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October 29, 2009
Preview: KU's defense a solid group
Kansas (5-2, 1-2) heads to Lubbock this weekend on a two-game losing skid, licking its wounds after being dominated at home by Oklahoma.
School Location: Lawrence, Kansas
School Colors: Blue, Crimson
Series Record: Texas Tech leads 10-1
Record: 5-2, 1-2 Big 12
National Ranking: No. 39 (Rivals120)
Head Coach: Mark Mangino (Youngstown State, '87); 50-42 at Kansas (0-3 vs. Texas Tech)
Defensive Coordinator: Clint Bowen (Kansas, '94)
Base Defensive Formation: 4-2-5
When: Saturday, October 31, 2:30 p.m.
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium (59,011)
TV: ABC-HD (Regional)
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network (Affiliates); Sirius 121; XM 141; Jayhawk Radio Network (Affiliates)
On The Line: Kansas' defensive line is a battled-tested bunch, all but two players -- starting defensive tackles John Williams (6-foot-4, 309-pounds) and his backup, Richard Johnson, Jr. (6-foot-2, 281-pounds) -- on the two-deep are juniors or seniors. This experience is reflected in the stats, as the Jayhawks boast the nation's 16th-best rush defense (98.29 yards per game) and are top thirty in both sacks (2.71) and tackles for loss (6.86) per game.
Defensive end Jake Laptad (6-foot-5, 258-pounds) is the headliner of this group and has already registered 5.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss to go along with his 29 tackles. He only started Kansas' last six games of the 2008 season but still led all linemen in tackles (38), sacks (7) and tackles for loss (8.5). His backup, Maxwell Onyegbule (6-foot-5, 258), is also extremely effective.
Williams is an interesting player in that he began the month of October as an offensive lineman. Prior to the Jayhawks' game against Colorado, he was moved to defensive tackle and inserted into the starting lineup. Williams dominated over the last two games (one tackle) but he has equipped himself well enough to stay on the field.
Linebackers: Junior Drew Dudley (6-foot-2, 232-pounds) and true freshman Huldon Tharp (6-foot-1, 215-pounds) are both first year starters in Bowen's 4-2-5 scheme. Dudley, a classmate of Texas Tech receiver Detron Lewis at College Station (Texas) A&M Consolidated, is second on the team in sacks (3) and tackles for loss (7.5) and tied for first in tackles with Darrell Stuckey (54). Two weeks ago, against Colorado, Dudley logged 14.5 tackles and two stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Tharp worked his way into the starting lineup for Kansas' Big 12 opener against Iowa State and has remained there ever since. He has registered 8.5 tackles over the past three weeks, with five of those coming last Saturday against Oklahoma.
In The Secondary: Safety Darrell Stuckey (6-foot-1, 205-pounds) is one of the best safeties in the Big 12 and is midway through his fourth season as a starter. He was the Jayhawks' only first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2008 after collecting 98 tackles (second on the team) and five interceptions. Over the last three weeks, Stuckey has logged 24.5 tackles; on the year, he is tied with Dudley for the team lead in that category (54).
True freshman D.J. Beshears (5-foot-9, 175-pounds) made his season debut two Saturdays ago against Colorado and logged his first career start a week later against Oklahoma. He struggled at times against the Sooners and was flagged twice for pass interference, but still led the team in solo tackles (6) and is expected to get the start against Texas Tech.