Assistants Take Center Stage, First Practice Complete
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After Kansas football assistant coaches met with members of the media on Friday, the team participated in its first practice of the year by way of a two-hour afternoon session in helmets and shorts on the fields adjacent to Memorial Stadium.
During their 45-minute meeting with the press, each coach gave insights about certain things they are expecting from their group this season.
Perhaps the group gaining the most attention at the start of camp is the wide receivers, led by first-year Kansas assistant coach Eric Kiesau. Kiesau spoke about the group as a whole and added that the talent and potential is there, but he needs to work with the receivers more on the technical areas of playing the position in order to help the team succeed.
“There are a lot of fast guys out there and a lot of fast guys we’re going to play against on Saturdays,” Kiesau said. “It’s about the technique and the little details on the things you do that makes you different. That’s what we’re really trying to learn. Tony Pierson is a great example of a fast guy who had zero wide receiver technique, but it wasn’t his fault. He played running back and is a great player, if you see how much he’s progressed through the spring he’s gotten a lot better because he’s learned some technique and really started to use it.”
In the pass heavy Big 12 Conference, the Jayhawk position group that has the most experience coming into the year would be the secondary, which will return each of its starters from a year ago. Assistant head coach of the defense and cornerbacks coach, Dave Campo, gave his thoughts on the importance of experience in the secondary.
“It’s really important to have experience, that’s for sure,” Campo said. “The one thing you have to face with the spread offense is how explosive it is. They really use the whole field, but its’ not really sophisticated, it’s simple. The more they have experiences with it the better chance they have to play (well) against it. So I think having the experience is important and allows us to spend less time on teaching the scheme and focus on the opponent. I think that’s where we are making strides, because we are not starting from scratch.”
Another area that provides KU with experience in the upcoming season is the quarterback position. Quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus spent time talking about starting quarterback sophomore, Montell Cozart, and the things he needs to improve on as well as the confidence they have in the other quarterbacks to come in and positively impact the game at any time.
“One of the things that Montell wants to overcome is being the ‘young guy on the field,'” Powlus said. “Having the experiences he had last year, the success he had against West Virginia and the struggles he had in some other games, he’s not the new guy anymore. He’s a bit in the mix. He’s played, he’s gotten hit, he knows what it’s like. It is nice from that perspective to be working with a guy that it’s not all new for him.”
Powlus added that it’s not all new for the other quarterbacks on the roster either.
“Michael (Cummings) has been around for a while now,” Powlus said. “He’s got more experience than T.J. (Millweard), Michael is an athletic kid—he’s a strong guy, he’s got a strong arm, he’s a competitor. He’s a tough guy, and he brings a lot to the table when we put him in. T.J. has less experience than Michael, especially in game situations, but I think T.J.’s a sharp guy, he moves around pretty well and does a lot of good things mentally. We’re going to continue to work on his footwork and his accuracy throwing the football.”
To stay up to date during fall camp follow the Jayhawks online via 2014 Fall Camp Central and on Twitter @KU_Football.
Jeff Blasko – Tight Ends Coach
- Entering his third season at Kansas
- Helped Jimmay Mundine to back-to-back All-Big 12 Conference selections (2012, 2013)
- Prior to Kansas was the offensive quality control coach at University of Florida… Promoted to quarterbacks coach for Florida’s Gator Bowl win over Ohio State
Clint Bowen – Defensive Coordinator | Linebackers
- Starting his third year in a row with Kansas and beginning his 16th overall as a coach on the Jayhawks’ staff (1998-2009, 2012-14)
- Had at least one of his defensive players earn postseason All-Big 12 Conference honors each year he has been in Lawrence including coached Ben Heeney to all-conference honors in 2013
- Co-Defensive Coordinator in 2007 when the Jayhawks were ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense and ranked in the top-10 nationally in both passing and rushing defense.
