Sunday, December 29, 2013


Column: KU fans, coaches face tests in 2014


Tough challenges face local athletes, coaches, administrators, announcers and fans involved directly or indirectly in Kansas University sports in 2014.

A sampling:

1 . Offensive coordinator/O-line coach John Reagan inherits a KU football offense that for the past two seasons combined has “amassed” four touchdown receptions from its wide receivers, three if you don’t count hybrid running back/slot receiver Tony Pierson as part of that position group.

Reagan also inherits an offensive line that loses both starting tackles and the starting center.

At quarterback, Reagan will choose from:

• Montell Cozart, a fast, graceful long-strider who did not throw any touchdown passes in 63 attempts, averaged 3.6 yards per pass and completed 36.5 percent of his passes as a true freshman.

• Jake Heaps, a senior not blessed with the mobility to work well under heavy heat. Heaps completed 49 percent of his passes in his first season with KU, averaged 5.4 yards per pass and threw eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

• T.J. Millweard, a third-year sophomore who practiced a year with UCLA and a year with Kansas but has not thrown a pass in a game that counts since high school.

He originally committed to Virginia Tech, then switched to Arizona State, then changed his mind in favor of UCLA, following the assistant coach who had recruited him when at ASU. Millweard spent one year with the Bruins, didn’t like his chances of getting playing time and contacted the KU football office to see if the Jayhawks had any interest in him. He’s built like Dayne Crist at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, but has more mobility.

Talented Nick Harwell, wide receiver transfer from Miami (Ohio), will try to help Reagan make it happen.

2 . For Charlie Weis, the challenge lies in letting his coaches coach, particularly Reagan. Weis always has been in charge of the offense for so long at so many stops, he’ll need to fight the urge to want to have a big say. A tonic to quiet the urge: watch tape of KU’s offenses of 2012 (tied for 118th of 125 FBS schools with an average of 5.7 yards-per-play) and 2013 (124th of 125 with 5.1 ypp. Only Virginia was worse).

3 . City officials who want to make Rock Chalk Park a hub for national youth track-and-field events face a tough task in coming up with an answer for why bathrooms and concessions are on only one side of the stadium.

4 . Will KU basketball fans be up to the challenge of dealing with inevitable losses in a Big 12 conference that features four of the nation’s top 16 teams in the Associated Press poll, three of them ranked ahead of KU, plus a Texas squad knocking on the door of the top 25, plus one-loss Oklahoma, plus a Kansas State team that knocked Gonzaga out of the rankings?


Dirk Medema 7 years ago

You might add "Recruiting the other half of 2014 Football Recruits" and a new OL in particular. It seems that everybody on the team was rejected at some point last year, so I certainly hope we can get some quality JC options. Unfortunately, the most talented offers seem to be at OG, where we have some capable returnees, but nothing at OT where we have a void. It is probably also not a good idea to think that Bragg could step in and fill the OC spot from the get go as a true freshman - even if he is a top 300 recruit.

Dirk Medema 7 years ago

The leader of Snyder's team is a JC. Maybe there is more to it than where they played last year.

Lance Cheney 7 years ago

You're partially right. Tyler Lockett is really the whole team, in my opinion. Take him away, and they're back to being pretty mediocre. Just for the record, I'm not disagreeing with you on the JC players.

Jonathan Allison 7 years ago

Pearce Slater should be available again this year... Oh wait, he is committed to San Diego State, but that probably doesn't mean anything.

Dirk Medema 7 years ago

The good news with Weis and Reagan is that Charlie has repeatedly shown the ability to set aside his ego for the good of the team. Having watched the D develop under the new guy, and having fallen short against Reagan's O for the last two years provides lots of motivation. I believe him when he says he'll let him call the shots and focus on the HC responsibilities.

Suzi Marshall 7 years ago

I am one of those KU fans that dreads the Big 12 season. Right off the bat we head out to OU for a challenge. All the road game, with the possible exception of TCU (last year) and TT, will be a nightmare. OSU, ISU, BU road games are likely losses. Running the table at home will not be a given. The Big 12 winner(s) could have 3 or 4 Losses.

I'm sure to be one of those fans freaking out.

Daniel Kennamore 7 years ago

"The Big 12 winner(s) could have 3 or 4 Losses."

I think that could easily be an understatement. KU, Iowa State and Oklahoma State could all easily split their home-and-home games, that's 3 losses right there.

Bryce Landon 7 years ago

Let's not worry about that right now. We still have Toledo and San Diego State to contend with.

Tony Bandle 7 years ago

Suzi, you win the "stupidmichael worry award" for this week. Greed may be good but worry is better!! :)

I totally agree, winning Title #10 is gonna be a bitch and it may end up being multiply-shared!!

Benz Junque 7 years ago

I am far from dreading conference season but I agree that the Big 12 winner will have AT LEAST 3-4 losses. There are a lot of good teams and KU will have to earn the title again. Those that are won over tough teams are that much sweeter. I don't want one won in a cupcake league.

Lance Cheney 7 years ago

Agree. He was far from perfect, but he should still have an asterisk next to his stats for this reason.

Dirk Medema 7 years ago

His completion percentage goes to something like 60%, which isn't earth shattering, but definitely competent. In spite of the losing his job, I think he still has a good chance to start and succeed next year.

Aaron Paisley 7 years ago

When Heaps had time last year, he was competent enough to not be benched. Unfortunately, the OLine couldn't pass block with any consistency and the receivers greased their hands before every game. Ideally, Jake Heaps is the starting QB next year, but that will largely be dependent upon how well the OLine can protect him, otherwise it'll be one of the mobile QB's taking the snaps next season.

Lance Cheney 7 years ago

Off the subject, but what happened to Jesse Newell?

Jonathan Allison 7 years ago

He left for the Capital-Journal because the LJW wasn't paying him enough to publish brilliant commentary AND sift through all of the on-line user accounts and delete all of the fakes, only to have them reappear in 6 weeks under an only slightly altered name.

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