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Monday, August 19, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: KU QB Heaps set for success

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Only an ostrich, with a brain smaller than its eyeballs and a tendency to run in circles to the delight of its predators, would not be able to sense the fears of a Kansas University football fan base.

Jake Heaps, the second coming of Dayne Crist in the hype department, will perform in front of a skeptical fan base coming off the disappointment of Crist’s dead-last statistical performance among 118 ranked Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks.

Heaps is a bright young man, not an ostrich.

“Absolutely,” a smiling Heaps said of whether Crist’s one season in Kansas has lowered expectations on his successor. “Everybody says is it going to be the same thing all over again, this kind of stuff. You can’t worry about what people are saying. All you can do about that is go out there and win.”

Those intrigued by how Heaps will perform in this, his third college football season and first for KU after transferring from Brigham Young University, stretch from here to Utah.

“The fun part about it for me is everybody does have questions, everybody’s wondering even from back at BYU, ‘Is he going to be the same guy?’ I don’t really listen to all that, but I know those questions are out there,” Heaps said. “So I can’t tell people what it’s going to be like. All I can do is show people. I plan on having a good showing and getting people excited about Kansas football and that’s all I can do.”

Crist-hype sold tickets a year ago. That won’t work with Heaps because human nature suggests customers will embrace an attitude that says, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Part of the hype on Crist centered on intangibles such as intelligence, maturity and leadership qualities. Those don’t mean much if they don’t translate to quality performances, so my interest in Heaps revolves around tangibles, and I love the first word receivers and coaches utter when asked to identify his greatest asset.

“His accuracy,” quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus said. “Jake’s an accurate passer. It is the backbone of the passing game. If you’re not accurate, you’re going to have a hard time having a good passing game.”

It’s not his only positive, Powlus said, just his loudest.

“He’s become more accurate as camp has gone on here,” Powlus said. “He’s got a strong arm, yeah. He moves his feet well, yeah. He sees the field, yeah. He can make reads, yeah. But he’s a really accurate passer.”

Heaps completed 57 percent of his passes for BYU, which isn’t great. He last played a game nearly two years ago and has been working on improving every day since.

Heaps said he needed to improve his knowledge of the game, his physical strength and his mental and emotional strength.

“My knowledge of the game has increased so much since I’ve been here with coach (Charlie) Weis,” Heaps said. “His expectations of what quarterbacks should know and making Mike IDs (where middle linebacker is) and protections. He has a very high standard for me on knowing when to pick up blitzes and seeing things. He pushes me. He pushes me a lot. And it’s made me a better football player. I recognize things I never would have recognized if I would have stayed at BYU.”

Brady Quinn at Notre Dame and Matt Cassel with the Kansas City Chiefs made huge strides under Weis. Heaps sounds confident he is in the process of becoming the next to do the same.

Next, Heaps cited strength and conditioning coach Scott Holsopple as a key to becoming stronger, inside and out.

“I’ve gained around 10 pounds and lost 12 percent body fat,” Heaps said. “I never even realized playing at BYU that I was like that. When I got here, everything just changed and he talked to me so much about my body and the way I can change things and how I can become better. Every Friday before games he would have his game-day lift and he would just kick my butt. Just absolutely kick my butt and I would be in the trash can all the time. He got me to continue to grind and push myself no matter how bad it hurt. He and I have grown really close throughout this whole process.”

Such intense workouts always are designed to change more than the body.

“He has helped me so much physically and mentally, just how to approach the game, how to approach every day and what mindset you need to have,” Heaps said.

Rivals.com ranked Heaps as the nation’s No. 1 quarterback coming out of Skyline High in Washington in 2010. He set a number of BYU passing records, but lost his job and his confidence. He expressed confidence that everything he lost he has found. Starting is not an issue at Kansas.

“Emotionally, coming off being the No. 1 quarterback in the country and winning three state titles, going 40-2 and hardly ever losing, I always thought that I was the best and carried myself that way,” he said. “Not in an arrogant way. I was confident in my abilities. And when I went to BYU and everything happened the way it did, when I left there, I was definitely not the same guy anymore emotionally. So that was really tough on me.”

He said he didn’t hide it well.

“Everyone that was close to me could hear it in me, just in the way I talked. My quarterback coach back in Washington, Taylor Barton, I called him on the phone, and he was like, ‘What is wrong with you? You’re not the same guy.’ Every day since I’ve stepped on campus here at Kansas I’ve continued to regain my confidence and regain that old me back,” Heaps said. “Now when I talk to him he’s so excited for me just because he hears that same passion and the same way I used to talk and I used to carry myself. I think that’s an important thing for my game to be confident in my abilities and what I’m capable of.”

Heaps has impressed in practice, but any true evaluation of a quarterback must come in games, when the massive linemen and twisted linebackers hunting him aren’t teammates. Crist, coming off of two serious knee injuries by the time he pulled a Kansas jersey over his pads, failed the live test.

