Under Campo, Kansas starting to play defense again

Under Campo, Kansas starting to play defense again

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Dave Campo has a national championship, three Super Bowl rings and 23 years of NFL experience.

So what's he doing at Kansas?

Taking on the challenge of his life.

A year ago, the Jayhawks were ranked 120th nationally in total defense. Eight games into this season, Campo's defense has climbed to 81st and is ranked 58th against the pass.

``As bad as it is being the head coach, I think the worst job in the Big 12 is to be a defensive coordinator,'' said Kansas coach Charlie Weis, who made hiring the former Cowboys coach one of his priorities when he took over a program that had won just twice last year.

``I mean, you should just sign up for gray hair, you know, because it's a tough job.''

Perhaps the biggest improvement under Campo has been in the red zone. While the Jayhawks are still just 1-7, and 0-5 in the Big 12, they've been in a handful of games into the fourth quarter due in large part to a defense that is only allowing teams to score 69 percent of the time.

That statistic is a conference-best and ranks 13th in the nation.

Kansas held Oklahoma State, the No. 1 offense at the time, to 20 points. Last Saturday, the plucky Jayhawks held Texas to 21 points - less than half of its season average.

``We've improved in a lot of areas on this defense and I think we have a lot more we can improve on,'' said linebacker Toben Opurum, one of the team's top defenders.

This is the third coaching staff for Opurum and the rest of the Jayhawks' seniors. And judging by the fact the defense already has come up with nine interceptions and forced eight fumbles, it appears to be the most effective.

``His knowledge of the game has earned respect from the players,'' Weis said of Campo, with whom he shares a long history dating to their days in the NFL. ``He is a good teacher.''

Campo said he realizes how much Kansas has struggled in the past, and he also knows that he's basically starting from scratch after working with polished professional players. But he's also keen on tackling the challenge of making the Jayhawks relevant again.

``I only know how to do it one way: Make sure we're grinding on our guys and making sure that they know we have to be disciplined and do the things we are doing,'' he said, ``and not throwing in the towel and saying, `We're not good enough.'''

The next step is for those improved defensive numbers to add up to victories.

``I don't know that our guys really understand what it takes to win right now, and that's what we're pushing and that's what's got to happen,'' Campo said. ``It is still a process.''

It sounds easy enough to change the atmosphere, but competing in the Big 12 comes with challenges, even for someone with Campo's resume.

``This league is a unique league from the standpoint of the firepower offensively,'' he said, ``and I think that's an area where we have to get good athletes and better athletes as we go and put the best athletes on the field.''

With wide-open offenses, four ranked teams and Heisman Trophy candidates in Kansas State's Collin Klein and West Virginia's Geno Smith, there are no breaks for a defensive coordinator.

``He really loves the game of football and I can't say that he has enjoyed going against these defenses every week,'' Weis said, ``but it really challenges you to try to take your players and what they can do and try to figure out the best way to minimize what they do.''

Since Campo arrived in January, players appear to have bought into his style. Weis lets him completely control the defense, and so far the system has been working - or at least, has Kansas moving in the right direction.

``You've got to do whatever it takes to win whether it's drawing up some new things on the board or calling different plays, you've got to be willing to do whatever,'' he said.

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Redskins vs. Jets Preseason Week 2: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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Redskins vs. Jets Preseason Week 2: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

After a fight-filled start to joint practices between the Redskins and Jets, the Skins' 2018 NFL preseason schedule continues Thursday night at Fed Ex Field against New York. 

Week 2 of the NFL preseason still doesn't provide a lot of answers to questions about team performance, but it begins to reveal the depth the Redskins could have this season.

One storyline that won't be taking place, is the return of former Redskin Terrelle Pryor, who told reporters after Monday's practice he won't be playing in the game.

The Redskins have bigger things to worry about though, like who will replace rookie Derrius Guice, who's now out for the year with a torn ACL.

The Redskins also have one less name in the fight for receiver depth as well, after Robert Davis suffered a season-ending leg injury as well. 

Ahead of Thursday's preseason matchup, here's everything you need to know to watch.


Who: Washington Redskins vs. New York Jets

What: Game 2 of the 2018 NFL Preseason

When: Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, 8:00 p.m. ET

Where: Fed Ex Field, Landover, MD

TV Channel: ESPN

Live Stream: Watch ESPN

Radio: Redskins Radio Network

Point Spread: Washington, -3

Over/Under: 39.5

Weather: 90 degrees, partly cloudy


5:00 PM: Redskins 100
5:30 PM: Redskins Nation
6:00 PM: Best of the Sports Junkies
7:00 PM: Redskins Kickoff Live


Week 1: Thurs., 8/9, vs. New England Patriots, 7:30 p.m. (L, 26-17)

Week 2: Thurs., 8/16, vs. New York Jets, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)

Week 3: Fri., 8/24, vs. Denver Broncos, 7:30 p.m. 

Week 4: Thurs., 8/30, vs. Baltimore Ravens, 7:30 p.m. 



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Ozuna homers, Cardinals beat Nationals for 8th straight win

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Ozuna homers, Cardinals beat Nationals for 8th straight win

Marcell Ozuna homered and Austin Gomber tossed six shutout innings to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.

St. Louis has won a season-high eight straight. The Cardinals, who are 18-9 since the All-Star break, captured their sixth successive series after taking the first three of the four-game set.

Daniel Murphy homered in the ninth for Washington, which has lost four in a row and seven of nine to fall below .500 and nine games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East. The current skid began with a loss to the Cubs on a two-out, walk-off grand slam.

Ozuna homered in the second inning, his 14th of the season and his first since July 30.

Gomber (3-0), in his fourth start of the year, gave up three hits, struck out six and walked four.

Bud Norris pitched the ninth to pick up his 23rd save in 27 opportunities.

Harrison Bader and Yadier Molina added run-scoring hits for St. Louis, which improved to 19-9 since Mike Matheny was fired and replaced by interim manager Mike Shildt.

St. Louis infielder Matt Carpenter extended his on-base streak to 33 games with a walk in the fifth. It's the longest current streak in the majors. Carpenter left the game in the seventh after he was hit on the hand by a pitch from Matt Grace, but X-rays were negative.

Jeremy Hellickson (5-3) left in the fifth inning after colliding with Bader on a play at the plate following a wild pitch. Hellickson gave up three runs, two earned, on three hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two.

Bader, who had three hits, also made a diving catch of a liner off the bat of Bryce Harper in the fourth.

The Cardinals, who have an NL-best 12-2 mark in August, remain one game behind Philadelphia for the second wild card spot. They are four games behind Chicago in the NL Central.


Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg threw a simulated game on Wednesday. He threw around 70 pitches and could be ready to return early next week, manager Dave Martinez said.

Cardinals: LHP Brett Cecil was activated from the 10-day disabled list on Wednesday. Cecil, who had been sidelined with inflammation in his right foot, pitched four scoreless innings in four appearances with Triple-A Memphis. LHP Tyler Webb was optioned to Memphis.


RHP Tanner Roark (7-12, 4.12) will face RHP Luke Weaver (6-10, 4.66) in the finale of the four-game series on Thursday. Roark has won his last four decision, Weaver is 1-4 with a 5.13 ERA in nine career games against NL East foes.