Sunday, April 14, 2013


Opinion: Jake Heaps instant upgrade


During a spring football game in which he threw accurate passes, long and short, Kansas University junior-to-be quarterback Jake Heaps eased anxiety in the minds of so many who hope he becomes the school’s first productive player since Todd Reesing at the most important position on the field.

Funny thing about all the worrying, though, is that none of it was inspired by anything Heaps ever did or didn’t do. It all stemmed from Dayne Crist’s disappointing one season at Kansas.

Crist fell far short of expectations, so many have had a difficult time investing their emotions in another highly ranked high school quarterback enticed to transfer to KU by Charlie Weis. But little about their stories intersects.

Even after Crist performed well in the 2012 spring game and even better in an open practice during summer camp, Weis subtly sounded a word of caution, saying the only remaining question was whether Crist would feel the aftershock of his latest knee surgery once real games that included blitzing maniacs hellbent on blasting the quarterback started. Clearly, Crist heard the thundering footsteps, and it greatly compromised his performance. He finished 116 out of 116 in quarterback rating among quarterbacks with enough throws to qualify. Crist performed well in two post-season all-star games, winning MVP honors in one. Look a little closer: Blitzing was forbidden in those games.

Heaps remained healthy in his two seasons at BYU, where his statistics were neither atrocious nor great. In the QB-rating stat, he ranked 98 of 116 as a freshman, 106 of 115 as a sophomore. He had reason to look over his shoulder then, when he and Riley Nelson played tug-of-war with the starting position. At KU, it’s Heaps’ job, and he’ll be in his fourth year of daily college football practices, whereas he was in his first and second during his BYU years.

Heaps can place the ball into the hands of more playmakers than could Crist, thanks to Weis’ decision to move Tony Pierson to receiver much of the time, the addition of physical possession receiver Justin McCay, the continued improvement of tight end Jimmay Mundine and the return of running back James Sims.

Heaps does not need to justify his No. 1 ranking among high school quarterbacks he received after leading Skyline High to a third consecutive 4A Washington state title to give Kansas a major upgrade at the position.


trueblue68 1 year ago

Heaps could be the 2nd coming of Johnny Unitas or Joe Montana, but if we don't improve our defense a 1,000% we will still not win much.

7th in the Country in passing in 2009, & we lost our last 7 straight games, & finished last in the North Division, because we had a horrendous defense. Thus Mangino fired.

With a decent defense in 2007 with 2 AAs, we won 12 games.

So why no discussion about the defense??? A good defense also gets Heaps & company several more opportunities too.


BringBackMark 1 year ago

The article below pretty well sums up why our football program is where it's at. Zenger is going to look like an idiot if this experiment fails. Weis is going to have to quit worrying about "quick fix" transfers and start developing talent. That's how Snyder really does it.


Randy Maxwell 1 year ago

Heaps is the most talented QB currently in the Big 12.


mahkmood 1 year ago

This article is fine for the football fans that don't understand the game well. Heaps will be in a heap on the ground if the offensive line (inexperienced newbies) doesn't perform well. No mention of them in the article. Pierson at wide-receiver should be a red flag (i.e., Weis was unable to recruit a good WR, so shift a running back). Guys from Mangino era will be completely gone - further loss of toughness? Defensive line still a question mark?

Look, I'm not trying to be so negative, but I'm sick and tired of articles about KU's "upgrades" every off season (last 4 years). FB means cash for KU and Lawrence, so gotta sell tickets... remember that when you're reading these articles. Do you really expect to see articles titled, "Hopes for KU Football Next Season Looking Very Suspect (Think Twice Before Buying Season Tickets)"?

KU will probably win 2 or 3 games next season. I hope I'm wrong, but unfortunately the schedule is full of established programs, and KU is not that.


Theonlythingthatexceedsyourbad 1 year ago

Keegan - A word of advice. Take out some the commas and prepositional phrases and replace them with periods. Then you can elaborate on your good ideas and not have run on sentences like the first three of this article. Your ideas are good and mostly sound however they are often clouded by a mist unnecessary analogies and ambiguities. These often take the place where there should be a period.

That being said - Heaps should be better than Crist because;
1. It's pretty hard to be worse.
2. The wide receivers weren't open last year. This year more separation should be expected. Problem was, when they were open Crist couldn't deliver, let's hope Heaps can.
3. Heaps has a year of practice, weight training, etc. at KU that Crist didn't. 4. No injury fear in QB in Heaps - ie. Rice interception from Crist last year . . . .


truthofthematter 1 year ago

That's when Mark Mangino was coach. What a world of difference.


Mike Barnhart 1 year ago

Rank of KU passing attack: 117th in 2012, 101st in 2011 and 103rd in 2010. How good can we possibly be in 2013?

Well, four years ago, in 2009, our passing game was 7th best in the country ...I'm saying there's hope!


Robert Brown 1 year ago

A couple of things bother me about this article. 1. The same thing that is being said about Heaps this year was said after last year's Spring game about Crist.
2. The rules for the Spring game were set up to limit pressure and contact (which is should), so this is hardly a simulation for a Big 12 game and I would think hard to make assessments 3. Finally, this article hints that Crist was slowed by a recovery from knee surgery. I don't remember that being discussed a lot last year (it may have), but if he was hobbled, why take so long to make a switch at QB.

