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.