A year ago, the one concern KU coaches had about Crist was how he would handle the heat.

And Heaps? Is the same concern a serious one for the coaches? (Don’t forget, left tackle, manned by four-year starter Tanner Hawkinson a year ago, is a question mark.)

“Not really,” Powlus said. “I don’t think there’s anything in Jake’s past that would make me wonder how he’s going to be when he gets hit. He’s a competitive guy. I’m not worried there.”

Heaps is well aware that whatever he or anybody else says about him will mean nothing if he doesn’t make those words look accurate. Still, he does like how he feels.

“I’ve really grown as a football player and a quarterback since coming here,” he said.

Comments

maxamilyen 8 months ago

Wow....I thought I was reading comments about Heaps that were posted on BYU's fan sites about what was it three years ago....Heaps came into the BYU program touted like no other....All the fans could hardly sleep with the anticipation of his arrival...He simply could not play like he practiced....He seemed like a fine fellow, however, his arrogance could not be stomached by most of the team when he failed (at least by BYU's quarterback standards) and still thought his ass was made of gold....Personally I hope he does succeed as a Jayhawk, and that all of you do have a great season....Just a little parting advice....Be VERY CAUTIOUSLY optimistic... Max

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JHWKDW 8 months ago

I still think this offense will be like the N.Y. Giants Offenses of the 1980's. Run the ball a heck of a lot, then at times throw a high percentage low risk passing attack, well maybe a few deep ones to keep the defense honest, in addition alot of passes to the tight ends.It will be a very vanilla, conservative offense.And when I say that it is a compliment not a insult, hey the Giants were successful with it why can't we do it? I have a feeling of that from HCCW, and I think he wants to be different from the rest of the Conference in terms of offensive spread offenses he wants us to be different.

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danno1313 8 months ago

Heaps will be fine IF his offensive line can actually lay a hand on the opposing defense occasionally. A BIG IF I would say.

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Ralster Jayhawk 8 months ago

The appropriate advice to Jake Heaps from this alum would be to "please ignore" the football-ignoramuses largely found amongst the KU "fan" base. Just do what Weis wants, execute the play. Have a short memory on bad plays, and play with swagger. Heaps will be awesome. Hope the O-line is up to the task. You would hope that amongst the KU "fans" there would be some football-savvy NFL fans (of whatever teams), and have some understanding of the game. Half the comments and stories are worthless conjecture. How about watch the games, and then analyze real performances? Hmm? (condescending tone intended to those that deserve it. Give KU football a chance.)

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kay_you 8 months ago

There are always high expectations for the starting QB but at least he won't have to live in the shadow of his predecessor. Sorry Dayne.

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Ralster Jayhawk 8 months ago

Totally illogical premise: "fool me once, wont fool me twice". NOPE. Jake Heaps is a different person, different QB, different psyche, different swagger/confidence than Dayne Crist. People's enthusiasm for this season should actually be HIGHER than last season. Last year was a cobbled-together, hodge-podge roster, with a damaged-goods (pocket presence) QB, only evident after several games of play. Here is why to be MORE optimistic: Heaps 1 yr sit-out = system guy. Chemistry. WRs improved and new faces better athletes BOTH sides of the ball. Reps-in-system. And we all know Weis pro-style system takes time to get proper execution. Hell, just watch a bad NFL offense and realize it even takes pros time to all get on the same page. Crist's BOTH starting WRs were injured and out for 3-4 of the games Crist started. The first 2 games, we actually won 1 of the games. Fate was unbelievably cruel to Dayne Crist. But Jake Heaps is a totally different QB, and is definitely a pro-style QB that Weis wants. I agree with the article that Heaps will have a big year, but totally reject the Dayne-bash (pointless), and reject any link to Heaps (unrelated players/individuals). What fool is going to tell me that when the pocket crumbles, and Heaps has to adjust-on-the-fly, and make a "hot" read, that he is going to do what Dayne Crist's mind would have done? (total rubbish)

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bigtex 8 months ago

Big fan of Heaps, I hope he has a great year. He was totally screwed over by new coaching at BYU because he was not their recruit.

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troutsee 8 months ago

I do think we will be the surprise of the league this year. However, La Tech was very good last year and gave A & M fits. Could easily have beaten them. Also gave LSU fits. So this is not a gimme game, nor is the Rice game down there. Scared, I am. But....I think we win 6 and go bowling. Along the way, look for some surprise wins.

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Brett McCabe 8 months ago

So....I've spent entirely too much time this morning doing some research on my Mason-Snyder-Mangino evaluation. Here's some trivia for those who are interested:

2nd Year Regular Season Results:

Mason 4-7 (dropped back to 3-7-1 the following year)

Snyder 5-6

Mangino 4-7 (does not include a W vs. a I-AA team or the bowl win)

Winning Percentage of Opponents defeated by Mason-Snyder-Mangino:

Mason 16% Snyder 25% Mangino 41%

This year, KU will face a slew of teams who went to bowl games last year. No one can predict their winning percentages but suffice it to say that it's a tough hill to climb.

