Q&A with defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt
Who came back in the best shape out of all the defensive linemen?
I think Keba Agostinho came back in the best shape of the interior guys. I think Ty McKinney has lost the most weight. I think the guy who has improved the most is probably Keon Stowers.
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How have you seen improvement in Stowers?
I think he is understanding how to play his position. Keon hasn't played a whole lot of football. He didn't start playing until he was a sophomore or junior in high school and then he had one year of junior college and then he was here. After some experience,now the light has really come on for him.
To give us a benchmark, compare where buck linebacker Ben Goodman and strongside defensive end Keba Agonstinho are against where Toben Opurum and Josh Williams were at this point last year?
Keba is playing a little different position than what Josh played a year ago. Keba has had a good camp so far and has picked up from where he left off in the spring. I think Keba is a physically stronger player than Josh. He is probably not as much of an edge pass rusher as Josh.
I think he is a lot better against the run. He is a better interior pass rusher compared to Josh but he is not a better outside rusher. Ben is a more intense football player than Toben and more instinctive than Toben. Toben was a better athlete than Ben, but Ben plays extremely hard. I don't think we have anybody who is going to play harder than Ben.
What have you seen from Marquel Combs so far?
He is a strong kid. He has strong hands and has some instincts to him. I think eventually as he learns what he is doing and improves his work ethic that his production will improve.
Has it been easy for Darius Willis to move back into being a buck linebacker after playing middle linebacker during the spring?
Darius having played inside linebacker he understands a lot of the drop concepts that they need to have to play that position. Ben Goodman is better suited against the run because he played that defensive end position. Michael Reynolds probably has a little bit of both qualities because he played some defensive end and he is athletic enough to be a linebacker.
Talk about how Keon Stowers has grown as a leader over the last year?
I would say he has grown in that area. Keon didn't play a whole lot of ball and didn't have a lot of confidence initially. He has worked in the weight room and gotten his body stronger. I think it is like anything else the more confident you get the more comfortable you become at playing your position and trying to help others become better.
He is probably the most all around leader we have on the defensive line. Out of everybody on defense I would say Cassius Sendish has stepped forward when it comes to the leadership role. Not only by the way he works but in his performance and how he acts on and off the field.
Bowen gets more responsibility
This year linebacker coach Clint Bowen is going to have more responsibility in mapping out the defensive game plan and making calls on gameday.
Last year, defensive coordinator Dave Campo would monitor every defensive position group meeting during the week. The change was made partially so Campo will now have more time to spend with the cornerbacks which is the position group he oversees. He thinks the additional instructional time will limit the mistakes on the field.
"With this style of offense we will be going against in the Big 12, all it takes is one mistake," Campo said. "You can have nine or ten guys do what they are supposed to do, but one guy doesn't hit his gap and they give the ball to that running back and all of a sudden he is in the endzone. It is not the same as the NFL, the game has opened up. If you are not exactly where you need to be the creases kill you. We feel like we are in an advantage to doing it this way."
Other offseason workout news
Linebacker coach Clint Bowen said Victor Simmons transformed his body the most out of the linebackers during the offseason: "We moved him to linebacker not too long ago and he was able to put on a lot of muscle mass without putting on a lot of body fat so he has probably improved the most."
In the secondary, Dave Campo singled out Cassius Sendish for his work during the offseason: "He is a special kind of guy and a really hard worker. He has jumped in with Scott Holsopple and went after it."
After a few day of practice without much contact, there hasn't been much to report in terms of breathtaking plays during practice. Bowen gives a report on what has stood out to him so far.
"Samson Faifili had a really nice interception the other day," Bowen said. "I am really just focused on the smaller things. We have had some good run fits. Jake Love actually took a shuffle step, pressed his gap and went through a lineman to make the tackle. It was beautiful. It was a very simple tackle on an inside zone run. There were a lot of little things that led to it. We have had a few good plays but nothing over the top yet."