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Sunday, November 10, 2013

QB Cozart gives Kansas ‘extra element’

Kansas quarterbacks Montell Cozart, left, and Jake Heaps warm up prior to kickoff against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas quarterbacks Montell Cozart, left, and Jake Heaps warm up prior to kickoff against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

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For the past four weeks, Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis has tinkered with playing two quarterbacks on Saturdays, both as a way to ease true freshman Montell Cozart into the fold and in hopes of finding a spark for KU’s underperforming offense.

Saturday night, following KU’s 42-6 loss at Oklahoma State — the Jayhawks’ sixth straight setback this season and 27th consecutive Big 12 defeat — Weis indicated it might be time to lean one way or the other the rest of the way.

In one corner sits Cozart, the raw and unproven but potentially electric 6-foot-2, 189-pound rookie. In the other is starter Jake Heaps, the junior transfer who has a live arm and more experience but trouble playing behind KU’s inconsistent offensive line.

If gifted with a line that could give his quarterback time and receivers with hands of Velcro, Weis no doubt would go with Heaps. But KU lacks both, which means Cozart might be the better option, not only for the remainder of this season but for the future.

“I think we know where we’d like to go,” said Weis when asked if his rough start at Kansas has forced him to rethink the way he runs an offense. “But you gotta wait till you’re in position to do that.”

KU’s second-year coach then went on to explain how he views college football’s offensive landscape.

“There’s really two mentalities right now,” he began. “You have the run-and-gun, spread-em-out, throw-it-all-over-the-yard (offenses), and then you’ve got the Stanford mentality, where you just try to pound ’em with formations and personnel groupings.

“If you ask me to pick one, I’m picking the Stanford mentality. But the point is, can you surround yourself with the type of players (you need) to be able to run that mentality? And the answer might be no. So if the answer’s no, then you gotta go in the other direction to try to give yourself a better chance to hit more home runs and score more points.”

The fact that Weis is willing to talk this way could represent hope for KU’s future.

Remember, this is the same guy who, a few weeks ago, gave up play-calling responsibilities to young assistants Ron Powlus and Jeff Blasko. This also is the same guy who prefers quarterbacks like Dayne Crist and Tom Brady to run his offenses, which makes his willingness to look long and hard at Cozart a step in the right direction. Handing the young and mobile freshman QB the keys altogether would represent Weis sprinting, because Cozart more closely resembles the quarterbacks who have dominated the Big 12 during recent years and continue to put up points and yardage totals at eye-popping rates.

“For closing in on two years now, we haven’t had that extra element,” said Weis, alluding to Cozart’s natural ability to extend plays and do damage with his mobility.

Has Weis ever had it?

“No,” he said. “Because I’ve never played that style of quarterback.”

With the Jayhawks mired in a stretch of eight straight games of scoring 19 points or less and averaging just 15.9 points per game this season, that soon might change.

If it does, the outlook for the immediate future of KU football might change with it.

Comments

Keith Hummel 8 months, 3 weeks ago

It seems clear Weis is going to go primarily with Cozart from here on out. I think that's the right call but I feel badly for Jake Heaps. Jake is a class act, so he will say and do all the right things. But I don't care how much of a team player you are, going from top QB prospect to getting benched at BYU, then benched at Kansas, is a real punch to the gut. Hopefully we can solve our OL and receiver problems in the off-season and he can show what he's got next year, but I wouldn't bet on it. I give Weis credit for abandoning his offense and admitting it isn't going to work at KU (at least not anytime soon). I'm certain that's not an easy pill for him to swallow, but it shows he is more concerned with the program than his own ego. Hopefully this will mark a turning point. There is still some time to salvage this season.

