Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Celebration Dances Required as KU Football Tries to Remake Defense

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Celebration Dances Required as KU Football Tries to Remake Defense

Article excerpt

LAWRENCE -- One of his players had just grabbed an interception in practice, and Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen sprinted down the field to join in the party.

There was one issue: It wasn't much of a party at all.

"When I'm in the back and we get an interception and we run down, and I'm ahead of five guys going to celebrate, that's a problem," Bowen said. "If someone on your team makes a great play, there should be an internal desire to one, go tell a friend of yours good job, and two, to genuinely be excited about it."

The play led to Bowen making an interesting request of his defensive players: He told them to get together to come up with a "really cool" celebration the next time someone came away with a pick.

When it happened next practice, the 11 defensive players on the field gathered together with one player pretending to pull a pin on a grenade. After that, each of the players fell to the ground.

"They came up with the most lame celebrations I've seen in my life," Bowen said with a smile. "But they came up with something, which means they had to talk to each other to do it, and someone probably had to step up and lead in that organization."

Welcome to Bowen's challenge of trying to rebuild a defense that lost nearly every key player from a season ago.

Bowen says it's become more than installing a defense with guys that didn't play the year before; at this point, even simple things like celebrating with buddies after turnovers is a process that is being taught.

"It's something that you prefer that's in your program and is already installed and it just gets passed from one year to the next year to the next year," Bowen said. "Those are the things that I tell some of my guys all the time: 'I'm a Big 12 football coach because I don't want to coach Pop Warner stuff. Quit making me coach Pop Warner stuff. If I wanted to do that, I'd go coach my son.'"

Four spring practices in, though, Bowen is working to make sure that scheme and culture both are emphasized as the Jayhawks prepare for their first season under new coach David Beaty.

"Obviously, we need some of our guys to step up and take a leadership role and claim this as their defense," Bowen said. …

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