Notebook: KU football closer to full strength with scholarship players

The Kansas bench watches a final field goal by Ohio late in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio.

Due to players leaving the program for various reasons in the years before he took the job, the Kansas football roster David Beaty inherited close to three years ago was lacking in the scholarship category.

Beaty revealed, though, on his weekly Hawk Talk radio show that number has drastically improved since, with “about 84” — one shy of the NCAA maximum 85 — Jayhawks on scholarship at this juncture.

“That doesn’t mean all of those guys came on scholarship,” Beaty clarified while answering a submitted question for the show, “and there’s nothing wrong with that, all right. It may mean that we had a scholarship available and (walk-ons who were given scholarships) had been here for two years. If you’ve been here for two years you don’t count as one of those 25 initials, so that’s how you’re able to reward walk-ons.”

As the third-year coach referenced, programs can sign at most 25 scholarship players per recruiting class. Current NCAA rules mandate a walk-on has to be in the program two years before earning a scholarship — though Beaty said those terms of service and reward could shrink to one year in the future.

This past August, KU surprised former walk-ons Mazin Aql, Beau Lawrence, Cole Moos and Reese Randall with scholarship status via an announcement on the Kauffman Stadium video board during a Royals game.

Changes in KU secondary

The struggling Kansas defense implemented changes to the secondary in this past week’s loss to Texas Tech.

Clint Bowen, KU’s defensive coordinator and safeties coach, replaced nickelback Derrick Neal — who is still listed on the roster, but did not dress, and Beaty said “we’ll see” regarding Neal’s future with the program — in the starting lineup.

In Neal’s place, sophomore Bryce Torneden moved from safety to nickelback.

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“He’s really suited well to that position,” Beaty said of Torneden on Hawk Talk. “We wanted to wait until the bye week to get that done to be able to give him time to really rep that and work it. He was familiar with it but we wanted to give him two weeks work in it before we did it.”

Sliding Torneden over from safety required further adjustments. Sophomore Mike Lee moved to the safety spot on the short side of the field, while Tyrone Miller Jr. went to Lee’s old spot as the “field” safety.

Beaty explained it is optimal to have more speed at the “field” spot and a good hitter and “manager of space” closer to the sideline. He added this change should put Lee in better position to defend the run and make “a lot” of tackles.

Lee enters Saturday’s game at Iowa State (11 a.m. kickoff, FOX Sports Net) second on the team with 40 total tackles, trailing only junior linebacker Joe Dineen’s 61.

KU (1-4 overall, 0-2 Big 12) also played Antonio Cole and Emmanuel Moore some at the safety spots against Tech.

“We’re trying to develop some more guys and get some plays off of guys,” Beaty said. “When you’re playing in the Big 12 and a guy’s got 85 snaps on his body that’s a lot. If you can take 10 snaps off of him you’d be surprised how much of a difference that makes. We’ve got to get some of those other guys in there contributing. We’ve got to just get them in there. They’re going to learn some things along the way, but as I turn on the tape and I see other people putting their reserves in, guess what, they’re learning. They’re learning on the run, too. But the only way they’re going to learn is to get in there. … They can do it in practice all day, but, man, there’s no way to learn like getting into the game.”

Beaty said KU’s safeties looked solid at times but also hurt the defense on occasions.

“The bad thing about playing in the secondary, sometimes you make a mistake it’s a touchdown,” he said.

Dineen leading Big 12 tackler

Nearing the midway point of the season, Dineen continues to lead the Big 12 in major defensive categories.

No other defender in the conference has matched Dineen in total tackles (61), solo tackles (39), tackles per game (12.2) or tackles for loss (10).

Dineen’s nine total tackles against the Red Raiders marked the first time this season the redshirt junior didn’t reach double figures in stops.

11 a.m. starts

This week’s KU game at ISU (3-2, 1-1) marks the fourth straight 11 a.m. kickoff for the Jayhawks.

A fan asked Beaty on Hawk Talk at what time of day the Jayhawks prefer to play.

“We all get into this sport to play in the marquee game. So the 2:30 (p.m.), 3 o’ clock time slot is a marquee time slot and the late 7 o’ clock start in the Big 12 is the marquee spot. So you want to be in those spots,” Beaty answered. “We like those because that means we’re playing well enough to earn those spots.

“There’s some good to playing early,” Beaty added. “Early means you get up and you don’t have to sit around that hotel all day, because that is tough. No doubt.”

A kickoff time for KU’s Oct. 21 trip to TCU won’t be announced by the Big 12 until this coming Monday.

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Comments

Lloyd Kinnison

Coach B
The Jayhawks are my team. Let us play to win!!! Go for 4th down plays. No more being conservative. Let's play to have fun. Show the young players what the rewards are for taking chances. You must show future players that you are willing to take risks to win. The conservative or traditional approach has not given wins......now let us have fun,, Go Jayhawks

1 week, 3 days ago

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Jerry Walker

Maybe the most successful high school coach in American history - Pete Adkins from Jefferson City, Mo - knew how to deal with less talent than his opponents. He was famous for developing undersized but tough as hell players and dominating the big school class for decades.