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Ian Ballinger 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I didn't want to say it but I feel bad for Jake too. He IS a class act. He's a nice guy, and with a good line, he's not a bad QB. But Cozart has definitely brought more fire and passion to the field, and I would be more comfortable with him at QB right now. And Charlie, wow, I'm glad he's seeing things a bit the way we're seeing them. I respect Charlie, to come to Kansas when they're coming off a 2-10 season and try to fix things and leave them fixed isn't an easy task, so I respect him for coming and trying his hand at it, and I hope to God he has success because as a diehard KU football fan, I don't know if I can take much more losing.

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Robert Brock 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Cozart helped us score how many touchdowns against Oklahoma State?

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Brett McCabe 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Fair enough. After all "You play to win the game!" I'm a little concerned that we seem to be constantly changing what we are doing. There's a fine line between persistence and insanity, and another fine line between flexibility and grasping at straws.

But it just pains me every week to know that we have backs like Darian, James, Tony and Taylor and we can't seem to utilize them (I know that one was out and one is hurt).

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Savion Havon 8 months, 3 weeks ago

The team had a dual threat qb with Cummings difference is he's got a proven arm and we know he's a gamer. Cozart is still very timid out there. Jake was handed the keys to the car in the same fashion Crist got them last year. The changes to the depth chart should have taken place earlier this season. HCCW's loyalty to his guy doesn't allow competition to grow. It in all actuality allows questions go fester within the fans staff as well as the team. If playing time is given by performance on a level playing field the last time Cummings touched the field he engineered a drive that ended with a 28 yd td strike to Turzilli. Turzilli went on to gain the number one spot while Cummings in essence was demoted. If going off performance only I ask are we fielding the best possible team? The team deserves to play with whoever is best it shouldn't be determined by who sat in your living room or sent you text messages. Last year it was reported Cummings was a pocket passer with a cannon this year he's a option qb why not say legit dual threat qb and call it a day. Words are being used to pigeon hole a player. I have said since the spring game I thought his throws were better as a matter of fact Josh Ford got looks because of the plays they made. Same game where we were force fed how great heaps and McCays chemistry was it must be a very long formula because I gave yet to see it on game day. There are practice players and there are game players. When things are scripted Jake is great in real life situations not so great

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Erich Hartmann 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I too, am wondering about Cummings. The "problem" with dual-threat QB, is it cuts the touches to an A-rated RB named James Sims...O-line issues have caused a domino-effect of dysfunction in both the run and pass game...

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Savion Havon 8 months, 3 weeks ago

James isn't getting touches now he should get 20 plus a game goes averaging less than 15

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Doug Cramer 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Still not convinced Jake is a bad QB either. He didn't succeed for three reasons:

  1. Had no protection from the O-line
  2. Receivers have a difficult time getting separation
  3. When receivers did get open, they dropped WAY too many passes this year
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Len Shaffer 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Those are all good points, Doug. But there are other things about Jake that are troubling:

  1. He has NO mobility; he's one of the worst I've seen in that area in a long time.

  2. His strength is supposedly accuracy, yet he's misfired on numerous occasions, even when he has had time. He seems to especially lack touch on the short passes out to the side. On more than one occasion, he's fired bullets that were too hard for anyone to have a reasonable chance to catch them.

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Gary Amble 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I want to believe, I really do. I just have trouble seeing how we've improved over the past two seasons. I can't see anything that makes me believe we'll win a conference game, not just this season but for the forseeable future. It appears right now that the Charlie Weis hire was terrible. Please prove me wrong and win a game!

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Chandler Accipiter 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Good points by Savion. What happened to Cummings? Shouldn't he be in the mix as well, if not starting. After all he ran the run and chuck it offense last year after Charlie's golden boy experiment failed.

And I agree somewhat with Doug, but if the O-line needs work (to say the least) and the receivers need coached/to improve/more talent(?) then the passing game is not being put in a position to succeed. If that is case, then Heaps isn't the QB to run the offense.

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Tony Bandle 8 months, 3 weeks ago

At the current rate of improvement, KU Football will be bowl eligible in 2017.

All kidding aside, if the program took three seasons to collapse, shouldn't Charlie be given at least the same time frame to show improvement??

