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October 10, 2012

Q&A: LB coach DeMontie Cross

Kansas linebackers coach DeMontie Cross talked after practice on Wednesday.

Cross on Oklahoma State's running game …

They have a combination of a two back running game and a one back running game. The biggest thing is just the tempo. Obviously they are a high tempo team and they count on you not getting lined up and executing. They use that to their advantage. They are good at it and they execute well. It just makes the linebackers job that much more difficult to get a call in and get your eyes on the keys and play the play.

Cross on Ben Heeney …

I really think he is playing at a high intensity. There's tons of mistakes just like everybody else that he can get better at and execute within the scheme. You can't get anyone who is playing with more effort than Ben. We have to make sure that things he is doing is tying into what we are asking as a defense structure. That's part of the learning curve and he is putting the time and effort in and we are seeing small increments. If that means he is making more tackles, that's great but as a coach I know there is tons more upside.

The thing we are trying to do is to get him to play at the same speed but diagnose a little better. Before he was run, run, run, where as now he is trying to be on his keys and take the right steps and take the right angles to his gaps and the ball. It's little things as far as slowing the game down. He has such a high motor, high speed guy and that can be both good and bad. For the most it's being more good than bad. He is putting his time in and really this is his first year playing linebacker. The upside for Ben is high.

Cross on Joseph Randle …

Where do you want me to start. He is a dynamic kid. He's physical, smart, and fast. He is going to pose problems for any defender that hopefully does not get in a one on one situation. He's highly skilled and right up there with the best of them.

Cross on Darius Willis getting more snaps against K-State …

Coach Wyatt has done a phenomenal job with him. He has been able to transition from playing up to playing down. He went in and gave us some good snaps. He cares and wants to be out there helping the team anyway he can. He's always enthusiastic in practice and has worked his way back into the rotation. He's always ready. He's always telling me, "Hey coach I am ready for whenever you need me," and I believe him. I think he cares enough and puts the time in. Coach Wyatt has done a good job of putting him into position to help us.

Cross on the younger guys practicing on Sunday …

They are all playing hard. You are trying to teach them your defense in the short amount of time because they spend so much time on the scout team. They are trying to transition in one day. Courtney Arnick is a guy that continues to get noticed. All the guys are going hard and buying into trying to make this linebacker group the best that it can be. It starts with the weakest link so those guys are giving me everything they got.

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