LUBBOCK, Texas — For further evidence that seniority matters little to Kansas football coach Mark Mangino, check out the latest defensive depth chart, which features four freshmen in the starting lineup.
"The young guys are really talented," Mangino said. "We would have liked to bring them along a little later, but did not have that choice.
"We had some upperclassmen that we were counting on to be full-time players. Now, what we are finding is that maybe a couple of those upperclassmen are maybe more effective as part-time players."
The KU defense certainly appeared to be in need of some new blood after giving up 512 yards of offense in a 41-36 win over Iowa State. Out are defensive tackle Richard Johnson, outside linebacker Arist Wright, cornerback Daymond Patterson and free safety Justin Thornton. In their place are redshirt freshman John Williams, Mulvane freshman Huldon Tharp, freshman D.J. Beshears and redshirt freshman Lubbock Smith.
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Despite losing back-to-back games with the new faces, the defense actually has shown some improvement, giving up 322 yards to Colorado and 337 to Oklahoma. Texas Tech's offense, of course, is a whole other matter.
The Red Raiders put 63 points up on KU's defense last year. They may be ushering in a new starting quarterback today in redshirt freshman Seth Doege, but Texas Tech coach Mike Leach's offense has traditionally worked no matter who was taking the snaps.
"You see a lot of people try to play him a lot of different ways," KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said. "He's got answers to about all those things you want to do. Some people heat him up and play the price, some people rush three and pay the price. He's got his answers."
Mangino and Bowen should get some more defined answers about how ready their young players are for Big 12 football after facing Tech.
"This will be a good test for our defense on how to play the ball and how to compete one-on-one with guys," Mangino said. "It will be good for them."