If, at this time next year, KU has still not won a Big 12 Conference game then, yes, Houston, we have a problem and Charlie W. is most likely not the answer.

Thank God, I wasn't on the phone to my stock broker or playing high stakes poker in Vegas when I posted that I thought Kansas could go 6 - 6 this season!!

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Len Shaffer 8 months, 3 weeks ago

As pathetic as they've looked, at this point I'd probably take a bowl bid for 2017.

It's hard not to be skeptical at this point about Charlie's ability to make a difference. I would love to be proven wrong.

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Erich Hartmann 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Tony, I agree with you. I exactly believe next year is the pivotal one, as we add a lot more talent again (Harwell WR, Short DB, Bolton DE, Cox RB), and return most of the kids who are right now just trying to learn schemes and get real game experience (which they are). Not to mention all these L's really lights a fire competetively in most players in most all sports. Next season, there is the "best" hope to expect the "6 wins".

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Erich Hartmann 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I would expect fans to grumble even louder if we cannot get a win against WVa or IowaSt...as those teams records (dismal) point to system- or talent-problems that arent easy or 'same-year' fixes (just like KU's problems). So those are our best chances for winning a game or two this season. They would also give momentum to next season, as we have a chance to show we are coming together and the boys are figuring things out.

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Chris Bailey 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Although I agree with what you've said I see us having no chance of winning either game. I really don't think we have the ability to make the changes this season. I expect us to lose 10 games. If we don't I will be extremely happy. As far as improvemnet I see a lot on the defensive side but the offense has taken a big step back and part of that falls on the QB. Where is Cummings?? I mean if Cozart gets injured or is ineffective we can't revert back to Heaps. He is done here in my opinion. If I were him I'd hope to transfer at the end of the year as a graduate and catch on elsewhere. We don't have the players to play that kind of football. Weis said KSU could field a winner but look how they do it? They don't have the best players but they play hardnosed football. Yeah they can get it done down I-70 but it's because they embraced what was available and didn't try to do something else. I hope next season is better although this is starting to feel like a broken record saying the same thing to end every season.

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Aaron Paisley 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Bill Snyder having success at KState was not an overnight thing.

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Chris Bailey 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm fully aware Snyder didn't transform overnight but he showed progress each yr. I think they were in a bowl game in yr 3 or 4 of the Snyder era too. And he doesn't get the 5 star guys. He recruits the JUCO kids well. Weis wants to run a pro style which are talent is not well suited. Heaps and Crist proved that.

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Lonnie Ross Dillon 8 months, 3 weeks ago

He can't transfer, he already used his off-year of not playing when he transferred here (5 to play 4). I think with receivers and an O-line with more experience and perhaps more skill (anyone coming in?) Heaps may get more playing time.

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Chris Bailey 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I said IF he were able to graduate. This is his 4th year of college so possible that he could graduate then transfer.

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Lance Cheney 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I think Cozart is the choice going forward, hands down. He does need to learn when to lower his head and go straight ahead for a few more yards, rather than bending the run towards the sideline. I saw that a few times on Saturday. But that will come with some experience and film-watching, and also once he puts on some more poundage. He overthrew a lot of guys as well, but that will come with repetition and developing chemistry with his receivers.

I feel bad for Heaps too, but the reality is he just isn't getting the job done. Yes, if he had a better O-line and receivers, then the story might be different, but it is what it is, and we gotta do what's best for the team.

And we also need to get a FG kicker.

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Jack Joiner 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I was the only Jayhawk fan sitting around hundreds of Cowboy fans and with an OSU friend. When HCCW brought Heaps back in, the Cowboy fans could not believe it. It is real simple at this point, if Heaps is going to be your guy next year, you stay with him. If not, Cozart finishes the season under center,

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Randy Bombardier 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Standord? I guess that sounds better tha n we're going to copy k-state. Hey, no shame in that. The dual threat Qb is the way to go. Williams was key on '95 team. Now just get us a line.

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