4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE KANSAS DEFENSE
– Former Colorado defensive coordinator DJ Eliot inherits a D that was great at taking the ball away in bunches, but struggled to generate much of a pass rush and got hit really, really hard by the Big 12 passing games. Six starters have to be replaced, but the JUCO transfers are about to play a bigger role, especially the ones brought in last year for the line.
Jelani Brown saw a little bit of time on the inside, and the 6-3, 287-pound Codey Cole and 6-7, 265-pound Darrius Moragne will get a long look on the ends.
All three came in last season as JUCO transfers, and all three will have to fight for jobs in fall camp. Watch out for former Missouri Tiger Caleb Simpson and fellow JUCO transfer Malcolm Lee to make a huge push for time in the rotation once they arrive.
– There’s no replacing Joe Dineen at one of the linebacker spots, but tweener Azur Kamara has the upside to grow into a role as an edge rusher, and former JUCO transfer Drew Harvey should be a volume-tackler with his 230-pound size and promising range on the inside. The linebacking corps won’t have much in the way of experience, but it’ll be able to move.
– Working around safeties Mike Lee and Bryce Tomeden, the secondary will be the biggest defensive stretch early on. Look out for sophomore Corione Harris to grow into one of the team’s best defenders at one corner spot after coming up with 44 tackles and a pick as a true freshman, while Hasan Defense is back after coming up with a team-high three picks. He’s a safety, but he’ll get a long look at corner.