When Dave Campo signed on to be the defensive coordinator at Kansas this season, he did so knowing two things: He was taking control of the worst defense in the country. And he was embarking on a broad, bottom-up rebuilding job for just the second time in his career.
The first one came as an assistant to Jimmy Johnson with the Dallas Cowboys in the late 1980s and early ’90s, when the franchise transformed back into America’s Team and won three Super Bowls in four seasons. Campo says he sees a few similarities at Kansas. The Cowboys lacked speed when he arrived; so did KU. But on the whole, Campo has had the challenge of facing the warp-speed, spread offenses in the Big 12 for the first time.
KU coach Charlie Weis has joked that the 65-year-old Campo’s hair would be turning gray — if it wasn’t already. But the latest challenge comes on Saturday morning at Texas Tech, where the Jayhawks will face Red Raiders quarterback Seth Doege and the nation’s 12th-ranked offense.
“They’re one of those teams that tries to go as fast as they can,” Campo said.
Campo’s defense has made measured gains this season. Last season, the Jayhawks’ ranked 120th in total defense. This year, they’re 97th, one spot ahead of league foe Texas. But the KU defense has also been gashed on the road, allowing an average of more than 46 points per game in three Big 12 road games.
“I think it’s a focus issue,” Campo said. “I think our guys focus more when they’re at home. And that’s what we’re working on this week.”
To add a layer of focus, Weis elected to leave earlier and hold a walk-through practice at Jones AT&T Stadium on Friday.
“We’re not just going to go there to take a look at the wonderful stadium they have,” Weis said.
In the short-term of a 1-8 season, Weis says he can’t stick with the status quo. But in the big picture, Weis and Campo echo similar thoughts when it comes to rebuilding jobs: You have to stick to the plan.
“I don’t think,” Campo said, “that you can expect anything overnight.”