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August 5, 2011Follow @JayhawkSlant
Switching to the 3-4 defense
The defense is having to adjust to switching its base to a 3-4 defense. Toben Opurum, who is being shifted to outside linebacker from defensive end said his responsibilities on the defense have changed.
"It has been a little bit different because I am no longer blitzing every time now but sometimes I am dropping into coverage and I have a lot more responsibility," Opurum said. "The 3-4 defense will help utilize guys like me, Malcolm Walker and Tunde Bakare to help get more speed on the field."
Opurum thinks Bakare's versatility will help him thrive in the new defense.
"He does a lot of things well for a linebacker like blitzing and dropping back into coverage," Opurum said. "He has really impressed in the workouts. He moves well for a guy who is 230-pounds. We can use different packages and we don't even have to switch personnel because of him."
The current crop of true freshmen have already made an impact in Lawrence through summer workouts and the first few days of practice.
"Talent has gone up since my freshman year because of recruiting," Opurum said. "This class not only has a lot of talent but they have helped the team's speed. All of them can run."
The two players that have been talked about the most in terms of speed have been Olathe North's Adonis Saunders and Victor Simmons.
"In running drills those were the two guys who were in front most of the time along with [dn]Tyler Patmon[/db]," Opurum said. "My class when we were freshmen a lot of guys were struggling with the workouts early on but this freshmen class are the ones in the front of the line in running drills.
"I have been very high on Ben Heeney," he added. "He works hard in every workout and is strong in the weight room."
Hatch emerging as leader
Senior offensive lineman Jeremiah Hatch not only held himself accountable this summer by losing 30 pounds during workouts, but Hatch also made sure his teammates were working hard too.
Players said Hatch took over Justin Springer's role as the team enforcer during summer workouts. If a player was late to conditioning, Hatch made them run the stadium stairs.
"I feel like the big improvement over the summer was players holding each other accountable because the assistant coaches aren't there to watch us," Opurum said. "When you have somebody like Hatch who you see and play with everyday, and if they are doing it right and holding others accountable then you have to do it right as well."