Kansas returns a lot of players in its secondary, which struggled (to put it nicely) most of the year in 2017. Will 2018 be any different?
Cause for Optimism
The primary reason for optimism is simple: the secondary is one of the most experienced units on this squad, and they add top-100 recruit Corione Harris to the mix. There are only three seniors on the projected two-deep, and none of those seniors are projected starters. So not only did these guys get a ton of playing time last year, they’ll be back for 2019.
Cause for Concern
While Corione Harris appears to be a special player, it has to be a bit concerning that a true freshman can walk into camp and win a starting spot. However, that’s exactly what I expect to happen.
In 2017, Kansas finished 126th out of 130 FBS teams in passing yards allowed. (Fun fact, K-State was 129th.) The Jayhawks also finished 124th in interceptions, with just 4 as a team. Part of that has to go on the defensive line, after all, a secondary is only as good as the pressure on the quarterback. But with Dorance Armstrong playing run support last year, opposing quarterbacks were often able to sit back and pick apart the Kansas secondary.
CB - JR Hasan Defense / JR Kyle Mayberry
CB - FR Corione Harris / SR Shakial Taylor
NB - JR Deante Ford / JR Julian Chandler
FS - JR Mike Lee / SR Emmanuel Moore
SS - JR Bryce Torneden / SR Tyrone Miller
Defensive Coordinator Clint Bowen coaches the CBs while Cassius Sendish is the position coach for the Safeties.
Clint Bowen is entering his 20th year as a coach at KU. He played football for the Jayhawks under Glen Mason, graduating in 1995, and he really loves the University, which obviously makes him a great coach.
Cassius Sendish was just promoted in March 2018 from graduate assistant to a full-time coaching position. He has been on staff since his graduation in from KU 2015. Sendish came to KU as a Juco transfer who started all 24 games he played in.
Similar to the offensive line, it’s hard to get a grasp on this position group. Outside of Harris, these guys are all upperclassmen, but have just been torched under Beaty and Bowen over the past couple of seasons.
Again, similar to the offensive line, the secondary should be improved over 2018 based solely on experience. But will that be enough? As mentioned earlier, a secondary can only be as good as the pass rush. If the defensive line can’t put any pressure on opposing quarterbacks, it doesn’t matter how good your corners and safeties are, receivers will eventually get open.
So, I’ll once again go with “cautious optimism” for this group, but I’ll have to see it to believe it.