to Recruit Coordination. He's a Jayhawk booster.

The OC is still an open question.

1 week, 4 days ago

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Brett McCabe

The defense made significant strides last year over the previous year. Look at YPG and PPG - unless statistics confuse you.

1 week, 4 days ago

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Brian Wilson

Maybe we win three games this year. The reality is we finally are getting somewhat close to having our scholarships full. We are one year away. Right now all we have is a bunch of developing Sophomores and incoming Freshman that are getting the opportunity to learn and play with Juniors and Seniors that are still learning the system themselves. Once we have a group of four-year players handing down their three to four years of experience to an incoming group of Freshman we will finally begin to have a football program. It will also help to have all 85 of our scholarships back in circulation. IMO, Beaty is doing great, leave him alone, don't have any expectations until 2019 and 2020.

1 week, 4 days ago

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Jim Williamson

I'd like to think four wins is possible. Much more than that trivializes the level of competition in the Big 12, and I think it trivializes the dumpster fire left behind by Gill and Weis.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Randy Bombardier

Well, i don't know about that, Jim. Maybe if we win 6 games then to predict only 3 would have trivialized our improvement. Time will tell.

1 week, 2 days ago

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