At this point, we all have to take a wait and see approach. We have 41/2 long months to pontificate.


AZJHWK 1 year ago

I am concerned with the O-line. It starts with the QB, but if he is running for his life he has to be an RGIII to be successful. I didn't see much from the available video that the O-line is where it is going to need to be for us to be successful.


Jason Keller 1 year ago

The Crist hate needs to stop. He was a pocket passer. What we needed was a smaller, scramble type QB like Todd Reesing. We needed someone who could create offense in non-typical ways. We had a slightly below average pass-blocking offensive line and some of the worst receivers to ever wear the Kansas uniform. You could have put Tom Brady in that offense and you would be surprised how much he would have struggled. I truly was confused from the get go as to why he believed KU was a good fit for his senior year other than coach Weis was there.


jhawkrulz 1 year ago

I'll be the first to admit that the Spring game doesn't tell you much. The first string offense scored at will against the second string defense (that isn't considered a top defense). The first string defense basically shutdown the second string offense.

I would have expected about the same.

The one thing I would say, is that McCay seems to have great hands and not afraid to block. Heaps and McCay have started out with good chemistry (again without a press).


optimist 1 year ago

I think Crist is the easy guy to blame but neither quarterback threw a touchdown pass last season. Receivers looked confused at times resulting in protection breakdowns. Crist being a pocket passer, he wasn't a guy that could extend plays with his feet. Only after a more mobile quarterback comes in does that change. I saw Crist throw a lot of good passes that were dropped by receivers or receivers ran wrong routes. Now that the receiving corps has a year under their belts I expect we'll see better but I think we it is misguided to blame all of the woes on Crist alone.


KGphoto 1 year ago

"During a spring football game in which he threw accurate passes, long and short, Kansas University junior-to-be quarterback Jake Heaps eased anxiety in the minds of so many who hope he becomes the school’s first productive player since Todd Reesing at the most important position on the field.”

"Crist performed well in two post-season all-star games, winning MVP honors in one. Look a little closer: Blitzing was forbidden in those games.”

Yes, well the defense was not allowed to sack Heaps during the spring game either. Talk about being comfortable in the pocket. Crist was comfortable in the pocket for his spring game too. Put up some nice stats and had us ignoring any warnings, subtle as they be from Weis, about blitzing ghosts.

Heaps performance on Saturday means nothing. Heaps may not have the injury history, but I still can’t get over the fact that both these QBs were replaced by mediocre quarterbacks at their previous schools. And that they both had ratings in the bottom 10% when they were playing. I want to believe this is different, but I’m gonna wait til (real) game day.

Here’s a telling piece I found from back in October of 2011, about why Heaps lost his spot to Nelson. It focuses on his lack of leadership and his robotic way of running the offense. I saw signs of Heaps’ leadership from some spring practice quotes, let’s hope he has it figured out. The robotic part seems to still be in place.


NavyVet 1 year ago

Unfortunately, you can get worse. You can have someone who doesn't 'qualify' to be the worst of the qualfiers because he doesn't make enough throws/have enough 'at-bats' to have a grade. It appears, barring serious injury, Heaps will make enough throws - and should be an upgrade. Keegan makes a good point - Heaps is in his 4th year of practice and 3rd year of games. Hopefully that leads to a dramatic difference from the Gill era and HCCW first year W/L columns.


Jayhawker111 1 year ago

Mr Keegan:

Your opinion that Heaps is an instant upgrade is correct.

The fact is that anybody who can fog a mirror would be an instant upgrade over Crist.

116 out of 116 is last place and you cannot get any worse than that.

What is so disturbing is why Charlie Wies stuck with Crist - game after game, when you could see the guy was gun shy and never delivered.

Wies annointed Crist last year as the starter without competition and he has annointed Heaps this year without competition. I was surprised Cummings did not get a chance to work with both teams on Saturday.

We will see how year two pans out.


rtwngr 1 year ago

To answer the last, look at the numbers the offense put up. It won't matter how terrific our QB is if we can't keep the other team's offense off of the field. There's a lot to turning a program around and defense is huge. All of that being said, I think this team is far better than last year's.


Andy Tweedy 1 year ago

I have read 4-5 articles about the Spring game, and all I'm hearing about is the new quarteback, the lean tailback, the fast all-purpose back, the wide receivers catching touchdowns. What about the defense? There's been hardly a mention of it anywhere. We were TERRIBLE on defense most of last year. I wasn't at the game Saturday, I sure would like to know how the defense played.


Jim Erickson 1 year ago

To summarize my previous statement: Unless Heaps is REALLY good, our chances of taking a big step forward as a program are small.


Jim Erickson 1 year ago

I'll man up and admit that I predicted the program would take "the jump" and I predicted 4 wins last year with a ceiling of 6. While there may have been an encouraging sign or two, last year was not a step forward.

This year I feel that our chances of taking the jump are a bit more realistic. The Weis system is complicated so having the majority of the team a bit more experienced with it will be nice. A lot of Juco talent will be injected into the team, specifically the DLine. That's all nice, but we need production out of the QB position. We have had one great QB in recent history and we won 20 games (and two bowl games) with him healthy.


ahpersecoachingexperience 1 year ago

Pretty sure I would be an upgrade at QB compared to Crist.


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