It's no secret that the Jayhawks struggled to keep up with the higher tempo offenses of the Big 12 last season.
Assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Dave Campo admitted that while those offenses might be good for the fans, they're starting to "negate the technical parts" of the defense that he's prided himself on through 41 years of NFL and collegiate coaching.
"A lot of the offensive teams, I believe, are trying to outdo the other offensive team on how fast they can run a play and how fast they can get things done and it's all misdirection so they try to get guys out of their gaps and not be in the right spot," Campo said. "They're taking the rules and they're bringing it right to the edge of the rules and cheating so you have to be ready to cheat right along with them."
This week in practice, the Jayhawks are focusing on challenging those high-tempo offenses. Head coach Charlie Weis and assistant head coach Dave Campo devised a practice routine that would switch out defenses every snap to try to get used to the quick turnaround they faced in Big 12 play last season.
"I'm kind of facetious when I say 'they're cheating.' I'm not going to complain about it because it's what we have to do," Campo said. "We have to move with that same pace and be able to keep up with it. That is the way it is. We have no choice."
The Jayhawks have been transitioning to a nickel package on defense and they've got some fresh faces to add to the mix. Junior college transfer Isaiah Johnson is listed at the top of the depth chart for strong safety with Dexter McDonald at right corner and Cassius Sendish at nickel. Veterans Dexter Linton and JaCorey Shepherd held their spots at free safety and left corner.
"Everybody has fun and everyone is competitive," Linton said. "It's a whole new environment. It's more fun to be around and I'm just trying to go out with a bang in my final year."
They'll also add junior college transfer Kevin Short at right corner who arrived on campus on Tuesday morning.
"I'm very happy to have him," Campo said. "He's one of those guys, in my mind, a little bit like Mike McDonald. He's a bigger athlete and we won't know exactly what we have till he's out there going. He's just one of those guys that is in the mix that we have to get ready as fast as we can."
He'll be starting at ground zero, but Campo said that's not a big concern for an athletic corner like Short.
"The corners are more one-on-one mentality," Campo said. "Obviously they have to know when we are going to roll them up and do something, they have to be able to do that, but the majority of the game is played for those guys is covering guys and the more athletic and the more talented you are, the more technical you can be so he can catch up pretty fast."
Now that they've got all the pieces in place, it's a matter of developing a defense that can help the Jayhawks win some games.
"I said to the DBs today, 'look, if we don't do what we're telling you to do, we're going to lose. We will not win," Campo said. "We are working hard out there and we are doing all this hard work and we're getting hit in the head, we're getting hit in the face, our right leg is hurting, our left arm is hurting.
"Wouldn't it be stupid to go through all that in practice knowing ahead of time you're not going to win? So what we need to do is do everything we can to give us a chance to win and we're telling you what that is and if you're not willing to do that, you're wasting a lot of time."