- During his previous stint at KU, he helped the team to a 3-1 bowl record including a win in the 2008 Orange Bowl
Dave Campo – Assistant Head Coach – Defense | Cornerbacks
- Beginning his third season at Kansas
- Coached defensive backs Bradley McDougald (2012), Dexter McDonald (2013), JaCorey Shepherd (2013) to All-Big 12 honors
- Spent the first 18 years of his career as a collegiate coach… Coached the secondary at the University of Miami (Fla.) for two seasons (1987-88) and helped Hurricane safety Bennie Blades to win the 1987 Jim Thorpe trophy
- Spent 23 years coaching in the NFL – 18 with the Dallas Cowboys where he helped win three Super Bowls… Four of the five years Campo was the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator the team finished among the NFL’s top-10 defensive units… Coached top headline defensive backs like Deion Sanders and Leon Lett
Eric Kiesau – Wide Receivers
- Set to begin his first season at Kansas
- Spent the previous two seasons as the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at the University of Washington… Prior to his time at UW, Kiesau served as the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach at California
- While at Cal in 2003, Kiesau helped receiver Geoff McArthur earn second-team All-America and first-team All-Pac-10 honors after he was second in the nation in receiving yards per game… Another notable receiver Kiesau mentored was future NFL All-Pro DeSean Jackson who in 2005 set Cal freshman records for receptions and receiving yards
Reggie Mitchell – Running backs
- Entering his fifth season at Kansas… Also coached at KU from (1988-96)
- Mentored three Jayhawk running backs to All-Big 12 teams June Henley (1996), Tony Pierson (2012), James Sims (2012, 2013)
- Helped Sims also become the first Jayhawk to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons and finish third on KU’s all-time rushing list with 3,592 yards over his career
- Previously served as the running backs coach at Illinois from 2005-09… Helped the Illini lead the Big Ten and rank 10th in the nation in rushing in 2006… In 2007 Mitchell and Illinois featured Rashard Mendenhall who was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and a first-round NFL draft pick
Ron Powlus – Quarterbacks
- Entering his third season working with Jayhawk quarterbacks
- Was a four-year starter at quarterback for the Irish setting 20 school records
- Prior to joining the Kansas coaching staff Powlus served as the quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame from 2007-09… Helped develop Jimmy Clausen into an All-American and one of the most prolific passers in program history.
John Reagan – Offensive Coordinator | Offensive Line
- Set to begin his fifth season coaching at Kansas… Served as the Jayhawks’ run game coordinator and offensive line coach from 2005-09
- Previously served as the offensive coordinator at Rice where in his final season in 2013 Reagan helped the Owls rank 17th in the country in rushing offense, 61st in total offense and 58th in scoring offense and win the Conference USA Championship game
- In 2007, tackle Anthony Collins was not only part of the All-Big 12 First Team, but was an All-America selection and one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy, given annually to the best interior lineman in college football
Scott Vestal – Safeties
- Entering his third season at Kansas… Second season as the safeties coach
- In 2013 under Vestal, sophomore safety Isaiah Johnson was named the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the year after completing the season with five interceptions, which ranked second in the conference
- Prior to Kansas Vestal has served as the quality control coach for defense for the Florida Gators (2011) and the Texas Longhorns (2010)
Buddy Wyatt – Defensive Line
- Beginning his fifth season coaching the defensive line at Kansas
- Coached collegiately for 24 years at programs such as Alabama, Texas A&M, Colorado, Northwestern, Oklahoma State and Minnesota
- Mentored nine defensive linemen to careers in the NFL including Jamal Williams, Adam Carriker, Justin Bannon, Tyler Brayton, Johnny Jolly, Rocky Bernard, Ty Warren, Ronald Edwards and Ronald Flemons
- Worked with a number of successful NFL coaches including Jim Wacker, Bob Simmons, Gary Barnett, R.C. Slocum, Bill Callahan and Mike Sherman
Kansas staff and players will get little rest over the weekend as the ‘defensive leaders’ will meet with the media Saturday, followed by a mid-afternoon practice where they will once again wear helmets and shorts.
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