Kansas defensive coordinator Dave Campo met with the media and answered quite a few questions pertaining to the teams progress this spring. Watch it or read it below.
Kansas defensive coordinator Dave Campo
On the linebacker position and whether some players are interchangeable:
"I think they are a little bit of different positions, especially in the spread offense when you are talking about inside linebackers. Really, your weak-side linebacker is almost like a defensive back because he is in the box sometimes and sometimes he is out of the box. So they are not really interchangeable because the mike linebacker is what you would call a true linebacker. He is a guy who can play tackle-to-tackle and obviously we would like some guys who can run and go sideline-to-sideline. At this point right now, we are just feeling our way along still as far as who plays what. We have moved the guys around a number of times and we don't have a real differential player with our linebacking corps right now. The previous staff was a 4-3 defense and there are a lot of 4-3-type linebackers back there, so it just depends on who we decide on."
On Notre Dame transfer Anthony McDonald:
"He is a guy, who if you just lined him up would play that position (middle linebacker) although I think he is a little bit interchangeable as well. I think his profile fits that position more so than an outside backer or weak-side/inside backer."
On creating turnovers as a defensive unit:
"That really has been something that has been a mainstay of every defense that I have been involved in. If you really look around, for example the year that the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl, their defense statistically was probably middle of the pack, but they were a turnover machine. They turned the ball over a great deal and the more snaps you give the offense during the course of a ball game, the better chance you are going to have at being successful. So when you look at the statistics that really mean something, I think that turnovers would probably be at the top of the list. I know for sure that if you win the turnover battle by four or more in a game, you are going to win 95-percent of the time. We are really stressing it and I think everybody should stress it."
On the team's defensive approach:
"If we have players that buy into the program and buy into the fact that the only way we are going to make up ground is to have guys committed to what we are doing and running full-speed to the football for 60, 70, 80 snaps in the game. Usually if you get those kinds of guys on the field, there are going to be some turnovers automatically because you are going to have a lot of guys around the football and you will have second guys there who are knocking the ball out and creating fumbles. I think if we can come out of this spring, knowing the guys that are here that we can count on to do that, then I think we will have come out ahead really."
On sophomore linebacker Michael Reynolds:
"Michael Reynolds is the type of athlete that we need to get on the football field in some way, shape or form if he is the right guy. That is what we are working on right now because he certainly is athletic and he can run. I think in this league you need some guys who can play in space and he is capable of doing that."
On the speed of his linebacker corps:
"I think there are a few guys that can run and can probably run better than some because they are smaller than a lot of the other guys in the league. But I think we run okay, not great, but that is something that we will be working toward."
On his defense competing in the Big 12 next season:
"Of course I am nervous about our guys being able to compete on this level with the other guys they have to go up against, but we wouldn't be here if that were the case. I knew coming in that it was going to be a challenge and I think Coach Weis knew it was going to be a challenge, but it has been done before here. When I looked at the guys that we had coming in when I first looked at the job, I felt they fit the profile of the guys that can compete in this league. This league is a spread league, so you have to have the guys who can move in space and we are trying to find those guys. What we have to do is become competitive, because if we are competitive on (the defensive) side of the ball, then I think with our quarterback situation we are going to score some points. That combination means that we should be a little better but it is all speculation right now."
At size versus speed at the linebacker position:
"I think you have to take a look at who you are playing against and what you have to do to be successful against that group. Then you may have to give up something to make sure you have the type of guys out there that you need. When we first came into the NFL from (the University of) Miami to Dallas (Cowboys) everybody told us that we were too small on defense, because we brought in those little 4-3 linebackers in there. They ran around but they were faster than everybody else, so I think that it really doesn't matter if you are big or fast, but you have to be good and run to the football. If I have a defensive lineman that runs five-flat, if he is running five-flat by the time he gets to the football then I will be really happy. That is better than a guy who runs 4.8 and is running 5.3 (at the end of the play) because he is tired. If we get guys running to the ball, we will overcome some of the deficiencies that we have."
On if the defense has gotten back in the last week or two going against Dayne Crist:
"I don't look at it that way; one of the most pleasing things to me is that we have a couple of quarterbacks that can make some plays. If they didn't make plays with the unit we have now, I'd be disappointed and a little nervous about the season. He's done well but it's been a little bit of give and take. For example, in the scrimmages the other day, I felt that the offense won the scrimmage - I don't know what Coach Weis said about it - but I felt they had a really good scrimmage. Now before the scrimmage, we had a 7-on-7 and I felt we won the 7-on-7 which is more difficult when you don't have a pass rush and all those sorts of things. I think there's been a little bit of give and take, but I think Dayne is playing very well and that's good for all of us, defense, offense and special teams."
On how he goes about evaluating the spring players:
"Right now, it's looking at our guys and saying `we can count on this guy and we can count on that guy' but I've told our group - and this is no secret - I'm not going to go out and tell a lot of people what we say in our meetings because that's us, that's our family in there. I can tell you this, I've told our group that no one here should think we're going to automatically put a freshman or a junior college guy third string just because he's new. If we think he's a first-string or second-string guy, that guy is going there right away so this is a tryout situation for the guys that are here."