His philosophy was simple. He said opponents didn't need to scout his team - they did the same thing every game. But the kicker was "We're going to line up and knock your ass off the line of scrimmage. If you're tough enough to stop us, good for you."

1 week, 3 days ago

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Jim Stauffer

And that attitude is what this team needs from the top all the way down.
This comment is in reference to the remarks about the Jeff City Coach.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Jack Brooks

Maybe Coach Beaty could start his risk-taking by firing his defensive coordinator for being a complete failure at his job. That'd be a GREAT place to start taking risks.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Randy Bombardier

Tired of this excuse. In 1970 Wichita State lost 31 players in a plane crash. The next year they went 3-8. The year after that they were 6-5. Despite our lows we never had to go through that thank God.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Brian Wilson

Yep....if we only played against the teams WSU plays! And....this is not 1970! IMO....this article, lacks the full story and stats, undermines Beatty in the situation, although I am not sure if on purpose.

Also, we are not ISU. ISU's team was not depleted by so many firings that it destroyed it's scholarship program.

Finally, and see below....this article does nothing IMO to dispel the walk-ons, transfers, lack of depth issue. Until Benton gives us a complete scholarship team breakdown, which I would love to see, we don't know. I am pretty sure we gave scholarships to walk-ons in 2015 and 2016 as well and my guess some of them are still on the team and are not mentioned here. The article also does not mention the number of Junior College transfers or D1 and D2 transfers. To guess, we have just 20-25 Juniors and Seniors that are 4 year recruits while we probably have over 40 Freshmen and Sophomores that have been recruited. That's twice as many under than upper. Until I see otherwise, Beatty has my support for two more years.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Jerry Walker

Brian's analysis is a lot closer to the truth than this article.

We're still woefully short of Big12 caliber players that were recruited and given scholarships - lots of walk-ons and JC xfers that wouldn't be on scholarship if we were at full strength.

1 week, 1 day ago

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John Gorski

"KU football closer to full strength with scholarship players"

Yet no closer to being competitive!

1 week, 3 days ago

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John Fitzgerald

So basically what I get from this article is Beaty has no more excuses.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Barry Weiss

I did not follow the scholarship issue that closely, but thought that was one of our excuses.....which I guess this article punts. Coach....time to coach.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Brian Wilson

Actually IMO, Benton fell short in this article. This past year we signed three walk-ons. We signed walk-ons in 2016 and 2015 as well. In addition, Benton doesn't mention the number of JC transfers.

Also, this article confirms the number of times our coaches are having to move players to other positions saying....they are well suited....or they are "familiar".
Watching the games it is obvious the players don't have a firm grasp of the plays and are slow to react.

Besides lack of depth and talent what we don't know is how well the players know the play book. To further quantify that, how well do they know the playbook with respect to experience actually playing in the system, to the opponent's system, depending upon whether they are playing defense or offense, and let's say it's an offensive guard, do they know their responsibilities, against the 3-4, the 4-3, 6, 7 ,8 in the box, when they shift or show blitz. The variations are not just a few. It's one thing to have one or two players change around but when you have so many it become really hard. And KU is constantly changing due to depth. Programs like Nebraska, Texas, Alabama, have multiple players recruited at each spot learning the same position all four years. If you don't think that's not an huge tremendous almost impossible thing to overcome when you are competing against it then you are out of your mind.

To sum it up, Maybe I'm off but my guess is we have 8-10 walk-ons and 15 JC transfers. Which means we have 60 true recruited player and two thirds of them are Freshmen and Sophomores. It would have been nice to see the break down in this article. But until I see otherwise IMO Leave Beatty alone. He needs two more years to fill the stable. Once the current sophomore class are seniors there will be no excuses.

1 week, 3 days ago

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['']

Full strength now -- until the end of the season when we see transfers by the dozens.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Dirk Medema

Knew the no excuses comments would be coming when I read the title. Benton was just reporting on the presser so can't really fault him for not digging deeper. The challenge with digging and further analysis is that it undermines the development of players and is a real threat to disrespecting those young men by identifying some as less than Big12 talent. The only real reason for doing that analysis is to appease some grumpy old men in lazy-boys.

While the death of 31 WSUs players is tragic the reality is the situation here was as bad if not worse. We were 30+ players short when Coach got here and the general talent and character of the team had been eroded as well. That is an even bigger rebuilding process than WSU faced and against a 9 game Big12 scheduling.

We had 9 games of experience returning out of 65 in our secondary with very little in reserves due to the lack of depth. It is going to take some time to get past that.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Randy Bombardier

The thing about the Wichita state tragedy wasn't that they lost 31 players, it was that it was their top 31 players. They were the only ones travelling to the game at Utah State. So the starting units and many number twos were lost. There's no comparison.

1 week, 1 day ago

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