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August 18, 2010

Torbush, defense deal with losses

The depth at linebacker was already a question mark when camp started for the Jayhawks.

After losing Huldon Tharp to a season ending injury head coach Turner Gill announced yesterday that Jacoby Thomas is no longer with the program due to academics.

The good news coming from camp is both Drew Dudley and Justin Springer are playing well and have healed up from injuries that limited them in spring football. Along with Steven Johnson, Kansas defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Carl Torbush has a steady group to build on.

"Right now I think we have three linebackers that are very solid and a couple more that are coming a little bit," Torbush said. "We can't afford to lose any more."

This isn't the first time Torbush has found his defense in a tough spot with injuries through August. After coaching for 35 years including two stops as a division one head coach, facing injuries are just part of the game.

That's also one reason why Torbush likes to keep different schemes blended in.

"We came in here expecting to run different defenses," Torbush said. "That's one good thing about having three or four different personnel packages we do have the ability to tweak it if need be. Ideally we don't want to do that because of injuries but because we want to do it. Sometimes injuries and lack of depth will force you into those things."

Torbush said they have good numbers at defensive back and they can always move players up to cover a linebacker spot.

The two-a-day camp ended and it was a tough summer. Some practices the heat on the field was in the 140-degree range. Now the focus will turn to keeping all the players healthy until they kick off against North Dakota State. On Tuesday the team got a break with cloud cover and temperatures in the 70s.

"Our biggest thing right now is to stay as healthy as we can," Torbush said. "Hopefully we can get all these guys to their first ball game and get their legs back under them. It's been a tough fall camp with the two-a-days and the heat has been as tough as anything. The last couple days have been pretty nice and you could hear the enthusiasm go up because of that."

When you take away the loss of the two linebackers and combine that with earlier defections on the defensive line the coaches have had to retool their line-ups through camp. This is a staff in their first year dealing with adversity they didn't plan on. But Torbush credited his defensive coaches for their job and likes the make-up of his group.

"We're very close on and off the field," he said. "It's a great deal of fun to be together in our defensive meetings. We get a lot done and understand the game. But we know how to make it fun and get things accomplished. We enjoy being around each other all the time. We have very good football coaches in coach Vic Shealy, coach Robert Wimberly and coach Buddy Wyatt.

"Technically they are as sound of coaches as I've been around. They're not only great football coaches but great people. They are the kind of guys you'd want your son playing for."


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