Sep. 8—Defensive coordinator Aaron Henry provides perspective from his side of the ball heading into Friday night's game at Kansas:
How do you address the penalty issues from the season opener?"We had three or four massive penalties that led to points. If we get off the field on a couple of those third downs as well — we ended up getting penalties that extended it — you're talking about a different ball game. Game one, I didn't want it to go that way. Glad we got the win. You can definitely teach from that, and they can grow and learn from it, but there's fundamental things we've got to clean up. We can't penalize after the play. We've got to make sure we're a lot smarter in our decision-making after the play, and then I've got to do a better job of putting those guys in position to have success. I think in the latter part of the game we did a much, much better job of that."
Does it feel like you're prepping for both Kansas quarterbacks — Jalon Daniels and Jason Bean? "Absolutely. Both of the quarterbacks are extremely talented. I think Bean presents a different set of issues because I think he's been timed at a 10.3-(second) 100 meters. Something of that nature. The kid can fly. (Daniels), he has a cannon. He throws the ball extremely well. He makes all the throws. We're preparing for both of them. We're not sure. We're hearing things. I think they do a really good job of having a two-quarterback system because they play both of them sometimes. Our goal is to try to stop them whenever we can."
What can you work on fixing with your run defense?"When we talk about rushing defense, a lot of people think about rushing defense and they think about (defensive) line. That ain't how our defense is structured. Rushing defense is all inclusive. The only people who aren't included in rushing defense are our corners. Rushing defense involves all those nine guys. For what the average fan may see on TV, the D-line may not do this or the d-line may not do that. But where is the safety at in that fit? Our safeties are tied to the box a lot of times. I have to do a better job of making sure our secondary guys are crystal clear on their job descriptions and their assignments when they're at linebacker depth and are in the run fit. "
How do you get better on third down?"That's mostly we have to be better on early downs. Third-and-short is always manageable for an offense when you're not good on first and second down. The latter part of (Saturday's) game, I thought we were better on early downs. I have to do a better job of putting us in better position on early downs, so we don't have four, five, six, seven, eight third-and-shorts. The goal is to get in third-and-long situations."
How will your defensive line rotation work?"Part of the thing we were dealing with (Saturday) is you're chasing for more than three to four seconds. That won't be the rotation every game, but since I've been here, that's the most athletic quarterback we've ever seen. To have Johnny (Newton) and Keith (Randolph Jr.), I know we all want them on the field 24/7. But, fellas, those dudes are 290, 285, battling in the trenches. That ain't happening. You have to be able to rotate guys to keep them fresh so that when we do get to the latter part of the game, they can play those significant snaps."