Not only will Kansas football have a new head coach, it seems likely that there will be new coordinators on both sides of the ball for the 2021 campaign.
Although no official announcement has yet been made, Lance Leipold has reportedly brought seven former Buffalo assistants with him to Lawrence. Brian Borland, who has served as a defensive coordinator under Leipold since 2007, is one of seven coaches who followed his boss to Kansas.
Based on his resume, Borland is KU’s new defensive coordinator. So much so that he actually changed his Twitter bio to reflect that Tuesday night before reactivating it. Still, it seems safe to assume that Borland will lead the Jayhawks’ defense.
As a result, here are three things you need to know about Borland ahead of the official announcement:
Diet change is imminent
With DJ Eliot leading the defense, Kansas have used a 3-4 defense as their base formation for the past two seasons.
That will change with Borland taking control of the unit, as he has operated on a 4-3 front since being a playing player. This essentially puts an extra player on the defense line, so the Jayhawks will now have a four-man front.
Considering how football lineups have evolved over the years, player rosters will likely continue to rotate and there will be different looks mixed in as well. In fact, the Jayhawks rarely operated from their 3-4 base last year.
That said, expect Borland’s defense to be pretty consistent. According to a 2013 Wisconsin State Journal articleBorland’s defensive units generally looked the same year after year in Wisconsin-Whitewater. They relied on explosive volleys, physical linebackers and quick half-turns.
Borland’s defense has been described as “an aggressive front with a fold but don’t break mentality in high school and play with great discipline” in that same article. And Borland had a good explanation of why that might be the case.
“For me, it’s the consistency of the system,” Borland said. “When a guy comes into first year, we usually do the same when he’s a senior. One thing I think we probably do as well as anyone is coaching technique. I think it’s a lost art, at least in some areas. We don’t win by inventing a new defense every week and blitzing all over the place. We win by training our guys, our pattern, our technique.
The numbers were impressive
Perhaps overshadowed by Buffalo setting records on the offensive end of the ball, but the defense has been just as effective over the past three seasons. The Bulls have won 24 games over the past three years, while also gaining three straight spots in the bowl because of that balance.
In 2020, Buffalo led the Mid-American Conference in total defense allowing an average of 360.4 yards per game and placed second in scoring in defense allowing an average of 21.9 points per game.
The Bulls enjoyed one of their best defensive seasons in program history in 2019, leading the MAC and ranking seventh nationally in total defense allowing 291 yards per game. They allowed just 94.2 rushing yards per outing, which ranked fourth in the country.
Buffalo finished third in the MAC in total defense in 2018, but only edged the top team by an average of two yards per game. The Bulls also recorded 14 team interceptions that year, which was their best score since 2013.
For those interested in advanced metrics, Football Outsiders has a stat called DFEI which represents the score advantage per possession for each unit compared to an average opposing unit.
Here’s where Buffalo ranked under Borland in that metric:
2015 – 90th
2016 – 95th
2017 – 83rd
2018 – 87th
For comparison, KU has only ranked above 84th in this metric once during this time frame. The Jayhawks came in 48th place in 2018. Kansas has been ranked outside the top 90 for the past two years under Eliot.
Borland has an interesting background and a local connection
Take a look at Borland Online Bio and you’ll notice a few notable stops along the way.
Not only does Borland have an impressive resume on the football field, but he also coached track and field at UW-Whitewater between 1994-2002.
In 2000, he led the women’s track and field team to a fourth place finish at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track Championships. That was enough for him to be named National Coach of the Year.
In addition, Borland also has a local connection. He was defensive coordinator for Baker University for three seasons between 1991 and 1993. At Baker, he even served as the head coach of softball for the Wildcats. So this area is definitely not going to be new to Borland.