"If we feel like we have a guy that fits our mold and we feel that we can play with him, then he's going to line up No. 1 and whoever the second guy is, is going to line up second. It may not be the second guy that is here right now, it may be a guy coming in, but it's not going to be automatic. There are some places where guys coming in are automatically third string because you've got your guys here but this is a different situation and it may be the case in the future, because now their your guys you're bringing in, so you should have some idea when you recruit them where they fit. With this group that's here right now, I like a lot of these guys, but they are in a tryout situation so hopefully, if we've done a good job of recruiting, there will be some guys jumping right into the first unit or the second unit."
On if there had been any surprises on players moving up or down:
"Again, I'm going to stay away from talking about individual guys, but I will say that I feel halfway decent about our secondary as a whole. I think there are some players there and from that standpoint, we have three defensive backs coming in that can run so it's still going to be a competition, but I feel decent about that group above all of the other groups right now. But again, nothing is etched in stone."
On if the leadership has progressed:
"I have; I'm a better leader today then I was a week ago because we're going to make sure we have some leaders around here. At this point right now, it's too early and I'm not trying to be funny; we're going to have a leader, whether it's a coach or a player. You'd like to have a bunch of players step up though and that's what we're working towards. I think there are some guys in this group that have the potential to become leaders but they don't have the confidence to be a leader yet. I think a lot of it comes from good players are good leaders in a lot of ways and I'm not sure what the confidence level of this group is at this point."
On if Dayne Crist can be enough of a leader on this team:
"I think so, absolutely; a leader is a leader whether he's on the offensive or defensive side. I would certainly like some guys on our side of the ball to emerge and there may be some guys who do that but you have to use everything you've got. I don't have any problem telling our guys `hey look, all we need is three stops in this ball game. Three stops in this ball game and we're going to win because that guy over there is leading us and he's going to put the ball in the end zone.' I have no problem taking that approach if that's the approach we have to use."
On if he thinks the enthusiasm and effort is as high now as it was at the beginning of spring practices:
"I think it's better now than it has been at anytime. I really think our guys understand what it takes; if we're going to make up ground on some of these guys that we have to play, I think they realize that they have to take the field with the attitude that we're going to be a four-quarter ballclub no matter what. I think that's improved, I think that's an area that we're going to continue to go with and I think our guys realize that we're not going to put them on the field unless it's out of necessity if a guy doesn't have that attitude. So I think it's a combination of the guys being a little bit excited that there's some newness, another chance, and it's a change along with the philosophy of the people talking to them. I don't think Coach Weis would accept anything less than that, and I know I wouldn't, so our guys have that mentality right now to take that approach. I feel good about that right now and I think we're making strides there."
On his initial impression of team speed:
"I didn't think we ran as good as we needed to. I think there are some guys who do, so there are some guys we are counting on. It's not just all about running or else we would just put a bunch of track guys out there. Some guys have to play football and hit somebody, and we certainly have some guys that will do that. If I can get a guy that runs 4.8 to get to the football at 4.8, I will be happy with that as opposed to guys not running the way they need to run. If we had all 4.6 and 4.5 guys that can play in space I would be really happy, but we don't have that right now."
On if you can craft a team to be physical:
"I think it is your approach. I don't think you can make a guy who's not a hitter into a hitter, but you can certainly make guys understand that it is the only way they are going to get on the field. You can improve it a little bit and that is what we are trying to do."
On if anyone has switched to defense:
"Not since we last talked. There are some guys on offense that we feel could be two-way players. If you watched New England play, they will use a back-up receiver as a nickel back if you don't have one that is going to be in a full-time situation. It is going to be a total team. We are going to try and get the best 11 guys on offense and the best 11 guys on defense, whoever those guys are. I see some guys over there that I would like to have. I may not get them, or I might get them part-time, I don't know."
On how much experience factors in:
"I think you look at a guy that we have seen play in games and we know that we can play that level of competition, so that is a tremendous advantage right there. When a guy comes in, he is going to have to compete like everyone else, but we have seen him play in big games, so that gives us an advantage. It make us feel a little better to know that we have some guys coming in that we feel comfortable (that they) can step in and get competitive as quickly as possible. I think our guys would look at me like I was nuts if I told them we were going to be the best defense in the Big 12 next year. You have to be realistic with what you're looking at, but if we can get competitive, that gives us a chance. That is where some of the fifth-year guys come in. You will sacrifice the longevity of a guy at some point. You don't want to do that when you have been there for three or four years and you have your guys rolling, but at this point, that is a big hit for us."
On the spring game:
"I think you learn more about your guys when they go live and we are only going to go live a small percentage of the time. However, Coach Weis sets up the spring game, it will be about individuals still. `This guy had a great spring game', rather than `this group had a great spring game'. `This guy did a great job. He showed us something in the game.' So it is an evaluation and there is no better evaluation than seeing it live, no matter how you do it."
On if the spring game has importance in position battles:
"Absolutely. For example, we have played more base defense against normal personnel, not three-wide or four-wide. We have probably played more of that this spring than we will play during the whole course of next year, because you don't find very many base football teams that are using a lot of two-back and two tight ends. That is good for us, because are seeing guys have to be physical and run and that sort of thing and it really isn't about scheme, it is about evaluating who these players are in the situations or in the scrimmage. It's like I told our guys, it's not about scheme right now. We are developing scheme, because when we face the 11's and the 10's from Coach, we are working things we are going to use in the fall, but it is more about people."