KU football notebook: Keeping starters looking over shoulders important, David Beaty says

Junior linebacker Joe Dineen named Big 12 defensive player of the week

Kansas coach David Beaty looks on during drills ahead of the Jayhawks’ game against Southeast Missouri State on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence. Beaty says it is important for the team to view every practice as a competition for playing time. (The Associated Press)

LAWRENCE — Kansas football coach David Beaty admittedly may not have been the most popular person at Tuesday’s staff meeting.

 

Ever concerned about his team’s depth, Beaty had a unique way of emphasizing that while fall camp position battles may be over, he still wants everyone within the walls of Anderson Family Football Complex ready at a moment’s notice.

Yes, everyone.

“I keep talking to everyone about how we are going to train everybody in our program, including the trainers, to play right tackle,” Beaty said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. “They are all going to be trained. We’re not going to wait until the guy gets hurt. We are going to train everyone.

“So you’d better train everybody on that board because we’re going to have to have them. They’re going to be used.”

While tongue-in-cheek, Beaty’s answer reflected an attitude coaches across the country must embrace, with several high-profile names like Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois and Alabama linebackers Terrell Lewis and Christian Miller suffering season-ending injuries in Week 1.

The Jayhawks (1-0) made it through their opener relatively unscathed ahead of their 3 p.m. Saturday contest against Central Michigan (1-0) at Memorial Stadium. Still, Beaty said making sure the roster is still in competition mode is crucial — as the third-year coach often says, “You’re only as good as your next.”

That includes making tough decisions to change starters independent of any injuries.

“As a staff, you’ve got to be courageous enough to say, ‘Hey, look, you’re not doing it the way we need it done, the production’s falling off, and we’re going to give this guy a shot,’ ” Beaty said, “because we’ll be better with what everybody else thinks is less because he’s going to do it the way we ask him to do it.”

Right tackle was one of the positions that personify Beaty’s stance.

While it wasn’t a team trainer who won that starting job, 6-foot-4, 285-pound sophomore and former two-star recruit Antione Frazier’s victory over 6-5, 305-pound junior, Alabama transfer and former five-star prospect Charles Baldwin was perhaps the most eye-popping of the coaching staff’s fall decisions.

In reality, Beaty said the battles at right guard, left guard and even wide receiver have been more intense than what he’s seen at right tackle.

“I think that’s something that’s really helped this team grow is that they know no one is special,” Beaty said. “You’re going to compete, and that next day is not given. You’re going to battle and you’re going to do it the way we tell you to do it, not because we’re mad, but because we love you, we want to win, and that’s what winners do.

“If we’re on the same page, we’re going to be great. If we have even one off that page and he’s doing his own thing, it will cost us.”

Junior quarterback Peyton Bender, who won his competition with sophomore Carter Stanley and threw for 364 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions in last weekend’s 38-16 victory over Southeast Missouri State, understands the importance of not resting on his fall camp victory.

“Obviously you can’t get complacent, but you’ve got to go out there like your job is on the line every day,” Bender said. “That’s the way I’m going to approach practice from here on out. I’ve got to go out there and perform to my best and approach each practice like I could lose my job each day.”

CROWDED BACKFIELD — KU used five running backs Saturday, and fans probably should expect that committee approach to continue.

“We’re going to need ‘em all,” Beaty said. “It’s a very violent game. On any given play, a running back could be getting hurt.”

Dom Williams, Taylor Martin, Deron Thompson, Reese Randall and Khalil Herbert all had carries against SEMO, the five combining for 87 yards on 21 attempts. Williams, the Jayhawks’ prized freshman recruit from McKinney, Texas, paced the team with 41 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.

“I think that Dom had some really, really good things that he did, but he’s got some things that were freshman mistakes that kind of don’t show up until you (watch film),” Beaty said. “But he did some really nice instinctual things the other night.”

DINEEN HONORED — KU junior linebacker Joe Dineen is the Big 12’s defensive player of the week, the conference announced Tuesday.

Dineen posted a game-high 15 tackles, including 11 solo stops, during the Jayhawks’ win Saturday. He also record 2 1/2 tackles for loss, matching his career high.

Asked if Dineen’s performance was great, Beaty quipped, “He’d probably tell you yes, but I think a couple more picks and fumble recoveries would’ve been great.”

“We’ve got to do a good job of helping him a little bit because he won’t come out of the game,” Beaty continued. “He wants to play on every special team and all that kind of stuff, which he’s good at all of them, but we’ve got to do a better job of picking and choosing how many of those plays he’s going to play on those things so we can keep him fresh on defense and when we need him in certain situations.”

Dineen is the first Jayhawk to win the league’s weekly honor for defense since Dorance Armstrong won the award last November following KU’s win against Texas.

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