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October 22, 2013

Notebook: Staff changes, Baylor tough test




When Charlie Weis decided to step back and oversee the offense that might have stemmed from an off season move he made on defense. Last week Jeff Blasko and Ron Powlus started helping to coordinate the offense. The change has helped free Weis up so he can oversee the offense and be more involved in other phases.

When asked if he really called the defense Weis responded, "Did you see a play card in my hand (against Oklahoma)?"

Weis said he liked the extra time to help the offense by having his assistants more involved in the offensive planning. That is a similar move he made in the off season with Clint Bowen. The former Kansas player is calling the defense. That has allowed Dave Campo to get more on hands time with the cornerbacks, which has been one of the most improved units in the program.

Back before spring football is when Weis approached Bowen about the change.

"It started a long time ago it wasn't something that came up recently," Bowen said. "It was near the end of the recruiting season so it was prior to spring football. We had started to make a decision I was going to put the defense together and call the defense. I would be in charge of what was going on there in conjunction with the rest of the staff."

Bowen and Weis were on a recruiting trip together when the conversation first came up about the changes. Bowen also credits the other coaches who come together as a staff when he puts the plan together.

"We have all worked together and worked hard with the other coaches," Bowen said. "We're just trying to create an identity for our defense."


The new identity

Part if that identity also came in the off season when talking with Weis. The two came to the conclusion they would move away from the 4-3 and go an "odd front" with three down linemen.

Through recruiting and returning players they felt there would be enough quality linemen to make the change.

"We are pretty much exclusively an odd front," Bowen said. "It goes back two when Coach Weis and I first started talking about the changes about me taking more control of the defense. The next conversation was what are we going to do? Between he and I, we just visited and talked about the personnel on our team. That probably dictated it more than anything were the players who were returning."

Part of the philosophy change also had to do with the style of offenses in the conference.

"The odd front has some benefits to playing against tempo teams," Bowen said. "It is a little bit easier and quicker to get aligned, part of that has to do with it. With our personnel and future opponents that was probably the main criteria."



Getting ready for Baylor

After listening to Weis and Bowen break down the Baylor defense there aren't many weaknesses. Baylor is playing more physical up front and although they have the high-powered passing game they are running ball over 60 percent of the time.

Bowen has been part of a defense that faced Briles when was at Houston in the 2005 Fort Worth Bowl. Even back then he was running a scheme that was different from most offenses.

"It is not the same offense but at the same time but I remember we talked about how you prepare for them," Bowen said of Houston under Briles. "If we hadn't had bowl prep and weeks to prepare for them that game would have been a nightmare. He has always been on the top of offensive football and done things his own way. He is a creative guy. The thing about their system it is truly a system that has the ability to take advantage of what you do against them defensively."

Things haven't changed. Baylor is putting up points at a rapid rate including 71 last week against Iowa State. They are physical, have speed, and Bryce Petty has only thrown one interception all season. Petty also leads the nation in passing efficiency.

The Kansas defense has worked hard since the summer to prepare for uptempo teams. On Saturday they will face their toughest test in the fastest paced offense they will see this season.

"Their tempo is as fast as anyone has gone in the Big 12," Bowen said. "Maybe the 2008 Oklahoma team is comparable from what I have seen in the past. What Art has done with the tempo and his offensive coaches is as good as anybody in the nation does it. There only comes a point where you can go so fast and they have gotten to that point."


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