Pat Lewandoski is going through the logistics of changing positions from defensive end to defensive tackle. This may be taken as a sign of Lewandowski's abilities, but it seems more to me like a sign of defensive set-ups to come.
Last season Kansas employed a three-front defense more and more as the season progressed.
Occasionally Defensive Coordinator Carl Torbush used a 3-4, but more often it was a 3-3-5. Torbush utilized two corners, one deep safety, two box safeties (set up almost like wide outside linebackers) and a three front consisting of two defensive tackles and one defensive end. Usually the defensive end, Toben Opurum, was set out wide to the defense's right side and the linebackers stayed mainly toward the left, giving the setup an almost 2-4-like look.
Remember, Lewandowski isn't the only defensive end to switch positions since Turner Gill arrived on campus. Former ends Keba Agostinho and Kevin Young are already listed as defensive tackles and Randall Dent has moved to the offensive line.
Lewandowski certainly didn't move to the defensive tackle position to offset depth problems. These switches leave the defensive tackle position stuffed with seven potential contributors.
Defensive end, however, now shows only the transitioning Toben Opurum, the inexperienced Tyrone Sellers, the non-experienced Jaqwaylin Arps, perennial scout-teamer Josh Richardson, recovering leukemia patient D.J. Marshall, and a wealth of newcomers.
Which defense will Kansas use most in 2011?
Hopefully the switch indicates that last year's late qualifier Julius Green and Toben Opurum are really impressing the coaches in camp.
If not that, then perhaps it indicates a gradual transition of defensive schemes. Maybe the lopsided levels of experience at the two positions is a sign that Torbush plans on needing less talent at defensive end and more at defensive tackle.
Switching more permanently to a 3-4 would not only explain the transitioning defensive tackles, but would also explain the increased emphasis on linebackers this offseason. Former safety Prinz Kande has switched to linebacker, and Turner Gill talked six new linebackers into signing on with Kansas this spring.
To me, all this says is to look out for more 3-4 and 3-3-5 defenses.
In the 3-3-5, look for Opurum to line up wide again with two true tackles (any combination of Richard Johnson, Patrick Dorsey and John Williams) next to him.
Look for two defensive backs to stay in the box (not necessarily safeties; last year the job fell to Tyler Patmon, Lubbock Smith and occasionally Greg Brown) and a third deep safety, probably one of the converted wide receivers Keeston Terry or Bradley McDougald.
In a true 3-4, something I expect to see more of this season, look for a bigger defensive end like Julius Green and either Kevin Young, Keba Agostinho or Pat Lewandowski playing on either side of one of the fore-mentioned true defensive tackles
Which linebacker will have the best season?
Behind the line, Darius Willis and Steven Johnson could be a nasty tandem as inside linebackers with super-walk-on Malcolm Walker and Huldon Tharp patrolling the edges.
Not much depth beyond that, though. Prinz Kande is little and learning the ropes, and I haven't heard much about redshirt freshmen Ed Fink or Jake Farley, though both have some potential. Hopefully Tunde Bakare and any of the four true freshmen coming in August can supplement this group.
Even in a four-front the Jayhawk defense should be better in 2011. The options are there at defensive tackle, and Toben Opurum and Julius Green provide a diverse look on the ends.
Overall, the talent-level of the Jayhawk defense hasn't gone up immensely; talent is something one offseason can hardly fix.
However, there is youth, potential and even a little depth at most of the defensive positions. Not only should we see some interesting position competitions, but we could also see a diverse array of defensive looks.
Sometimes it's tough not to have a single defensive identity. Here's hoping that at least one of these schemes works out.