For a 4-win season, we must sweep the non-con and defeat either TTU or WVU at home (based on our Big 12 road record of the past). That is an achievable goal. If we defeat them both, then the KSU game at home would be for bowl eligibility.

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Randy Bombardier 8 months ago

Oh, and thanks for the article, Keegs. Keep it coming.

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Randy Bombardier 8 months ago

Can't wait to see all these new horses we have. I think we are going to see a lot of offense this year. I hope that we don't play too much chew the clock since we have so many weapons. We could simply wear out our opponents with the pace and the physical exertion by using our two and three deep while always having fresh, talented backs while utilizing Weis' creative magic. Back in the bad old days Nebraska would play their entire team in the second half after they were up by 5 tds or so. They would just wear us out. By the fourth quarter even their third string would run at will. Good thing they didn't play at the pace of Oregon; they would have reached triple digits. Although I have to add that I think slowing down our offense and having a long, sustained scoring drive can take the high-flying teams out of sync. If they are over on their sidelines for 8 minutes of game time it can really break their rhythm.

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mikehawk 8 months ago

I hate to be such a pessimist. Not in my nature, except I do remember the hype about Crist last year and I bought in. Take out Jake Heaps's name and put Crist in and it is all the same stories. With no reference to Missouri, SHOW ME!

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Mark Lindrud 8 months ago

Maybe with Slater he doesn't play this year, but does next year. As far as Heaps, the biggest thing I was concerned with was Cristin has knee issues and had no mobility and lost his starting job because he was playing poorly. Heaps lost his because a new offense came in and he was a bad fit. Weis does make good quarterbacks, and I'm aware Cristin was a Weis guy, but lets face it, we got sucked in by him being from ND thinking he had to walk on water. Now we've had a year to see Jake practice here and hone his skills and grow. F

From the way he speaks, he needed to mature and wants to get better. We've got a better receiving core for him too so I believe he will be successful here.

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Bryce Landon 8 months ago

Honestly, I have a tough time seeing how Heaps could possibly be any worse than Crist.

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Jim Stauffer 8 months ago

About Slater. Two questions: How do you know he would have won the starting RT position? How do you know he still will not be here? We as fans need to cheer for the guys who are here instead of wasting time on guys who are not. Fondal is looking pretty good to some.

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Jim Jackson 8 months ago

Can't even express my jubilation on the upcoming season; that is great news about Short. Someone had posted earlier but I read in the Topeka Capital Journal that since Pearce Slater practiced with us, he cannot transfer to another D1 school this year.

Hoping everything is ok with him and that he makes a safe return to campus.

On another note, this kid from my office went to Iowa State and we have a bet on the KU vs Iowa St game; he just laughs everytime I bring up KU football; he is completely ignorant to the fact that we will be the surprise team in the Big 12 this year.

Rock Chalk, we are going bowling!!

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JayDocMD 8 months ago

Heaps could be the second coming of Peyton Manning, but it's hard to be effective running for your life. Plus he can't catch his own passes. Unfortunately WR and OL are two of the biggest question marks heading into the season. IMO, the single biggest off season loss was Nick Harwell having to sit. And now with Slater AWOL...

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Tom Horner 8 months ago

Congrats Tom. At least it is n ot an article about Potee.

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jhox 8 months ago

Our coaches should consider using Heaps' quotes from this article in recruiting. Now we just need to translate all the hard work into wins on the field.

I saw Jake in the spring game 2 years ago and was more excited about him than anyone else I saw that day. The guy is not only accurate, he has a rocket launcher mounted on his shoulder. He is most definitely not another Dane Crist in terms of his throwing arm.

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Jason Keller 8 months ago

Kevin Short is on campus. Praise the lord. Trust me fellow Jayhawk fans. You may sleep better knowing we have two large and physical corners who can press and play man coverage. I've been following Short for a while and you will absolutely love the way he competes.

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Keith Hummel 8 months ago

After watching video of the 7-on-7 drills in practice last week, and hearing what he did on Saturday, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Heaps has the ability to be one of, if not the best QB in the league. The only question remaining is whether he can do it under live fire, when the game means something, and when the defensive ends aren't pulling up at the last second. It was one of the knocks on him at BYU, that he tore it up in practice but got happy feet under game pressure, and made bad throws as a result. But what those BYU fans don't realize is Heaps has been Holsoppled and isn't the same kid he was. His physical and mental strength has improved enormously. I believe he is going to shock a whole bunch of people this year.

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Jhawk59 8 months ago

LOL thats a pretty big textual b!tch slap on Dayne Crist to lead off the article.

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Joe Ross 8 months ago

Im waiting to see results

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okiedave 8 months ago

I would like to see nothing better than Jeff surprise all the pollsters and have a breakout season. Tulsa World ranks him last in the Big XII starting quarterbacks, so I want Kansas to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with this year. Can't wait until the kickoff of the first game.

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